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River claims young victimby John Elliott
As of Thursday, May 15, Sequoia Park searchers still clung to waning hopes that an 11-year-old Hanford boy would be found in the vicinity of Hospital Rock. Last Sunday, the boy, identified only as Xavier, wandered away from a family picnic and was last seen by a companion cascading down a 10-foot waterfall just below the popular picnic area.
According to the eyewitness, the boy had tried to cross the narrow channel of the Middle Fork when he slipped and fell into the water.
The Kaweah River is currently swollen with snowmelt, and water temperature is 40 degrees or below, meaning survival time even in calm water is less than 30 minutes. This section of river is currently rated a Class V, based on an international scale of river difficulty that ranges from I to VI, used mostly by professional whitewater guides and paddlers.
This rating means there are long, uninterrupted rapids, big drops, violent currents, a steep gradient, and the riverbed is extremely obstructed. In this area, large, deep pools look deceivingly calm, yet are swift-moving and contain strong undertows.
Dozens of park search-and-rescue workers spent Mothers Day afternoon trying to find the Kings County youngster. That days search had to be called off at sundown.
On Monday, at least 45 searchers combed the rugged canyon to more than three miles below the Hospital Rock area. Tulare County sheriffs deputies, volunteers, and divers from the departments swiftwater rescue team joined park personnel.
Divers with wetsuits were able to briefly enter the chilly waters, but could only access a small portion of the steep, raging river.
He could be anywhere in that stretch below Hospital Rock area, said a park ranger. Im afraid it could be weeks until we make a recovery.
The search was scaled back on Tuesday, but ground crews and a helicopter with a spotter continued to fly up and down the rugged terrain. Afternoon thunderstorms on Wednesday forced the helicopter to suspend its search at 3 p.m.
This is the most dangerous time of the year, warned a member of the sheriffs dive team. With the first hot weather, people just gravitate to the river that right now can be extremely dangerous. Most of these places arent even safe for trained personnel with a PFD [personal flotation device] and head gear.
If Xavier had not been located by sundown yesterday (Thursday, May 15), the incident commander said the search would be scaled back with little hope of a recovery until water levels drop.
What youre missing if you dont subscribe:
In addition to the following stories, also included in the May 23 issue of The Kaweah Commonwealth print edition is the spring/summer 2003 Kaweah Country Visitor Guide that contains local advertisers, area map and business listings, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks map and visitor information.
Also, theres Snapshots, the Neighbor Profile, dozens of advertisers, Kaweah Country Classifieds, and more.
To really get to know Three Rivers and all of Kaweah Country, read The Kaweah Commonwealth each Friday and log on to this site regularly.
by John Elliott
On Monday, May 19, one of the dozens of searchers who have been combing the banks of the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River located a small plastic container from a vending machine that was known to have been in the pocket of Xavier, the son of James and Sandra Apodaca. The 11-year-old Hanford boy has been missing since Sunday, May 11, when he fell into the river in the vicinity of Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park.
At least one of the parents has been in the Hospital Rock area daily since the tragic disappearance. According to park spokesperson Lisa Ann Carrillo, the family is planning to return during the Memorial Day weekend to continue the search.
Flyers with the youngsters photo were circulated in Three Rivers in the hope that someone may have seen the boy. He has short black hair and was wearing a bright yellow shirt; blue, white and black shorts; and black shoes with blue stripes.
The warming temperatures have caused a dramatic rise in river flow levels and make search efforts by dive teams nearly impossible. Afternoon flow levels are currently more than twice the cubic feet per second than on Mothers Day, when the boy fell into the water.
On Wednesday, dam-tenders at Lake Kaweah reported that the 24-hour mean inflow was 2,190 cubic feet per second (cfs). The lake traditionally fills and breaches the spillway during the week of Memorial Day.
All that water coming down the Kaweah River drainage makes for ideal whitewater rafting. But local ambulance and law-enforcement personnel are preparing for a busy weekend that could include more river tragedy.
