One century ago this month, on December 24, 1914, America’s greatest pioneering naturalist died in Los Angeles at age 76. John Muir was a true Renaissance man – a botanist, geologist, engineer, inventor, rancher, explorer, ecological thinker, and writer whose visionary work as a conservationist resulted in the preserving of vital American wildernesses and forests. Muir has been called “the patron saint of the American wilderness” and “the father of our national parks.”
In 2009, Muir’s great-great-grandson Robert Hanna stepped forward to honor his fabled ancestor’s legacy with a new venture. Hanna named the enterprise Range of Light because when 39-year-old John Muir first set eyes on the Sierra Nevada mountain range of California in 1868, he called it “the range of light” – “the most Divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.”
In his first five years of leading Range of Light, “I wanted products embodied with our family’s passion and our love for the outdoors,” Hanna tells Snowshoe Magazine. “Everything we do, we do to connect people to the outdoors.”
Hanna’s Range of Light gives “one percent to the planet” through a partnership with the group of that name. The company partners with nonprofits to bring minority youth into our national parks, including bringing urban youth from San Francisco to Yosemite. “Given my family’s legacy, it is natural for us to be a part of as many outdoor experiences as possible,” Hanna says.
As a young man, John Muir was enthralled to enter what he called “the university of the wilderness.” With this as his inspiration, Hanna has developed a t-shirt that tells the story of “nature university.”
The enterprise produces not only t-shirts but beanies and both nylon and fleece vests. More shirts are on their way soon, Hanna says, and he favors those with catchy slogans that urge people to go out to, visit, and protect America’s pristine natural places.
I recently tried out the fleece vest by Range of Light. It definitely helps keep us warm and cozy while out snowshoeing. And like every product from Range of Light, the fleece connects us to a rich tradition of wilderness preservation and to an enterprise that is deeply dedicated to attracting all Americans into wilderness experiences.