Saturday, February 28, 2004

Snow, Flowers, and Waterfalls

Friday I dropped my son at school and left Alta for Gold Run, Garrett Road, and the Paleobotanist Trail. I hoped that an early start would save me from that second snowfall which is typical at these elevations; first, a storm loads up the forest with masses of snow, then, as soon as the sun shines, often, say, the next day, all that tree-snow comes whomping down in a soggy, dripping mess.

An accident seemed to have blocked the eastbound freeway near the Dutch Flat exit, and a long line of cars and trucks was rapidly getting longer.

A few inches of snow covered the ground in that fine forest atop the Bluffs, and the trees dripped, but did not snow-whomp. It was interesting to see the Diggings in snow. There were occasional glimpses of the North Fork canyon to the south and east, fog swirling here and there, and snow near the canyon rim. I hastened along the winding trail towards Canyon Creek. It had come up big, raging in fact, on Wednesday, when the North Fork itself had topped 4000 cubic feet per second at the North Fork Dam (Lake Clementine), below Auburn. I wanted to visit the waterfalls, since I have yet to photograph them when the creek is really big.

In coldish weather an interesting phenomenon may be observed in the Diggings. A little down the Main Diggings Road from its crossing by the Paleobotanist Trail, an old mine shaft plunges a hundred feet or so to meet a long tunnel. The shaft is the historic "49" shaft, and the tunnel has been called "the gravel tunnel." The tunnel was driven in 1874, and follows the bedrock floor of the ancient river channel north. The shaft, tho, seems to be that very one sunk in 1861, on the banks of Potato Ravine, which established the depth to bedrock beneath the channel. At that time the shaft was 250 feet deep. Subsequent mining stripped away 150 feet of gravel, so now it is only 100 feet deep. And it connects to a roughly horizontal tunnel.

The "interesting phenomenon" is that fog rises from the shaft on cold mornings, when the rest of the Diggings is clear. It is as tho--as tho--as tho some tribe of Indian spirits has set up camp deep within the earth, and the smoke of their secret fire escapes up the 49 shaft. Now, fog forms whenever the air falls below the dew point, which point depends upon two variables, temperature and humidity. Given such-and-such a temperature, increasing humidity could drop the air below the dew point; or, given such-and-such a humidity, decreasing temperature could do the same. A few feet below ground, the temperature of the earth is about 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Now, colder air is denser and heavier, warmer air is less-dense and lighter. Fog rises from the 49 shaft when air temperatures at the surface are (how much?) colder than 57 degrees, which is a commonplace there in the winter, since the shaft is really within the huge mining pit below the Bluffs. Cold air sinks into this pit at night, and can't readily escape. Let us say that there is little or no wind and air temperatures in the pit are in the thirties. This is much less than 57 degrees, the aforementioned earth-temperature; hence (somewhat moist) air within the tunnel and shaft is warmed by the 57-degree gravels at depth, and this relatively warm air rises, and, reaching the surface at the top of the shaft, is instantly chilled below the dew point.

I noted a small column of fog rising from the shaft as I hurried along; the Indian spirits were awake; soon I was at the snowy head of the Canyon Creek Trail, and set off towards the waterfalls and the North Fork. I was a little disappointed when I reached that part of the trail where, suddenly, Canyon Creek is directly below, and as I listened to the loud voices of the many cascades and low falls in that area, I realized that, yes, it was big; but not raging big. Perhaps the lower temperatures and snowfall had slowed the runoff.

The snow steadily thinned as I dropped lower. There was a constant dripping from the trees as it melted. The little bridge had a thin layer of almost transparent, wet snow, but thereafter there was hardly any. The creek was indeed bigger than it had been on my previous visit. Some very fine views open up just after crossing the little bridge, and one can see that strange little fall, the Leaper, which rises in an arc before free-falling down a slot-like embayment in the cliff. Now it roared out of its narrow channel and slammed into the wall of the embayment with a loud cracking thunder.

Right beside it is the main waterfall, the first big waterfall as one descends Canyon Creek. There is quite a fine view of it from the trail: I call that place Waterfall View. I have a photograph of this waterfall taken ca. 1875, when the creek was lined with giant sluice boxes, and water from Bear River, the South Yuba, and the North Fork of the North Fork was used in the hydraulic mines of Gold Run and perforce flowed into Canyon Creek. The creek was perpetually big, back then. Thousands of "miners inches" of water were used in the mines, brought by long canals from the higher country. One miners inch is something like seventeen thousand gallons per day.

These "upper falls" were nice and big, but not exceptionally so; I photographed them and hustled down the trail. I should say that at the very instant of dropping my son at school I learned that it was a minimum day; I would have to be back to pick him up at noon, not at 2:30, as I had imagined. So haste was in order.

I had forgotten to bring a watch, but knew from past experience that it takes about thirty-five minutes to reach the little bridge from the Bluffs.

Not raging, but very impressive. More and more waterfalls appeared along the way, in new shapes and louder voices. In places the trail is cut into cliffs, and it is interesting to hear the sounds of the falls reflected from the cliffs as one passes. The Inner Gorge was spectacular and, as usual, somewhat frightening; the trail passes above it on a ledge blasted from a cliff, and one peers a hundred, two hundred feet down into a most remarkable chasm, twisted, narrow beyond belief, rife with hidden waterfalls of great power, and essentially inaccessible.

Gorge Point was passed, with its same Brewer's Rock Cress and Biscuit Root. Suddenly the North Fork canyon is in full view, and the Big Waterfall roars away below, out of sight. Since time was short I took the steep short-cut down. The Big Waterfall, around 120 feet high, was still in the shadow of its awesome gorge. As I neared the viewpoint below the falls, where the trail coming up from the Terraces ends, I noticed many Birdsfoot ferns. These are smallish ferns with narrow leaflets, a ghostly light grey in color, adapted to dry conditions, such as cliffs baked beneath full sun. There is much in the way of varied microclimate along Canyon Creek, and I have identified eleven different species of fern growing there.

Spray billowed out from the falls and chilled me, so I took my photographs and hurried down to the Terraces. The fog and low clouds were thinning and I enjoyed sunshine, and stopped to photograph the narrow trail, all covered in a turf of grasses and sedges and moss, gleaming in the sun, still wet from the storm. At the Terraces I turned onto the Lower Terraces Trail back to the CCT, and was striding along when a voice called out, "Hey Russell!" And there was Ron Gould, a couple hundred feet above me on the main trail.

We continued on down to the river, pausing to photograph one of the larger waterfalls, another one which develops a double path when flows are high, and therefore looks strange and unfamiliar. Then down the last few hundred yards to the last big waterfall, at the river itself, also doubling and even tripling its path, booming, spray rising.

