October 17 (1975, 1976, 1986, 1999, 2005)
“Like some impossibly skinny bear"

10/17/75    was up before dawn, and saw venus for the first time in several months. a white blaze on the forehead of eternity. brewed some coffee and played guitar until sunrise. then puttered about with the clippers, routing a trail into cabañita from the boulderfield spot—hereafter to be know as ‘boulderfield’—and then took another look at the hole. threw some more rocks in to listen to the plunk. it still looked suspiciously like a tunnel. so i started casting about for sign, and found it immediately: an ancient broken woodstove, completely in pieces. one of them said: ‘Wager & Fales. Troy, N.Y GOLDEN GATE Patented 1861’ and i found a square nail. since there is no considerable tailing pile, the tunnel probably goes in only a short ways.

always, always the sound of acorns dropping. as i look out over the deep canyons and massive ridges. ten thousand acorns drop with every breath.

~ a warm afternoon. dancing pools of light on the floor. no bird sounds. tho now that i listen, distant nuthatches, a woodpecker, a remote rooster. [...]

this is the time of the dying-back to protect the plant, storing the food-energy for next spring and the growing of new leaves, the flowering and setting of fruit. the pines show dead needles on every tuft, the light reddish brown giving them an odd, rusty appearance. oaks are starting to turn, but need cold weather to really get flaming. the indian hemp plants out at canyonland are beautiful right now. there should be some festival to commemorate this time of year. the harvest moon draws near. the maidu indians held some of their main dances and ‘big times’ at this time of year.


oh! life is sweet for a modern day explorer! i paw my way through the brush like some impossibly skinny bear, and find inconceivable things in wait for me! islands of water arising from lakes of stone! birds who browse, and singing deer! a star where a mountain should be, and a mountain in heaven!”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/17/76   dawn and then a bit more, in canyonland. many nuthatches speaking. [...] jim rife gave me a couple of windows to use, which i hope to make frames for, trim down a bit, and use in the loft. what ...

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/17/86   Evening, Friday evening at home. Thunderstorms rage and rain pounds down. Harder and harder. Now the lightning strikes diminish but the rain increases. Hmmm. Lightning just struck about five hundred feet away while I wrote the above.

But they do diminish, for the sun has set, and the great engines of erections have lost their fuel.

Lightning just struck again, perhaps one thousand feet west, and surely hit a tree on my property. How dare it.

I went out to the cliffs and watched the lightning strike upcanyon several times, until rain drove me back. But while there I noticed strong airflow across the top of Moody Ridge above, from northwest to southeast; and just to the lee of the ridge, the clouds seemed all upboiling, there seemed to be a tuck in the center of a great roiling mass wherein vast quantities of fog were engulfed; and I imagined lofty towers rearing high and white into the sunshine far above, the result of... strong vertical development...

So I drink coffee, smoke bud, and luxuriate in the warmth emitted from a large ceanothus integerrimus root burl in the stove...Rain taps insistently on the roof, plays inscrutable rhythms... of course many of the drums impacting upon this roof are of secondary nature; they fall from the oaks above.

Muttering thunder.

Now the rain subsides too, the great engines of erection have lost their fuel.

And as I write, another great stroke of lightning plunges into the canyon beside me.

It is dark now. Still rain. Still muttering. The great engines of erection are at an idle.”

[Russell Towle's journal]


No Giant Gap traverse this fall, tho the weather has been great. Last Saturday I hiked into Sailor Meadow with Dave Lawler and his friends Hans & Cynthia and their son Brent.


Public meeting in DF [Dutch Flat] about timber harvest proposed on 125-acre Desert Star Group parcel in the diggings north of DF. CDF officials in attendance. I startled them with information about mercury contamination of the site. Wrote letters to follow up. Called Star Water Quality Control Board people.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Mon Oct 17 17:07:10 2005
To: "Henry Calanchini"
From: Russell Towle
Subject: RE: The Sawbug, Revisited; Mumford Bar
>Hi Russell,
>I've been reading Thirteen Moons after reading your reference to it in a
>recent missive. I'm enjoying the book very much. I'm curious which trail
>Rattlesnake used to get from the canyon rim into and out of Green Valley?
>I've been down the Green Valley Trail on the south side of the river several
>times and the Euchre Bar Trail a number of times as well. My Northern CA
>Delorme atlas-gazeteer shows a trail leading from Casa down to Green Valley
>and then crossing the river about a mile downstream of the Euchre Bar
>bridge. Is that the trail and is there still a bridge down there?
Rob Johnson used the north-side Green Valley Trail from Moody Ridge down to the river.

This trail shows on the USGS Dutch Flat 7.5 minute quad.

Rob used to stop by my place (I live near the trail) on his way in and out.

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