November 26 (1979, 1985, 1996, 2002)
“Ah, romance” ~ The Flaming Sky ~
A Tour of BLM lands near Gold Run

11/26/79   stormy weather, within and without. [...]

ah, romance, the blues. music pours forth. rainstorms. symphonia. barrages of feelings.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

November 26, 1985

After a day of sun, the fog returns, hangs in a characteristic bank in Giant Gap, with shreds detaching from the bank to make “the arch” over the fault on Giant Gap Ridge Spur. See 11/25.”


I just witnessed one of the more spectacular sunsets in my life. The sky overhead and to the east was a mass of flame. It is Wednesday, 26 November; I wrote something earlier today. I found, by experimentally tipping the typewriter this way and that, that by placing a book—my copy of Juvenal's Satires, as it happens—beneath the right-hand edge of the machine, the ‘a’ hardly sticks at all. The typewriter has a sort of sexy bounce, too.

The flaming sky—the flaming sky—


… now the skies have cleared and stars fling their rays about cheerily. Feathery little clumps of light divinely bright. Feathery little plumes; plumey little feathers…

Trials and tribulations. Suddenly the “s” sticks, then the “e” and then the “g”, and I pick the damn machine up and thump it a good one across its bottom, and now, and now—it works again.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

November 26, 1996

Having neglected my journal for a while, I must recapitulate. [...]

Also Dave Lawler hired me to help him survey some mining claims on jade deposits in the Coast Ranges of Trinity County, near the North Fork of the Eel River, on Red Mountain Creek. I spent a week camping out in this remote canyon and hiking up and down over hill and dale and generally just wearing myself out; for which I was paid $1200.00.

So, after such a long period of extreme poverty, I am now possessed of a little money. I would really like to get a small music system for my cabin. Ever since Gay moved in, 8 years ago about, I have had no music. The very day she arrived, while I was trying to hook up my trusty old boom box to my 12-volt system, I inadvertently crossed the wires, and zap! No more boom box. Oh, those were difficult, difficult times. It was a freezing cold winter, with pipes frozen and broken, no firewood, and so on and so forth. It was truly horrible.

I have been trying to promote my Coffin diary a little; an article about it appeared in the Sacramento Bee, and also Dave Lawler and I were written up in that same newspaper, with regard to our efforts to protect the petrified wood in Dutch Flat. An effort which proceeds uncertainly.


[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 2002 16:15:52 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: BLM Ranger
CC: Drew Abrams, BLM

Hi all,

This morning I met BLM Ranger Drew Abrams, whose office is in Nevada City, to show him the garbage cached at the top of the Canyon Creek Trail. Drew is mainly engaged in patrolling BLM lands near the South Yuba, but does occasionally patrol around the North Fork American. He was not familiar with Gold Run so I offered to give him a tour.

Since Chris Schiller and I had seen the tracks of a light truck near the trailhead, last Saturday, and a telephone call to Mark Pohley, one of the principals of Gold Run Properties (GRP), which own 800 acres of land in the Gold Run Diggings, had established that Mark himself had not made those tracks, it followed that some way must exist for "the general public" to drive into the Diggings. I had noted that one of GRP's massive steel gates was open near the Dutch Flat exit, and Drew and I drove in there first.

However, that road dead-ended in a marsh. So we proceeded to the next exit west on I-80, where a road leads into the Diggings behind Jim Heistercamp's old Hi Sierra Motors, said road blocked by a large concrete barrier. Two weeks ago I had noted tracks in the mud of a nearby road, which led away from the barrier, so Drew and I tried that.

We struck pay dirt—gold, my friends—and soon were on the Main Diggings Road, heading south past Stewart's Pond to the Paleobotanist Trail and the side road east to the trailhead. Drew thinks that in a month or so he may be able to bring a BLM truck in and get the garbage. I think we ought to take care of it sooner than that, before our road access into the Diggings is lost.

We hiked on down the Canyon Creek Trail to the great tunnel of the Gold Run Ditch & Mining Co. (1873), and looked over Tunnel Camp. It is OK now, tho I am sad that the miners not only left their heaps of garbage but also dug up the last "old" patch of bricks, left over from the steam engine which compressed the air which powered the drilling machine which made the tunnel.

Returning to Drew's 4WD, we left the Diggings and drove to the next Gold Run exit west, took Magra Road west, then Garrett Road, south, and visited The Bluffs, an unmarked, unpublicized tract of BLM land, with enormous pine trees and fine views across the Diggings, and out to the North Fork canyon. Then we drove to the end of Garrett Road, so I could show Drew the BLM gate there.

There, in the southernmost part of the Gold Run Diggings, there is a preponderance of BLM land. That is quite an interesting area to hike around in. The Pickering Bar Trail drops down to the North Fork, about a half mile in from the gate. This is one of the steeper and nastier trails leading to the river.

Since Drew is our closest BLM Ranger, you may wish to make a note of [the] telephone number [to reach him via the] main BLM office in Folsom: (916) 985-4474.


Russell Towle

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