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of KAWEAH COUNTRY —
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
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by John Elliott
Among the certainties about a giant sequoia is that one day, in a life that can span more than 2,000 years, the massive tree will come tumbling down.
Until last Sunday, however, nobody can remember a giant sequoia falling on a vehicle, parked or otherwise. That was until the unforgettable road trip of Jason Perlman, James Masi, and Ross Barna.
"It is probable that this tree falling on my 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee was about the most improbable natural event imaginable," Perlman said.
The three young friends, all in their mid-20s, were remarkably calm about the freak calamity when discussing it one day after a 200-foot giant sequoia, weighing hundreds of tons, came crashing down on their vehicle parked in a turnout along Generals Highway. Making the inauspicious event even more remarkable is that Masi, who along with Perlman is a recent graduate of the film school at the University of Southern California, actually took photos of the tree before it fell.
All three of the Sequoia National Park tourists, who were within minutes of being back in their car, heard and saw the tree falling. When they realized its ultimate resting place, Masi exclaimed: "Dude, that’s our car!"
Almost as incredible as the event itself was that nobody was hurt or killed and, also, how the trio came to take this unforgettable road trip in the first place.
"It was my idea to take a camping trip in Kings Canyon and return back to Los Angeles via the Giant Forest," said Perlman." I was just trying to avoid a doctor’s appointment so I invented a little lie that I was going camping."
When Perlman mentioned the notion of camping in the nearby national parks to Masi, it seemed like a good way to spend the weekend. A friend of Masi's, Ross Barna, an electrical manufacturing representative, was also in town because his flight home to New York had been canceled by last week’s power blackout.
So by early Friday evening, a minimalist camping trip was underway as the trio departed Los Angeles bound for Kings Canyon. Friday and Saturday nights were spent at two different campsites in Kings Canyon.
On Sunday, after leaving Kings Canyon, it was Perlman who insisted that the tour continue via the Generals Highway and include a stop in the Giant Forest.
"We stopped briefly at the Sherman Tree, but as usual that area was crawling with people," Perlman said.
About a mile or so down the road from the Sherman Tree, Perlman pulled the SUV into a deserted turnout.
"We just wanted to take a short hike among the giants somewhere a little more secluded from all the humanity," Perlman recalled.
But Barna, who was still feeling exhausted from his weeklong business trip, told his friends he was going to stay in the vehicle and take a nap while the others hiked.
"We insisted on him coming with us since this would probably be his last chance to see these incredible giants," Masi said
In an hour or so, after taking several photos of giant sequoias and the landscape of the former Pinewood area, the trio headed back toward where the car was parked. When the hikers were within 100 yards of the vehicle they witnessed the incredible event.
"First we heard a loud cracking, twisting, turning, then it sounded like a bomb went off, followed by a short earthquake," Masi recalled." I’ll never forget the sound or the sight of seeing that massive tree on top of our smashed car."
In a matter of minutes, the bizarre scene was crawling with other visitors and park rangers. The tree, which fell upslope, barely reached the road. Rangers closed the Generals Highway briefly while a park crew cut and moved the massive trunk of the 200-foot-tall giant sequoia, estimated to be more than 1,000 years old.
"My Jeep was so flattened that we couldn’t even remove our wallets," said Perlman.
On Monday, at an auto body shop in Woodlake, the trio was able to retrieve a few items from the vehicle that now more closely resembles a large, crushed aluminum can.
"You’ve heard of the giant tree you can drive through," Masi quipped." This is the giant tree that drives through you."
None the worse for wear from their experience, the three
friends returned to Los Angeles with more Sequoia memories than most
and thankful to be
by John Elliott
From working her first park job in St. Augustine, Fla., to helping reopen Ellis Island, N.Y., Alexandra Picavet, Sequoia and Kings Canyon’s new public-information officer, in 15 years has worked in some grand places from coast to coast. After graduating from nearby Flagler College, the oldest settlement in the U.S. at St. Augustine seemed like the best place to start a career.
