December 11 (1977, 1979, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 2007)
Odd Barking ~ Lovingkindness ~ A Wind Storm ~ A Mountain Lion

12/11/77   upon consulting my almanac, i found that the bald eagle visited me [described in 12/10/77 entry] at nearly the precise instant of new moon, which was 9:33 a.m.

now a golden streak crowns humbug ridge and although the weather has been super for hiking around, i would feel better if it rained some, once in a while, anyway.

yesterday neil and gary stopped by for a tour of the rare volcanic ash cliffs on my dad's land, east of here a few hundred yards. we've fantasized carving out rooms into the cliffs. actually, i would love to buy that land and give it to neil. merry christmas, neil: here are some cliffs loosely wrapped in oak and manzanita, with a few ribbons of digger pine.

actually, the lack of rain has slowed me down on all my projects around here. i've been taking a break, with the idea in mind that once the rainy season begins in earnest i'll be forced to build my sink, my privy; i'll have to bury my waterline and burn my brush ~ but the rainy season is delaying. it's not my fault! of course all these tasks would be easier if i did them while the weather is nice.

i am so delighted to live here, and thank god & my lucky stars especially all my friends who have given me so much support and help and, in a word, lovingkindness.

well, it is cloudy. perhaps i can work on my sink.

there are an astounding number of beetle-killed trees around the canyon. the drought has weakened them below the critical threshold, and the beetles move right in. there are several on my land that i should cut down.

dreams again, of women and burning barns, but little that i can bring back… maybe that's why i'm holding back on completing my cabin: legend decrees that once i do, the dream lover of a lifetime will come and move in with me ~ trouble is, i'm enjoying living alone too much, so i'm putting it off by delaying my cabin.

~ a little later in the morning. i had just finished writing the previous, and made myself a second mug of coffee, when i heard sharp barking sounds that seemed to come from quite close, in the direction of the digger pine cliff ~ someone taking a walk with their dog so early in the morning? i threw a a log on the fire and ran down to the cliffs as the barking continued. i saw no one there, and cautiously edged out on the clifftop, thinking someone must be hiking down the green valley trail. listening closely, i heard two animals moving through the brush, one to the west and one to the east. both could've been humans. then the eastern one began barking again, and i strained to see it and anticipate when it would emerge from the canyon live oaks into a grove of leafless black oaks where i could see it. meanwhile the western entity was stepping slowly and deliberately along, and with a series of quick glances i realized that it, too, was about to emerge into a small clearing at the base of the serpentine cliffs.

the eastern entity emerged first, and was a dog-like animal that had a whitish area around the upper chest and neck. i couldn't get a very good look at it though, and it soon disappeared into evergreen cover, occasionally letting out high-pitched barks.

the western entity emerged second, and proved to be an eight-point buck ~ what a rack! he was only fifty yards from me, and paused in full view to listen to the barking. then he too disappeared into evergreen cover.

i decided to try for a better look at the barking animal, and hustled over to the green valley trail, descending as quietly as i could, and pausing at the spring, which i noted was flowing better than it had been 2 weeks ago—that five inches of rain must be already augmenting its flow.

i heard the barking again below me somewhere, so i tiptoed down the trail, but never caught a glimpse, the creature quieted down and stayed hidden. so i rounded off the excursion by contouring eastward until i was below the volcanic ash cliffs we visited yesterday, and wandered about hunting up indian artifacts, not to collect but just to remember. along with the vegetation maps, spring maps, & geological maps i want to make for this area, i would like to make an indian map… i saw another large buck near the volcanic ash cliffs, which are in the domain of the “bellowing and barking deer’—i have heard them bellow and bark (more like a raspy cough) over in that area recently.

the clouds cover the sky in a very promising way, and over the sierra crest they are of very finely drawn textures and shading.

~ a few showers. i have begun framing the sink/countertop.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/11/79 dawn… yesterday jon & i made a materials list for the ophir hill firehouse job. putting together a bid. then back here to run burn piles with alex h., who has been a real big help. good worker. back at it today, with neil. time to consolidate, rake, level, get seed in. haul firewood. clean up the edges. then attack full force, weather permitting.


the burn is painful when i move my shoulder—shifting gears, anything. ugly as can be. lucky it wasn't my face. i put the aloe vera on it too. another gorgeous sunny day.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/11/83   the most amazing wind-storm howls through the trees, hurtling dead branches, leaves and raindrops uphill past the cabin.