The National Park Service is encouraging visitors to enjoy park activities that do not require getting close to the river.
Its easy to slip and fall into the river, even when you dont intend to go for a swim, Carrillo said.
For tips on how to stay safe at the river, see above.
by John Elliott
When is a retirement not a retirement? Just ask Ken Woodruff, who on Monday, May 5, opened The Cabin, a gourmet coffeehouse and used bookstore next to the Naturedome in Three Rivers.
Ken and his wife, Bette Bardeen, moved to Three Rivers a couple of years ago with thoughts of retiring here. For Ken, who previously owned KW Summit Inc., a high-tech machine shop in Huntington Beach that made parts for communication satellites, retirement has been more of a downsizing process.
For the first year-and-a-half, I operated a machine shop in Visalia, Ken recalled. After our new house was built and this place was remodeled, we were ready to make a go with the new business.
Ken says Bette always had an interest in books and they often thought during their frequent visits to Three Rivers of things they might do in retirement. Although Bette has been coming to the area since the 1970s, they began to explore Sequoia Park and especially Mineral King together in the 1980s on numerous backpacking trips.
In 1988, Ken and Bette were married at the Community Presbyterian Church by Rev. Keith Mitchell.
The next year we bought the riverfront property that includes this building that is now The Cabin, Ken remembered.
Throughout the 1990s, the Three Rivers place served as a vacation retreat for the Orange County couple.
I guess we just couldnt bear the thought of seeing this place rented to somebody else, Ken said. I was interested in opening a hardware store in Three Rivers so our first idea was something like Books and Bolts.
Woodruff says his sister owns a used bookstore in Ashland, Ore., so shes been the source of most of the product that fills the shelves lining the walls of the new shop. Somewhere along the way the bolts idea gave way to jolts coffee.
We started the transformation of this place into a coffeehouse and bookstore in September 2001, Ken said. Now, almost two years later, were open.
But Ken said he still had to decide on what brand of coffee he would feature. Even that decision had a Three Rivers connection.
I met this coffee aficionado at last years Concert on the Grass, Ken said. He suggested I check out a Berkeley company.
Woodruff says he made a visit to the home of the modern Free Speech Movement and came back impressed with a company known as Uncommon Grounds.
The general manager came here personally to deliver the coffee part of the business, Ken said. It was his first visit to Three Rivers, and hes very high on this place.
All that encouragement, Ken said, confirmed that The Cabin is on the right track for success. Locals have been raving about the dozens of coffee concoctions, the homemade biscotti, and six varieties of whole-bean coffee.
And Ken is enjoying his role as proprietor.
I dont need to be around people all the time, Ken admits. But in here I can be outgoing and show another side of my personality.
Presently, the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River, literally just off the back deck, is putting on quite a show for all who visit and take time for a coffee break.
Were still evolving and developing the potential of this place, Woodruff said. Soon well add a slushy machine and extended hours on the weekends for those who want to drop by in the evening.
The reality is upon us. Were going for the push Petit Pinson, Three Rivers
by Sarah Elliott
For the past week, the Mt. Everest summit push for Petit Pinson of Three Rivers and her climbing team was scheduled for yesterday (Thursday, May 22). The expedition postponed its plans at the last minute, however, to instead rescue five stranded climbers higher up on the mountain.
For the past six months, Petit and her three teammates, all amateur athletes, have been preparing, competing, and training for this moment. They started as a few among 50 participants in the Global Extremes: Mt. Everest4Runners of Adventure television series, which premiered on the Outdoor Life Network in January.
Now, after nearly two months of acclimatization and logistical preparation, the athletes, a few Sherpas, and climbing leader Chris Warner were planning their final summit push on Thursday, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Pacific time (on Everest, it will be Friday, 1:30 a.m.). It will now be postponed for one, two, or more days while the athletes retreat and recover.
On Tuesday, a 20-year-old climber from Spokane, Wash., his father, and five Sherpas, were the first expedition of the year to reach the top of Everest. This makes him the youngest American to stand on top of the world.
