Decenber 8 (1975, 1977, 1985, 1987)
Jim and Carla, of Dutch Flat and the Rawhide ~ A Trapped Wren, a Trapped Man

12/8/75 ~ early morning in wren shack ~ a fine, sunny morning with extremely good visibility ~ and surprisingly warm for a december day.

i have been putting a lot of energy into la troca, and yesterday craig came over and welded up about fifteen cracks and braces in the body, so that it is nice and tight and strong again, except for the two rear posts of the bed. took it for a test drive up to donner summit yesterday, and sledded around in the snow near castle peak with jim and tim. the truck did fine except for some mysterious stalling just as we returned to grass valley. [...] a truck is an ongoing project. i am almost as focused on the truck now as i was on clearing a road into cabaƱita a couple of months ago.


yesterday morning as i went out to take the hood off in preparation for craig's welding activity, to my amazement a wren ~ bewick's wren ~ was trapped in the passenger compartment. i quickly let him out. then this afternoon i was poking around the floor boards and found a tiny trade bead, a little blue-striped white that is a perfect match to some that i have found out at broken orchard.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/8/77   thursday morning, before dawn. cold! (not freezing) ~ the old moon hanging in the east. awoke long before dawn while the stars were still bright. i was shivering.… [...]

had a real nice day yesterday with dana. we went up to baxter to videotape the wild cats being fed at the truck stop. there are about twenty or thirty wild cats there, and once a day they are fed by one or another of the women who waitress at the truck stop.we also got some tape of some of the big rigs pulling in and out, and the men who drive them.


the sky is as clear as clear. yesterday dana and i went out to lovers leap to catch the sunset, but just as we got there a cloud came swirling up giant gap and soon we were enfogged. the clouds moved steadily up canyon, then mysteriously dissipated at the entrance to green valley, the upcanyon end of giant gap. we saw a hawk perched on a dead pine. we were cold.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

December 8, 1985

Morning. Partly cloudy; a bit of snow fell overnight, and I can't drive out yet. Last night I took a shower, after nursing the stove along for most of the day to make enough hot water. The system could be greatly improved. A smaller tank, located inside the cabin, near the stove itself, would work wonders.

It became known to me several days ago that Jim Williams, Carla's father, died last week, just before Thanksgiving. The circumstances of his death remain somewhat of a mystery. I had many a pleasant conversation with Jim in the Monte Vista, and clearly recall his appearance; large, loose-limbed, a few tattoos; always tan; he and Carla did numerous painting jobs in the Dutch Flat area over the eleven years they were here. Jim always seemed fit. He and Carla were particular friends with Dana Arthur; last spring Dana and I hiked down to the Rawhide Mine on the North Fork of the North Fork of the American River to visit them, and stayed for dinner. Carla—what will become of her now? Will she stay in the area? I can't imagine her continuing at the Rawhide. So remote, that long horrendous road.

Jim: his trips to the desert, camping, camping for years here and there with Carla—they were inseparable—I think it was just a very close relationship, friendship, a shared liking for wild nature and beauty. Jim: his adventures in WWII, as a Navy Seal, tramping through the jungles of Borneo or some such place with high explosives strapped to his body and native guides, bearers with his oxygen tanks or some such thing. Jim: attacked by rattlesnakes at his and Carla's camp in the diggings, was bitten twice, but their vicious dog snapped in half seven rattlesnakes, thus protecting Jim and Carla from further injury. Jim, who all will acknowledge was one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet, pleasant, unassuming, Jim… He and Carla lived for years in a Depression era miner's shack down the road from Dutch Flat to the Bear River. For the past year or so he and Carla have been caretaking the Rawhide. Carla is an artist and does some work for the local (Auburn) Sierra Heritage magazine. She is [...] so incredibly reclusive and self-sufficient; self-sufficient, except that for these many years she's lived in camps and traveled with her father, and now? Now? She must be 30 years old by now. Her mother is Chilean—Peruvian? Carla bears the Latin look.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

12/8/87   Morning; awoke to a snowstorm, 3 or 4 inches on the ground, and more falling. [...]

So, by all signs I'm trapped here at home; trapped without much food or tobacco; and trapped with my guitar, typewriter, books, and radio.

Lots of easterly component to the winds of this storm.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

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