October 30 (1975, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1988)
Fine Mornings

10/30/75    a rainy morning in the wren. a white stripe over the eye. a barred tail. a succession of trills. a fog in the treetops. a fire in the stove.

yesterday i went out to canyonland. 'twas clear, sunny, warm, a strong south wind combing dead needles out of the pines. cleared another fifty yards of road, finding a new route that connects in with the old mule trail that contours along above boulderfield and cabañita at the level of the springs. perhaps the old morgan asbestos mine brought its mules over to load up on water. if i wanted i could push the road all the way in to just above boulderfield or beyond; but i prefer to leave the area unsullied by infernal machines. as it stands now i can drive to within fifty yards of boulderfield and a hundred-fifty from cabañita. [...] i am fast approaching a critical juncture: another day or two of work and the trail will be in excellent condition to carry materials over, and the cabañita site will be cleared of overhanging branches, ready to begin. i will have to decide if i want to go all-out towards building a cabin this fall [...]

it would certainly be feasible to build cabañita ~ assuming that the roads into canyonland remain passable long enough to get the materials in. who knows? by diligent effort, and a little help from my friends ~ i could be living in a snug little cabañita in less than a month. that would be very nice.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/30/77   dawn on sunday morning. the skies are mostly clear, and a large pool of fog billows about in green valley. it appears to have a general down-canyon flow that will probably change soon in response to solar heating, which will counteract the night-time regime of cold air moving downslope, downcanyon.


~ sun is well up in the sky and the fog remains in green valley—and still has an apparent net down-canyon flow. could this be because a) the central valley has been cooled off by the storm and still further cooled by the return to high-pressure following the storm, and b) the high-pressure/atmospheric regime brings northerly winds that, if not entirely outbalanced by convectional forces, tend to move air downcanyon? given a), convectional forces would be weak for the length of time the central valley needs to heat up. i suspect that within the day, if the high pressure remains stable and (the sky above is totally clear at the moment), that normal upslope, upcanyon winds will return. but wait and see.

a question to be asked is whether the pool of fog that so consistently appears in green valley during and after rains is typical of all reaches of the canyon, or a phenomenon which is restricted to certain reaches only. i suspect the latter, since my observations so far are that the fog commences only slightly upcanyon and reaches its maximum extent in green valley. today it flows out of green valley, and for all i know goes clear to the central valley.

but my hypothesis is that the pool of fog in green valley is anomalous. why? a) green valley is a natural amphitheater in the canyon, and because giant gap is such a narrow gorge, cold downcanyon movement of air is bottled up in green valley like water in a reservoir. giant gap is the dam. b) the canyon forks immediately upriver from green valley, and major tributaries join the main river: the n. fork of the n. fk. and humbug creek. my theory is that, due to the relatively large area that lies within the canyons as they converge—n. fk, n. fk of n. fk., and humbug—that cold air drainage into the canyon greatly exceeds what the average would be. for much of its length the n. fork is entrenched in the old volcanic mudflow surface—and of course thousands of feet into the bedrock below—but the point is that the relatively flat uplands impede air drainage, whereas the canyon walls augment drainage. so a ratio of surface area uplands to surface area canyon could be figured for various reaches of the river. those reaches with a higher ratio of canyon to uplands—or canyon + dissected uplands to uplands—should show larger accumulations of cold air. the n. fk. of the n. fk drains a large area of dissected uplands wherein cold air flow is rapid. humbug creek heads up close to the canyon but easily doubles what the canyon surface area would be otherwise for that reach. green valley, with its relatively long slopes eroded into the relatively weak serpentine, is also a large cold air catchment area. and giant gap—a narrow gorge bounded on either side by flat uplands—shuts it all in. or a lot of it.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/30/78   before dawn. the coolest night in weeks awoke me hours before dawn to make my coffee and build a morning fire. [...] it occurred to me that i should note herein how very fortunate i am, to be able to live in this cozy cabin overlooking a wild canyon.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/30/81   Morning. Skies clear, blue jays and grey squirrels frolic.  […]

Almost took off and went skiing yesterday—snow fell down to about 5000' elevation. But the storm would have made the drive difficult. I've toyed with the idea of getting a job up in the ski area for the winter, but the commute would be terrible.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

10/30/88  […]  a fine morning, really fine, I crossed to the typewriter because a canyon wren was scampering about my window-sills, hunting for bugs. In fact, when it saw some of the dead pine-bugs (Fanky bugs, I think of them) on the inside of the window, it pecked at the glass itself.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

1 comment:

  1. Hmmmm ...

    I had a small dog back then called Fanky.

    I remember that Fanky obsessively chased cars, but I do not remember that he had any particular fondness for eating or playing with bugs.

    Hmmmm ...