October 29 (1976, 1977, 1981, 1986, 1987, 1988, 2000)
“Lovely storms they were” ~ Wilderness Boundaries

10/29/76 [...] A cold wind blows… Now my roof is so close to being done, after weeks of pushing… Perhaps tomorrow. It will happen.


~ around noon. now the courses are up to the ridge pole, both sides; and now comes the tricky part, of fitting the last course along each side, so that they join to form the crest, as it were; and not by coincidence is it that the ridge-crest of my small speck of a cabin lays parallel to the crest of the sierra itself: the cabin points to the canyon; the canyon a giant furrow in the roof of the sierra block; needless to say the water my roof will shed will run down the roof, and not across it, if at all possible; the same pertains to the sierran waters, cutting deep gorges one beside the other, down the sierran roof ~ they trend at roughly right angles to the crest; my ridge pole lies at right angles to this, the typical sierran canyon; and but a short geometrical analysis will reveal that, therefore, my ridgecrest is parallel to the great, magnificent, awesome in fact, sierra crest… back to work.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/29/77 ~ morning. a little rain during the night, just enough to dampen the ground surface. i sit and watch the clouds whirling and streaming about the canyon. the sun is trying to break through the clouds and the daytime regime of upcanyon, upslope winds appears to be trying to assert itself.

a pool of fog lies in green valley, and i have watched while streamers have emerged from it and moved upslope towards the top of moody ridge. they tend to use the ravines and gullies on the rocky slope that gets the most direct radiation from the still-unseen sun. i have watched them advance and retreat several times now, and i'm unsure what, precisely, is the trigger.

the streamers have abruptly changed direction upon reaching the top of the canyon wall and float back down, dissipating into thin air as they go. i have seen one stream of fog going up a ravine, and another going down a ravine, within a quarter-mile of one another.

i just saw a young buck, with unbranched tines, walk by about 30 feet below the cabin, scanning me through the glass then walking on, nibbling on a deerbrush leaf as he passed by.


it is raining lightly. the sun is almost out. fog is creeping up the slopes of the lovers leap bulge, which I notice is not only positioned so that it faces the morning sun, but is also relatively sheltered from the southwest winds of the storm. relatively warm and well mixed air near the tops of the slopes may be why the streamers rarely make it to the top without reversing directions or dissipating or both ~ presumably the streamers are portions of the pool of relatively cold, moist air in green valley that are drawn upslope by convectional forces strong enough to overcome the tendency of the cold air to remain pooled up in the lowest part of the basin, where gravity holds the grip on heavier (colder) air.

a note or two on developing the asbestos prospect tunnel as a water tank:
1. the entrance has caved in and the slope above is very steep and wet, hence unstable. thus it would be desirable to roof over the collapsed part of the tunnel—a stretch of perhaps ten feet—with reinforced concrete. This would allow the slope above to acquire a stable angle of repose, whereas if the tunnel were left as it is, it would continue to cave in and create unstable slope angles above it. Its rate of cave-in measured in feet along the tunnel and supposing a time span of one hundred years—though eighty might be closer to the mark—is about .3/foot/year.

the difficult forming-up problem presented by the need for a reinforced concrete roof might be solved by using the mound of dirt and serpentine boulders at the mouth of the tunnel for the form, merely shaping its surface and digging footing trenches along its sides. an arched top might permit ferrocement technique, although the load of moisture-laden soil that must be planned for would be considerable—measured in tons.

another fix would be to clear the tunnel entrance and cement in a piece of large culvert, or cement pipe, say three/four feet in diameter.

2. as a water tank it would need these fittings:
a) water inlet from springs above
b) water outlet to pump
c) drain at lowest point to permit flushing of silt.
3. first of all the water must be sampled to determine if asbestos is contaminating it.”
[Russell Towle's journal]

