March 28 (1976, 1978, 1987, 1988, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007)
Spherical Field of Threads Beneath the Sun... CLASHING!

3/28/76 ~ late afternoon. such a fine warm day. the black oaks have their first leaves. each living thing on earth the tip of a thread, branched a billion times, a field of threads beneath the sun, tips poking skyward. The spherical earth: a spherical field of threads ever-branching and diversifying, the omnidirectional dendritic flow of generations, the evolution of classes, families, generic, species, races, individuals… all beneath the Sun, powered by its rays...”

[Russell Towle's journal]

3/28/78 sunny today. dana plays the piano, pinnacles islands of light in the giant morning shadow of giant gap.… yesterday we hiked down to green valley, and wandered upriver to near the edge of the serpentine belt… hot, very bright. I dropped dana's camera case into the river. we stopped by the pyramid on the way back out, and ended up hiking most of the green valley trail in starlight. orion/sirius/taurus group hanging over giant gap. beautiful. then back here for tacos and hot chocolate.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

3/28/87 I often read books again and again. People sometimes think I have an excellent memory, like that of my friend Greg Troll; but it's just that, when interested in a subject, I go over the same ground many times, many many times… Just as at [place name] one finds arrowheads in the same spot year after year, so in a subject matter there is always something that was missed the first time around.

I'm out of firewood and the night is cool; so I'm burning papers and going out with the snow shovel for scoops of leaves. Yesterday, searching for the map of Lovers Leap I had drawn a while back—last summer—I decided to can a lot of the draft and layout papers from my “Polar Zonohedra”—so, I have had something to burn when I got up and started drinking coffee this morning.

It is a little strange to pound these keys after tapping those of the computer…

I am groggy and uninspired at the moment; today—how will the hike go?

An owl hoots in low tones, series of three—possibly a great horned owl. I went out and hooted back, and now it's obsessed, has come near the cabin and hoots and hoots and hoots…

Haven't heard the bizarre barking of the spotted owl for quite a while now.

~ Evening; that is night: I've just returned from a strange day; it began early, when I rose around 3:00 AM, and then developed in, well, some really weird ways. …

I waited until 12:30, and then headed out to Iron Point, where I was to meet The Group. They duly arrived. But I forgot to mention dear diary that as I drove out, I saw that [name] and some kind of heavy equipment were at work on Moody Ridge Road, and I guessed that it was a plot to try and ruin today's Lovers Leap hike.

So I awaited The Group with some trepidation—well-founded, as it turned out—about the course of events. After a walk around Casa Loma and looking at grinding rocks and arrowheads, we packed the group into the minimum number of cars—nine or ten—and headed towards Lovers Leap. At the beginning of Moody Ridge Road, [same name] and [another name] were waiting, beside a road grader, which, along with [so-and-so's] truck , almost blocked the road. [Second guy] walked up and gave me some [s____] about getting the people with me to pay for the road work. Then he started cursing me and I drove on. I was the lead car, and was driving alone. [Second guy] also cursed and threatened the other cars.

We arrived at Lover's Leap and walked down to the rock. After a bit, I led some of the group down to the first step (the First Step) and, while walking up to the parking area afterwards, was met by Eric, who insisted—to avoid an even worse scene—that I detour around to the Big Oak, since some [blank] from the Ridge had driven out there and was ranting and raving. ...

This was upsetting to the whole group, about fifty people, and yet after awhile things brightened up and we walked out west to the Other Rock.

Meanwhile, some of the group -- including Matt Bailey -- headed towards Iron Point, where we'd arranged to meet and have a potluck supper. They encountered a roadblock, the grader parked across the road, [second guy] and [first guy] and I don't know who else. They were laying in wait for me, planning on some scheme of intimidation. Matt got out and talked with them. Then, happening to be with a fellow who had a radio telephone, he called the Sheriff, who came and cleared the roadblock. However the group was not to escape without further incidents; [third name] was waiting for us, beer in hand, cursing; and [first guy] was driving the other direction on Moody Ridge Rd. and flipped off each car in succession.

But, the Iron Point part of it was fun and everyone seemed pleased with the hike itself -- very pleased. Me, I'm really upset. This intimidation is intimidating me. I'm scared to go out to Lovers Leap alone. Scared just to drive in and out on the road. It's really terrible. What can I do?"

[Russell Towle's journal]

3/28/88   Early on a crystal clear morning, deer gamboling in the meadow, jumping, bucking, dashing around tight and invisible corners. Yesterday Ed & Tina and I drove out to Iowa Hill and beyond, to Giant Gap Ridge, where we hiked down the main crest into the canyon for a ways, gaining wonderful views of the pinnacles, Lovers Leap, etc.

