May 5 (1987, 2002, 2005)
Season of the Worm

5/5/87 Evening. It is the season of the Worm; soon after the black oaks leaf out, every spring, tiny light green worms somehow hatch and chew the fresh similarly-colored leaves (no coincidence, perhaps), and then, after having eaten their fill, and shat little clear drops of lacquer over everything (at times the shit-rain is so heavy in these oak groves that one can actually hear it), they drop to earth on tiny silken threads. And that is what is happening now: the forest, festooned with worms I can't go for a walk without a worm slyly landing upon my head, my shoulder; they are small, but if one looks carefully, and varies one's focus, dozens if not hundreds of these hanging worms will be seen. Four, for instance, are hanging right now just outside my door. A breeze is blowing, the weather is warm, and these festooned little worms sway to and fro.”

Russell Towle's journal

Harlequin Lupine
(Lupinus stiversii)
On Sunday, [May 5, 2002] I met with John Krogsrud, a fine amateur botanist and gorge scrambler from Auburn, and a group of his friends, including Octavio Trejos, the genial proprietor of Trejos Mexican restaurant in Auburn. Noted geologist/paleontologist Dave Lawler was present with a friend, and also Leslie Warren of the Placer County Land Trust. Altogether, there were about ten of us.

We made a rather leisurely descent of the Paleobotanist and Canyon Creek trails, stopping to examine flowers along the way. The peak bloom is still a couple of weeks away for most of the trail. We stopped for lunch at the Big Waterfall and then went on down to the river. Several kayakers were taking a break at the confluence of Canyon Creek. It was sunny and warm. After another break John and I made a quick scramble up the up-river trail, for about half a mile. John was pleased to see the Harlequin Lupine in bloom there.

Harlequin Lupine
(Lupinus stiversii)
Then we followed the others up the main trail. All in all it was a very nice day. Oh yeah—a little bird flew right past my face at a certain point on the trail, both going in and coming out, and the second time I looked around and sure enough, its nest was right beside the trail. It flew too fast and too close for me to see it well; I imagine it was an Oregon Junco, they nest on the ground.

California Yerba Santa
(Eriodictyon californicum)
A checkerspot butterfly on the yerba santa blooms
We also saw a lot of Cliff Swallows hawking around the Big Waterfall.

I made a crude petition asking Deane Swickard of BLM and Rex Bloomfield of the Placer County BOS to do whatever it takes to acquire at least some of the private lands now for sale in the Gold Run Diggings and on Canyon Creek. Our group signed the petition and I will send it along soon. Of course a lot of signatures could be rounded up locally, in the Alta-Dutch Flat-Gold Run area, and I guess I will work on that.


Russell Towle

“The Eminence”
The high point west of the Pinnacles ridge that forms the southern arm of Giant Gap.

May 5, 2005

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