March 11 (1978, 1988, 2001, 2003, 2008)
Royal Depths, Royal Heights

“3/11/78   morning, on this fog-embraced mountain… i went out walking yesterday afternoon, took the old trail past the springs up beside the twin giant ponderosas to the rim of the canyon near the pond. then along the ridge to red ridge, where i descended to the cliffs. the clouds were thicker and the patches of light fewer. i was feeling good, delighting in the views of giant gap, finding some plants in bloom ~ some of the manzanita is in full bloom, and a certain purple crucifer and the umbellifer of yellow flowers (biscuit root?) ~ found a chipping station where indian men flaked stone, at a fine outcrop with many natural chairs and a great view of the pinnacles.

on impulse i decided to traverse the canyon wall from red ridge to lover's leap. sometimes scrambling through brush and small trees, sometimes out-and-out rock climbing, i slowly approached lover's leap, staying a few hundred feet below the rim of the canyon. finally the cliffs became too steep to traverse safely so I started climbing up, encountering some fine broad ledges, and some easy escalades spiced by dizzy five-hundred foot exposures. i pulled myself up one last ledge and found myself 20 feet from the leap. i sat down and watched the sunset colors on the high clouds that occasionally could be glimpsed through holes in the lower layers. an ethereal milky blue light filled the canyon below giant gap, while beyond to the west the entire cloud mass seemed to glow in the same pastel hues of blue and gray ~ a blue sunset. caƱon wrens called out from various points on the cliffs. the patch of purple flowers in their tiny nook on the brink of the leap were in total bloom… clouds lowered and lowered as the light faded and it began to sprinkle lightly… i walked slowly back, savoring the beauty of the whole day, stopping to listen to the frogs at the pond for a while, and walking down my trail as it finally began to rain in earnest. a few flashes of lightning to the west with vague rolling thunder sounds lent a sense of drama and magic to the day's end ~ i am a fool for thunder and lightning and beautiful women.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

“3/11/88   […]

Today, Eric Peach and I will be skiing out to Snow Mountain.

Later; 10:30 PM; having utterly thrashed myself, by skiing to Snow Mountain, I am now at home and at rest, muscles sore, heels blistered, face sunburned, my back, that of an ancient who'd carried hundredweight sacks of wheat for a living all his working life: but it was worth it. Fifteen or so miles, three thousand or so feet of elevation gain, the snow, monolithic ice, the sun bright, the wind fresh and cold, the three golden eagles rambunctious and eerily transcendent (what? were they butting heads together? impetuously charging? Let it only be known that they playfully soared and explored, that they rose with ghostly ease from royal depths to royal heights), and the view of course wide and wonderful, encompassing much dear diary, of the same ol' same ol' — but including, to my surprise, not only Mt. Lassen but Mt. Shasta!

Now I am home and now I drink tea and replenish my self, my fluids.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2001 22:11:43 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Sunday's work party

Hi all,

Evan Jones, Tom Molloy, and I headed in to Canyon Creek Sunday morning, to work on the rockslide part of the trail near Gorge Point. The cloudy morning quickly turned sunny. At the rockslide, we were able to identify the original line of the trail. In many places the original retaining walls had been torn away by the rockslide. We focused our efforts on the uppermost section and for an hour or so dug with shovel and mattock and heaved big slabs of rock around. Although even this section cannot be said to be finished, it is better than it was.

The sun was hot and we took lunch at the base of the Big Waterfall before continuing down to the river. The North Fork is running medium high and clear. After enjoying the scene we took saw and loppers, jumped the creek above the last waterfall, and headed west on the trail to Indian Ravine/Pickering Bar. We cleared the brush off the trail and spent a while exploring around near Indiana Ravine. Some small patches of Quaternary gravels there had been worked pretty intensively, long ago.

On the way back out we visited the fine overlook on the ridge dividing Canyon Creek from the main canyon. You can see Lovers Leap and the Pinnacle Ridge flanking Giant Gap, and beyond, Sawtooth Ridge, with snowy Black Mountain and Quartz Mountain in the distance. The river itself can be seen far below. There is also a nice view to the southwest, down the canyon, from there.

It was a good day and some progress was made on the trails.

Date: Tue, 11 Mar 2003 11:09:03 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Lost Camp

Hi all,

Recently I have heard from Dave Sutton of the Trust for Public Land, about possible BLM acquisition of lands in the Gold Run area. I hope that much if not all of the 800 acres currently for sale in the Gold Run Diggings can be acquired. A 40-acres parcel in the west part of Green Valley, north of the river, is also of prime importance.

A fellow named Mike Powell contacted me with remembrances of adventures with Gene Markley years ago. I hope he will write up some of them for this list. He did write as follows:
>I will try to recall this trip from my faded brain cells...this was done in my early twenties and was one of many, many canyon trips throughout the region to include a number of trips into the "tea cup" area of the N. of the N. Fork American above where Fulda creek dumps in. I remember a small group of us scrambling and repelling down falls on Fulda one afternoon just for grins into the pool on the N. of the North, swimming the pool down stream and climbing out on the old China Bar trail. That was back in the days where you could haul ass out to the old Bar in Blue Canyon and have a cold beer while shooting the breeze with Joe while he told stories of catching big rainbow and browns...
I usually call this the Lost Camp Trail, because I have nothing in the historical record to support the name "China Bar Trail." Whatever it is called, it is one of our more important trails, and, unfortunately, heads up on private property near the ghost town of Lost Camp. I have advocated that Tahoe National Forest try to acquire these lands at Lost Camp, but so far, without even a response, not to mention a positive response.

The "tea cup area" is in the inner gorge of the North Fork of the North Fork, a remarkable confluence of gorges, with many, many waterfalls, and, wow, not at all easy to get into and see. An awesome, awesome place! The easiest way in is upstream from the Lost Camp Trail, swimming the Pool of Cold Fire ... and then on.


Russell Towle

March 11, 2008
[Excerpt from North Fork Trails blogpost: ]
Over recent weeks I have been clearing a beautiful little patch of forest up on Moody Ridge, and burning tons of dead wood in the snow. I walk half a mile or so to the job site, and while walking, I have seen many a mountain lion track, likely all from one and the same lion. I have had a chance to see what tracks look like in soft snow, in hard snow, what they look like after one day, or after four days, and so on.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking home and thought to take a shortcut to avoid some deep snow. I got myself into a real tangle of young conifers and brush and broke through into a small opening. Lion tracks dotted the snow, extremely fresh, retaining every detail. Hours old at best. I quickly scanned the trees above me: no lion. Then I looked down at the snow again and was puzzled to see that the lion had walked in circles. All the tracks looked very fresh. I looked again, up, and all around; nothing, but the forest is so overgrown I couldn't see far in any case. So I blundered along my supposed shortcut. In another few yards a disgusting smell wafted my way, and at first I thought of the gamy smell a bear can have, which I have only smelled a few times in my life. I walked another few paces, the smell ever stronger, and suddenly realized it was the smell of Death. The lion had left its kill somewhere very near, possibly up in a tree. I hastened away.


  1. Gay - You will need to point out the Red Ridge to me sometime.

  2. You can see it really well with Google Earth! -- the spur ridge just east of Lovers Leap.