According to the experts, this is the latest summit date since 1986, delayed by extreme winds that ravaged the Everest region. On Wednesday, it was reported that 44 people were on their way to the top, and it was five those who required the rescue due to bottlenecking at the challenging Second Step.
Episode 18 On Monday, May 19, the second preview show from the slopes of Mt. Everest included interviews with the climbers and their guides as they made their final preparations and practice climbs. Also included was a behind-the-scenes look at the production equipment that was transported and assembled in preparation of a television first: live summit-day coverage.
This past week, the Global Extremes team has been working their way up the mountain after an extended stay at Base Camp waiting out the winds.
One of Petits teammates, Colleen Ihnken, announced Thursday that she has decided to not attempt the summit after all, citing concerns over deteriorating weather conditions.
Mt. Everest history and facts
Age Mount Everest was formed about 60 million years ago. It is 29,035 feet above sea level (8,850 m.).
Name In Nepal, the mountain is known as Sagarmatha (goddess of the sky); in Tibet, it is Chomolungma (mother goddess of the universe). The English name came in 1865, named for Sir George Everest, the British surveyor-general of India. It was formerly known as Peak 15.
Ascents First ascent: Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, Nepal, May 29, 1953. First American ascent: James Whittaker, Port Townsend, Wash., May 1, 1963. First woman ascent: Junko Tabei, Japan, May 16, 1975. First ascent without bottled oxygen: Reinhold Messner, Italy, and Peter Habeler, Austria, May 8, 1978. First solo ascent: Reinhold Messner, Italy, Aug. 20, 1980. First American woman ascent: Stacey Allison, Portland, Ore., Sept. 29, 1988 (Petit will be the 13th). Youngest: Temba Tsheri, Nepal, age 15, May 22, 2001. Oldest: Shermann Bull, 64, New Canaan, Conn., May 25, 2001. Ascent by a blind person: Erick Weihenmeyer, 32, Golden, Colo., May 25, 2001. Youngest American: Jess Roskelley, 20, Spokane, Wash., May 21, 2003.
by Sarah Elliott
On Mothers Day, Kaweah Country experienced its first drowning of the year. Yes, unfortunately, such a tragedy is an annual occurrence, usually caused by a combination of high water, warm weather, and an unfamiliarity with river dangers.
It is not Three Rivers residents who get in fatal trouble with the river. We know the river and its whims; we respect its strength and fury.
It is those who travel to the area from elsewhere that are tempted by the deceivingly inviting water. But dont be fooled.
The river is dangerous, cold, and unpredictable. The shoreline can be steep and is bordered with water-polished rocks that are slippery when wet or dry.
Visitors should realize this is not a city park. The river contains underwater hazards, drop-offs, swift currents, and undertows, none of which are pointed out, posted, or obvious to see.
At this time of year, swimming in the river can be as dangerous as falling in, and whichever way you enter, getting out may not be an option. If you do get out, hypothermia becomes the danger, so get out of the wet clothing and into dry clothing, a blanket, and/or sleeping bag.
Besides staying out of the river, see above for additional river safety tips.
When you take a walk in this park, its not always a walk in the park. If walking in a city, we all understand the importance of crosswalks and traffic lights, as well as the risk we take if we cross a street without looking its dangerous, but by understanding the hazards, we arent fearful.
Its the same when visiting Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park, but you cant rely on signs to protect you. You must embark on your recreational adventures completely informed of the risks in order to keep you and your loved ones and friends safe.
There are basic rules of safety to follow:
Rattlesnakes: Dont be scared, because they dont come looking for you. But, yes, they are poisonous, so when in rattlesnake country, be alert. Dont step over rocks or logs without checking the other side. Dont climb rocks without seeing first where your hands will be placed.
Never try to handle a snake and dont provoke them. This is how many bites occur.
If bitten, stay calm and seek medical help immediately. Bites are rarely fatal, but it is imperative that the wound be treated immediately to avoid severe tissue damage.
