January 15 (1976, 1977, 1978, 1987, 2003, 2007)

1/15/76   another warm, sunny day, more of wren's excited spring song.

the trip to auburn was worthwhile, as i finally laid to rest my fears of the future reservoir inundating green valley—the high water level in the reservoir is only 1135 ft. in elevation, and probably will not even be visible downcanyon from lover's leap. the federal gov't drowning more sierran canyons, the stanislaus, the american—i am despondent to think of these canyons, lost forever beneath tons of water—the foothills of the sierras have been getting raped—it's terrible to behold.

visited the library but found nothing on green valley or moody ridge, except that there was a moody hotel in nearby 'gold run'—possible source of name. and that quartz crystals may be found in the hydraulic diggings north of dutch flat.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

1/15/77  [...]

i've been shocked to realize lately that i am really getting into a serious commitment with my land. i've gone and built a cabin ~ now it's there to stay, on that spot! wow. and there is so much work to do! and so many payments to make!”

[Russell Towle's journal]

1/15/78 ~ it's snowing! the day before yesterday, it rained and rained and rained; yesterday, it rained and rained and rained; and around midnight it snowed and snowed. but the temperature is a bit above freezing (around 34°) and though snow continues it is not sticking. a couple inches on the ground. barely made it in last night in the volksy.

many things to write about, that happened last week. ... i rented a post office box and sent my money in to join the sierra club while in dutch flat tuesday. ... as i drove up the moody ridge road i saw an older couple walking with their three dogs. they were wearing ponchos as it was raining lightly. for some reason i knew they'd be hiking out my road to the green valley trail so i waited for them at the cable. i asked them if they were going to hike down to the river and they said no, only to a creek along the way. I asked them if they were members of the sierra club, and they said yes, they were. then for some reason i mentioned norman clyde. the woman ~ ruth elwonger ~ had known norman clyde, and beginning around 1930 ~ when she was twenty ~ went on many hikes and mountain climbs with Sierra club groups that clyde led. this excited me and as it turned out, they stopped by my cabin so i could show them a book of clyde's writings that i have.

the man's name was martin thomas. we had a nice chat and then they continued down towards green valley. this, the day after i joined the sierra club. they mentioned a rumor concerning a knoll in green valley ~ that it is actually a pyramid built by the indians. i have hiked that knoll and it is solid serpentine bedrock. it turns out that ron and neil have heard the same thing.

so it seemed a bit of a coincidence that the day after I joined the sierra club i should meet two old time members, one of whom knew my hero, norman clyde!

but to follow that up, yesterday at the library in grass valley i was sitting at one of the tables reading some placer county history, and noticed that a middle-aged woman sitting across from me was writing a report of some kind while looking at a geological map of this area. intrigued, i awaited and finally found an opportunity to speak to her. the clock struck twelve noon and she glanced up. i mentioned that i too am a student of sierran geology, and live in the dutch flat area. as a response she pushed a piece of paper across to me; it was a map of the extent of ice cover in the sierras in glacial times, with a partial list of present-day glaciers and the mountains they nestle on. she had underlined one of the mountain names: mt. bolton brown. with an excited whisper and a gleam in her eyes she told me that bolton brown is her grandfather!

bolton brown is another one of my heroes. he tramped the sierras with his wife lucy, climbing mountains and sketching. a professor at stanford and an early, if not a charter member, of the sierra club. i told her of a pass named for his wife, lucy's foot pass; and encouraged her to try and publish some of his sketches and memoirs.

so. a bit of coincidence, that soon after joining the sierra club i should meet two people who knew two of the club's brightest stars, norman clyde and bolton brown.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

1/15/87   Before dawn, on a Thursday morning. Arose around 4:30, the cabin ice cold, the wind, a strong strong wind, roaring through the trees. The sky absolutely clear, with Venus just clearing the Sierra crest, Venus so big and bright.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Here can be found a delightful account by the above-mentioned Ruth Elwonger of a camping trip she made in Yosemite with a girlfriend in May 1942 ~ “Innocents Afoot”:

About Norman Clyde:

About Bolton Brown:

Russell and son Greg, in Green Valley, January 15, 2003.
Photo by Ron Gould.

Green Valley News
[North Fork Trails blogpost, January 15, 2007
This morning I received a call from Steve Hunter of Colfax, an active man with a penetrating and curious mind, who has explored these Placer County canyons as have few if any others, since his childhood in the early 1950s.

I mean, as dimly as I am aware of his exploits, I know they exceed my own. Roping down the middle of thundering waterfalls: for goodness' sake, you wouldn't catch me doing that.

But Steve Hunter has. And not just once, either. He's seen gorges you only can see if you actually do rope down waterfalls.

Steve loves Green Valley. Yesterday he and Dan Mathers and several friends dropped down into the great canyon on the good old Green Valley Trail, hewed to the western side of things, and eventually found themselves just across from the Gold Ring Mine, on the sand bar at the head of the pretty pool on the river which reflects Lovers Leap, looming half a mile high to the west.

Here they busied themselves collecting the garbage left there last summer by some miners, and without wasting much in the way of time, they hauled several loads up to the old Incense Cedar tree in the meadow, near the wooden trough.

What, were they calling it quits?

Oh no.

From there they worked east to the Old Hotel Site, below Joe Steiner's Grave, where another mess of garbage lay in frozen masses. This too they gathered unto themselves, but this they carried up and up and up and up and up, and finally, completely out of the canyon.

Steve reports that they had to leave a frozen sleeping bag, weighted with ice, behind, but they certainly made some great strides in keeping the fine old Valley clean.

We made sounds about plans to plan to go back down and haul up the rest of the trash, with as many people as we can muster, and hit a lick on the trail too, and who knows but these fantasies may become real.

1 comment:

  1. I commented on this post yesterday, but it appears my comment has been deleted. I'll try again -- I love the contrast between the old writings and the new! I love the lack of capital letters in the old stuff.