October 26 (1975, 2000)
First Impressions

10/26/75 rain, and more rain. dad and i drove out to canyonland yesterday; took a look into the mystery tunnel near cabañita with a strong flashlight. it's about thirty feet deep from the partially caved entrance; four feet in diameter; and is filled to a depth of about two feet with water. might eventually turn out to be a good spot to construct a plunge pool for a sauna…

we took another look around for the morgan mine; no go. seventy tons of asbestos were packed out by mule early in this century. we drove out the casa loma road to iron point, from which there is a good view downcanyon to giant gap, framed on one side by the spectacular cliffs of lovers leap, and on the other by their sister cliffs, unnamed jagged blade-like spurs of metamorphic rock. went over to tim's last night for a wild jam session of two guitars, two harmonicas, two kazoos, a fiddle, and all-around hooting and hollering. very enjoyable.

heavy rain, strong storm. cedar's drunken swaying in the fog; the wren pays a visit. spoke last night of my nearly lifelong love for the himalayas, we passed around the sierra club picture book of the snow peaks so high they must be in heaven itself. i remember my first sight of the east face of the sierras when dad and i went to have a try at whitney; i must've been eight years old. the sight of an apparently vertical wall of rock ten thousand feet high left an indelible impression on my young mind… and though we didn’t make it to the summit of whitney—for me that had to wait seventeen years—we did reach the lodgepole pines and my first experience of sierran waters cascading over glacially rounded granite. for many years since then my image of the sierra has been rooted in those first impressions, of mountains on a scale undreamed of, and waters as clean and pure as the fragrant alpine air. as a boy growing up in the coastal provinces, the memory of those impressions was a yardstick against which all my hiking experiences in the coast ranges were measured, and they all fell far short of my vision of the sierra, which seemed to embody a mystical, anomalous realm amidst the world of everyday. glad i am that it has been my privilege to become better acquainted with the range of light.

it seems as though i have always searched for that anomalous realm, actively, vigorously, determined ~ from the woodland hill days when I used to wander over the yucca-oak hillsides and hide from the school bus so that I could walk home cross country ~ and the palo alto days when the willow-choked channel of adobe creek became my amazon rain forest ~ and the cave in the quarry on page mill, with its cliffs, reminded me of the sierra ~ to the many excursions while in junior high school into the oak savannah of the stanford foothills ~ and the long association with the santa cruz mountains begun in my pacific high school days, wherein i discovered a perfectly anomalous, mystical realm, distinctly akin to that of the sierras, namely, the cliffs, waterfalls, and indian caves of devil's gorge ~ to año nuevo and finally to the sierras themselves, to a residence in the northern foothills that now spans several years. and my long search for the ‘anomalous realm’ has been successful ~ a few years ago, i might have said that it is within me, and that the physical search has been an allegory of the quest to open the doors of perception. i feel that it is not so much allegory as part of the quest. experiences of the anomalous realm are desperately needed to compensate for the world-view engendered by growing up in a tv household. to what end? is it mere escapism in a mystic cloak? i can't deny that tendency, that drive, within me. it is natural, common to everyone, i believe. my escapism hasn't spared me suffering and hard times. perhaps the person who, in successfully adapting to today's world by assuming a normal role in our society, and who duly accepts the status quo while perfecting a workable routine that gradually stiffens into concrete inflexibility—perhaps that person is more of an escapist than i. [...]

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Thu, 26 Oct 2000 06:22:37 -0800
To: "Terry Davis"
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: Slides

>How are we doing on slides of our four areas? Here are my perceptions:

Hi Terry,

I have taken a number of digital photos. Perhaps 200. A few are nice, most are ho hum.

If you go on for photos on Sunday, I haven't checked out the Italian Bar area yet. I understand that there has been helicopter logging there and that that is where the helicopter crashed and a fire burned the north wall of the canyon. I can see the fire scar from down here.

Weather supposed to be bad Saturday and Sunday.

I'm not making much progress on boundaries lately. Still need to get into Section 17 north of Snow Mountain. Gas is a problem. I did get down to Mumford Bar and upriver a couple of miles to helicopter logged area which, fortunately, has left the AR Trail and overall scenic values in that part of the canyon unscathed.


Russell Towle

Fog river, October 26, 2000.

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