Frederick Turner, John Muir: Rediscovering America
(1985; rpt. Cambridge: Perseus Publishing, 2000), p. 26:
Whatever the route, whatever the consequences for a late return home, for John Muir the disobedience was creative and absolutely essential. Considering the ways in which his father's severity compounded the confining regimen of the Dunbar schools, these long runs and rambles into the heart of that landscape were mental and spiritual escapes as much as they were physical ones. Here the boy developed the intuitive ability to take instruction, comfort, and deep pleasure from the natural world, an ability that did so much to convert his childhood in Dunbar and in Wisconsin from blight to lasting spiritual treasure. The runs began, as he would later recognize, a lifelong pattern of personal salvation. Whenever the deadening or seductive routines of settled life threatened his inmost nature; whenever he felt the shadows of traditional obligations and ways of thought spreading into his mind, then John Muir would contrive some escape as now he did on the days of spring and summer when with brother and friends he raced on out of the old town.