October 10 (1975, 1986, 1988)
“Little Cairns Should be Erected”

10/10/75 a gray morning in the wren. i have been spinning my wheels trying to get a trail in to the spot. the old logging roads i have been trying to open up are overgrown with deerbrush, some dead, some alive, all woven and tangled together in a most disheartening manner. the chain saw threw its chain after a half-hour of cutting the day before yesterday; I had no tools with me to put it back on. went out again yesterday; it is too dull to cut efficiently enough to use ~ and again, i had brought no tools to remedy that. two days, two road trips of fifty miles, wasted. another storm has moved in and i shouldn't try to go out today, as the jeep has no windshield wipers. so very little has been accomplished save the combustion of generous quantities of gasoline and marijuana. i have located two spots on which i would like to build ~ one spot a few feet back of a little cliff of serpentine, which has a view upcanyon to the sierra crest; and another on a nearly flat area surrounded by large oaks, pines, and doug firs, with a nice view across and down the canyon. it is on the first spot that i hope to build this fall—a small place, maybe a hexagonal cabin about sixteen feet in diameter—and on the second spot, maybe even eventually a larger structure ~ a two-story dodecagon?

all of these plans are very nice—but at the moment i am at a standstill. many obstacles. the actuality of closing in a little cabin and living there this winter seems very much in question. i won't give up trying though.

every day i have been out there i have been amazed by the beauty of the spot. the enormous, two thousand feet deep amphitheater of the american river canyon in the green valley area ~ the marvelous expanse of sky ~ the snow peaks at the head of the canyon ~ the wildlife ~ i heard a wren out there yesterday, have seen many woodpeckers, band-tailed pigeons, deer, bear, coyote and fox, wood rat and squirrel ~ every day i am out there, especially when sitting on my cliff-spot, the awesome spectacle that surrounds me is etched a little deeper on my soul. in the world out there is fall; in my soul it is too. i just hope i will not be too shattered by the logging that will take place next summer.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


10/10/86   [...]

This, right now, is what they call “Indian summer.”

Oh please, let it last.

Wednesday I dropped by La Lande's and went through this ridiculous quarrel [...] The details are boring, but we sorted it all out, then turned to inventing our own piano tuning wrench (by finding a large Allen wrench of a size to fit a 3/8” socket so that the socket's square hole can be fitted over a peg) which I have now tested and can report that it works admirably, thereupon deciding to go out to lovers leap, [...] While I suggested in addition that we try and entice Alex and Terry to join us, which they did, eventually, although Terry would not climb down to the first step, but Alex did, it was wonderfully warm there, I wore no shirt. [...] Alex brought a magazine for paper airplane stock. I'm terrible at making paper airplanes, but Alex and Ron made some beauties, and a competition began between them, for length of flight; for as is usual, the winds and air currents and updrafts are strong at Lovers Leap; many of the planes got trapped beside the cliffs and spiraled more or less rapidly downwards, colliding but a hundred feet below, so that the competition at first was one of small magnitude—but everything we did was small, compared to one of Alex's flights.

Unlike practically any other plane, it flew straight from the start, descending at a shallow angle until, after a few seconds, it jolted against an updraft, which suddenly flexed its wings in midflight—“Look!!!” We all exclaimed, “it's flexed its wings!!!” Then it resumed the serene glide which was Alex's design's trademark. It climbed slowly in the updraft, with a following wind, and passed Lovers Leap on a level. It glided east towards Green Valley, climbing further, until it dwindled to a mere speck and we began using the binoculars, which I hogged to myself after a while; it became hard to tell just how far out it was—was it directly over Green Valley, or was it about to crash into the cliffs below Iron Point, or what? Finally it turned to the south and dropped hundreds of feet in a gentle glide, and turning West, crossed Red Ridge. At this point, Alex exclaimed “it's coming back! It's been out there for 8 minutes now!!”

From being thousands of feet above the terrain, it was now only hundreds. It wound into a ravine our side of Red Ridge, appeared determined to be aiming for the river itself for a while, relented, crossed another ridge, wound through another ravine, crossed the next ridge with only 100 feet to spare, and entered the great deli below lovers leap, below us, and skimming ever closer to the cliffs, finally collided about 1000 feet directly below us, having made a round-trip of at least a mile, accomplishing the same in about 10 or 15 min. A remarkable flight. The slowest, broadest, and deepest-falling spiral of them all. Little cairns should be erected here and there along its flight path to commemorate it.

Yes, last night an epic moment arrived: I tuned my piano, my very own piano. In fact, I think I'll play it right now.

A Little Later. Heating up some more coffee and just returned from clipping brush in the meadow. The Knoll has a clear zone through to the summit now, it's gorgeous. Large patches remain to be cleared. I'm working with my old brush clippers, whose handles broke years ago and were replaced with pieces of metal conduit. It's great exercise for my arms, shoulders, and pectoral muscles. I'll go do some more in a little while.

After such a long interlude, playing piano is fun.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


10/10/88  Monday morning, second cuppa, girding loins for today's Battle with the Sandstone. Only twenty-two pieces left to cut, by my count. Tomorrow should be the finish. I can't wait. I'm much more than ready.

It was the Gala Gala this past weekend, the $100 dinner at the DF Hotel, which I duly attended, sitting at the judges table, thanks to C & C McClung. So I got drunk and had a good time. Yesterday, recuperated and worked a little on the patio, resetting the saw-table, etc.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

The Dutch Flat Hotel Gala, October, 1988. Judge William Newsom at center, Russell Towle at right.
I don't know the other gentlemen.

[It was a "period dress" event, candlelight dinner, hence, no flash indoors.]
Ed Stadum and wife Tina arrive for the festivities.
Many volunteers from the community made this a wonderful event.
Everyone was quite hopeful the Hotel could be purchased by and for the community, but not enough money was raised.


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