The North Fork was surging along quite rapidly, fairly well bank-full, still over 3000 cfs, as I was to learn later on the Internet. Ron and I took the Low Old Upriver Trail to some great viewpoints, where one can see, first, Lovers Leap, all snowy and still partly hidden in fog, with Bogus Spur and by all rights the HOUT (tho we couldn't see a sign of it) in the middle ground; and then, around a few corners, the Pinnacles and the Eminence came into view. It was great to see the Leap and the Pinnacles so well frosted in snow. We photographed them, and then returned to the last and lowest waterfall, and took more pictures.

All too soon I had to start up the trail. Ron stayed to visit the Big Waterfall at his leisure, but I walked on up and out without a break, and reached the Bluffs just before noon, only a few minutes late. However, the freeway traffic had been detoured onto the back roads, and it took a long time to reach the school in Alta. All was well, however, my son was waiting patiently in the chill shadowed snow in front of the school, and home we went. It had been another wonderful visit to Canyon Creek and the North Fork.

There are some very useful and interesting internet sites I would like to mention.

For those interested in wildflowers, there is

which has many thousands of photographs of California wildflowers. I have contributed several photos to this collaborative web site. It represents the best of the internet, in which not only does the site share its information with us, but can share we with it, in that we can provide photographs and descriptions to it. Note that one can browse wildflower species either by scientific name or common name. To see photographs of Brewer's Rock Cress or of Biscuit Root, for instance, one would click on the letter "B" of the common names list.

A long list of flowers whose common names begin with "B" appears. Click on any one of these, and a page full of photograph thumbnails appears. Click on any one of *these* to see detailed information about where and when that particular picture was taken. From there, one can access quite a number of other sources of information about that one species.

To get up-to-the-minute information about the flow of the North Fork below Auburn, go to

This website is automatically updated, what, less than hourly, from the sensors at North Fork Dam. One can choose to view streamflow over longer periods of time if one wishes, and even graph the data.

Finally, for those interested in California history, the Library of Congress has an amazing collection of books online, the text having been scanned and OCR'd, so that it is a *searchable database*. There are many Gold Rush diaries in this collection. Suppose, knowing that Gold Run was once called Cold Springs, one searches for Cold Springs. If any one of the Gold Rush diaries mentions Cold Springs, you will find it, and, moreover, be able to ink directly to that part of that diary. Of course there were many places called Cold Springs in those days, so some caution must be used (and what temperature is the usual cold spring? Yes, of course: 57 degrees).

Go to

where the main search page is found for this collection. You can search through bibliographic records or the text (of the entire collection) itself. I almost always search the text. You do not need to enclose multiple words in quotes, as when using Google.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Of Moss and Men

Over recent weeks I have made quite a number of visits to the Gold Run Diggings, the Canyon Creek Trail (CCT), and the HOUT (High Old Upriver Trail). On several occasions I have hiked from the end of Garrett Road to the Secret World and beyond, to the Indiana Hill Ditch. There are rarely fine views into the North Fork canyon and Giant Gap from that area. Since the late 1970s I have dreamed of a "Giant Gap" trail connecting Lovers Leap to the Gold Run Diggings at the end of Garrett. The idea arose during hikes along the canyon rim west of Lovers Leap, where a small mining ditch makes an almost level trail. From this old ditch one can look directly down to the river in Giant Gap, and across the canyon to the Pinnacles, and southwest to Iowa Hill.

Unfortunately, there are about ten private parcels along the rim of the canyon west of Lovers Leap. These parcels account for but a small fraction of the distance between the Leap and Garrett, the rest being almost all BLM land, but several of the parcels drape across the line of the ditch. Suppose the parcels were all for sale and the BLM had a ton of money: then buy them, buy them all, even at absurdly high prices, they'd be more than worth it.

For, these are "view" parcels, and it should be regarded as a certainty that some or even all of them will sprout the usual monuments to egotism, large houses with large fire breaks, the fire breaks allowing the houses the widest and deepest of views. Right now, this part of the canyon rim, best seen from near Iowa Hill and Roach Hill and Giant Gap Ridge, is still of a perfectly natural appearance. Were we to have any respect for our heritage and for future generations, we would make sure that this view remained perfectly natural.

The remarkable views of Giant Gap from near the head of the Pickering Bar Trail could also be impacted by construction on some of these view parcels.

The Indiana Hill Ditch was completed on September 13, 1852. It would, I always thought, make for a wonderful trail. It could be a part of the Giant Gap Trail. Its terminus is a small mining reservoir perched above the Secret World. Following the ditch east from there, it bends around to the north. It is infested with heavy brush. For years my friends and I kept a small path open along the ditch; for a time, it was the best way to get in to the Canyon Creek Trail. Since the upper end of the CCT has been opened to Potato Ravine, the ditch has not been needed. The bushes have grown and closed our narrow gaps. Recently, I have made a more careful investigation of the ditch. I find that the berm is broken down in many places, and that, even if it were cleared of brush, it would not be in good shape for much use as a trail. It is of sufficient historical importance, and scenic and recreational value, to deserve special care. With some work, it could be stabilized for use as a foot trail.

Howsoever, it is a wonder. From a certain point along the ditch, one can look directly down Canyon Creek to its confluence with the North Fork. I was there last Wednesday, after days of sustained heavy rainstorms, and Canyon Creek was a raging roaring river in its own right. I could see the creek itself over much of the reach from just below the Big Waterfall to the North Fork. Amazing!

Several species of early-blooming wildflowers have appeared. The first blooms are always near The Terraces, one of the camps used by the men who used to work the sluice boxes in Canyon Creek, in the 1870s. This camp site was undoubtedly selected for its warm microclimate. I have often seen California Milkmaids in bloom there in early January. This year, what with the coldness of the weather, the Milkmaids appeared a week or so later than usual.

At Gorge Point on the Canyon Creek Trail, Biscuit Root and Brewer's Rock Cress are now flowering. In the meantime, dozens of Milkmaids have appeared along the lower reaches of the CCT. And on the HOUT, last Saturday, I saw my first Blue Dicks of the season, along with a few Biscuit Roots and some really small guys I didn't recognize.

I used the Paleobotanist Trail, from the Bluffs off Garrett Road, to reach the CCT. This adds nearly a mile, and makes a hike on the HOUT a fairly long affair. Canyon Creek had settled into a medium to medium-high flow, enough to make The Leaper, a waterfall which eagerly rises before falling into its own little chasm, rather bold and noisy. In fact, the sound of the waterfalls along the CCT was everywhere quite loud; various hissings, thunderings, and low, almost cyclic bass-drum boomings reverberating from within the Inner Gorge.

