November 2 (1977, 1978, 1980, 1986, 2005, 2007)
The Old Man and the Young Man

11/2/77   morning… worked on the trail into this place yesterday, trying to effectively disguise the route. it is pretty good. cut some cedar rounds last night for my path they will be kind of awkward to bring in now that the roads are blocked, and my trail zig-zags considerably, but i kind of like having a cabin reached only on foot.

some real asshole people have been coming through on the green valley trail. i haven't seen them, only their cars, and their trash, which is abundant. for example, at the point where the trail leaves the road, they left two smashed whiskey bottles, several beer cans, a pack of cigarettes, etc. i piled the stuff up so i could come back and pick it up. today i went to get it and found that it had been thrown onto the middle of the road. i suspect it was the same bunch.

just saw a golden eagle. well, to work on the kitchen wall […]

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/2/78   dawn. fog in the canyon, but light in the cabin. giant gap ridge with a multiple arch of fog over the fault zone—a chance coincidence? i've seen it so many times over that one spot.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/2/80   [...]

i've excavated an area beside my cabin to add on a room for a shower & perhaps a toilet. now i need to work on the foundation.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/2/86 Morning. Now, today Ed and I plan to climb Old Man Mountain. And that is good. Today seems the twin of yesterday, and yesterday was surely one of the most beautiful days I've ever seen. The air is clear clear clear, and colors are very bright, so that even with a November sun one seems to need sunglasses. Sharp and bright, warm and breezy, Northeast winds; oaks and dogwoods still carry leaves, so colors are rich. Rich and jewel-like: looking out to the blue canyon through the sparkling green of live oak is incredible, yes, incredible, and a canyon wren comes to visit, the first in weeks, as though to say, this day is special, this day is November plunging towards winter but turning back for one last warm embrace with summer. Last? Who knows. We could see Indian Summer stretch into December and return in January. Or Fate could ring the curtain down and storm upon storm could beat this enchanted landscape into a soggy submission.


So I busy myself with clipping ceanothus integerrimus, and burning their tenacious rootstocks and burls, and take delight in the beauty of the world, and the years roll by.

It should be nice to be up on the Old Man today. A lotta rock up there. Haven't been up there since 1972, when I climbed it alone, having ridden my Honda Dream into Fordyce on the horrendous road, which, they say, or rather Cindy (of the Gold Run Café says), has been improved.

I remember junipers on edges, and high upon the shoulder of the Mountain, a tiny pond circled by hemlocks and moss; it will be wonderful. Wonderful.

Ah, now the sun begins to warm the cabin.

10 years ago I was building this cabin.

And later: just returned from Ed & Tina's, where we had a light dinner after conquering the Old Man. The Old Man was windy today, gusting over fifty miles per hour, but the lakes and tarns were sparkling, and it was very nice to be out and about.

We arrived at Fordyce at noon, and made it back to the dam by about 5:15 PM. Ascended via the east ridge and descended via the south buttress. I had forgotten the old stone cabins up on Old Man, near the highest lakelet. We were the third party to have signed in to the summit register, it having been placed yesterday.

Do I feel very much the same man who climbed the mountain in 1972? Of course the answer is, yes and no.

The man who climbed Old Man Mountain in 1972 was so very uncertain of things; he was hoping to somehow find (miraculously; not through real effort) a job leading people on hikes in the wilderness; he was hoping against hope that he would meet a woman to love; he was, in lieu of anything easier, working for his father in Grass Valley, and often feeling very angry with said father. It was an intolerable situation ameliorated only partially by his access to the Sierra, that is, not only living in the Sierra, but able to journey to the high country, or to the South Yuba River, for hiking and communing with Nature.

This man was outraged at both himself and Fate that he should be living and working with his father, and after years determined to leave, and hiked the High Sierra for a summer to get ready for something new; whereupon his good friend and lover, Laura, (Lora), (he still can't spell her name), called up on the phone, and spoke of land her family had, near Grass Valley…

Moody Ridge. And it seemed to offer a final departure from family troubles. But no. His father followed him, intent upon ruining what ever good his son may have found.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

“Elderberry Meadow”, Moody Ridge, November 2, 2005.

Giant Gap from the north side, looking southwest, November 2, 2007.
The Lovers Leap ‘steps’ in the foreground, the Pinnacles across the canyon

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