April 8 (1982, 2003, 2006)
Deep Snow on Moody Ridge; Rawhide Mine

4/8/82 Dawn. A clear, or at least partly so, day is on tap.

The storms finally stopped. In the high country, a near-record snowpack.. Here, three feet of heavily consolidated snow are still on the ground. My ski track is packed, fast and icy.

I dug my Toyota out and was putting gas in it when Dana Pope drove up with two lady friends, Tina and Tina. We rented some skis in Colfax and they came out to my cabin for the night. the next day we skied out to Casa Loma. Last night I skied out to Casa Loma in the moonlight.

[Russell Towle's journal]

Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 08:34:52 -0800
To: Jay Shuttleworth
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: Rawhide Mine: Public access

Hi Jay Shuttleworth, you wrote,
>The Rawhide access has been a personal interest of mine for years. I first hiked into Rawhide from Sawtooth Ridge. We wanted to go to the structures, but my friend Steve Hunter (whom you met on our Canyon Creek and High Trail walk) told me of dogs and unfriendly caretakers.
>So, let's pursue this. From my experience with securing public right-of-way for the Iowa Hill trailhead of Stevens Trail, I think taking the personal approach is the best bet. I think a minimal "gentleman's agreement" would be our lowest goal, and at best, he could offer a legal right-of-way. I think approaching this person as a "fellow outdoorsman/naturalist" might offer the best results.
>Tell me what you think.
I agree, Jay; and I have met the owner, Harry Mayo, who is a high school teacher, as I recall, in the Sacramento area.

I want to emphasize that the old mine buildings along the North Fork of the North Fork, including the mine cookhouse and bunkhouse, and the powerhouse, are on TNF land; and so is the mine portal, the ball mill, and the mule barnlet. Taken altogether, these buildings and the associated equipment constitute a fascinating portrait of a working hard-rock gold mine in Placer County. The site might well be managed as an open-air museum of sorts. One of the problems is to dissuade visitors from walking off with artifacts.

Also, it is at least conceivable that the Rawhide Road could become part of a trans-Sierran trail, even a multi-use trail: from Casa Loma to Iron Point to Rawhide Mine to Sawtooth Ridge to Big Valley Bluff, to Big Valley to Pelham Flat to Four Horse Flat; then a problem, crossing upper Big Granite Creek; thence past Devils Peak on its north side, to Cascade Lakes, and on to Pahatsi Road. All except upper Big Granite Creek and the short reach of trail from Rawhide Mine would be on existing roads. I consider existing roads to be, at the least, reasonable candidates for multiple-use (including bikes) trails.

Finally, one of the private parcels just west of the Rawhide parcel, in the northeast part of Section 5, just barely touches the North Fork of the North Fork, downstream from the Rawhide. A new road has been bulldozed down to the river from the Rawhide road, and a cabin built beside the river. I wonder whether this road was made with a permit, or the cabin.

Ideally, Tahoe National Forest should look towards the purchase of these private parcels, including the one directly above Iron Point, also in Section 5, which will vie with the parcels out on Lovers Leap Road for the dishonor of ruining the viewshed, in this most remarkable part of the North Fork canyon.

Let's contact the Rawhide owner!


Russell Towle

Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 15:24:28 -0800
To: "Bill Slater"
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: Rawhide Mine: Public access

With respect to the Rawhide Mine, Bill Slater of Tahoe National Forest wrote:
>hey Russ. I discussed this w/David Michael. I have been working w/Mike
>Nevius (265-2592) on mine interpretation projects. He is associated with
>Northstar Mine in GV and various groups. He is currently setting up a mine
>interpretive project on BLM property. I have worked with Mike by providing
>the Heritage Resource/FS management aspects (evaluations) for these kinds
>of projects when they involve FS sites. He would be interested in the
>Rawhide mine.
>Bill Slater
>Nevada City RD
>Tahoe National Forest
Thanks Bill!

Since the mine and buildings are on TNF property, perhaps a formal inventory of heritage resources, is in order? Shouldn't we—I mean, you, TNF—document what is there? Photographs, GPS, lists of equipment and buildings?


Russell Towle

Date: Tue, 8 Apr 2003 18:57:57 -0800
To: "Bill Slater"
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Re: Rawhide Mine: Public access

Hi Bill, you wrote,
>Russ. When the FS plans a project involving specific acreage the need for
>a heritage resource inventory kicks in. A trails project involving Rawhide
>Mine would necessitate an inventory (and site recordation). If the site
>was threatened by adverse effects, as would be likely for the kinds of
>projects you envision, we would have to evaluate the site for the National
>Register and mitigate potential adverse effects if the site was found
>eligible. If adverse effects to a site are occurring as a result of
>unregulated public activities or erosion I can also check out the site and
>evaluate it.
So far as the trans-Sierran trail I mentioned: this is just an idea which has occurred to me as a possible (partial) trail alignment, for the Capitol-to-Capitol Trail proposed by the Placer County BOS, which, as laid out in their brochure, would very closely parallel to North Fork American river itself, from Auburn to the Sierra crest. I oppose the BOS alignment, but have been trying to imagine alternatives.

So don't take the trans-Sierran idea too seriously; I don't really want it myself.

However, Bill, there is an existing, historic trail on TNF lands there; it climbs from the North Fork of the North Fork to the crest of Sawtooth Ridge; it does not show on the TNF version of the Westville 7.5 minute quadrangle, but it does show on the usual USGS version of that map. Forget the trans-Sierran trail; I want to walk on the Rawhide-Sawtooth Trail, just as our grandfathers did, without anyone blocking my way with a gate or a "no trespassing" sign. I don't want to ride a motorcycle on the trail, I don't want to ride a bike on the trail. I want to walk on the trail.

Finally, you write "If adverse effects to a site are occurring as a result of
>unregulated public activities or erosion I can also check out the site and
>evaluate it."
The only discernible adverse effects are garbage strewn beside the river, suction dredging on the river, and use of buildings on TNF property for storage, of what, I do not know. Well, to attempt to block public use of a historic trail is also an "adverse effect." We are going to see if anything can be worked out with the owner.

Thanks much for your comments, Bill, they are helpful. Let's go in there and take a look!


Russell Towle

Pipevine Swallowtail, on vetch blossoms.
April 8, 2006

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