From: Russell Towle
Subject: Lost Camp hike
Mike & Marsha Joyce, their friend Michelle, noted geologist Dave Lawler, intrepid hiker Canyon O'Riley, Tom Molloy, my children Janet (11) and Greg (9), and I met at the Dutch Flat exit yesterday morning and drove up I-80 to the Blue Canyon exit. Driving most of the way down to the old railroad town, we turned off on an anonymous road which soon crossed the tracks and continued down to the site of Lost Camp, passing some new "No Trespassing" signs and gates. The main road itself is open and as rough as ever. At a certain point, the terrain levels off and evidence of hydraulic mining appears. This is the site of Lost Camp. Roads to the left and right lead to hydraulic mines and also to some of the old house sites.
We continued south on the main road and at a certain point kept to the left. A little ways further brought us to the trailhead, which looks like nothing more than one more of the myriad obscure roads which seem to branch off everywhere.
My son Greg assumed GPS duties and recorded every twist and turn as we straggled slowly down the trail. Much of the trail's approximately one and a half miles is under the cover of trees. This trail is shown very incorrectly on the USGS Westville 7.5 minute quadrangle, and it was good to get its true course dialed in. The trail begins at about 4400 feet elevation and descends to about 3100 feet.
|Janet, traumatizing a baby garter snake|
After a while, we ventured upstream to a pool, which marks the entrance to the gorge section of this canyon. The pool is long and deep and narrow, flanked by sheer cliffs. High clouds had gradually obscured the sun during the day, and a fresh breeze also moderated the temperature, so that few were tempted to swim the pool and see any of the waterfalls above. The water was fairly cold; it always seems to be cold, down there, and having swum the gorge entrance pool quite a few times, may I say, I always dread it; it is like swimming through cold fire; but when I actually am in there, swimming, it is never as bad as feared.
The kids captured a garter snake, and the adults mainly lounged in the sun. Tom Molloy made some tremendous splashes in the pool, from one of the jumping rocks. I braved the swim-of-cold-fire and then visited the truly exceptional pool just a few yards up Fulda Creek, which enters the gorge there. This pool is almost perfectly round, about 50 feet across, quite deep, and has cliffs on three sides. Fulda Creek enters the pool in a double waterfall about 40 feet high. It is difficult to get to this pool, for, although close to the main river, it is guarded by low cliffs and huge boulders. It is like some 19th-century, German-Romantic-School painter's idea of the quintessential mountain pool.
After a time we meandered back down to the trail, and it was up and out. The mosquitos made an appearance, as we trudged through the forest in the late afternoon, but didn't seem too bad. It was a very nice day in a lovely canyon.
Like many historic trails around the North Fork American, this trail is at risk. Much of it has already been destroyed by logging, on the Sawtooth Ridge side of the river. At Lost Camp, the trail begins on private lands, seemingly owned by the lumber company, Sierra Pacific Industries. I would like Tahoe National Forest to make a special effort to acquire the SPI lands at Lost Camp, in order to secure public access to this historic trail. Short letters to the Forest Supervisor would be helpful. Refer to the Lost Camp Trail to the North Fork of the North Fork American, and ask that TNF try to acquire all of Section 23 in T16N R11E. Address the letters to
Steven EubanksSome additional points might be, that the site of Lost Camp itself is of historic interest and importance, being a ghost town from the late 1850s, and that the trail itself is also of historic importance, and gives access to a very wild and beautiful canyon.
Forest Supervisor, Tahoe National Forest
631 Coyote Street
Nevada City, CA 95959
Date: Mon, 24 Jun 2002 16:46:21 -0800
From: Russell Towle
Subject: Goshawk Nest, Revisited
Coopers Hawks are accipiters, like the Northern Goshawk; bird hawks, who zoom through the trees. Coopers are smaller than Goshawks.
We soon entered the Ancient Forest, the TNF people being suitably impressed, and noted several more Spotted Coralroot orchids in bloom. We visited the Bear Wallow and the Indian Site, and then dropped down past the Bear Den to the edge of Goshawk Valley. Suddenly one of the Goshawks appeared from the north and began peeping at us, settling in a large Ponderosa Pine not far away.
We decided to make a quick in-and-out to the nest, and descended into the valley. As I began scouting up the far side to where I remembered the nest tree to be, I saw a nest almost immediately, and the Goshawk began peeping and swooping, tho, thank goodness, staying high. This was not the same nest as we had seen a week or so ago, and I scouted higher on the ridge, looking for it; but the TNF people stayed at this lower nest, and with binoculars, could see the baby Goshawks. I couldn't find the nest I had seen previously, and one of the TNF people told me that Goshawks commonly have a number of alternate nests in the same area, and switch from one to another from one year to the next.
I took a turn with the binoculars and admired a fine little puffball of white down glaring down at me, with piercing dark eyes. This nest was a bit rounder and bulkier than the other I'd seen. We spent a few minutes there while the TNF people recorded the slope angle and vegetation type of the nest area, then left. On our way out we headed east, then north past the cliff tops to the Triassic Cliffs and the main trail.
Such was a visit to a Goshawk nest. On the drive in, I was a little ahead of the TNF trucks, and stopped at Pelham Flat to scout around for traces of the old Sugar Pine Point Trail, which was largely erased by logging, a decade or so ago. I think I found some vestiges of it near Pelham Flat. It forked away from the Big Granite Trail above Four Horse Flat, dropped south past Pelham Flat, and then kept to a higher line on the ridge than the (recent) logging road (according to my map). It may be possible to restore this old trail. I need to go back and do some more scouting.