ContentsPutah and Cache: Upper Putah Creek

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Middletown and Putah Creek Headwaters

Robert Thayer

Middletown occupies land once at the nexus of Wappo (or Mayacmas) territory and the lands of the Miwok (or Tuleyome). High points are the Mt. Saint Helena Microbrewery, the Twin Pine Casino, and Beulah's Kitchen. Beulah's serves outstanding pancakes, but don't order more than two . . . they're enormous!

Route 175 proceeds northward to Cobb Mountain, crossing Putah Creek at mile 89.8. Ponderosa and Knobcone pines (Pinus ponderosa, and P. attenuata, respectively) begin to appear with the Foothill pines, indicating both increasing altitude and soil moisture.

Putah Headwaters

Just beyond the Socrates Mine Road on the left, at approximately Tour Mile 96, just past the small mileage marker reading "L.C. 23.32 175", we celebrate arrival at the headwaters of Putah Creek, which actually seeps from springs on the Cobb Mountain flanks not far above. The waters are cool and clear, well-shaded with alder and willow, and the stream channel is healthy and picturesque with drops, pools and boulders that would make any rainbow trout happy.

Lake Miwok, Pomo, and Mayacmas peoples, and Hill Patwin probably visited too, with their own ways of celebrating the origin of waters in this forest. Try saying this (an Aboriginal Australian saying repeated during their "walkabouts"): Walyaji Wankarunyayirni . "Wall-yah-gee won-ka-run-yah-year-knee". It means "Land is life!" A simple way to honor the land's life-blood, water, as it emerges from springs to tumble downstream.

At various spots along the route up Cobb Mountain, you can see large plumes of steam from the Geysers Geothermal Energy Plant to the west. Steam from molten rock 8,000 feet beneath the surface is captured to run turbines which produce electricity. We are touring on top of some of the most tortured, twisted, and thermally active rock in the continent. Cobb Mountain is a young volcanic formation sitting on an upturned layer of older Franciscan formation rocks. Hot springs, gas vents, mercury deposits, and geothermal steam are all concentrated in this area of the Mayacmas Mountains; main sources of employment in the Cobb area are either the Geysers Geothermal plant or the Cobb Mountain Spring Water Company.

Once called Ta-na-po-se, or "Snow Mountain Place," Cobb Mountain is now named after John Cobb, an early settler. Wolves lived there; black bear and deer remain. Cobb's 4,722' elevation is higher than either of its two better known neighboring peaks, Mt. St. Helena or Mount Konocti, and it is the wettest spot in Lake County (up to 180 inches of rain per year). Its flanks are highly porous, giving rise to many year-round springs.

Cobb Village marks the transition over into the drainage of Cache Creek. Note the mixture of Douglas fir, madrone, yellow pine, and black oak typical of Coast Range mixed forests.

Loch Lomond Road heads downstream along Seigler Canyon Creek, a. This land was the border between the Tuleyome (Lake Miwok) territory and the lands of the Southeastern Pomo.

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