The worst may be over; I think I've experienced nearly the equal of any windstorm so far on Moody Ridge.

Cabin fever: one rainy day follows another.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

December 11, 1985

A marvelous thing just happened: I'd been up in the loft reading Coxeter's Regular Polytopes (of which more later), and decided to come downstairs, or down-ladder, as it happens. Just as I reached the floor I saw movement outside and stepped to the big window. A mountain lion stood 10 feet away from me, just below the cabin! It appeared to hear my tread inside the cabin, and walked slowly down the hill towards the cliffs and out of sight. I went outside and perched on the big boulder, trying for a last glimpse, but it had gone. Then I came back inside, noted the time (8:46 A.M.), put on my down jacket to protect me from the cold, and went out for another look, following its trail down to the cliffs. No sign of it. No trail, either, the ground is frozen and not enough snow remains to force the lion to walk on it; and it appears it avoided the snowy patches. This lion passed within five feet of the cabin when I first glimpsed it, stood still at a distance of ten feet for about five seconds, and then ambled slowly away, for a total viewing time of about 20 seconds. It was darker in color than I had visualized them, and with tail was perhaps five and a half or six feet in length, standing about 2 feet high across the top of the shoulders, with a thick fluffy tail and the characteristic small head; it looked in fine condition, and one could sense the power in the animal, fluid feline grace.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/11/86 [...]

Later. Sunrise plus. Muscles sore from working at the Big Oak. Sunny, but with just enough high filmy cirrus to filter and blunt the light and warmth. However it will be warm later in the day.

Back out to the Oak today.

Night. Another mid-day at Lover's Leap, working around the Big Oak.

Received a letter from Pete Wilson, re mine of a few days past. He wishes to know any details of Forest Service mismanagement. So I may compose a letter to him tonight.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/11/88 Morning, just before dawn [... Yesterday] I visited Alex and Teri and Nathan, Charlie Prince and Jim Tobin were also in attendance. The westering sun had an irresistible lure, so I left and went to the Manzanita Miracle Trail, hiking out [...] to the sunny open slopes of pure manzanita.

[Today] the sun is up and warm on my back and it will be a glorious day.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Land Acquisition, Green Valley
[North Fork Trails blogpost, December 11, 2007: ]
I hear tell that an important land acquisition has taken place, in Green Valley, just upstream from Giant Gap. The Siller Brothers Timber Company has owned these lands since at least as early as 1976. The land lies about in the center of Green Valley and carries a fine stand of pine timber, which the Sillers wished to helicopter log, back in 1976.

The Sierra Sun reports:
Two conservation groups have purchased 94 acres of land along the upper reaches of the American River’s north fork. The Placer Land Trust and the American River Conservancy acquired two parcels totaling 94 acres of land within the North Fork’s wild and scenic river corridor for $100,000 from the Siller Brothers Timber Company. The land is located southeast of the Gold Run area on Interstate 80. All the funding was provided by matching grants from private sources, including the United Auburn Indian Community in Rocklin. Placer Land Trust Executive Director Jeff Darlington accepted $50,000 from the United Auburn Indian Community for the Giant Gap project.

“The North Fork American River Canyon, and particularly the area around Giant Gap, has been a focus area of Placer Land Trust since our inception in 1991,” said Darlington. The North Fork American River was added to the national system of Wild and Scenic Rivers in 1979.

“This acquisition brings one of the most spectacular river canyons in the western United States one step closer to full Wild & Scenic protection,” said Alan Ehrgott, ARC Executive Director. “We are very thankful for the cooperation and assistance that Siller Brothers has provided to us and the public for their support in this purchase.”

Ownership to the recently acquired 94 acres will be held by ARC until title can be transferred to the Tahoe National Forest for management as Wild & Scenic River lands.
This is great news. There remain a number of other private parcels in Green Valley which should also be acquired. Also, the Sillers own, or owned until very recently, the critically important 590 acres in and around Lost Camp, which contain the head of the China Trail. I hope that the Placer Land Trust and the American River Conservancy will become involved there, as well.

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