May 27 (1979, 1983, 1984, 1987, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007)
In Love with the World

Gilia capitata

Blue Field Gilia
(Gilia capitata)

5/27/79 deerbrush in full bloom, with the gilia capitata beginning. i am in love with the world. it is late spring. i am putting in a garden, have burned the long-standing brush pile and worked the ashes into the soil, formed fire terraces, and now besides my spinach and peppers i have planted carrots, broccoli, onions, radishes and cantaloupe.

Blue Field Gilia

(Gilia capitata)
while working on the cantaloupe beds yesterday morning i had occasion to dig out some three-year old deerbrush stumps, and also some roots of the same. i threw the stumps out into a pile for next year's firewood, and the roots i tossed into the bushes below the garden.

and then, i came home last night, and took a walk down to the garden. i was fooling around trying to center myself below the opening in the trees, a roughly circular pool of stars hemmed with doug fir and kellogg's oaks.

looking down, i saw a spot of light on the ground. it was about four or 5 inches long, and light gold, greenish-gold in color. it was much larger than the luminescent larvae i have seen occasionally. i saw more spots of light here and there on the ground. i was afraid to touch it ~ it seemed supernatural, and looking back at the cabin, it seemed to be lit from within by the same ghostly glow. yesterday was new moon so it was very dark out. i thought that perhaps i was at last truly schizophrenic, or that my third eye was Finally open.

however, when i lit a match to see what kind of thing was glowing, i found it to be one of the deerbrush roots i had dug up earlier in the day. and when i walked over to my pile of stumps, i found them to be glowing here and there where their bark had rubbed off or their stems had been freshly broken. i've never heard of anything like this. i could sit in my cabin and see them glowing 50 feet away. it was exciting. i am wondering how long this quality will last, and whether all c. interregnums do it, or all ceanothus. i suspect that the luminescence subsides as the wood dries, is oxidized, etc. hmmm.

the strange man who has been parking out at the cable for most of the past few weeks was merrily digging up the green valley trail and piling the mud into a dam below the spring at the head of the trail. i could hear him working on it from here. i walked over there and he was very apologetic and promised to shovel everything back in and fix it up. he was obviously planning on growing marijuana, and this morning i found some holes he had dug—on my property—for plants. i am going to ask him to stop parking out there if i ever see him again.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Blue Field Gilia

(Gilia capitata)
5/27/83 Every morning for the past few days I have been working in the meadow, digging to expose the roots of deerbrush, and then cutting with my long handled pruners. I've taken out thirty or forty that way. […] There are hundreds of little ones that can be cut with a shovel—set the blade about six or 8 inches away from the plant, and with a vigorous stomp, cut the root some four inches below the surface. I'm working near the lower cedar grove now. I also remove whatever gooseberry, live oak, black oak, bush penstemon or poison oak I come across.


Birds—most, or most conspicuously, black-headed grosbeaks—singing constantly. Oak flower clusters are shaken down by breezes; pollen coats everything. I went to the laundromat the morning after digging out bushes and saw the heat and the smog building, and felt angry.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

5/27/84 6:51 A.M. a strong, warm, northeast wind arrived yesterday. […]

Blue Field Gilia & Variable Checkerspot
(Gilia capitata &
Euphydryas chalcedona)
At noon or thereabouts I headed into town, but was immediately sidetracked by the sight of a beat up pickup with a load of teepee poles on top, and a few backpacks in back. No one was about, so I drove back in to take a look around; nobody; returned to find a group of nice young people untying the poles. I warned them against setting up a permanent camp in Green Valley, and found that one of them planned to ‘do a Thoreau’ and live there for a year. He had filed for mining claims, which are no longer possible on the North Fork, because it is a Wild and Scenic River. Seemed a very nice young man, and I felt badly, but remain determined to try and stop the year-around or semi-permanent occupation of Green Valley by the miner types — or anybody.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

5/27/87 After noon; clouds have thinned and sunshine bleeds through here and there but still cool…

Today I mailed out fourteen letters w/ copies of the Larson letter. I asked for and received a special postage grant from Dave; it took fourteen 56-cent stamps to get the stuff out. Then, on impulse, I swung by Nadine's and found her home; we drank coffee […] and talked about geology. She's just moving in.

I just finished reading some geologic material she lent me; it is interesting to read modern treatments of North Sierran geology. A series of island arcs are supposed to have slid into the continental margin and there accreted themselves; the Melone's Fault zone ultrabasics are treated as segments of an old slab of ocean floor caught in the act of subduction… Nothing really that new, But discussion more detailed than I've seen until now.”

[Russell Towle's journal]

Variable Checkerspot on Wild Hyacinth or Blue Dicks
(Euphydryas chalcedona on
Dichelostemma capitatum
May 27, 2002
Ring-necked Snake
(Diadophis punctatus
Orange Bush Monkeyflower
(Mimulus aurantiacus
Dave Lawler, Gay Wiseman & Greg Towle, above the road
to Drum Powerhouse, while following the old Miner's Ditch.
May 27, 2007

Date: Tue, 27 May 2003 08:41:26 -0800
To: North Fork Trails
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Blue Wing Trail

Hi all,

Dean Decker of BLM wanted to thank those who worked on the Blue Wing Trail. 'Twasn't me! It was the inimitable Evan Jones and friends, on May 17, if I recall. Thanks Evan!

Dean also remarked upon ATV tracks near the base of the Blue Wing. My guess, not worth much, is that they came in on the Truro Mine Road to the east and connected across to the Blue Wing.

For those who don't know, the Blue Wing is the Iowa Hill side of the historic trail from Gold Run to Iowa Hill. It heads up at the southwest end of Roach Hill, a quarter mile off the Iowa Hill Road, maybe a mile east of Iowa Hill, is unmarked, and was badly damaged at its upper end by logging activities a decade or so ago. It switches back and forth down through shady forest on north-facing slopes. There used to be a toll bridge across the North Fork at a little inner gorge at the base of the trail. Another trail continues downstream across a very large terrace of glacial outwash. Beyond the terrace is a ramshackle cabin. The trail goes only a little ways past, to a sharp bend in the river, where a cliffy section bars further downstream progress at that level. Possibly there's something up higher.


Russell Towle

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