December 10 (1977, 1979, 1986, 1987, 2002)
~ First Sighting: Haliaeetus leucocephalus

12/10/77 ~ before dawn. what a creature of habit! awoke an hour before dawn, for the third morning in a row.

yesterday afternoon ron and rick (susan's husband) came over after tromping around the 40 [acres] that ron and his brothers are hoping to buy. They had ventured down the 1st metavolcanic spur west of the serpentine belt, the one i see profiled to the south-by-southwest from here. they found some incredible rocks down there with a kind of [botryoidal?] crust that seemed to be nearly solid metal, iron with curious green and gold washes on the crystal face; i have never seen the like. i'm feeling a lot better today and may hike over that way a little later this morning.

an incredible sunrise in the cloudy east. i could open up a view to the eastern horizon from here by cutting out some small douglas fir and canyon live oak. i don't want to expose this cabin to view any more than it is, in fact i want to thicken the screen between here and moody ridge to the southwest, but i think a screen of black oaks should be enough. if i leave all the small douglas fir, in a few years i won't have much morning sun.

Nearly everyone who visits this cabin is delighted by what they see, but without exception they are disturbed by the big window facing South. It has a crack, it is rectangular, and it bothers people. I take it for granted, but I've begun to contemplate what I could do with it to jazz it up.


~ early morning. a series of sharp shots nearby sent me hurtling up the trail, and over to the green valley trailhead. 3 Young men were camping there, fires blazing, and a rifle of small caliber lying nearby. i bid them good morning and gave them some rap about what the rules are: "i don't like to plaster the landscape with no trespassing signs, and if you guys stay cool i won't. i don't want this spot established as a camping spot; if you are discrete, you can camp at the old anderson camp. (i showed it to them.) don't tell a lot of people; if it's overused, i'll shut you down. no trash left behind. no shooting or hunting. clear around the fire pit.” that was the gist of it. i think this way is better then just out right ‘no trespassing.’ the green valley trail, my dad and i agree, should remain open. and i think a little bit of camping by old-time users (as these guys were) should be okay as long as they're responsible. i hope this works out. i should make some signs to mark the trail.

i would like to get in touch with some united stand people. where are they standing these days? where is the state standing? how about nevada and plaster counties? why has the issue died down, apparently?

~ later in the morning. i am lying here reading ‘portrait of jung’ and as usual delighting in his unique combination of a superbly developed rational side embellished by truly wide knowledge, and a strong intuitive, mystical, imaginative side. i was realizing what a country bumpkin i am comparatively speaking when a movement outside caught my eye and i glanced up—to see a bald eagle fly between the two big oaks below my cabin, continue at eye level on by the cabin and up the hill towards the meadow. i rushed out to try for another glimpse, and saw the eagle flying low between the oaks and pines at the lower end of the meadow. i hustled up there but did not see it again. a first for me ~ and what a glimpse! the white head and tail, and enormous size, are unmistakable.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/10/79 ~ before dawn. much clearing has transpired. much remains. alex henderson has been working for me. he'll be out here again today. and neil will be here tomorrow and wednesday, as well. weather permitting: after weeks of delightful sun and quite a few 80° days here, clouds have moved in. and i won't be much help: i burned my right shoulder, armpit, and breast; i was about to put in the new temperature bushing in the block, and had no idea, as i lay crammed like a pretzel in behind my right front wheel, that extremely hot water would gush out and burn the skin back in flaps from a large area. i'm extremely fortunate that my face was missed, just got a hard bump and burn on my forehead, right where my big scar lies. so i was injured in the same places i have been before: my right upper forehead, and my right shoulder. excruciating pain.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/10/86   Dear Diary: this is just to let you know that it is possible, here at 4000' elevation, to rise at dawn on a sunny morning and completely forego a fire; that is, the cabin is warm enough without one; the stove is cold, no coals from last night's little blaze. This is December, this is close to the winter solstice, this is the Sierra, this is a south-facing slope, this is a cabin perched upon the rim of one of the Sierra's great canyons, so that cold air can sink into the depths each night without pausing unduly along the way; and this is remarkable.

This is another sunny day, for which I am grateful; I haven't yet stocked up on firewood sufficiently, and it appears that we'll have more of this weather: fine, fine.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/10/87  Morning. Rain. In fact, rain for the eleventh day in a row. Yesterday, the rain was light but relentless, and probably amounted to a respectable total, perhaps an inch. It was (and is) what I think of as “warm-sector” rain—typified by a very generalized fog and mist, by (usually) light but steady precipitation, and by warm temperatures. The snow level has been up around 7000' over the past day or so.


Later: Rich just stopped by: it'd been a while; we had fun talking numbers, computers, and polyhedra. Then we tried, without success, to jump-start my car. In the rain. Mysterious.

The rain; the mist; it drifts, patters, obscures everything. I'm now running out of firewood.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 08:44:56 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Trail News
Cc: Drew Abrams, BLM

Hi all,

A little bit of trail news.

Tom M. reports a tree down across the Green Valley Trail down by the Echo Tree, about half-way to the river, trunks/branches six or eight inches in diameter. This sounds like my handsaw can take care of it, that is, not necessarily a chain saw.

Catherine O' Riley has at long last returned from Europe and reports a large accumulation of garbage on an old camping terrace below the Stevens Trail, Colfax side of the river; sounds like it's about two miles in. The last time I checked it was still possible to drive in to Burnt Flat, which would reduce the distance from garbage to vehicle to as little as a mile, maybe less. Here is her account:
>of mail. Around 1100 Neil suggested that we go
>for a walk since it was such a nice day. I
>decided on the Stevens Trail since it is close
>and easy. We hiked for a little over an hour and
>were on the long narrow stretch just before the
>trail disappears around a point to the left.
>About five minutes beyond the point there is a
>well worn trail down to the river. Along this
>trail are some lovely flat spots just above the
>river. It was here that we found a huge heap of
>trash. Just to the left of that was a large
>makeshift shelter covered with plastic for rain
>protection with heaps of trash all around it and
>in it. No one appeared to be there at that time,
>but I don't think it had been very long since
>someone had been there. Who's land is this and
>should someone be alerted to this mess?
I gave her the phone number of Drew Abrams, the most-local BLM Ranger.

An inch of rain has fallen overnight; Canyon Creek has come up a bit; in another week, if forecasts prove accurate, the waterfalls may be booming.

Such is some news.

Russell Towle

Date: Tue, 10 Dec 2002 15:44:59 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Land Acquisition, Tahoe National Forest

Hi all,

Most of you are aware that for years Tahoe National Forest (TNF) has sought to acquire private inholdings in and around the North Fork American River canyon. These private lands are the old "railroad lands" which President Lincoln gave to the Central Pacific Railroad in the 1860s. They passed to Southern Pacific, and then, during a corporate takeover scenario, around 1985, Southern Pacific sold these lands to various lumber companies, most prominently, Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI), which is busy clearcutting up and down California.

I believe that land acquisition in the North Fork American is absolutely crucial to preservation of its outstanding wilderness, wildlife, and scenic values. I received this "action alert" from the Trust for Public Land today (see below), which discusses the need to express support to our senators, Boxer and Feinstein. Please send letters, or faxes, or make telephone calls, on behalf of the North Fork American.

It is imperative your Congressional members hear from you [...]

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