[Russell Towle's journal]
“1/8/78 morning. cloudy sky & south wind. storm after storm, it would appear that the drought is over... i am groggy, muscles sore, from a long day yesterday. neil and dana and gary and i hiked to [the Canyon Creek] waterfalls, but not quite in time to see the rainbows. some other time we'll go down there at the right time to see the gorgeous display those falls must put on in the sunshine. they are in such a narrow gorge that the sun is shining for only a few hours in the late morning.
|Russell's sketch in the margin of the journal page|
ron met us while we were out there [This "ron" is Ron La Lande, landscape painter, who was living out at Casa Loma at this time] and he and neil and i went all the way down to the american river, visiting all the falls. there is an old old trail that goes down beside canyon creek, usually a few hundred feet above, with laterals that go to each waterfall ~ quite convenient, a legacy from the gold miners.
the american river was wide and green and fast and deep; it was apparent that during the recent rains it rose about four or five feet above the level we saw it at yesterday.”
[Russell Towle's journal]
Date: Wed, 8 Jan 2003 08:35:44 -0800
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Mystery Birds of Canyon Creek
Yesterday I met Catherine O'Riley at the Dutch Flat exit on I-80; we snuck into the Gold Run Diggings at Heistercamp's, and drove to the head of the Canyon Creek Trail. The day was surpassingly clear, and warming rapidly, with the most amazing pure blue expanse of sky.
As we passed Gorge Point we looked for early flowers, but saw none, and then, a ways below the Rockslide, we decided to drop directly down to the Big Waterfall. Winding along past rocky bosses and gnarled shrubs on the very steep slope, we enjoyed the intense sunshine, and soon had the waterfall in view. Canyon Creek, despite the snow in its upper basin, has only a moderate flow, but the falls looked very good, and the morning sun was just now reaching them, within their narrow embayment in the soaring cliffs.
At the base of the falls there seemed nothing better to do than to luxuriate on the sunny rocks. The cliffs rise in great hackly angular slabs, with an inordinate number of overhangs, and all very very steep—in fact, one has to go to Lovers Leap itself to find cliffs steeper than these, beside the Big Waterfall. These falls seem to be around 120 feet high, altogether. The cliffs on the west side rise nearly 1000 feet.
We descended Waterfall Trail to The Terraces, and then on down to the creek again on a short spur trail there, crossing, and scrambled to the top of another waterfall. While there we saw what looked to be an eagle or an osprey soaring far above. It was heading towards the Big Waterfall from over Diving Board Ridge, and began folding its wings and dropping, bullet-like, at high speeds, then opening its wings for an instant, then folding and looping lower; suddenly it spread it wings and landed in some trees, perhaps 800 feet above us.
We returned to The Terraces, where we did indeed find flowers on the very verge of bloom, the California Milkmaids which are always the first, at this one spot, which the miners who tended the sluice boxes chose very carefully for their main camp; for it has a very warm microclimate, and the first flowers always appear here. These flowers had not yet opened, but it cannot be long now.
|Backlit view from the Canyon Creek Trail of the Diving Board ridge,|
protruding into the North Fork American River Canyon
I was only a few minutes late at Alta-Dutch Flat School.
This coming Saturday might be a good day to hike the Canyon Creek Trail down to the river, and haul out the plastic pipe, if anyone is interested (Craig & Karen; Eric Smith; ?).