March 2 (1980, 2003)
Rollicking Robins

3/2/80 ~ misty morning... took a walk yesterday up to the top of the ridge, and had a look at the surface water in Moody Valley. there has clearly been a gradual restocking of the groundwater since the drought, and this, the third wet winter since then, with 53 inches to date, has finally filled the pond on the far side of the ridge.

again i note that the 'dependability' of a spring is in inverse ratio to its winter ~ no, there's a better way to put it. if one was to divide average summer flow by average winter flow, the largest fraction would be the most dependable spring (of the type found here on Moody Ridge)

so, if the summer flow is 1 gallon/min, and the winter is 1 gallon/min, the 'fraction' would be 1/1 = 1, or, the most dependable spring possible.

or, as is the case in one of my springs, if the summer flow is 1/2 gal/min and the winter flow is 10 gal/min, the fraction is 1/20 or, a very undependable spring.

total volume of discharge over a year's time would possibly be largest in the most undependable springs—for instance, my middle spring is gushing about ten gallons/min now, and though it dries up at the end of summer usually, it may have the largest volume. ten gallons a minute adds up fast—600/hour, 14,400/day, 432,000 gallons per month

whereas my most dependable spring chugs along at about one gallon per minute all year, so it yields 60 gal/hour., 1440/day, 43,200/month, and 518,400 gallons per year.

so, if the ‘undependable’ spring flowed for only three months of the year at its winter high flow of 10 gallons per minute, it would yield 1,296,000 gallons per year, or more than twice what the ‘dependable’ spring would yield.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Sun, 2 Mar 2003 22:18:37 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails Email Group
From: Russell Towle
Subject: The Rollicking Robins of Giant Gap

Hi all,

The "Blasted Digger" overlook
A cool east by northeast wind cooled the Sierra over the weekend, and sent fair-weather cumulus clouds drifting west. On Saturday I met Alison Harvey and Patty McCleary at the Dutch Flat exit and we drove to the Canyon Creek Trail. Alison and Patty wished to get a feel for the Gold Run Diggings and the old trail cut into the cliffs, and we spoke at some length about the prospects for finding money for the BLM to purchase some or all of the 800 acres for sale.

The Standard Tour was in order so we stopped at the huge tunnel of the Gold Run Ditch & Mining Company, constructed in 1873, and also visited the Terraces and the Big Waterfall before dropping the rest of the way to the river for lunch. The air was cool, the sun, deliciously warm.

On the way out we turned aside to the Blasted Digger Overlook, and were surprised to find flocks of robins rushing around the canyon, alighting on one slender gray and glowing Digger Pine after another. Small explosions of birds would send a hundred robins at a time whirling into the vastnesses of Giant Gap; they seemed quite happy, quite determined and intent to fully succeed in this business of flocking from one spot to another and then another, and were constantly urging each other on with short cheep-cheeps. We wondered whether they might be drunk from feasting on old Toyon berries.

At 4:15 in the afternoon we spotted some kayakers moving slowly along the river below. I hope they were carrying camping gear, as no possibility existed for them to reach Mineral Bar, at the Colfax-Iowa Hill bridge. Perhaps they reached Pickering Bar and built a bonfire before the moonless starry night set in.

The bridge approach, Canyon Creek Trail
Today, I met Jay Shuttleworth, his father Allan, and several of Jay's friends, for another visit to the Canyon Creek Trail. We passed by the trails to the Terraces and took the High Old Upriver Trail into Giant Gap, slowly winding in and out of innumerable ravines, and where the trail crossed the intervening ridges, obtaining great views up and down the canyon, and of the river itself, which was roaring along in all its usual emerald depth and clarity, adorned by the diamond lace of white rapids.

Most of us continued to where the trail at last drops to the river, and I, with one hardy fellow named Steve Hunter, a long-time and very thorough explorer of our local Sierra, went on farther yet, upstream, on still another old trail, to where the river turns sharply out of a very narrow gorge. The view into this chasm is very fine, very wild, and one sees that no possibility exists for any continuation of a high trail, unless it were much, much higher. We did some minor rock climbing, along a route clearly used by other explorers, in years past, and found that we could work our way another hundred yards, perhaps, upstream, and even gain the very banks of the river, which was rushing along rather rapidly in the narrow gorge.

Small Baby Blue-Eyes
(Nemophila heterophylla)
On the way out and up and up and up we rested often, and reached the trailhead and the vehicles just before sunset. While still in the sunny lower reaches of the trail, we saw the robins flocking wildly about and cheeping. These robins have arrived very recently, for I did not see them last Tuesday, and they are hard to miss.

Some few new species of wildflowers have appeared also, so signs of Spring are on the increase, but the main flower season is still more than a month away.

Such were two very enjoyable days in Canyon Creek and Giant Gap.


Russell Towle

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