November 29 (1975, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1988, 2004, 2007)
“Something is probably wrong. Thus, fixable.”
~ Manzanita Miracle Trail

11/29/75 [... This journal segment includes 8 handwritten pages of reflection by Russell about his internal life up to this point. It is not specific to his life in the North Fork canyon so I don't include it all here; but some readers might find it interesting, illuminating—contact me if you'd like a transcript. The following bit came from the middle of that long entry. —Gay (graiabelle at gmail) ]

~ so i say, in recollecting a sunny afternoon, stoned, in linda adams house in portola valley, with milton taulbee, when i also realized that chasing ghosts was fruitless. chase no ghosts, russ—be here now—but my ‘being here now’  often involves me in rapturous reflections of the divine in man and nature ~ and when i try to sing, or tell, or share these reflections, i fail. that it is of vital importance that this particular manzanita bush is here and not over there, that this mountain is here and nowhere else, i cannot seem to communicate. this is my life! this is our life! this is the world we live in, for now anyway, this one, right here, and now! it is marvelous, mysterious, magnificent, and we are right in the thick of it all! and we won't be here very long, so let us look while we can, and sing of it while we can! [...]

enough of this. really, i am not doing so very badly in my life… cloudy today, fresh snow above the 4000 foot contour. cold—midday and still down to freezing. [...]

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/29/80   Still haven't got the water circulating properly. The tank is slowly warming; it is about 90° or something now. Very slow. Very disappointing—but a ray of hope: something is probably wrong. Thus, fixable.

Last night, after an experimental long sequence of opening & shutting the cold water valve on the sink, I drew some air bubbles up through the pipes ~ perhaps from the Holly. I hoped I had broken the air blockage and that the system would siphon. But no. I still have to open & shut the cold water to get it to circulate through the Holly. So the tank heats very slowly.

Two solutions present themselves ~ 1. a) devise a a way to force water through the holly in volume to release the air ~ once it's filled with water it should hold; 1. b) install an automatic air valve on the hot lead out of the Holly; or 2. take the check valve out and loosen the tension on the spring (could the check valve be malfunctioning because of air bubble in Holly allowing water from the ambient pressure in cold supply to hold it shut, thus breaking the thermosiphon, or rather, preventing it? I think the answer is yes. So a looser spring on the check valve might help—although I think the real culprit would be the air bubble.

Worst possible case is that the tank is simply not high enough above the Holly for proper thermosiphon ~ but no, the reversal of direction—heating of the cold line in rather than the hot line out—is a crucial clue. Also the mechanism of opening & shutting the cold water at the sink to circulate water through the Holly. This means a pressure drop in the cold supply line, allowing check valve to open and release hot water from Holly into tank. So the problem must be a check valve held closed, and the only way I can visualize that is by means of an air bubble in the Holly ~ a bubble which can be pressurized, shrunk, thus forcing the check valve shut. I think this must be the case. But I'll have to drain the tank to fix it, and it's lukewarm now, and I do so want a shower.

Clouds cover the sky after two balmy 80° days. A large storm.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/29/82   Rain, rain, rain. For many days, it seems I've been huddling in my cabin. Reading, reading ~ Pompeii and Herculaneum, [Tazaief?] and his craters, Rome, the Greek historians, etc. etc.

The storms are forecast to continue and the snow line to fall down to perhaps 2500'.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/29/86   Morning; a second snowfall occurs, this one from the oak branches, as the sun hits my back on Moody Ridge, on the twenty-ninth day of November, Year of Their Lord 1986.


