Two Yosemites - Muir, Brower, Stetson, and now Justin Ralls!

Rave reviews for Justin Rall's "Two Yosemites"

  the famous camping trip that had a monumental effect on America




John Muir may not have used the exact words, but he inspired the concept of "Two Yosemites" in his definitive book The Yosemite (1912): "I have always called it the "Tuolumne Yosemite," for it is a wonderfully exact counterpart of the Merced Yosemite, not only in its sublime rocks and waterfalls but in the gardens, groves and meadows of its flowery park-like floor. "

David Brower produced the 1955 documentary "Two Yosemites". The video quality is inferior by today's standards, but the narration is oustanding and well worth carefully listening. Brower is former Executive Director of the Sierra Club and founder of Earth Island Institute and Friends of the Earth. He attended some of Restore Hetch Hetchy's first board meetings.

Lee Stetson is a historian and actor who plays John Muir in Yosemite and at locations around the world. Lee was prominently featured in Ken Burns' National Parks series. Justin Ralls worked with closely with Lee, and adapted Two Yosemites (the opera) from Lee's play The Tramp and the Roughrider. 


Opera Theater Oregon presented Justin Ralls' Two Yosemites at Lewis and Clark College on September 8. The premiere drew well-deserved rave reviews Ralls' passion for history and natural landscapes is clearly obvious, as he tells the story "the most famous camping trip in history". 

It's hard to imagine a president of the United States, even a century ago, leaving the Secret Service to go camping. But Theodore Roosevelt did so in 1903, spending 4 days at Glacier Point in Yosemite in 1903 with naturalist John Muir.

Roosevelt's sojourn with Muir had a clear impact on the president, and he emerged with a determination to protect natural landscapes across the United States. When the Antiquites Act granted the president power to protect land by executive order, Roosevelt designated some 20 National Monuments. Many of these, including the Grand Canyon, were later designated national parks by Congress. 


Justin Ralls, composer, conductor, and writer, hails from the Pacific Northwest and is inspired by the beauty of the natural world and elemental forms of creativity.

The threat to dam Hetch Hetchy was present in 1903, but did not reach its full force until after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire in San Francisco. Nonetheless, Ralls examines Roosevelt's inner turmoil in depth as considers the opposing influences of Muir and Gifford Pinchot, Roosevelts longtime friend and head of the U.S. Forest Service. Muir described those who would dam Hetch Hetchy as "temple destroyers" and "devotees of ravaging commercialism". Pinchot favored damming the valley as it provided "the greatest good to the greatest number".

Roosevelt's inner conflict lives on today - not only in Justin's music but in Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, whose Senate confirmation testimony directly addressed the dichotomy.tr_muir.jpg

Ralls hopes to bring Two Yosemites to the outdoor amphitheater at Glacier Point, where John Muir and Theodore Roosevelt could recreate this historic moment for park visitors in the 21st century. We are looking forward to it.

Save the date - March 17, 2018 - for our annual dinner at the Berkeley City Club.