so the trip to canyonland may be off. i was hoping to camp there tonight. wouldn't want to ride my motorcycle out in this rain. well. at the least i can sit before the fire in my tarahumara stove and consider cabin design. and the first fall rain drums on the roof; the first rain to fall washes the dusty bushes around wren hotel.
yesterday i was over at tim's […] and later in the afternoon we went down to memorial park and played indian baseball until dark. the western sky was a tremendous array of alto cumulus rolls that radiated from a point on the horizon and were like widely separated spokes of a wheel overhead. they became luminous embers in cosmic campfire dying away at day's end. awesome spectacle.”
[Russell Towle's journal]
“10/6/76 early morning in wren shack. I feel better in both my stomach and my lungs/sinuses. So perhaps today l'll go out to the ridge and bring food to camp for a few days.
It is sunny again today, and I hope it remains so for another two weeks.”
[Russell Towle's journal]
“10/6/87 Night; the full moon beams down, up, all around, a peculiar scent of flowers is smelled between here and the meadow; oddly, from here to the flower-spot, anabatic flow persists, while from the flower-spot up to the meadow katabatic flow sweeps cold air down and over the brink of the canyon. Two causes come to mind: first, the meadow channels and accentuates katabatic flow; second, the cliffs below the cabin act as reservoirs of solar energy, the rock faces absorbing large quantities during the day, and warming the air sufficiently at night to cause an uprising, an uprising of such and sufficient violence, that the flame of a cigarette lighter is seen to waver and bend in submission—in the uphill direction—below the flower-spot, that is—while above the flower-spot (where no flowers are to be seen), flames bend to the south, and down, and towards, generally, the North Fork of the American River, seeping calmly from pool to pool, two thousand katabatic feet below…
I sit, play guitar, play the Borodin melody and chords, "Stranger in Paradise," and gloomily meditate upon the events of a day. […]
As always happens when I am so far afield as Grass Valley or Nevada City, I thought I caught a glimpse of [name] today, so if [other name] weren't enough to stir me up and beat me down, other ghosts and phantoms swiftly rise to the occasion. Naturally, it is, — and is of the utmost importance—full moon, with a penumbral eclipse thrown in for good measure, as if to hammer home the truths of astrology.
Meanwhile, upon slopes washed now, and so typically of a night-time, by katabatic winds, I must perforce imagine islands of south-facing rocky heat-reservoirs, sending up, flame-like, tongues of anabasis which beat against the currents of katabasis, little wafting flames of upwelling amidst the universe, sinking. There is a moral to this story.”
[Russell Towle's journal]
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Green Valley
I met Craig & Karen and Tom Saturday morning and, around 9 a.m., we headed down the Green Valley Trail. It was a nice clear day, already warming up. We made good time down the trail, pausing to look at the Peter Wright anvil in its hiding place, and at the fork took the East Trail, passing Joe Steiner's grave on the way to the hotel site, where we rested, and fired up our GPS units, taking a waypoint of the site.
Then we continued east on the Low East Trail, to the Pool of the White Boulders, where Moonshine Ravine meets the river. Here a strange bluff of white, apparently quartzose rock rises steeply from the water, constricting the channel, and the river has scoured deeply. This mass of rock is a bit of a conundrum, embedded within the serpentine.
From this pool we made our way downstream, fording the river to a long gravel bar opposite the hotel site. The river has grown fairly cold, and as I barefooted it slowly over the slippery rounded rocks, the cold began to bite with a certain painful intensity.
We forded again just upstream from "Joe Steiner's tunnel," as my friends Bernie & Harriet call it, who knew old Joe in the 1930s and '40s; but the tunnel, one of many in the immediate area, undoubtedly harks from an earlier day, and is the old George Opel tunnel, from at least as far back as the 1890s, when one of Opel's stepsons died in a cave-in in that very tunnel. And Opel is recorded as having a claim in that exact area in the mid-1870s, so the tunnel may date to that still earlier time. Today the entrance is collapsed.
“Excuse ME! I went swimming!”
This is Russell's family dog, “Lucky”—who was aptly
named—he lived his entire life in the N. Fk. canyon.
Continuing downstream, we negotiated a cliffy area flanked by deeper water, which demanded the usual cat-like sureness of hand and foot. Reaching another gravel bar, we stopped to skip rocks and eat watermelon. It was quite warm and we almost but not quite went swimming. There were a hellatious number of Foothill Yellow-Legged Frogs on the edges of the gravel bars, of all sizes, tho I saw no tadpoles.
Occasionally mergansers passed us in swift flight, low to the river, and the usual ouzels were seen and heard. I saw one dive right into some rapids.
For a time we were forced above the river into masses of large boulders, a little awkward, until we reached the old bridge site, where the trail climbs to the Gold Ring Mine farther west. We paused again and snacked before making west again for a couple hundred yards to the long deep pool at the very end of the West Trail. Lovers Leap rose 2400' above us to the west, with the shadows of afternoon deepening on its east face.
Then it was up up up and still more up and out. We reached the top of the trail around 5:30 p.m. Although, map-wise, we had followed only a very short reach of the North Fork, it seemed much longer.