November 14 (1975, 1978, 2005, 2007)
A Virtual Flight up the North Fork Canyon

11/14/75 midafternoon. a hazy altocumulus deck sweeps in slowly, advance guard of the storm. […]

the prunus subcordata bushes [Sierra Plum] around my cabin have now lost all of their leaves. save for one straggler, and contrast sharply with the rhamnus [California coffeeberry], whose leaves are still mostly on, though yellow in color.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/14/78   early morning. snow all over the place. It started on the tenth and kept it up until yesterday afternoon, when tim, sandra, valdemar, david and denise, and dana and i went to casa loma to catch an incredible sunset.

michael and i stopped working on the tenth, and let the snow fly. i retreated to my cabin, and [ ... ]
the next morning about a foot of snow had fallen during the night. we spent a pleasant morning, and were treated to incredible spectacles of fog and snow twirling about the canyon. the sun started to come through. it was glorious.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Mon Nov 14 16:09:13 2005
To: ryan kramer
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: nfa, royal gorge
>read all the information I can find about Willis
>Gortner and the petroglyphs on the internet. I am
>considering purchasing a copy of Gortner's book. I
>was wondering if there is a copy of the map that you
>refer to in his book. I would also like to know if
>you have any other suggestions on literature
>pertaining to the history of settlers or natives in
>the North Fork area. Please understand that my
>curiosity comes with no malitious intent to these
>sights or there surroundings. Only a true love and
>appreciation for such a sacred place.
Wabena Point is indeed one of the most sacred spots on earth.

An archeologist named John Betts lives in Tahoe City and has studied these petroglyphs more than Gortner, even. Look up his number and give him a call, ask if he has time to talk.

The Martis people made distinctive spear points and these are almost always found near the glyphs. Plus, the Maidu and Washoe people claimed to know nothing about the glyphs. Hence the glyphs are considered to be Martis in age.

For history, since you search the internet, keep on searching—there is more than you imagine.

The old railroad photos of Hart and Muybridge.

There are sites (not "sights" by the way) like Making of American and so on which have online libraries of historical stuff. The Library of Congress has an amazing California site with Gold Rush diaries online etc. etc. All these are searchable databases to just type in "Soda Springs" or "Royal Gorge" and see what comes up. Or Broaden to "Donner Pass" or "Tahoe."

A map in the Gortner book? I have only seen his thesis-thing, in the Auburn Library. It had a map. Dots on topo quads.

I have an email list to which I send descriptions of hikes, environmental issues, geology, etc., around the NF, I can add you if you'd like.


Russell Towle

Date: Mon Nov 14 16:12:33 2005
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: Answered My Own Question - White Dots on Rocks
>Following Bear Creek downstream toward Cache Creek Canyon, you may notice a whitish residue on the creekside boulders and gravel bars. A distinct odor and color are associated with Cache Creek, largely due to the high concentration of dissolved salts which precipitate out on these rocks. These precipitates contain a high percentage of boron, which is necessary as a trace element in plants but is toxic to plants in higher concentrations. Other precipitates include calcium and magnesium. Downstream folks with well water fed by Cache Creek aquifers in Yolo County often see and taste the evidence of these salts in the films which form on coffee and tea made from tap water and in brown or burned tips of leaves of ornamental trees and shrubs irrigated with well water.
Ah ha!

And you ask, why is the ocean salty?

Because rivers are salty. In fact, every river varies as to how —salty-or "hard—its water is. The NF is quite sweet and soft.

Date: Mon Nov 14 16:16:34 2005
To: Ron Gould
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: HOUT work
>Catherine says that you two worked all day on the HOUT and did not get
>out til dark. She was very excited about what you two accomplished.
>Occasionally I try to think about how to fix the HOUT at Bogus Gully.
>Timbers to span those sections? Rock work? Rock and mortar? A
>ladder? Fixing that crossing would be nice.
Yeah we had quite the little work session out there, coulda used you for sure. We made about a hundred yards of trail but it involved removing some big toyon bushes with deeply rooted burls. Then in another place, a bedrock outcrop which forced a fill nearby. I hate fills. Some dry-laid stone to hold up the fills would have been good. But we're pleased with what we did.

Saw two different species of flowers and a big gopher snake pretending to be a rattler! Hissed at me, arched its neck at me!

Bogus Gully: I'm still dreaming about the Sluice Iron Bridge. A small thing, hugging the rocks. As simple and unobtrusive as could be.

“The Flight”
November 14, 2007


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