March 31 (1984, 1993, 2001, 2002, 2011)
Survivors. And a Circumambulation.

3/31/84    Morning. 'Tis snowing. Kelley and I actually skied and hiked down to the waterfalls on the North Fork below point 6868, after having traversed point 7373.

I went to work on the Lovers Leap project. Brad Welton of TPL has suggested that I contact the property owners at Lover's Leap, so I went out there to check on the telephone numbers for the brokers handling D. Ortega's parcel, and decided to head on out to the Leap for a quick look around. I found that someone had tried to block off the trail with logs, and the tracks of a pickup truck were in the vicinity. ...

The following day, I called E. G., the owner of the two 20s beside Lovers Leap. Talked to his wife, who assured me he has no intentions of selling. I did not mention the logs.

The realtors no longer list Ortega's property, and his telephone is unlisted. O. and L. are unlisted as well; so I wrote short letters to each, inquiring if their Moody Ridge land were for sale.

When I finally talked to Jerry M. at DFG, it was disturbing: the state wild and scenic program for the North Fork has been seriously weakened. The timber industry is strong. Ouch.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Below, 18 years later, are the very early shoots of that same cluster of Hound's Tongue plants as in the photo above, with a Kellogg's Black Oak acorn for scale. 
I photographed these shoots on March 17 of this year (2011). They are right in the middle of the yard below the “Little Cabin,’ in a high traffic area. When the kids were little we would ring them with small boulders to try to protect them during the bloom season, because they have gotten accidentally tromped on, and rolled over, have had branches, hoses, etc. dragged across them (notice the hose in the background) many times over the years! They do not suffer from the abuse. They thrive. They return year after year inexorably, brightening our world, just doing what they do, in the place where they are, just... perfect.
So, the day after I photographed those early shoots by the acorn, it began to snow. And it snowed almost every day through the 27th. It has been a mega snow year—the second greatest snow-on-the-ground depth in my 30 winters on Moody Ridge. (The first was 1982; see Russ's journal post about that snow year, on March 30). 
Those new shoots remain under the rapidly melting snow this morning. I look forward to seeing them reappear, to see what they have been doing for the last couple of weeks under there. I'll post a photo.

—Gay, March 31, 2011

March 31, 2001

Ceanothus Silkmoth
(Hyalophora euryalus)

Date: Sun, 31 Mar 2002 08:16:42 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Circumambulation

Hi all,

Chris Schiller and I met at the Dutch Flat exit and made for Canyon Creek. With the last road into the diggings blocked, we had to go by way of Garrett Road, the Bluffs, and the Paleobotanist Trail. I fired up my GPS unit, hoping to obtain a good "track" record for the Paleobotanist and Canyon Creek Trails, with an accurate measure of the distances. I set the GPS unit to record points on the track every 1/100th of a mile, and off we went.

From the Bluffs to Potato Ravine Pass, where the Canyon Creek Trail itself begins, is .8 mile. Taking this as zero:
The trail soon joins the Indiana Hill Ditch, and leaves the ditch at .15 mile.
The Old Wagon Road is met at .35 mile.
The bridge across Canyon Creek, .65 mile.
The upper trail to the Terraces, 1.1 mile.
The great viewpoint over the river, looking east from a clifftop, 1.25 mile.
The end of the trail, where Canyon Creek meets the North Fork, 1.35 mile.

These results are somewhat suspicious. They do agree with previous GPS work I have done there, but, for instance, from the "great viewpoint," to the end of the trail is surely more than .1 mile, a mere 528 feet. It is true that these distances are measured on the horizontal, whereas the trail is quite steep in this area, so that on that count alone the actual trail distance is greater. For instance, from a geometrical standpoint, were the trail at a 45 degree angle, the actual trail distance would be exactly 1.4142135... times its horizontal projection. However, nowhere is the trail anywhere near 45 degrees.

On the way down, Chris and I visited the Inner Gorge, using the Six-Inch Trail. Here Canyon Creek has cut a deep twisting slot, with waterfalls hidden within the depths. Unless one were to rappel down, there appears to be no way to enter this part of Canyon Creek. The Inner Gorge ends at the top of the Big Waterfall. Most of the rest of Canyon Creek is itself quite gorge-like, but the Inner Gorge is strangely deep and beyond human reach. One can do little more than peer into parts of it and marvel.