A mile east on the HOUT carries one past Bogus Gully to a fine viewpoint. The North Fork swirls in emerald and white a couple hundred feet below, while Giant Gap frames the eastern sky. Just a few yards beyond this viewpoint is another, similar, but with the whole stretch of the North Fork up to Big West Spur in view. Awesome.

Rain showers had come and gone all day, and as the clouds seemed to gather and darken, I retreated. Wondering whether I might find some short-cut up to a higher point on the CCT, I left the HOUT early and followed a deer trail up. Soon enough I was scrambling across rock outcrops and ducking under oak and manzanita.

The canyon wall there faces south, and catches a lot of sun, and has much exposed rock. Woody vegetation is somewhat sparse, dominated by Canyon Live Oak, Digger Pine, and various brushy species, like White Manzanita, Toyon, Buckbrush, Mountain Mahogany, and Silktassel. There are many grassy areas, and many mossy areas, which last present an interesting subject in themselves.

There is a species of coarse moss--I think it is a type of club moss, but may be mistaken--which colonizes many slopes. It knits together fine material which passes for soil, and in places, this sheath of coarse moss covers talus slides (elsewhere it covers solid rock). Hidden from our view are underground galleries, where mice and other rodents have their little dens, as do snakes.

To what extent does the nitrogen from these animals' excrement fertilize and sustain the sheathing masses of moss?

This moss--when I say it knits its quasi-soil together, I mean, it knits it *very tightly together*, so that a shovel would have trouble cutting it, and if one tore away at it, it would come up in chunks.

One sees at first glance that these moss-sheaths, somehow, some way, are terraced, like so many miniature rice paddies. Small areas of mineral soil, a few inches or a foot across, lie perfectly flat, held up by walls of moss. How do these areas arise? Why are they free of moss?

At times, looking over a moss-sheath, the quasi-soil bound by the moss seems much as though it had flowed into position, or been built up like travertine around a hot spring.

I am tempted to believe that it literally *has* flowed into position, and *has* been built up "like travertine." I believe these moss-sheaths may be thousands of years old, and that they are indeed constantly fertilized by excrements, but that, perhaps, it is wildfires which are most critical to their development.

For, a good wildfire will leave deposits of ashes on the steep slopes, and these will be mobilized by rain storms, and work their way down the slopes. At the same time, the thin soils on these steep slopes will become exposed to higher-than-ordinary rates of erosion after wildfires, and the soils too will wash downwards.

In the meantime, whatever moss colonies exist, having, let's say, survived the fire (because they are in an especially rocky, untreed, unshrubbed area)--these moss colonies tend to trap and slow down the sediments and ashes. So the mossy areas expand. Slowly.

So far as the little bare-soiled mini-terraces in the moss-fields: could these represent the traffic of animals of all sorts, over the long term? Does a deer or a bear or a fox or a bobcat or a human tend to step in some certain places, and those certain places become moss-terraces? Maybe.

On Saturday, while struggling along on my supposed short-cut, I came to a neat little cliff, all sheathed in moss, with a clump of poison oak leaning out over the top. It was the easiest way to continue on my short-cut. As I debated which sequence of moss-terraces to use for my hand- and toe-holds, I saw one sloping moss-terrace--an oddity--right at the base of the cliff. I realized, suddenly, that this one barren spot was exactly where bears, for who knows how long, hundreds, thousands of years, have made their first step onto the cliff from the ground below.

Soon enough I was at the top of the little cliff, and ducked my head and bulled through the poison oak, and angled up and west, up and west, and reached some really fine cliffy viewpoints, just before crossing a rocky ridge to the Canyon Creek Trail. The last few hundred yards were really rough going, and could never make any kind of short-cut to the HOUT. Perhaps a lower line might work instead.

So, I have been out in sun and storm, watched flowers gradually come into bloom, listened to waterfalls, enjoyed many fine views, and pondered moss-travertine deposits. And last Saturday, I found the Paleobotanist Trail blocked by fallen trees in two places, and this morning, carried my saw through the dripping forest at The Bluffs and on down the trail, and cut through the trees, rolling the logs away.

It is clear that Spring is on its way, and I hear, from a bird-watching friend, that hundreds of robins, and hawks of many kinds, and eagles, have been seen migrating upslope and northeast, in the canyon down near Auburn.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

The Cedars' Dark Plan

Although only an amateur historian, I am gifted with omniscience.

This omniscience offsets, to some extent, that lack of credentials, of degrees, that absence of even the smallest smell or echo of cap or gown, that brand me an amateur. Hence I can report the details of a conversation which took place in a cabin at The Cedars, late in the afternoon of October 13, 1953. It sheds some light on their Policy of Exclusion.

"Nyah-ha-haaa!" The braying laugh of hard-bitten lawyer Warbucks Babbitt Warbucks rang through a rustic little shingled edifice in the High Sierra of the North Fork American. He was one of several men seated around an oak table. A glance would show that all were men of substance, if not outright captains of industry. They were, after all, members of The Cedars.

The men glanced furtively at one another, and dared the shadows of smiles. Had a solution at last been found, for the age-old problem of The Public hiking on the old public trails across Cedars lands? Warbucks *seemed* pleased; but could not this be some sort of courtroom trick, before he let the hammer drop, and caught you up in a web of perjury, or worse?

Finally, the most substantial of the substantial men spoke. Call him "Jones" (I wish to protect the privacy of his descendants). "Do you mean to say, Warbucks," Jones inquired, with all that studied gruff hoarseness of voice which showed him a real man's man, "that we can keep these people off Cedars land, for good? And if so, how? What's our weapon?"

Warbucks did not answer immediately. His gaze slowly moved from one expectant face to the next, and then at last he nodded, and spoke, with a quiet assurance, slightly tinged with triumph.


The word rang out starkly and strangely alone in that small room so full of people. The shadows of smiles dwindled away. Jones at last remarked, laughing nervously, "Ha, ha, Warbucks! I presume you mean, jestingly of course, that our Armed Caretakers should actually kill the trespassers--and yes, *then* they'd get the message--ha ha!--or they'd all be dead--ha! But seriously, Warbucks, we need an iron-clad legal strategy. We didn't fly you all the way out here from Washington to make jokes! What's your *real* plan?"

"Death!" Warbucks replied, firmly yet soberly. "Death, and more 'No Trespassing' signs than any sane person would ever care to imagine. Here's the plan, fellows; have no fear; you've nearly laid The Public in the dust at your feet already."

