April 6 (1978, 1979, 1988, 2001, 2007)
Snow and Deer and Eagles

4/6/78   mid-day. i awoke this morning to the heaviest snowfall of the season. about a foot is on the ground and it is still snowing. a little while ago i walked up to the meadow; my trail is blocked by snow-laden ceanothus, but i was able to go over the brush piles blocking my old road. i decided it would be interesting to see if willy would make it out to the cable and back, so off i went. out to the cable was easy, but as usual the last grade coming back in was no go. i tried several times and finally got willy stuck, skewed half off the road, and managed to tear the body of the cab in a couple of places where it had been welded together years ago by craig. the transfer case (?) started making ominous sounds and the engine would not idle but raced. so I don't know the extent of the damage yet, but it may be extreme. i may have turned willy into a piece of junk. at any rate, the trip to auburn for the forest service presentation of their recommendations about the North Fork vis-à-vis national wild and scenic river designation is out.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

4/6/79 morning, rain and fog, after a week of delightfully sunny warm days. last night this storm marked the onset of rain with a nice barrage of thunder and lightning. the closest strike was three thousand feet away.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

This morning I was deer-watching in the yard, and heard, for the first time, deer speaking in normal tones to one another—for I've heard before their cries of distress, and their coughing barks—but these sounds were like the creaking of chairs, a sort of humming nasal buzz, faintly goat-like, not at all loud; one group was greeting another which approached, and responded alike, back and forth they spoke, without opening their mouths, in a kind of ventriloquy.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 19:55:43 -0800
To: North_Fork_Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Gold Run Addition

Hi all,

I spoke with Mark Pohley, one of the principals of Gold Run Properties (GRP), this evening. I told Mark that I had asked Senator Boxer to sponsor a bill seeking LWCF money to purchase 357 acres of the GRP holdings near Gold Run, which include much of the Canyon Creek Trail, along with two parcels along the line of the Giant Gap Trail near Bogus Point, and the main deep pit in the Gold Run diggings.

Mark said that the property, comprising 800 acres, is still for sale, and that they have reduced the price somewhat, but thus far, have had no meaningful offers. He also said that, during the annual meeting of GRP, they had discussed the possibility of selling most of the 800 acres to (hypothetically) Placer Legacy, and donating the balance.

I am encouraged by Mark's attitude, and, given that the property in question for the most part is within the Gold Run Addition to the North Fork American Wild & Scenic River, and thus has been a desired acquisition target for the BLM for over twenty years, I think that if a goodly amount of public support can be generated for this acquisition, it can and will happen.

Letters of support to Senator Boxer will be crucial. There are a number of different potential "letter objectives" which occur to me, probably many more will occur to you. Here are some of my ideas:

1. Placer County Board of Supervisors.
2. Placer Legacy.
3. Dutch Flat Community Club.
4. Sierra Club.
5. PARC.
6. Friends of the River.
7. Colfax Chamber of Commerce.

Well, that's all the news I have at present. Oh, yeah. The weather does not look promising for the Native Plant Society hike into Canyon Creek tomorrow. It's very probably a no-go.


Eagles on the Nest
[North Fork Trails blogpost, April 6, 2007
http://northforktrails.blogspot.com/2007/10/eagles-on-nest.html ]
View eastward from Lovers Leap, Moody Ridge
Early this morning I drove out to Lovers Leap with camera and binoculars. I had a pretty good idea of where the Golden Eagle nest ought to be, not far from the Joint Plane which drops arrow-straight to the river from the V-notch on Pinnacle Ridge. First I scanned the main Lovers Leap Spur in search of Peregrines, but saw nothing.

Then I braced my arms on my knees and carefully scanned the area around the Joint Plane, just above where it drops out of view behind the nearby Spur, perhaps 800 feet above the river, across the Gap from the Leap. I saw a tangle of dead branches beneath a rock overhang, and thought maybe I had it.

But no.

Ten minutes after my arrival, without having noticed any falcons in the air, I saw a Peregrine right below me on the Spur, on what I call the Second Step. It was silhouetted against the dark shadows which held everything across the river in their thrall, everything except the highest pinnacles. It clearly knew I was there; whenever I scooted out into plain view to get a really good look, it turned its head to fix me in the gaze of its right eye. It did not leave its sunny perch.

After a time, Deren Ross of Auburn quietly arrived, with his spotting scope, and we obtained incredible views of the falcon, every feather in focus, every subtlety of color revealed. I could see sun, sky, and canyon, all reflected in its eye, for goodness' sake. Then Deren put the scope on the eagles' nest, and I was amazed, it was scarcely a hundred feet from the false nest, but I doubt anyone, using binoculars, would spot it, unless the eagles were actually arriving or leaving. An adult eagle was on the nest, turning around from time to time. I could not see egg or eaglet. I never saw the mate.

Look close to see the man with the spotting scope on the ledge
The nest was beneath a small overhang, on steep north-facing cliffs, perhaps sixty or a hundred feet east of the Joint Plane. It was made of a mass of dead grey branches, four or five feet in diameter. I expect it was lined with the club moss which coats many rock surfaces in the Gap.

Clouds of Violet-Green Swallows and White-Throated Swifts circled over the cliffs below us, and a Kestrel, or Sparrow Hawk, the smallest of our falcons, came whirring by, scarcely twenty feet away, beating its reddish wings rapidly, climbing slowly. Occasionally we heard a Canyon Wren.

Late in the afternoon I enticed my son, Greg, out to some little cliffs, hoping to see some distant eagles or falcons. We saw nothing; well, there were more or less spectacular thunder-clouds over the high country, with rain showers drifting down, and bright-glowing snowfields on Snow Mountain. We could see the Iowa Hill Canal, east of Tadpole Canyon. But no falcons, no eagles.

Greg picked up a massive pine cone, from a tall and old Digger Pine leaning over us, and gave it a toss down the cliff. We could hear it rolling down the canyon wall for quite a long time. This scared up a few Band-tailed Pigeons, who flapped around noisily before landing in various trees. One seemed to immediately leave its chosen tree, typical pigeon behavior, but at once I saw it was larger, and put my binoculars on it.

After all that time looking for distant eagles, one had been roosting in a Douglas Fir maybe two hundred feet away, the whole time we were there! It soared west, with a few lazy flaps, and then plunged out of sight, making for a rabbit, snake, or squirrel, I would guess. It looked to be a yearling, with a hint of white left in its tail.

Such were some fine experiences in the Great American Canyon.

Golden eagle nest at Giant Gap, April 6, 2007

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