We continued down to the river, noting the cliff swallows speeding about, and a pair of raptors gliding in the sun, their shadows sweeping over us. The river is of course quite high and cold, foaming, rushing, impetuous, and dangerous, with the warm weather melting the snow so quickly.

We decided to make a bit of an adventure out of our hike, leaping across Canyon Creek just above the last waterfall, where it slides through a narrow channel in the polished rock. We picked up the down-river trail, a sometimes faint-to-invisible relic of the 49ers, but bolstered here and there by dry-laid stone walls old enough to be hidden within masses of moss. This trail stays a hundred feet or so above the river, passing a deep pool, and drops back to the river near the base of Indiana Ravine. In effect we had rounded the base of the Diving Board Ridge.

Here we stopped for lunch. In spring-fed rock pools flanking the tumultuous roaring river, Foothill Yellow-Legged Frogs were active and abundant. We began to pass through zones of strongly foliated rock, in places folded into kinks and chevrons. We were either at, or nearing, the contact between the meta-volcanics to the east and the meta-sediments to the west, of the Calaveras Complex of late Paleozoic rocks, cut by the North Fork here. The canyon widens dramatically here, offering room for a large accumulation of Pleistocene, late-ice-age gravels. The main mass of these is at Pickering Bar, directly across the river from us, but on our side of the river there were, locally, significant vestiges of these same gravels. They have been mined quite heavily in places.

We kept our eyes open for the Pickering Bar Trail, but could not see where it came down to river level. Soon enough, cliffs forced us to climb away from the river's edge, though, and we soon found the trail. It forks both up- and down-river at its base. We found the remains of a tiny stone cabin, probably dating from the Gold Rush, on a flat terrace of Pleistocene gravels about a hundred feet above the river. From there we explored a trail leading downstream, and gained a nice view of the river, as it passes Sheldon Ravine, still another ravine with its headwaters high above us, in the Gold Run Diggings.

The early afternoon was amazingly warm, almost hot, as we began the climb up the Pickering Bar Trail. This trail is mostly quite steep. If you think the Canyon Creek Trail is steep, try this puppy out. It has an unrelenting, numbing, pitiless steepness to it, rarely equaled elsewhere. Traces of a lumber slide may be seen near the trail, which follows a ridge-crest just east of Sheldon Ravine.

The upper part of the trail closely parallels Sheldon Ravine, and at one point a game trail leads over to the little creek. It is incised into to slate-like rock rather deeply; a mini-gorge. Once it carried thousands of cubic yards of mine tailings from the diggings to the North Fork. Now it is a little symphony of rock and moss and ferns and waterfalls, with ancient Canyon Live Oaks spreading their gnarled, moss-dark branches overhead.

High on the trail a mass of very tough, very siliceous rocks threaded through and through with quartz veins is passed, and then just above, a small fire some fifteen years ago brought a bulldozer down the trail, more or less ruining its uppermost reaches, and spawning a dense mass of manzanita. Here I had the novel idea of leaving the trail and forging through the wilderness, to find a supposed shortcut to the road above. Well, this took forever, but eventually, all hot and bothered, we did reach the road, then entered the diggings and, passing the spot where the largest piece of petrified wood left in Gold Run was stolen a few years ago—a petrified tree trunk about fifteen feet long and two or three feet thick—we climbed up and out of the diggings, to a point on Garrett Road just south of where we had parked.

Thus we completed a circumambulation of the Diving Board Ridge. Perhaps not quite as impressive as, say, the ritual circumambulation of Mt. Kailas, a 22,000-foot peak in the Himalayas, near the sources of both the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers, said circumambulation being performed at about the 14,000-foot level by pilgrims from India--no, not that impressive, but a fine feat, of limited scope, on a beautiful day. Probably about six miles all told.


Russell Towle

1 comment:

  1. Russell mentions a lumber slide along the Pickering Bar Trail. A couple of years after this we were hiking the trail and found a ditch coming out of Sheldon Ravine that ended at the lumber slide. It is probably that the "lumber slide" was really part of the water conveyance. See for an account of that hike.