December 28 (1975, 1978, 1979, 2002, 2006)
“Thoroughly embedded in another winter”

12/28/75    a fresh, sunny day, with the north wind singing in the trees, very clear and bright. i am at a loss as to what to do; so i sit in wren shack, warm. i should go somewhere, do something ~ i had planned to take my grandmother and sisters out to canyonland today, but grandma isn't feeling well, so that is off.

such a fine day, i should go somewhere. somewhere beautiful, to explore. last winter i made many trips to the yuba river. this winter i have been so preoccupied with the land i've gotten and the truck that i've had time for little else. in fact, the preceding few months seem like a dream almost. my exaltation during and immediately following backpacking has been replaced by obsession with material gain: i have land, but need a truck; have land, but need more land; have land, and need a cabin to live on the land… […] yes, i'm preoccupied, and rightfully so. if this land is to be my home ~ and i want that ~ i should invest all of my energy into making it a good and viable home, by acquiring a bit more property ~ ideally inclusive of the meadow ~ and building a cabin. yes, i am preoccupied, and worried—worried that my dad might try to develop the property in some way, besides logging it. logging it will be bad enough. if he builds a road into the canyon ~ i don't know if i could ever forgive him. i am worried about this. […] and i see looming before me now the necessity to earn far more money than i have in recent years, since i now ~ to fulfill this goal ~ need more than bread money.

~ sunset here in wren shack. a do-nothing day. [...] climbed up to my perch in the cedar tree and enjoyed the view and the breeze. very little snow thus far in the high country, but the crystal range is well covered. below 7,000 ft. elevation practically none. such fine weather we've been having. [...] a tree frog croaks, wind like whispering surf swishing through the trees. buzzing wren. likes to clamber around on my cabin so much, i've been wondering if i might leave some crumbs or seeds out for it. are wrens seed-eaters? i shouldn't think seeds would form the bulk of their diet; their bills are too long, thin, and curved. a good probing beak, a good crevicing tool. they are probably exclusively insect eaters, bugsters, i think. i should gather up the dead flies and wasps from my window sills and put them on the porch header. a cricket chirps; been too cold for them for the most part, very quiet at night. winter is such a state of rest for nature ~ i noticed that the manzanita flowers of the a. viscida [Arctostaphylos viscida, Whiteleaf Manzanita] around my cabin are showing white already, and there seem to be many clusters on each bush. none are open yet at this elevation.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/28/78 ~ way before dawn. views high and bright; close to new moon, so i may not see it rise.

yesterday i went and got diane and brought her out here. we spent a very pleasant day together, and watched the sunset from the sparkly rocks vicinity. […]

today i have a date for a reading with cindy lester. then we've planned to come out here and hike around or whatever. i'd like to get a reading on my land ~ the springs, seeps, trees, and cliffs; also on my father's land and whether i will be on a ‘path with heart’ if i manage somehow to buy it. the school of my dreams?

i have been reading anaïs nin, ‘a woman speaks,’ and deriving much correspondence of perception and path. she speaks of the diary as a tool for self-knowledge, and inspires me to put more energy into my writing. to paint portraits of my friends. and to mention the re-awakening of interest in things psychic: it seems that i got too distorted about the Path and the psychic, intuitive mode of awareness. i was always trying to intellectually pigeonhole the ‘Path’ etc. into the ‘One True Way’ category, and using that side of myself and my grab-bag of ‘knowledge’ about astrology, yoga etc. to validate myself. as per my dream as a youngster: while escaping my feelings and the Mother (the ocean, in the dream), by climbing up to the north pole, i stepped on india ~ and it stretched! distortion; incongruous use of philosophy. i used the images of myself as yogi, myself as psychic, to create separation. when this dawned on me, i decided to hold all intellectualizing about the Path, and myself as yogi/psychic, in abeyance until such time as i could make the connection without distorting and creating distance between myself and others. has such a time arrived in my life?”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/28/79 the dark before the dawn. thoroughly embedded in another winter. a broken-down truck, so i walk through the snow and park the vw out by the cable. i made an appointment at heistercamps to get the truck fixed.

yesterday i went to grass valley in search of cross-country skis, and ordered a pair of mica base, three-pin bindings, boots, poles ~ $175 ~ bought a new jacket ~ $90 ~ sunglasses ~ $30 ~ merry christmas, Russell. will i have enough money to forge ahead with my latest scheme? namely, to add a room or two to this cabin? a bathroom with a hot shower and a flush toilet. [...]

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Sat, 28 Dec 2002 08:51:17 -0800
To: Valorie Farris, Mary Nichols
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Proposed Capitol-to-Capitol Trail: No!!!
Cc: North Fork Trails
Mary Nichols
Secretary, California Resources Agency

Dear Ms. Nichols,

I find in the Sacramento Bee of Monday, December 23, 2002, that

"The Placer Legacy open-space program has contributed $400,000. A commitment of $1.5 million in state grant funds came after Mary Nichols, secretary of the state's Resources Agency, was shown a 16-page booklet on the trail with photos of Palisades Falls in Royal Gorge along the north fork and Clipper Creek west of Lake Clementine outside Auburn."

I have been hiking and skiing in the great canyon of the North Fork American for over 30 years. I highly value its scenic and wilderness qualities. The idea of constructing a new trail up this remarkable canyon is extremely repugnant to me. I am quite surprised that the State of California would provide funding for such a project.

I have been to Palisade Falls. It is one of several wonderful waterfalls within what is called the Royal Gorge, where Snow Mountain rises 4,500 feet above the river. No trail traverses the Royal Gorge, and no trail ever should traverse it.

There are a number of historic trails which give access to this wild canyon, much of which has been designated a Wild & Scenic River. These historic trails are, to varying degrees, at risk from continued development in Placer County. I have repeatedly expressed my concern over the fate of these trails to Placer County District Five Supervisor Rex Bloomfield. He, however, seems more interested in building a kind of highway up the most precious part of the roadless wilderness left in Placer County, the American River Canyon.

Rex Bloomfield is a good and decent man, and I have always voted for him. However, I cannot support construction of a new trail up the American River Canyon.

To give but one example of what has been happening to the old trails in Placer County, the historic trail from Gold Run to Iowa Hill, crossing the American River Canyon at Fords Bar, and known as the Fords Bar Trail, is now closed to the public. Placer County allowed a subdivision on lands at the head of the trail, where a paved road was built, and named "Knobcone Road," to disguise its historic character.

There is very considerable opposition to this new "Capitol-to-Capitol" trail, which, as proposed by Supervisor Bloomfield, would closely parallel the North Fork American river.

It is possible that an alternate route could be contrived for this Capitol-to-Capitol trail, an alternate route which involves no new trail construction within the American River Canyon.


Russell Towle

Sunrise sky viewed from Moody Ridge, December 28, 2006

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