And Warbucks Babbitt Warbucks explained that time was on their side: only a very few people alive remembered hiking the old public trails before The Cedars arrived on the scene, and those who *were* still alive were not likely to be doing any hiking (being quite old). It only remained to post the very very many 'No Trespassing' signs, patrol the trails with the Armed Caretakers, ordering all hikers to leave, and soon enough *the children of the last men and women to hike the old trails freely, would themselves be dead*. With them would die the last credible hearsay that any public trail had ever existed on Cedars lands.

"Once the second generation is dead," Warbucks summed up, "the war is over, and The Cedars has won."

His audience mulled over this "Warbucks" plan. One of the younger men (he could scarcely have been a day over fifty) gestured toward a pile of papers on the table. "What about the old maps, showing these trails--the Heath Springs Trail, the Anderson Peak Trail, and so on. Won't 'The Public' be able to use the maps to show that these were once public trails?"

"'The Public' won't ever get that far, young fellow," Warbucks replied derisively. "Listen carefully: burn those maps, and if anyone ever asks, tell them that 'certain Forest Service maps erroneously depicted private trails as public trails.' Not only that, but start telling anyone and everyone that The Cedars itself made those trails."

"But, Mr. Warbucks, sir," the youngish man exclaimed, "we didn't build those trails! I mean, sure, we cleared some brush off them, and so on, but those trails are *old*! In fact, my research shows that the Heath Springs Trail was being used in 1862, and ..."--but Warbucks would not let him continue to describe his 'research'.

"Young man!" he thundered, "If anyone inquires, anyone at all, you just say, 'The Cedars built those trails,' and by God, you dress the story up nicely--tell them, what, anything--'Grandpapa says that it used to take a whole day to get down to Heath Springs, before we built the trail,' and then, you stick to your guns!

"After all," Warbucks finished, and here he fixed them with a truly steely gaze, "You own one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Just because men and women and their families used to hike and camp and fish here, way back when, doesn't mean that you, The Cedars, shouldn't have it all for yourselves, now and forever more.

"So: nail up your ten thousand 'No Trespassing' signs, patrol your trails, and wait. Death will solve your problems, permanently."

So far, The Cedars' Dark Plan has succeeded admirably.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Trespassing CXI

Mike Case, who has provided us with interesting detailed descriptions of his adventures on the North Fork with his son Jason, wrote the following to The Cedars' Ted Beedy, re trespassing:

Mr. Beedy, my name is Mike Case and I'm from Alaska. My son and I have been making the trip between Euchre Bar and the Iowa Hill bridge for several years now. It started as a challenge but has evolved into a time when my son and I can spend much needed quality time together. We pack in about 75 lbs. of gear and spend a lovely 2 weeks lining small 3 man rafts through the canyons and gorges on down to the bridge. It is one of the loveliest places on earth. I would love to someday see the upper North Fork country, but people such as yourself seem bent on keeping good decent folks like myself and my son out, because we are not part of you sacred little group. I am convinced it is because of people like yourself who lock up the most beautiful places from others, that has given Californians a bad name. Many times when I tell others about my trips down the river, their first reply is "California? Why on earth would you want to spend a vacation there among the smog, people, and no tresspassing signs for?" I wonder Mr. Beedy, did the good Lord make the upper North Fork just for you and your group? What makes you so good in your own eyes as to keep everyone else out? I can understand wanting to keep people from leaving trash, but to banish EVERYONE? I don't understand it. I can only relate it to a place near where I live here in Alaska. The duck and goose hunting is great there, and always has been. People have been hunting there for years. But back in 71 a college professor bought it and managed to keep everyone else out, except those in his own persnickity little group who had masters and doctorate degrees. The whole town got tired of it several years ago and although we could do nothing legally, we put enough negative pressure on the guy that he finally relented and moved away. Perhaps thats what the decent people in the North Fork area should be doing with you and your group. If you could somehow explain to me why you see only you and your group good enough to be able to enjoy one of Gods best creations, and keep everyone else out, I would sure appreciate knowing. We had a saying in Alaska during the construction of the Trans Alaska Pipeline that went like this: "happiness is seeing 10,000 Texans headed south with an Okie under each arm." Perhaps happiness along the upper North Fork would be seeing you and your group not being so full of yourselves, and letting other good people enjoy what God has created for everyone, not just you. Sincerely, Mike Case

Monday, February 16, 2004

Historical Tidbit III

This letter from the June 1866 "Placer Herald" newspaper, published in Auburn, records camping and mining activity in the upper basin of the North Fork.

Placer Herald
June 16, 1866
Soda Spring Valley, Placer County

Eds. Placer Herald:-Dear Sir;-Having observed that you manifest considerable interest in the mining enterprises of this County, by devoting a column of your paper weekly in its behalf, I would offer a few mineralogical suggestions, which perhaps may be of some benefit to the Gold and Silver quartz seekers of this vicinity.

The above mentioned mining district was discovered some two years since, by J.N. Smith, an old resident of this county, whose geological investigations for several years have been confined to this District. Soda Spring Valley is located at the head of the North Fork of the American River, 6 miles south of the Dutch Flat Wagon Road, 10 miles west of Lake Tahoe, and 15 miles southeasterly from Meadow Lake. In natural beauty, picturesque scenery, and romantic landscapes this valley prominently stands out unique and wonderful in all the features that compose it. Your scribe, with a party of mineralists, who are now sojourners in this enchanted Valley, recently crossed the snow belt of the Sierra Nevada Mountains; leaving the Dutch Flat road at Tinker's Hotel, after three days of recruiting and procuring a sufficient amount of forage for our trip, we embarked on our pedal expedition via the trail. Two miles nearly over three feet of snow, brought us over the snow limit to the Summit which divides the waters of the South Yuba and the North Fork of the American. From this position the traveler could look downward into the valley of the American river, clothed as it is in its emerald robe, which contrasted strongly with the chilly regions of the country we had just traversed.

On our descent towards the river we crossed several small meadows, not exceeding in area 100 or 200 acres, which looked like oases growing amid the gigantic fir trees that surrounded them. These little plains were carpeted with rich verdure, the genuine grass which time and sun mature into legitimate hay. These meadows offer rich pasturage for the stock during the dry season, which is driven up from the valleys below, and herded during the months of July and August. We were soon in the valley of the American River about one mile below our point of destination. Taking up the stream, half an hour's walk brought the balmy air of Soda Valley to our nostrils. We were in the valley of our Golden anticipations, surrounded by lofty mountain peaks at the North, triumphant piles of granite lifted in grand proportions at the South, and at the East rising in snow covered majesty were the skyward peaks of the Sierras, until our vision became confused by distance. Vegetable creation was spread out profusely at our feet-flowers that baffle description-innumerable mountain violets opened their variegated petals to bid us welcome to the haunts of their retirement. Notwithstanding a year had rolled off a cycle into the abyss of eternity since our last visit here, yet all was familiar as if it were but yesterday we had visited this enchanted ground. The boisterous cataract in the river opposite our camp, still tumbles its volumes of protoxid of hydrogen down the granite stairway of fifty feet--rolling off Sacramento-ward in color resembling lacteal very much.