BLM is planning to come up here December 5th to clear undergrowth from around the Big Oak. They are continuing negotiations with Gray over the lands near Lovers Leap.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

11/29/88   Afternoon; I am home after a noon at Alex and Teri's place, followed by a hike on my Hidden Manzanita Miracle Trail, recently discovered west of Gold Run. I've been out there several times now, the past two days in a row, with my little bow saw, pruning back manzanita and live oak branches, wandering far and beyond, over hill and dale, but mainly around hill and dale, since the Manzanita Miracle Trail is just an old hydraulic mining ditch. I've followed it for about a half or three-quarters of a mile, as it winds into vast arenas of manzanita, with views opening to the south and west and embracing a goodly portion of central California. The coast ranges from (say) 50 miles south of Mt. Diablo up to Mendocino County are within this view; and pine forests feather the ever-receding ridges on all sides. The North Fork canyon is partly visible (if one knows what to look for—like the ‘gap’ in the canyon rim over towards Iowa Hill that is so conspicuous from this side.)”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Euchre Bar Trail, New Damage
 [North Fork Trails blogpost, November 29, 2004: ]
Tom Martin of Alta wrote:

"I hiked to Euchre Bar Trail from Green Valley on November 26 and noticed
tractor-like tracks similar to those tracks observed earlier in the year.
By the time I reached the old Cosby (sp) residence, the noise from the
vehicles became quite noticeable. I stood on the concrete apron and watched
two ATVs pass. It appeared that the vehicles had 2005 tags.

"I followed their tracks across the bridge to the trail leading to Dorer
Ranch. They had turned around where the old downed log is located near the
summit of the first rise.

"I went back to the residence site to eat lunch where I met a couple hiking
down from Iron Point. When I asked if they had seen two ATVs, they answered
that a pickup pulling a trailer with two ATVs passed them at the second
railroad crossing.

"The ATVs displaced several large boulders at several switchbacks."

This makes the second time, at least, in 2004, when OHV's of some sort have damaged the Euchre Bar Trail. The first time they seemed to have entered by going around the Dorer Ranch gate, at the head of the Euchre Bar Trail on the Foresthill side of things. This time they went in directly from Iron Point. Some kind of special barrier should be erected each trailhead.

If anyone else knows of OHV incursions on foot trails I would be very glad to hear about it.

Although CDF promised, on November 3, to send me the timber harvest plans for the area out by Four Horse Flat (near Loch Leven lakes), where recent damage to the Big Granite Trail occurred (thanks to Tom Martin and Julie)—no documents have been received. The public comment period will probably be over before I even see these documents, at this rate.

Oh well, I'll get on the phone and try to bust the documents loose, somehow.

Lost Camp, etc.
[North Fork Trails blogpost, November 29, 2007: ]
Ron Gould has put up a web page about the road/trail closure at Lost Camp, see
[The link is defunct; this trail blockage issue has been resolved, through efforts of NFARA (link in right sidebar). The trail is open and accessible at this time. —Gay]
There is all kinds of interesting stuff there. Thanks, Ron!

Also re Lost Camp, Ed Stadum, the lead attorney, pro bono, on our successful legal battle to re-open the historic road down to Smart's Crossing (on the Bear River above Dutch Flat), back in 1984, took interest in our Lost Camp problem, and drove out there with Jim Johnson, an Alta resident, to see for himself. Ed lives in Germany now and is not in a position to assume legal command with Lost Camp, but he has offered important advice. Ron Gould and Jim Johnson will meet soon with the man who (illegally) gated the Lost Camp road, and try to reason with him.

The closure of the Lost Camp road, and thus, public access to the China Trail, is an absurdity and a crime. It is lamentable that Tahoe National Forest has not intervened directly, but the Forest has changed a lot, in its philosophy, since the days when rangers actually patrolled and maintained the good old trails. In those days, which ended, let us say, around 1960, the forest rangers would not tolerate the closure of any Forest trail. I know, for instance, the family which once owned the land at the head of the Green Valley Trail, from 1931 to 1975, and in the 1950s, they put a gate on the road to the trailhead. Tahoe National Forest rangers visited them and told them they had to immediately remove the gate. They complied.

Nor has Placer County intervened. Were either entity, TNF or the County, to simply do their jobs, i.e., protect the public interest, that gate would have come down many moons ago.

At any rate, for more information check out Ron's Lost Camp web page.

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