Poison Oak: This shiny green shrub is at its most beautiful during spring, but if it has leaves of three, let it be. (The leaves turn red in the autumn, then fall off in winter, making the plant hard to identify, yet it is still potent.)
Prevalent in the foothills, if any part of the body or clothing has come into contact with poison oak, change and wash as soon as possible. Even if you dont think you touched poison oak, if hiking or exploring outdoors in the foothills, make it a habit to shower or bathe as soon as possible.
Ticks: During and after any walk or hike in the foothills, check yourself and others in your party for ticks. When walking, wear light-colored clothing, which will make the insects easier to spot, and tuck pant-legs into your socks, so they cant be exposed to your skin.
A tick, which is about the size of freckle, will attempt to burrow its head into your skin, then take up residence, using your blood as sustenance. To remove a tick, tweezers work best, but it is necessary to make sure that the entire tick is removed, including the head.
Ticks may carry Lyme disease, which is a chronic, recurrent inflammatory condition characterized first by a bulls-eye reddening of the skin, then joint pains, fatigue, and sometimes neurological disturbances.
Wildlife: Dont feed them! This immediately minimizes any risk of disease, injury, or damage to property caused by animals who call Three Rivers and Sequoia home.
Theyre cute when hanging around at a picnic, but the various types of squirrels and other rodents have fleas that can carry plague. Mice droppings can have hantavirus, which can be contracted not just by touching it, but by inhaling as well.
These creatures and skunks, opossum, raccoons, coyotes, and others can also carry rabies.
Marmots, most infamously in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, enjoy chewing on the hoses accessed from the underside of cars. This can cause significant damage, and it is important to check under the hood for fluid leaks or brake-line damage prior to driving the vehicle, if parked in marmot territory.
Mountain lions are a rare sight, but they are here. Its best to never hike alone and keep children within view.
Never run away from or turn your back on a mountain lion. Instead stand your ground, raise arms to appear larger, pick up children, and fight back if attacked.
Just like Yogi, the black bears that inhabit Kaweah Country would like to steal your picnic or your ice chest or any other smelly, tasty item that is left within easy grasp. It is important to never let a bear have human food because thats when it could become aggressive and dangerous.
Instead, enjoy them from a distance, never come between a mother bear and her cubs, and dont ever feed a bear. Once they taste human food, they are smart enough to know its easy to get again, but cant possibly realize that it causes destructive behavior (such as breaking into cars, slashing tents, or boldly approaching humans) that can only lead to its execution.
Weather: In the Sierra mountains, the weather can change quickly. Always keep an eye on the sky.
Watch the weather forecast and plan accordingly, whether driving or hiking, if snow is predicted.
If you hear thunder or see lightning, take appropriate action. Do not climb Moro Rock, and stay out of meadows and water.
Now, grab a pack, a water bottle, snack, and the sunscreen and get outside, off the road, and enjoy your stay in Kaweah Country. Its wild!
by John Elliott
On Wednesday, May 21, when Derek Roberts of Visalia, a Navy veteran of the Iraq War, asked if Mr. Hayes fifth-graders had any questions following his remarks, nearly every hand in the class shot skyward. Questions ranged from, Were you scared to be in a war? to What is your favorite gun to shoot?
Roberts, a 1997 Mt. Whitney High School grad, now a Specialist E4 HM3 formerly assigned to the U.S.S. Denver, communicated a cool confidence when talking about his six-month deployment in the Middle East.
I guess if I had to choose my favorite gun it would be a .50-caliber machine gun, Roberts answered. That weapon can really do some damage.
Although he didnt actually fire the 50-cal in Iraq, he experienced the war up close and personal as a support corpsman when U.S. forces occupied Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein and one of his strongholds. After Roberts trained at Camp Ripper in Kuwait, he was assigned to a Marine battalion that, on March 22, crossed the Iraq border and traveled with unprecedented speed more than 500 miles into enemy territory.