Evening. Today I journeyed to Auburn, visiting the Peachs ... returned to Dutch Flat, and, stopped for a second time at the post office; and while sending copies of Forest Service regulations to Gene Markley, preparatory to our upcoming meeting with Frank Waldo re public access to the high country, I checked my box, which had turned up empty earlier in the day, to see if by some miracle a letter should have spontaneously generated beyond its proper season; and one had. ...”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 13:50:44 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Letters to Senator Boxer needed

Hi all,

I finally got around to writing a regular letter (not an email) to Senator Boxer, asking for her help in getting LWCF funding for BLM to acquire lands in the Gold Run diggings area, including the private parcel traversed by the Canyon Creek Trail. The text is below. If you could please send her a letter supporting BLM land acquisitions in the Gold Run area, and asking her to sponsor a bill to get Land & Water Conservation Act funding for the Gold Run Addition Project, well, maybe we can make it actually happen!

March 28, 2001

Senator Barbara Boxer
U.S. Senate
112 Hart Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

re: LWCF funds for Gold Run Addition, Placer County

Dear Senator Boxer:

I live near Dutch Flat and Gold Run in Placer County, and am very interested in preserving wilderness, scenic, and recreational resources. I would like your help in obtaining Land & Water Conservation Act funds for land acquisition in this area.

There are four acquisition projects I have in mind; in all cases, the acquired lands would be managed by the BLM, and are already targeted for acquisition by the Folsom District of the BLM. The four projects are:

1. Gold Run Addition to the North Fork American Wild & Scenic River.
2. Giant Gap Trail.
3. Dutch Flat Chinatown.
4. Dutch Flat Petrified Forest.

In this letter I will address only the first project. It ought to be the subject of a special bill of its own, I suppose.

In 1978 Congress added the North Fork of the American River to the Federal Wild & Scenic River system. Ordinarily, only a narrow corridor flanking the river itself is considered to lie within the Wild & Scenic “zone,” but Congress provided for a special “Gold Run Addition” to this zone. The Addition extends more than a mile north of the river, and includes private lands in and about the historic Gold Run hydraulic mine “diggings.” Congress specifically exempted the Gold Run Addition from any spending limitations on land acquisition; the historic, scenic, and recreational values of the area were recognized to be of unique importance.

However, no land has been acquired within the Gold Run Addition since 1978, because the owners were not willing sellers. The owners have recently offered their 800 acres for sale, and a precious opportunity exists to follow through on the intent of Congress. At the very least, we should try to acquire about 357 acres. The sellers—a group called “Gold Run Properties”—are asking $3,000 per acre.

There are substantial BLM holdings in the area, in fact, most of the private parcels share boundaries with BLM parcels. Two historic trails descend to the North Fork American from the Addition : the Canyon Creek Trail, and the Pickering Bar Trail. The Canyon Creek Trail is almost entirely within a long narrow private parcel (part of the 800 acres), and is quite remarkable for its beauty.

To ensure continued public access to these historic trails, and to protect the best part of the historic hydraulic mine diggings, and consolidate BLM holdings within the Gold Run Addition as proposed by Congress in the 1978 legislation, I want BLM to acquire, from Gold Run Properties, all those lands in Sections 9, 10, and 15, in Township 15 N, Range 10 E; together with an easement, providing vehicular access from (near) the Gold Run Exit, on Interstate Highway 80.

These lands comprise about 357 acres. At the asking price of $3,000 per acre, this would amount to about $1,071,000.

I have enclosed some additional materials bearing upon this project, and will seek letters of support from others. With many thanks for your work on behalf of California’s wildlands, I am,


Russell Towle


Russell Towle


Caterpillar of the "Policecar Moth" (Gnophaela vermiculata which feeds
on Hound's Toungue
leaves (Cynoglossum grande), seen in the photo below.

Date: Thu, 28 Mar 2002 10:40:59 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: News--sort of

Hi all,

There's a little bit happening around the North Fork with respect to trails.

The last, really funky road access into the Gold Run Diggings is blocked now, so the Canyon Creek Trail must be accessed from the Bluffs off Garrett Road, by way of the Paleobotanist Trail.

The "No Trespassing" sign near the end of Garrett Road is now gone. Thanks to Folsom BLM staff for their successful efforts!

I hear that Folsom BLM is talking with the owner of a large acreage (1400 acres) near the Fords Bar Trail about a possible trade. It would be really great to get the historic trail from Gold Run to Iowa Hill open to hikers and equestrians.

There is no news about possible BLM efforts to acquire any part of the 806 acres currently for sale in the Gold Run Diggings. Thus the future of the incredible Canyon Creek Trail is still in doubt.

I am interested in hiking the Canyon Creek Trail soon, possibly this coming Saturday. If anyone is interested in seeing this remarkable trail please let me know.


