November 11 (1975, 1985, 1986, 1988, 2000, 2001, 2002)
November Sun and Snow ~ “The voice of the North Fork has been raised again”

11/11/75 sunny & breezy day. fresh snow on the high ridges. sunlight on the floor, moving shadows and rounded pools of light, rounded by light scattering and stretched into ellipses on the plane of my floor… have heard about possible pecky cedar at sixty dollars per thousand. may go ahead on cabañita if it turns out to be true. a lot of birds moving about in the trees. bush tips, brush-shriekers, nuthatches, wrens. a good day.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

November 11, 1985

Morning. It is snowing. About a foot on the ground here, and close to twice that out towards Lovers Leap, where I skied yesterday. I visited Jon and Melody and then Jeanne and Jerry.

The tempestuous part of the storm is passed, and snow falls straight down. It is forecast to end sometime today, and there's a chance of thunderstorms before it does. Already thin spots in the clouds develop.

The snow was very wet, sticky, and heavy at first. It weighted the dogwoods and oaks down severely; while I was out skiing yesterday afternoon, a large branch broke right beside my cabin: noticing it upon my return, I thought at first that I would find a crushed bathroom, but luckily the branch had fallen from the tree right next to the bathroom, and missed it by at least two inches. Luckily: the branch ways over 1000 pounds. Many other trees have been felled or nearly felled by the weight of the snow accumulated on branches still not shorn of their leaves. Highway 80 has been closed since yesterday morning and the railroad as well. Ed and Tina are up, but I haven't seen them yet.

Looking out into the canyon, one can see thousands of snowflakes falling at once. If much more falls now there will be a lot more tree breakage. Already I am feeling better about my firewood supply: there may be half a cord in the large branch beside the cabin, and another large branch came down on the hillside above and to the west a little ways. 


Just returned from a little tour out to Moody Ridge Road. Nobody's been in or out yet today. It looks deep, difficult if not impossible to drive through.


Trees have blocked parts of my driveway and the snow is far too deep to consider driving the Toyota out no matter if it's chained up or no; if I want to see Ed and Tina, I'd better plan on skiing into Alta and Dutch Flat. No trains have been running so there is no oil along the tracks—yet. And, judging by the heavy snow falling now, there won't be for hours. I saw some of their signal wires brought down by fallen branches this morning, the snow is so particularly wet and sticky that the power and telephone lines are coated with snow on all sides, six inches thick, hundreds of pounds of snow on each wire. When I first went out this morning, the snow was cold and pleasantly fast; it warmed slightly, and began sticking to the base of my skis.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/11/86   [...]

Now, today is a lovely fall day; I just returned from clipping brush in the meadow. Yesterday I did nothing to speak of, clipping ceanothus and burning a live oak stump. I am tempted to plunge into a major round of clearing upon the Knoll. I should just cut firewood. But I resist, resist, thinking that I must move, I must go out into the world and seek my fortune, I must find a woman, and I can't handle another winter alone. And if the above is true, then why do I need firewood?

I need firewood because I am too lazy and stuck and will probably not get my act together but just sort of schlep along waiting for lightning to strike…”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/11/88 morning, at dawn, the clouds alight. Storm upon storm has spread gloom over the world for weeks now, it seems. People smile and piously remark that “we sure need it.” But, we don't need it: California agribusiness needs it.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 09:09:02 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Visit to Green Valley

Hi all,

Larry Hilberg
Tom Molloy, Larry Hilberg, Marsha & Michael Joyce, and I visited Green Valley yesterday. It was a lovely fall day, with a goodly amount of sunshine. With loppers in hand, we pursued a slow, but not entirely leisurely, course, clipping back many branches. I kept worrying that the trail crew would over-exert themselves on the main trail, and have no reserves left for the difficult job ahead, presented by opening what I call the High West Trail down to the West Meadow, below the Pyramid. I needn't have worried.

At a certain point, around the 2600-foot contour and thus 800 feet above the river, we set our packs down and struck off into the wilderness of Ginseng Ravine, to visit a cave in a terrace of cemented colluvium. This is one of two masses of cemented Pleistocene colluvium I know of at this exalted level above the river. They must be quite old. The clasts are about 98% serpentine, typically quite angular, with the remainder being rounded cobbles and boulders of andesite derived from the Mehrten Formation, over 1000 feet higher, along the rim of the canyon.