The battalion I was with was highly decorated and experienced some of the wars most intense fighting, Roberts said. It [Iraq] wasnt anything like Vietnam, but I was in three or four major battles.
Derek Roberts is the son of Don Roberts of Three Rivers. Derek is on leave until Friday and visited Three Rivers School at the urging of Ryan Steele, his stepbrother, who is a TRUS fifth-grader.
So while the majority of Americans will be with family enjoying a relaxing three-day Memorial Day weekend, Roberts will be returning to active duty at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, serving his country and safeguarding our freedom which is what Memorial Day is all about in the first place.
Biologists want the publics help in watching for thousands of monarch butterflies bearing tiny tags that may reveal the mystery of where the colorful insects spend their summers.
Biologists tagged more than 20,000 monarchs between November and February, when they clustered in wintering grounds along the California coast. The white, round tags are attached to the hind wing of the butterflies.
Each tag is imprinted with an identification number and a toll-free telephone number (877) 897-7740.
Anyone spotting a tagged insect is asked to call with details of the sighting.
A resting monarch can be captured with a net or safely picked up by the wings. Any captured butterfly should be released after the information on its tag has been transcribed.
Clifford Allen Patrick of Lemon Cove died Friday, May 9, 2003, in Fresno. He was 55.
Clifford was born Oct. 29, 1947, in San Diego to Joseph and Frances Patrick. He was raised and educated in San Diego and had lived in the Lemon Cove area since the mid-1960s.
He was a well-driller and worked several years with Loverin Pump Company of Three Rivers and Lemon Cove.
Clifford is survived by his son, Nathan Patrick of Boise, Idaho; his daughter, Summer Benton, of Brewton, Ala.; two brothers, Henry Patrick of Visalia and Joseph Patrick of San Bernardino; his sister, Virginia Patrick of Three Rivers; and two granddaughters.
A memorial service was held Friday, May 16, in Exeter.
by Amy Dolcourt-McElroy
What would you do if you found a $100 bill? Ana Aguilar, Cynthia Ramirez, and Valeria Aguirre know what they would do.
While walking to school three months ago, the girls found a $100 bill on the ground... and turned it in to the police.
I was overwhelmed with the honesty and integrity of these kids, said John Zapalac, Woodlake chief of police.
Even while they hoped the owner would come forward to claim the cash, the three Middle School students quietly counted the days until May 20, the claim-period deadline. If left unclaimed, the money would revert to them.
The three friends had planned to inquire at the police station after school ended, but civic officials put in a surprise personal appearance just before lunch.
That day, as they sat in class together, sixth-graders Ana, Cynthia, and Valeria were applauded for their honesty by principal Dave East, Youth Development Officer Elias Herrera, Police Chief John Zapalac, and City Administrator Bill Lewis.
Because the 90-day claim period had expired, Chief Zapalac brought the bill with him to return to the youths. The question now was how to divide the money equally.
Anonymous citizens, proud of the students excellent character, pledged their support, allowing the Chief to present a $100 bill to each of the young girls.
Asked what they planned to do with their newfound wealth, they replied in unison, Go to the mall!
The police further honored the girls by having Officer Herrera escort them to their homes after school with a chauffeured ride in a police cruiser.
by Amy Dolcourt-McElroy
The Yokuts Indians living in the Woodlake hills had their own word for home, and they taught it to settlers arriving from the East: A dwelling. Wiikiyaapi. Wicky-Up. Home.
Along Avenue 344, just this side of the city of Woodlake, the Wicky-Up citrus ranch has been home to five generations of the Harding family.
The current owners are Monica and Jack Pizura. It was Monicas great uncle, Fred E. Harding, who started the ranch four generations ago in 1898. The Pizuras daughter, the fifth generation, just graduated from college.
The Pizuras took over the ranch in the early 1980s, but it was unplanned. They were contentedly living in Boston with their young daughter, Juliana, when Monicas father passed away in 1981.