Russell Towle

March 28, 2003

Submitted by: John K. Moore
for the Mother Lode Chapter, Sierra Club

The request:
$2.0 million in Forest Service Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriations
to purchase Sierra Nevada inholdings,
as proposed in the President’s budget.

The Mother Lode Chapter of the Sierra Club urges the Subcommittee to recommend this appropriation.

North Fork American Wild River

The appropriation would purchase 1400 acres of private lands along the North Fork American Wild River in Tahoe National Forest, California, for about $1 million. The Forest Service has already acquired 8200 acres along and near the Wild River, and the proposed purchase would finally complete the acquisitions of presently available private lands in and near the Wild River Zone.

The North Fork American River flows down the western slope of the Sierra Nevada in a beautiful wild rugged canyon more than half a mile deep. Most of the canyon is steep-walled and narrow.

Both the federal government and the State of California designated a 38-mile stretch of the North Fork American as a Wild River in the 1970’s. The designations recognized the river’s outstanding wildness and beauty and its exceptionally pure waters.

The river supports an excellent self-sustaining trout fishery managed as a Wild Trout Stream by the State of California. The canyon is home to numerous large mammals, including black bear and mountain lion, and provides habitat for 150 species of birds, including peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and goshawks. The canyon’s varied ecosystems and vegetation, including a large acreage of old-growth forest, are almost unspoiled. Ten challenging trails descend steeply into the canyon, providing access for rugged hikers, backpackers, and fishermen seeking solitude and strenuous adventure.

Though the canyon is remote and rugged, development which would degrade the beauty and naturalness of these private lands could still occur. A previous owner filed helicopter logging plans on several of the parcels. Cabin sites could be developed on some of the parcels, degrading their naturalness and limiting public recreational access.

Middle Fork American River

The remaining funds would begin purchase of private lands in the canyon of the Middle Fork American River, the adjacent major drainage to the south.

The available lands include almost all the private land in a 25-mile stretch of the Middle Fork canyon. This stretch of the Middle Fork is the boundary between Tahoe and Eldorado National Forests.

The canyon of the Middle Fork is even more narrow, steep, rugged, and remote than the canyon of the North Fork, and also possesses all the same outstanding features. The clean waters of the river support a high-quality trout fishery sustained by natural reproduction. Large mammals, including black bear and mountain lion, are found in the canyon. This remote unspoiled canyon provides habitat for the same species of birds, including several sensitive species – spotted owls, peregrine falcons, golden eagles, and goshawks. Fishermen and naturalists who make the strenuous descent into the canyon are rewarded by pristine conditions and solitude.

The Middle Fork is a major source of high-quality water for Placer County and fast-growing downstream areas. Placer County has developed the Middle Fork for water supply and hydroelectric power; this development directly affects only a small proportion of the 25 miles of canyon. Unified management of the Middle Fork Canyon by the Forest Service would better protect water quality and better guarantee preservation of its outstanding natural attributes. Possible future mining and logging on private land could significantly degrade the canyon’s naturalness and the purity of the Middle Fork’s waters.

This appropriation for purchasing lands in the North Fork American and the Middle Fork American is supported by the Placer County Board of Supervisors, the Board of Directors of the Placer County Water Agency, and civic and environmental organizations in Placer County.

A Virtual Landscape
[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

The area encompassed by the animation extends from Colfax on the west (lower left) nearly to Donner Pass on the east (upper right); one can see, from north to south (top to bottom), portions of the canyons of the South Yuba, Steephollow, Bear River, Blue Canyon, North Fork of the North Fork American, North Fork American, Indian Canyon, Shirttail Canyon, North Fork of the Middle Fork American, Middle Fork American (with French Meadows Reservoir seen on center right), and at the lower right, a bit of the Rubicon and Hell Hole Reservoir.

The animation involves use of a sun position algorithm to move a virtual sun across the sky, along the exact path it would follow on the Vernal (and therefore, also, Autumnal) Equinox.

On the equinoxes, the sun rises due east and sets due west. As it passes through the southern sky, midway between dawn and sunset, it rises high enough to fairly well fill the various canyons with light; but in the early morning and late afternoon, deep shadows haunt the canyons, and the relief of the landscape is seen to its best advantage. Relief-enhancing low-angle illumination is usually preferred by those geologists who use aerial photos to trace the courses of fault zones, or to study geomorphology. I use this same trick on my "virtual" landscapes.

Here, about five minutes separates one frame of the animation from the next. I begin before dawn and finish after sunset. In the YouTube movie, the animation runs twice, and the second time through, little flashing lights were attached to Lovers Leap, on the west at Giant Gap, and Snow Mountain, on the east at the Royal Gorge. The two points are about twenty air miles apart.

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