10/29/81  Night. Finally the storms are truly passed, lovely storms they were. And wet—3 1/2 inches in two days—but I need the good weather to complete the fireplace. [...] I went out to Casa Loma in search of rainbows as the clouds began to thin, then on to Iron Point, where I stayed about an hour, until sunset. I saw that the sun was going to descend beneath the cloud layer and illuminate the canyon, so I waited patiently, making a little game of it ~ I was having one of my bouts of nervous insecurity and said to myself, ‘If I see a rainbow it means I'm really okay’ ~ it was a pretty sure bet, and sure enough, once the sun dropped beneath the clouds, a rainbow appeared. I had been sitting on top of the rock pinnacle waiting in the light rain for twenty minutes or so when it appeared. It was more than a semicircle—I'd say 2/3 of a circle—and actually, I could see it as a complete circle for about five minutes. It was accompanied by an outer bow for a while; within the bow was Sawtooth ridge, Helester Point, the canyon of the North Fork of the North Fork, and waving golden curtains of rain. The bow dropped into the main canyon near Euchre Bar ~ a bit upstream from there. The brightly colored rain-curtains seem to be an ‘anti-solar point’ phenomenon, just as rainbows are. The bow lasted until sunset, about twenty or thirty minutes in all. I felt adequately confirmed in my worth by its appearance. Treated myself to dinner at the Monte Vista.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/29/86   afternoon. Clouds cover the sky, sunshine breaking through only occasionally. [...]

Stayed up late last night, walked around the meadow at midnight, pausing here and there, think about something, go into a reverie, “awake” to find myself standing at such-and-such a spot; shooting stars and sighing trees, crowded constellations. The Hyades very pretty; and I fancied I saw, once and for all, seven stars in the Pleiades. It was that clear.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/29/87   ventured into town this a. m., in search of the check, but no, so, managed to palm a dollar off Alex, for gas; this allowed me to go down to Ed's and work, work, and pick about twenty pounds of apples. I'm eating what must be my tenth apple of the day.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/29/88   Morning, sun, though clouds and even rain'd been expected. [...] Now I've returned from clipping Aralias at the spring; perhaps flow will increase, it has been stopping altogether in the warmer afternoons.

Scoping out possible alternate trails to my broken down steps.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2000 22:57:17 -0800
To: "Terry Davis"
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: Reminder: Mon. ARW Meeting
Cc: ERPfromCA, Tina Andolina

Hi Terry, Ed, Tina,

>North Fork American: Russell estimates his boundary work will be completed
>in one month.

I haven't the gas to make the drive down to Ed's on Monday, nor to continue making the drives up to the upper canyon for further boundary checking. The most critical area to be checked as I see it is Section 17 north of Snow Mountain. In lieu of my attendance at the October 30 meeting I submit this report.

The first time I laid eyes on the CWC maps for the North Fork American PW I saw that gross errors had been made; Big Valley Bluff and Snow Mountain had been excluded entirely, as had portions of the canyon downstream from Humbug Bar but within the 1978 North Fork American Roadless Area. In places the PW boundary had been drawn down on the river. My efforts have primarily directed towards reconnaissance of these suspect areas within the NFRA but outside the CWC NFPW. So far all such areas have proven to be OK, that is, so far the 1978 RA boundary looks to be OK for a North Fork American WA. One exception is an area that Terry Davis and I looked at near Government Spring on Sawtooth Ridge, where tractor logging has occurred since 1978, within the 1978 NFRA. This area is very limited extent.

Elsewhere within the canyon, helicopter logging has occurred since 1978. This is regrettable but has had little in the way of significant impact upon suitability for Wilderness designation.

The aforementioned Section 17 north of Snow Mountain seems likely to have been impacted by tractor logging but I have not been in there for a number of years and have not seen it for myself. Right now snow has fallen to a depth of over a foot on the long approaches to this area and there seems little prospect for getting in there this fall.

My overall impression is that the 1978 North Fork American Roadless Area boundaries would serve fairly well as Wilderness boundaries.

I have taken over one hundred photographs in the North Fork this fall. They are all in digital format, 2048 by 1536 pixels in 24-bit color. It is possible to make slides from these digital files.

The 1978 North Fork RARE II area was terminated on the west at the TNF boundary in Green Valley. BLM ownership is almost complete within the canyon for a distance of about 3 miles downstream (to Canyon Creek). The North Fork Wilderness might be extended downstream (within the main canyon) to Canyon Creek and beyond.

The 1978 North Fork RARE II area was terminated on the east near Serena Creek and included land owned by the Cedars. The North Fork Wilderness boundary should probably be moved west to Heath Springs to exclude these inholdings.

There are significant private inholdings within the NFRA. Most are sections of land which belonged to the railroad. Some of have been acquired by TNF, others are being negotiated for right now, others are on the TNF wish list but have not yet entered into even the stage of negotiation. A reasonable North Fork American wilderness would imply public acquisition of all these private inholdings.

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