The family arrived back at Monicas childhood home to help her mother, intending to stay only one year. They never left.
Continuing to operate Wicky-Up as a ranch, Monica and Jack opened their historic home to the public as a bed and breakfast in January 1997.
They learned innkeeping skills, like cooking, on the job.
When we first opened, I didnt even know how to make an omelet, Monica said.
Now breakfast begins with fruit and includes a daily entrée. Monica sets the table with designer china and her parents wedding silver.
Monica has a deep love for her family home.
We rekindle our love and appreciation of this house when we share it with our guests, she said.
She lovingly points out details of the Craftsman-style home, such as original rolled-glass window panes and oil paintings from the early 20th century.
Last year, the Pizuras opened the Juliana suite to the public for the first time. Featuring two bedrooms, a sitting room, and a private bath, each room has a view above the orchards treetops.
Jacks hobbies of metal- and woodworking contribute to the ambiance. His copper sculptures with mixed metal accents decorate the mantelpieces and grounds. He also turns orangewood candlesticks, lamps, and bowls on a lathe. Dubbed Copper Characters and Wicky-Up Woodworks, the finest pieces are available for purchase.
Now in its 102nd year of operation as a citrus ranch, the Pizuras have begun the certification process for becoming organic farmers. By December 2005, the Pizuras will begin shipping certified organic navel oranges.
The Wicky-Up Bed & Breakfast is located at 22702 Ave. 344. For reservations and information, contact Monica and Jack at 564-8898 or (800) 484-6875 or visit www.wickyup.com.
The history of Wicky-Up
(The following is an excerpt from an article written by John Elliott that appeared in the March 28, 1997, issue of The Kaweah Commonwealth.)
The house that Fred Harding built at the turn-of-the-century has been lovingly cared for all these years. The grounds, the groves, and every detail of the working citrus ranch convey a classic style a warm, country comfort.
To call the Wicky-Up Ranch historic is an understatement. When Fred Harding departed Illinois in 1898 and landed in Pasadena, citrus development was the talk of the town.
It was during one of those talks that Fred heard about a new frost-free district with plenty of wide-open country. Fred left at once for the foothill district south of the present-day Woodlake.
There was no town of Woodlake until a decade later, but there was lots of excitement in the local citrus industry. The Pogues were firmly established in Lemon Cove, having planted the first trees in 1878.
Other plantings were made at that time in Porterville, Venice Hill, and Three Rivers. The first carload of oranges was shipped from Porterville in 1893.
When Fred Harding arrived in 1898 for an inspection tour, he was enthralled with the place. He purchased a large tract that included land along the present-day Naranjo Blvd. (Ave. 344).
It also included acreage that ran into the hills above the early citrus plantings. Those hills were still home a century ago to Indians who lived near a year-round spring.
The native people welcomed their new neighbors. Fred was taken with the fact that the Wild West was still alive and well at Naranjo.
Naranjo (Sp. Orange tree) is the name by which the little ranch settlement became known. There was a Naranjo post office in the general store. Fred packed his fruit under the Naranjo brand.
Hardin named his ranch Wicky-Up. He was fascinated with the native people and their culture.
The Hardings Craftsman-style house imported all the finest Pasadena design elements. The impressive home was Freds Wicky-Up.
In subsequent generations, little has changed. The family names were different as daughters married. Parcels changed hands but the property remained in citrus.
Monicas grandfather packed his fruit under the brands Unagood, Unafine, and Unabest. Those were the days when citrus was king and life was good.
Today, at Wicky-Up little has changed. Doves coo in verdant gardens. Century-old magnolia trees tower with flowering splendor.
Adrian Green of Three Rivers designed the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of nature. The piece adorns the facade of the house. The surrounding gardens inspire guests who linger on the veranda. Fresh-squeezed orange juice is the drink of choice.
Monica and Jack are people persons who love company.
You have the opportunity to meet folks from all walks of life, said Monica. And maybe the best part is sharing this pioneer heritage.