March 21 (1978, 1987, 2005, 2007)
Sugarloaf Falls. Small Critters.

3/21/78 ~ morning. raining lightly.

winter is over. It is officially spring, days are longer than nights, orchards are in bloom, the black oaks have begun to leaf out down in Green Valley, the deer brush is leafing.

[Russell Towle's journal]

3/21/87  First day of spring, probably: and to mark it, a blizzard rages. It is just after eight in the morning, and I just returned from the meadow and a prolonged wrestling with my tire chains, which do not, quite, fit over my right-hand tire; they miss by a quarter inch or so. the plan was to head into Baxter for laundry, then to Dutch flat for computer stuff. But I got all hot and bothered by struggling with the chains, and then returned to find that my 12-volt plug has weirded out, and fiddling with it made it worse, and I have no radio to keep me company, and I'm getting madder and more depressed by the minute. Except that now, when I write about it, it seems kind of funny.

[Russell Towle's journal]

Sugarloaf Falls
[North Fork Trails blogpost,]
The heavy rains of Tuesday brought up Canyon Creek to a raging torrent, and from deep in the canyon the North Fork raised its voice, telling the stories of a hundred thousand rivulets suddenly adding their many mites to the river. Yet—it was just too nasty and wet to go in search of waterfalls.

Then the rain turned to snow, and a hike planned for today fell through, as the weather seemed intent upon precipitation. More and more and more precipitation.

Towards late morning I noticed with a start that the snow had stopped and the skies, although all full of clouds, had brightened. Suddenly I simply knew that I must go to Iron Point and, unless the rain and snow returned, go beyond, and down, down the Euchre Bar and Iron Point trails to East Knoll.

Iron Pt. at left; Giant Gap and Moody Ridge at right.
For East Knoll commands an intimate view of Sugarloaf Falls. There is an eminence above Euchre Bar named Sugarloaf, on the south canyon rim, and these waterfalls head up in a broad basin just to the west of the Sugarloaf. Hence my name.

This all played out just as imagined; rain showers still fell at Iron Point, but a certain undeniable brightness in the sky gave me hope. I parked and started off at a jog down the EBT, with loppers and camera. The snow was patchy and easily avoided.

Sugarloaf Falls, viewed across the East Knoll ridge.
From East Knoll one obtains tremendous views of Giant Gap and also, directly across the canyon, Sugarloaf Falls. At high flows these falls present quite a spectacle from Iron Point, and all the more from East Knoll, so much closer. One section of the falls must be nearly 200 feet high. East Knoll is just the easternmost knoll in Green Valley. Its summit stands about 800 or a thousand feet above the North Fork. A sort of saddle or pass connects East Knoll to the main canyon wall. From the Euchre Bar Trail, about half or three-quarters a mile down from the parking area, the Iron Point Trail breaks away west and drops into the east end of Green Valley, crossing this saddle-pass.

The IPT is unmarked and easy to miss, yet I noted that it is more visible than is usual, apparently receiving slightly increased use, over the past year. A series of faint switchbacks lead down through Black Oak and Canyon Live Oak forest, to a ravine, where a rather large flow made me get my feet a little wet (the crucial boulder at the ford was under water). A few hundred yards brought me to the Saddle and from there I left the trail and followed along the ridge crest, climbing to the east. I walked right past the spectacular views of Giant Gap from the summit, making down and east to a special viewpoint for Sugarloaf Falls, where an enormous slab of slate forms the ridge crest. There I paused and took many photographs. It had been raining lightly the whole way down the trail and then while climbing East Knoll; suddenly the rain increased, and I started back up.

However, it soon stopped. For a little while. Rather nice views of Sugarloaf Falls are had right from the IPT itself. I took more photos. But then the rain set in again, and gradually increased, and I had the unusual experience of walking up out of rain into snow. At the EBT [Euchre Bar Trail] parking area the ground was swiftly whitening under a heavy snowfall. I shook as much snow and water off as possible before getting in and cranking up the heater to the max.

I never did get back and work on the water bars on the EBT. The rains of recent days have been following the trail along for hundreds of yards at a time. It is a certainty that Tahoe National Forest will not do anything to maintain this, one of the more popular trails in the Forest. They do not have the budget. If we want National Forests which actually maintain the trails, we must, I am told, talk Congress into it. They hold the purse strings.

This is a distorted but still interesting stitched-together panorama combining some of the photos
Russell took this day. Sugarloaf is the highest eminence in the center, Sugarloaf Falls can be
seen in the ravine to the right of it. East Knoll is at right. To the left of Sugarloaf is the main
canyon of the North Fork of the American; some whitewater can be glimpsed in the canyon
bottom between East Knoll and Sugarloaf. The canyon of the N. Fk. of the North Fork is far left.

Photographs, and an Animation
March 21, 2007

Canyonland Critters

Late Day Light, the Pinnacles

A Vernal Equinox Overview:
The Sunlight Path across the North Fork American Canyon

[Excerpted from North Fork Trails blogpost, March 28, 2007: ]
“I have posted, on YouTube, a 30-second animation depicting the terrain around the North Fork of the American River. The "virtual landscape" is seen as if from perhaps thirty miles above, looking straight down, and oriented like most maps, with north up, east right, west left, south down. See

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