Continuing down the main trail, we took the right-hand fork which leads to the west end of Green Valley, to the Pyramid, the West Meadow, the hydraulic mines of the Green Valley Blue Gravel Mining Company, and also—by crossing the river—to the Gold Ring Mine. Chinese packers from Dutch Flat were still running strings of mules with supplies down to the Gold Ring Mine a scant one hundred years ago.

We took the right hand at another fork and were on the High West Trail. This is the trail the Chinese packers used, but it became overgrown and impassable. Our mission: to open the easiest path which presented itself, through a tangled mass of deerbrush and buckbrush and bay laurel and live oak and poison oak, down to the West Meadow.

For a while it looked bad. We eventually won through to the meadow and continued down to the river, passing the site of Mahaffy's House and Garden, so labeled on the General Land Office map of about 1866. Large areas there are covered with Vinca major, the classic ground-cover planting of days gone by. Soon we were passing the huge piles of boulders, the drain tunnel and sluice cuts, of the GVBGM Co. Here the Plestocene gravels make a well-defined terrace, the top of which is about 200 feet above the river.

We stopped for lunch at the river, just across from the Gold Ring Mine, which is at another large terrace of gravels, also about 200 feet above the river. Just upstream from here, on the south bank of the river and the slopes above, are some remarkable exposures of cemented gravels along with some fine-grained sediments.

After a time we decided to wade the river, flowing low and slow and cold, and visit the Gold Ring Mine. The cabin there is in a large meadow, with Lovers Leap looming over 2000 feet above, across the river, and old mining equipment scattered here and there. It is a log cabin and appears to date from the 1930s. Joe and Smiley Veach used to live here, and would wade around out in the river with a big glass jar, holding the jar down in the water a little ways, and looking through the bottom, for gold nuggets. Now someone else owns it.

We followed the trail back east from the Gold Ring, to where Joe Steiner's suspension bridge stood, in the 1930s and 1940s. The rough and rusty old cables can still be seen, straggling along the north bank of the river. From here one can look upstream to the second-highest known accumulation of Pleistocene gravels in Green Valley, at Snakehead Point, 600 feet above the river.

We waded back across, which wading, incidentally, was extremely painful, due to the coldness of the water; it felt like needles were being jammed into my feet. Then it was back up the West Trail, then the High West Trail, then the main trail. We made it to the top just before five p.m.

It was a very nice day in Green Valley, and an amazing amount of work was accomplished on the various trails. The black oaks are blushing very prettily now, and the cottonwoods and willows and rhododendrons are glowing shades of yellow.

I took a lot of pictures of the Pleistocene sediments and will put up a few on my Green Valley web page soon.

Date: Mon, 11 Nov 2002 14:58:05 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Storm

Hi all,

Today the sun appeared after a long absence. Rainfall exceeded seven inches here at 4000' elevation for the period Thursday 11/7 through early Monday 11/11. At North Fork Dam (Lake Clementine), on the North Fork below Auburn at 715' elevation, the USGS maintains a streamflow sensor and the output is spooled to a web site,

where one can also access other data, for instance, see below, the average daily flow, in cubic feet per second, over the period from October 29 through November 10, with my own addition of the high and lowest flows for today, November 11.

10/29/2002 45
10/30/2002 44
10/31/2002 44
11/01/2002 44
11/02/2002 45
11/03/2002 46
11/04/2002 46
11/05/2002 46
11/06/2002 46
11/07/2002 58
11/08/2002 291
11/09/2002 1087
11/10/2002 625
11/11/2002 1170 at 12 a.m., down to 871 at 2 p.m.

Snow is visible in the upper canyon, on the Sierra Crest, Snow Mountain, Wabena Point, and Big Valley Bluff. The voice of the North Fork has been raised again after a long quiet time. No one knows what lies ahead, whether drought or flood.


Russell Towle

“East Knoll" appearing through lifting fog, Green Valley, November 11, 2002

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