People may speculate upon the grandeur of Niagara. Excursionists and adventurers may descend upon the unparalleled magnificence of Yosemite. Philosophers and clerical dignitaries may expatiate upon the precipitate waters of the various localities of the world; which fill the mind of man with wonder and kindle a flame of vivid fancy in the furnace of the dullest imagination-which causes the most skeptic to quake at the unmistakable evidences of a Divinity. But the ceaseless overpowering water avalanche at our side is sufficient to enliven the most inveterate infidel to lift his soul in reverence to him "Who made the world and heaped the waters far above the loftiest mountains."

We come now to the vast mineral resources of this District which are as yet undeveloped. But little, since its discovery, has been done, but sufficient labor to hold valid the titles of the claimants. Judging from the rock, which is merely croppings we would not hesitate to say that our candid opinion is that Soda Springs, as a mining District will rank foremost in richness of rock, facilities for crushing, and convenience for working. Water privileges are remarkably fair; the gigantic timber surrounding the valley, will be a great inducement for capitalists, and the apparent inexhaustibility of the lodes, all conspire to offer unexceptionable inducements to men who are interested in quartz. Several parties on prospecting tours, visited Soda Spring Valley within the past few days, from Meadow Lake, Lake Mountain City and Virginia City, pronouncing the prospects far better than at Meadow Lake or the above mentioned mining districts, judging from the returns. The most prominent ledges are the Granite, the American, Pittsburg and the Cataract. The Silver Dip and Golden Dip Deerlick ledges, discovered a few days since, are very rich in appearance, specimens of which can be seen at Tinker's Hotel. Messrs. Webber, Smith, Benedict, & Co., have just completed their block house 26 by 18 feet. Several companies are busy now doing necessary work, prospecting, etc. Several tons of rock are being taken to Summit City or Meadow Lake by parties, intended to be crushed. A wagon route is surveyed and work commenced, running from the valley north, intersecting the Dutch Flat road at Tinker's on the Central Pacific Railroad.

Yours auriferously,

Friday, February 13, 2004

Before The Cedars, II

Public use of the upper basin of the North Fork American was quite considerable before the "No Trespassing" signs of The Cedars began to appear on the scene. One of my favorite accounts of the area is that of (here quoting the Library of Congress): "New York journalist Benjamin Parke Avery (1828-1875) emigrated to California and became part owner of the Marysville Appeal in the 1850s and later published a newspaper in San Francisco and served as state printer. Californian pictures in prose and verse (1878) contains his "word-sketches," which are largely confined to California scenery, although some picture Native Americans and miners whom he knew when he prospected on the Trinity River in 1850 as well as the city of San Francisco. Most of the book is devoted to poems and essays dealing with mountains of the Coast Range, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Santa Cruz range and their passes and lakes; Yosemite, upper Sacramento Valley, Mount Shasta, and the geysers."

The following was written by Avery between 1869 and 1875. He passes from Summit Valley--the broad meadow at the head of the South Yuba, near the present town of Soda Springs (named for the actual soda springs, miles away in the North Fork)--into Anderson Valley, now the site of the Serene Lakes subdivision, and then down the wagon road to the soda springs. "Eagle Cliff" is our Snow Mountain, which also appears as "Bald Mountain" on some old maps.

Later, Avery describes the inner gorge at Heath Falls. This is reached by the Heath Springs Trail, which follows the North Fork down from The Cedars.

