January 20 (1978, 1985, 2003)
Diving Board Ridge

1/20/78   sunrise. pool of fog below, skies clear above. for the first time in a long time the sun prints mandala window across the cabin; this position is representative of one month before, or one month after, the winter solstice.


today a hike was planned, from bogus point to the river. but i'm not sure i'll go, fine sunny day as it is, and a chance to hike long awaited. i didn't feel included in the decision-making process, and my ego smarts. [...]

~ well, as a rather synchronistic comment on the preceding: just as i wrote the last line, ron came walking down to especially invite me to bogus point this morning ~ so off i go.

[Russell Towle's journal]

January 20, 1985 Beautiful morning, fog swelling to fill the canyon, sunrise colors painted across its tops. I'm debating whether to head up to Sugar Bowl today; it rained last night, and may have snowed at the bowl. There have been nothing but warm storms lately, with snow levels of 7,500' and so on. Last night the snow level may have dropped to 6,000' or slightly lower, giving the Bowl its first fresh snow in a while. [...]

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Mon, 20 Jan 2003
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Diving Board Ridge

Hi all,

Maybe it should be called Ski Jump Ridge. The divide between Canyon Creek on the east and Indiana Ravine on the west descends steeply south into the North Fork canyon, and then flattens out for perhaps two hundred yards, before making its final plunge to the river. An old lumber slide is etched into the crest of the ridge, which was used to get sluice box lumber into Canyon Creek and Indiana Ravine, both of which were operated as tailings claims for a couple decades, from about 1860 to 1882.

Today Catherine O’Riley joined most of my family for a quick hike down to the Diving Board. We snuck into the Gold Run Diggings, parked in the great hollow of the Gold Run Ditch & Mining Co., and followed roads bearing south until a certain faint trail curved away through the manzanita and over a slight ridge, to the Indiana Hill Ditch. The faint trail plunges down a shallow gully, so we also plunged.

As the richer soils near the rim of the canyon were left be- hind, so also the Kellogg’s Black Oaks were left, and we traversed an almost pure stand of Canyon Live Oaks. Despite a goodly number of uncertain sections, the trail is fairly well-defined. At first it lies on the east side of the ridge, and then, as the ridge profile flattens, the ridge also sharpens into a knife-edge of rock, and the trail crosses to the west side.

There sure is a lot of poison oak down there.
From these rocky spurs great views can be had east into Canyon Creek and the Big Waterfall. Finally a broad flat area on the ridge crest is reached, with truly wonderful views. Giant Gap frames the snowy summit of Black Mountain in the distance east, while the river itself can be seen thundering along below. The Big Waterfall and long reaches of the Canyon Creek Trail are visible. 

A few steps along a side trail brings one to a fine westerly view; Pickering Bar is almost directly below, and in the middle distance one can see Wolverine Canyon and Roach Hill and the line of the Blue Wing Trail. A little farther west the low gap in the ridge where Iowa Hill stands is seen, and then more and more ridges, interfingering, lead one’s gaze down the canyon towards Secret Ravine and Cape Horn.
We explored a little ways along the very last bit of the lumber slide, on the east side of the ridge, here built up with stone walls in places. It has every appearance of being a major trail leading to the river itself, but suddenly ends, at just that point from which one could actually slide lumber down towards the confluence of Canyon Creek and the North Fork, where the last sluice boxes and undercurrents were set.

After an hour or so we started back up. We saw some California Milkmaids in bloom. The trail is becoming more visible and easier to follow as more visits are made to this remarkable spot, one of the finest viewpoints in the North Fork canyon, to be ranked with Lovers Leap and Iron Point, although a more limited area is visible. We reached the truck about 4:15 and, as we drove north out of the diggings, saw a large plume of smoke from a wildfire ahead.

I immediately thought of the large clearcuts on Chalk Bluff Ridge, between Steephollow and Greenhorn, in Nevada County, and we drove, first to Lincoln Road, then out Drum Powerhouse Road to Windy Point, to see what was happening. The fire appeared to be burning down in Steephollow Canyon, just north of Liberty Hill Diggings.

Such was a pleasant hike to an amazing place.

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