Summit Valley, lying three miles west of the highest point on the railroad, is six thousand seven hundred and seventy-four feet above the sea. The air is keen and invigorating; there are few summer nights without frost, but the days are warm enough for health and comfort. Nine miles southward, and six hundred and sixty-one feet lower, are the little known but remarkable "Summit Soda Springs." The drive to these springs is one of the most picturesque and enjoyable in the Sierra. Passing by fine dark cliffs of volcanic breccia to the right, and over low hills covered with tall, red firs, the road leads to Anderson Valley, a green meadow, embosoming three little lakes, which are perfectly idyllic in their quiet beauty. These lakes are the remnants of a larger single body which evidently once filled the whole valley. Their outlet is through a narrow rocky gorge which empties into a tributary of the north fork of the American River. The road follows the steep side of this gorge for a short distance, then reaches the summit of a ridge overlooking the ca–on of the American , two thousand feet below. Looking down this ca–on, one sees rising from its blue depths the grand bulk of Eagle Cliff,-a rocky promontory whose top is probably eight thousand feet above the sea, and whose bald slope to the river presents a precipitous front of inaccessible steepness. The largely exposed mass of this elevation makes a magnificently long outline across the sky, and when the ca–on is hazy in the afternoon, and the sun declines towards the west, the sharp sculpture of the cliff is obscured behind a purple veil and presents a front of ethereal softness, like a vast shadow projected against the heavens, or a curtain let down from the infinite. Directly across the ca–on, looking southward, the ridge separating the north American from the middle fork of the main river sweeps up in a still longer and grander line, which swells into snow-peaks from nine thousand to ten thousand feet high,-as high above the valley at the bottom of the ca–on as Mount Washington is above the sea,-exposing four thousand feet of uplift to the glance, and weathered into a rich variety of pinnacled, domed, and serrated forms. The descent into the ca–on is a long zigzag through a lovely forest, in which the red fir, with its deeply corrugated bark, attains a height of from one hundred and fifty to two hundred and fifty feet, and frequently has a thickness at its base of four or five feet. The yellow pine (P. ponderosa), even more massive, lifts its rich foliage above a bright and leather-colored trunk, the bark on which is almost smooth, and is divided into long plates. But the monarch of these woods (though infrequent here) is the sugar pine (P. Lambertiana), whose smooth trunk, often six feet through, rises a hundred feet or more without a limb, perfectly straight, and is crowned with a most characteristic, irregular, and picturesque top, its slender cones, a foot or more in length, hanging from the tips of the boughs like ear-drops. The eye constantly seeks out these magnificent trees, and every large one is hailed with admiring exclamations. Dwarf oak and manzanita, ceanothus and chemisal, are the prevailing underbrush. In sunny open spaces, or on bits of timberless meadow, the rose, and thimble-berry, and a purple-blooming asclepia abound. Occasional large patches of a broad-leafed helianthus, when not in bloom, curiously resemble ill-kept tobacco fields. About grassy springs a very fragrant white lily sparingly unveils its virgin beauty. A spotted red species of the lily is more common, and small, low.flowering plants are numerous. The southern slope of the ridge, descending to the soda springs, has a deep soil and is very thickly timbered. At its base the small streams are lined with thickets of quaking aspen, cottonwood, and balm of Gilead, alternating with more continuous groves of alder and willow, where the prevailing undergrowth is a silkweed, four or five feet high, whose slender stalks, bearing narrow, sharply.cut leaves, are thickly crowned with purple blossoms. Thickets of thorn afford cover for numerous quail. Coniferous trees continue along the narrow banks of the river, but stand more apart. At the head of the ca–on, the granite breaks down in huge benches, or shelves, presenting perpendicular faces as looked at from below. The river tumbles a hundred feet, in cascades and falls, through a gorge of granite set in a lovely grove of cedar and pine, and pools of green water sparkle in clean basins of granite at the foot of every fall. The rock of this gorge is richly browned and polished, except on the gray faces of the cliffs overhanging the stream. Farther up the ca–on, where the main crest of the Sierra describes the arc of a circle along the eastern sky, and is crowned by several high peaks, the granite is overlaid with lava and breccia, the product of the volcanoes which anciently dominated and overflowed this region, and whose relics are seen in the sharp cones of trachyte at the summit. Near the junction of granite and volcanic rocks, numerous soda springs boil up through seams in the ledges, often in the very bed of the stream. The water of these springs is highly charged with carbonic acid, is delightfully cool and pungent, and contains enough iron to make it a good tonic, while it has other saline constituents of much sanitary value. Where the fountains bubble up they have formed mounds of ferruginous earth and soda crust, and their water stains the river banks and currents at intervals. One of the largest and finest springs has been utilized, forming one of the most picturesque resorts in California. About two miles below, the river has cut a narrow channel one hundred and fifty feet deep and one eighth of a mile long through solid granite. This chasm is but a few rods wide at top, and only a few feet wide at bottom, where there are numerous smooth pot.holes, forming deep pools of wonderfully transparent water of an exquisite aquamarine tint. There is enough descent to make the current empty from one pool to another in little cascades, over sharp pitcher.lips of polished rock. Lovers of angling are provoked to find no fish in these charming basins. A few stunted but picturesque cedars are stuck like cockades in the clefts above, and the summits of the chasm walls are rounded and smoothed by ancient glacial action. To this place was given the name of Munger's Gorge, by a gay picnic party last summer, in honor of the fine artist who sat with them on its brink, and was first to paint it. A few miles below is a still deeper and grander gorge, at the foot of Eagle Cliff, where the precipitous granite walls rise a thousand feet or more, and the stream makes a sheer fall of a hundred feet. Above this fall fish cannot ascend, and so it happens the beautiful upper river is the angler's disappointment. There are many fine climbs to be made in the vicinity of the soda springs, including Mount Anderson and Tinker's Knob, companion peaks, separated only by a saddle-like depression a few hundred feet deep and scarcely a mile long, at the very head of the ca–on, dividing it from the head of Tuckee River, on the eastern slope, by a few miles. These peaks, having an elevation from three thousand to three thousand five hundred feet above the river, and from nine thousand to nine thousand five hundred above the sea, can be climbed with comparative ease in a few hours. Tinker's Knob, the higher of the two (named after an old mountaineer, with humorous reference to his eccentric nasal feature), is a sharp cone of trachyte, rising above a curving ridge composed partly of the same material and partly of lava and breccia overlying granite. Its summit, only a few yards in extent, is flat, and paved with thin slabs of trachyte, and cannot be scaled without the aid of the hands in clambering over its steep slopes of broken rock. Anderson is shaped like a mound cut in half and is composed of breccia (volcanic conglomerate), rising on the exposed face in perpendicular cliffs, similar to those which occur lower down the slopes. The ridge crowned by these twin peaks is approached over a steep mountain of granite boulders, morainal in character, which leads to a tableland clad sparsely with yellow pines and firs. Clambering over the broken rock to the top of Tinker's Knob a magnificent panorama is unfolded. Over three thousand feet below winds the American River,-a ribbon of silver in a Concavity of sombre green, seen at intervals only in starry flashes, like diamonds set in emerald. The eye follows the course of the ca–on fifty or sixty miles down the western slope, marking the interlapping and receding ridges which melt at last into the hazy distance of the Sacramento Valley. With the afternoon sun lighting up this slope, shooting its rays through the ranks of pines, and making glorious the smoke of burning forests or the river vapors, which soften without concealing the scene, the effect is wonderfully rich. Looking north and south, the eye discerns a long procession of peaks, including Mount Stanford, the Downieville Buttes, and Mount Lassen. To the east lies Lake Tahoe, revealed for nearly its whole length, with environments of picturesque peaks. There, too, lies its grand outlet, the basin of the Truckee River, which can be followed for fifty miles to the Truckee meadows in Nevada, past several railroad towns. The line of snow-sheds from the ridge above Donner Lake to Truckee is distinctly seen, and the roar of passing trains comes faintly up. The Washoe Mountains bound the view in that direction, completing a grand picture. The view is amphitheatrical, and the radius of it cannot be under two hundred miles. A still finer outlook can be obtained from a somewhat higher peak to the southward, which heads the next ca–on in that direction, and is approached over or along a succession of volcanic spurs, edged with sharp cliffs of breccia, of true drift conglomerate, and narrow plateaus of the same material resting on vertical walls of basalt. The cliffs in one place are a dark Vandyke brown, faced with brilliant red and yellow lichens, and the talus at their base is a grassy slope of vivid green. Opposite these, across a gulf perhaps two thousand feet deep, rises the bluff face of the peak we seek,-shaped like the South Dome of Yosemite, but a mass of crumbling breccia of a pale chocolate or drab color, enameled with patches of snow. Some hard climbing is necessary to surmount this, but the view repays the labor. Though much of the character described above, it is more extensive, giving a finer idea of the summit peaks for a distance of one hundred and fifty miles along the range. Mount Lassen and the Black Butte, its neighbors,-volcanic cones both,-are beautifully exposed, and towers higher than any mountain points in that direction until Mount Shasta is reached, only seventy miles farther north . Looming into view one after the other, as the eager climber ascends, they excite the mind and stimulate the weary limbs to renewed effort; and as the view, at first limited by near ridges, expands to a vast circle, melting on every side in the atmosphere, the soul expands with it, and the very flesh that holds it grows buoyant. "What now to me the jars of life, Its petty cares, its harder throes ? The hills are free from toil and strife, And clasp me in their deep repose. "They soothe the pain within my breast No power but theirs could ever reach; They emblem that eternal rest we cannot compass in our speech. "-John R. Ridge.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Historical Tidbit

The Cedars, by blocking public access to trails in the upper North Fork, is trespassing on the public's rights; for these trails are old--the upper North Fork is a beautiful place--and many people once hiked and camped where "No Trespassing" signs abound today. I have always kept my eyes open for first-hand accounts of the upper North Fork, published long ago. Here is an excerpt of such an account, from the 1877 Dutch Flat "Forum" newspaper. The author, a Placer County resident, is on a hike to Lake Tahoe from Iowa Hill. He goes to French Meadows, on the upper Middle Fork, in search of a cattleman friend, Mr. Russell; but Russell and his herd are away at "the Cove"--wherever that is!--so the author and his friend struck north for what we now call Old Soda Springs:

Fortunately an Indian and family, on the tramp, came along, from whom we got the directions to Soda Springs, whither we desired to go next, as we could not only by doing so reach the direct road, but also be sure to meet some of our cattle friends, by visiting whom we should see and learn so much more of the country. So we took the trail to

Soda Springs,

About which I have a good deal to say. After crossing the summit from the Middle Fork of the American, the descent to the North Fork is down, down, down, over a rough trail, as if it would never end. The "facilis descensus" of Horace came strongly to my mind, only as the descent is not the result of vice it is not so rapid in itself nor fatal in the end, as that spoken of by the Roman poet. Still it is very tedious, and fearful; but the end well repays the labor, for in physical grandeur I doubt whether it has its equal in the State, and as a summer resort for those seeking restoration to health, or those seeking relaxation from business, it is simply perfection in every respect. The property, I believe, belongs to Mr. Mark Hopkins, the railroad magnate, who has a neat, unassuming cottage for himself and family, who reside there most of the summer. Many improvements are contemplated worthy of the natural beauty of the spot. Already a large granite fountain is in course of construction, and in addition to the wagon road to Summit Station on the railroad, another is spoken of to the Lake, about ten miles, so that communication with Virginia City, as well as San Francisco, may be had daily by the guests. The house, outside, has no pretensions to style or even appearance, but inside it is roomy and well appointed. It is in the surroundings that the attractions of Soda Springs lie. Apart from the pure atmosphere, every taste in natural scenery can be gratified without much physical labor. Immediately by the hotel flows the North Fork, for the vast amphitheatre is nothing more than the head-waters of that stream, and then stretching out for miles to the south and west are woodland glades of fine, shady trees and flowers, and shrubs, and grass in profusion, so cool and refreshing that one's system immediately feels the influence and seems to rejoice; while again, to the east or Summit of the Sierras, for three miles, there is every phase and every variety of mountain scenery, each as complete in its character as the human mind can conceive or desire to behold. Ectaclysm on the left, catastroplasm to the right, life, vitality and wealth of vegetation, with flowers and purling crystal streamlets at your feet. It was, in fact, on this spot, sacred almost in its grandeur, that we last saw Selina and Ferdinand, and where we hope to leave them, and the class they represent, forever. The most prominent landmark is Tinker's Knob, a miserable name for such a peak, 9,600 feet higher than the sea, and rising thousands of feet, with no particular difficulty of ascent either on foot or horseback, right from the hotel door, for it is all the way smoothened as it were, on the surface, by the cataclysms of countless ages.

The story of their visit to Soda Springs goes on and on, and even concludes with a song, satirizing the fashionable guests at the hotel. The area around the hotel site (Mark Hopkins' cabin is still there) is now owned by the Chickering family.

Sunday, February 8, 2004

Field Trip a Success

Quite a number of people showed up at 9:00 a.m. or thereabouts to meet with archeologist James Barnes of the BLM, and visit the Stone Cabin in the Secret World. Archeological volunteer Clarissa came all the way up the hill from Rio Linda; Evan Jones of the Historical Trails Foundation was present, armed with many maps; Tom and Julie, who took care of the most recent clean-up of garbage from the Great Tunnel of the Gold Run Ditch & Mining Co. were with us; and NFARA sec'y Catherine O'Riley brought several friends along.

The Secret World is at the head of Indiana Ravine, where the Gold Run Diggings break off abruptly at the edge of the North Fork canyon. This smallish hydraulic mining pit is walled by high banks of gravel on three sides, but opens south to the canyon itself. The day was sunny, but as we walked down the old Road to the Mines from the BLM gate at the end of Garrett Road, we caught glimpses of remnants of the river of fog which had flowed down the North Fork during the night before, being lifted and twined around Lovers Leap and the Pinnacles. Ten miles beyond, Quartz Mountain and Monumental Ridge showed fresh snow.

The Stone Cabin has been vandalized, and parts of its walls broken down, near the door, and at one corner. While James and Clarissa took photographs and developed ideas about what could be done, the rest of us busied ourselves with gathering garbage, and then explored north to a rather large tunnel which leads north out of the Secret World into the master pit of the Gold Run Ditch & Mining Co.

After a time we formed up for the march and clambered up an awkward bank of gravel to the east, leaving the World, walking past the huge wall of the Old Reservoir at the terminus of the Indiana Hill Ditch, and then short-cutting through the Diggings, over a low pass, to the Ditch itself. Here the trail to the Diving Board plunges directly down a gully. The Ditch winds away and out of sight to east and west, its mossy berm glowing and fresh after the rain overnight, the North Fork canyon, a vast blueness to the south, seen and sensed through a varied screen of Canyon Live Oak. Down we went.

Soon enough we heard the loud voice of the Big Waterfall, and then began to see it through the trees; and then, the ridge becomes rockier, and loses much of its somewhat elfin oak forest, and the views really open up. The Canyon Creek Trail, the Terraces, the Big Waterfall, Giant Gap, and so on. We reached the Diving Board and soon moved to the west side, where the sun was welcome. A leisurely lunch was followed by the slow climb up and out.

We took the long way around going back, looping north through the Diggings on an old road, at a certain point suddenly chilled in the north-falling shadows of high banks of gravel, and then, while passing the dark tunnel to the Secret World, we could actually peer right through, to see a jungle kissed by strong sunshine, away in the World.

We slowly wound up and out of the Diggings, pausing to admire views of Giant Gap. Everywhere along these roads, we saw the tracks of motorcycles and OHVs. I would like to see the BLM close the Gold Run Diggings to OHV use. I worry that, among other things, people will use these vehicles to remove the last of the petrified wood, along with whatever mining artifacts which are not nailed down. They already ride all the way out to the Old Reservoir beside the Secret World, and only an insubstantial curtain of oak branches keeps them off the Indiana Hill Ditch itself. This, by the way, is one of the finest trails of the Gold Run area in its own right, but is a delicate treasure, and certainly must never be used by motorcycles.

It was a very nice day in canyon and Diggings; maybe late in the spring we can have some work parties and repair the Stone Cabin.

Sunday, February 1, 2004

Visit to Green Valley; field trips afoot

Saturday morning, on the last day of January, 2004, Catherine O'Riley, Joe Varady, and I met to make a visit to Green Valley. High clouds obscured the sun and a chill inspired us all to wear our long sleeves on the downward reach of the old trail.

Green Valley was one of the great Gold Rush mining camps of the upper North Fork, perhaps *the* great mining camp of them all, as its population is set at fully 2000 people by multiple sources from the 1850s. It was a distinct Mining District, and had its own Recorder, and even after most of the people left, significant mining continued down into the 20th century itself.

There was never a road. Trails graded for loaded mules led down from both sides of the canyon. It is a descent of something more than 2000 feet in elevation, from over 4000 feet on the canyon rim, to the river, at 1800 feet. There were stores; a hotel; undoubtedly, gambling halls or dens, be they in tents or log cabins. The Chinese were active in Green Valley for decades, and in 1854 the whites resolved to expel these Celestials, these Sons of the Flowery Kingdom, for they had made the great mistake to striking it silly rich. The China Claim, as it was called, yielded full $100,000 of the royal metal in the summer of 1853. It was a river claim.

A broad belt of serpentine extends far to the north and south from where it has been cut by the North Fork, at Green Valley. This is the serpentine of the Melones Fault Zone, one of the principal old faults of the Sierra, and poorly understood by geologists. A long narrow belt of ultramafic rock, often altered to serpentine, lies along the Zone, striking north-south. It is sometimes called the Feather River Peridotite. It is weaker than the rocks east or west of the Zone, this ultramafic rock. All the various main canyons cross it, and usually its relative weakness, as a rock, is revealed in the relative wideness of the canyons which cut it. And so in Green Valley, where the North Fork canyon is about three miles across, over the serpentine, but only one mile across, and half a mile deep, in the massive Calaveras Complex rocks of Giant Gap, just to the west.

Serpentine is somewhat poisonous to plants, and some species will simply not tolerate it. For instance, Ponderosa Pine and Kelloggs Black Oak both stay rather strictly away from the serpentine. Hence if you see either of these species in Green Valley, you know that, whatever parent material the soils there have developed from, it is likely *not* serpentine. This is especially true of the north, south-facing side of the canyon, where soils tend to be thin and poorly-developed.

In Green Valley there is a conspicuous forest of Ponderosa Pine which runs up to around 2200' in elevation, and at the Hayden Hill Mine there is a knoll capped with Kelloggs Black Oak, at 2400'. These groves mark the presence of extensive deposits of glacial outwash sediments. The outwash deposits were mined heavily, and there are several to many more or less small hydraulic mines in Green Valley. Some have drain tunnels.

As we entered the pine forest at 2200', we took the West Trail and then immediately stayed right again on the High West Trail. This leads to the river at the site of a suspension bridge, right below the high banks of the Green Valley Blue Gravel Mine. We, however, struck off into the woods to visit The Pyramid, a serpentine knoll rising above the west end of Green Valley, elevation 2277', and blessed with good sun and great views.

There is one easy way to gain the ridge the knoll lives on, but I always forget this easy way, and end up thrashing through the brush. So it was this time. Eventually it will become fixed in my mind that just exactly where some marijuana growers left a horrible pile of garbage, years and years ago, one can walk quite easily over to the High West Trail.

We took the way-less-traveled and fought with massive old bushes until at last the summit was reached and a welcome patch of sun bade us rest. The day had improved tremendously, the clouds were mostly all gone, and the great winter view of Giant Gap, so full of shadows, lay before us. The Pinnacles seemed adorned with a cluster of starry wisps of cirrus clouds, a complex of comets which paused their headlong rush to stop and examine these strange blades and spires of rock.

I told the story of Dr. Wallace Halsey, and the Christian Brotherhood, and the idea that aliens--yes, aliens, my friends!--aliens had again and again visited Earth and instructed the poor humans, and taught us to build pyramids, and did all this long ago, long before our archeologists would dare to guess; and that there are two and only two Ancient Pyramids in California; and one pyramid is in the Owens Valley, as is only right; and the other ... the other, is in Green Valley. This knoll was pointed out to me, by a member of the Brotherhood, many years ago, as the Pyramid itself.

It is true that the sun-setting light of the winter solstice just kisses this knoll, but to my eye it is a natural artifact of the bedrock topography of Green Valley, a knoll among several knolls, which all seem to hint at long-vanished meanders of the North Fork, when the glacial outwash sediments had built up into a floodplain.

We then explored around the summit area and found signs that a trail had been cleared through heavy brush to the place a *very* long time ago (the aliens, again?), andt the trail even seemed to continue down to the south. We dared not follow it, for my experience has been that brush of an even denser weave and tangle awaits in that direction. Instead, we retreated north, took the easy way to the High West Trail, and soon enough were at the river, the cold cold water surging along in the shade, and Lovers Leap all full of sun rising 2400' above us, just to the west.

On the way up and out we visited Pyramid Camp, which has its own intricately routed little side trail, and is on the flat surface of a glacial outwash terrace, about 200' above the river, near The Pyramid. Here too a giant mass of garbage needs to be gathered up and hauled away. The camp is quite near the top of the hydraulic mining banks, and in several places very good views can be had of the river, the canyon, Giant Gap, and Lovers Leap.

The sun was lowering and so we began the long slog up and out, reaching the canyon rim just before sunset. It takes wisely slow hikers about an hour and a half to climb out of Green Valley, with a couple rests along the way.

Catherine O'Riley and I propose that we-all make a series of cleanup trips to Green Valley. There are four main garbage sites I know of. Two are near the Pyramid, one is near the hotel site in central Green Valley, and the fourth is somewhat farther east.

There is quite a bit of trail work which might be done, too. It is a strenuous hike, in and out of the deep canyon, and carrying garbage up that long trail makes it that much worse.

Saturdays are probably best for suiting the maximal number of schedules. I am of a mind to say, rain cancels. Next Saturday is out, or already scheduled, in that BLM archeologist James Barnes is coming up to Gold Run to take a look at the deteriorating Little Stone Cabin in the Secret World mining pit. Those interested in seeing the Secret World, and possibly, visiting the Diving Board, with its great views of Canyon Creek, Giant Gap, and Pickering Bar, should meet at the Gold Run exit off eastbound I-80, 10:00 a.m., February 7th. At the exit's stop sign, make a hard right onto Magra Road and park immediately on the right, near the historical monument.

The hike to the Secret World is easy; the Diving Board is difficult.