"I really enjoyed working for the Florida parks department at St. Augustine, but I wanted to branch out and work with a national organization," Picavet said.
That’s when the fledgling interpretive specialist landed a seasonal job with the National Park Service at the Statue of Liberty. Picavet thrived in New York and really enjoyed the challenge of living in the Big Apple. Her next assignment was nearby at Ellis Island where she became "permanent"and helped with that park’s grand reopening in 1990.
"Ellis Island was where I truly fell in love with the Park Service and understood what it is and what we are doing," Picavet said.
Picavet’s next stop was at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site in southeastern Pennsylvania. At this park, she interpreted pre-Industrial Revolution history.
"I guess I was pigeonholed into history because I love it," Picavet said." The research, the reading, and the interpretation is what I really like."
But Picavet also realized that there was more to national parks than cultural history, and she longed to experience some of its great outdoors and natural history.
On an impulse she applied for a position at Death Valley National Park, which she landed. At Death Valley, Picavet worked at Scotty’s Castle and had the opportunity to grow beyond an interpreter by developing specific programs.
In 1996, Picavet continued on that career track, landing at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area in eastern Washington.
"Lake Roosevelt is a fascinating park with 9,000 years of human history," Picavet said." One of the last programs I started there was canoe trip to view the Perseids meteor shower."
While at Lake Roosevelt, Picavet met her future husband, Fred, who worked as a purchasing agent for Boise-Cascade in Kettle Falls, Wash. In 2000, the couple married and decided they wanted to be more together in their careers.
Picavet and her husband started looking around for a park situation where they both could work. That’s when they heard about an opportunity at Sequoia.
"It was an ideal move because I applied for information officer and my husband for contracting officer," Picavet said." I liked the challenge of a position where I could branch out and learn about all the facets of a park and still interact with the community."
Picavet said it was her superintendent at Lake Roosevelt, Debbie Byrd, Sequoia’s recently-departed chief ranger, who sold her on moving to Three Rivers. But before they said "yes," the couple decided to visit their prospective home.
"We were a little disheartened when we were driving Highway 99 down from Fresno, but after we saw Three Rivers and Sequoia Park, it was so beautiful, we were sold."
Picavet assumed her new duties on Aug. 4. Her first major assignment is helping with the Colonel Young and the Buffalo Soldier’s centennial celebration tomorrow (Aug. 23) at various sites in and around Giant Forest. For more information about any park event or program, contact Alex Picavet, 565-3131.
Several fires in both Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Sequoia National Forest could cause the rerouting of backcountry travel due to the proximity to popular trails.
The Williams Fire, which was sparked by lightning in July is located near Comanche Meadow and about seven miles west of the Roaring River Ranger Station in Kings Canyon National Park. Less than an acre in size as of Aug. 1, the fire has become extremely active and grown to over 400 acres.
It is being managed as a "fire use project," which means it is being allowed to spread naturally to improve forest conditions. The fire is currently burning in an easterly direction and has the potential to spread into the Jennie Lakes Wilderness of Sequoia National Forest.
Trail closures: Marvin Pass to Kanawyer Gap; Kanawyer Gap to Comanche Meadow; Comanche Meadow to Rowell Meadow; Bell Canyon Trail at the Comanche Meadow junction (westbound hikers will be escorted; eastbound travel is not being permitted). Note: The Mitchell Peak Trail remains open.
The Tharp’s Prescribed Fire has been temporarily suspended with 227 acres of a total 484 acres completed.
Trail closures: Wolverton Cutoff Trail between the Alta Trail and the High Sierra Trail; Trail of the Sequoias between the Congress Loop and Log Meadow; Huckleberry Meadow Trail between the Alta Trail and Squatter’s Cabin; and Alta Trail between the Congress Loop and Wolverton Cutoff.
The Cooney Fire in Sequoia National Forest, a lightning-caused fire discovered Aug. 1, has grown to over 1,000 acres, making it the largest "Wildland Fire Use"project ever on the forest.
There is a potential for the fire to enter Sequoia National Park at its southern boundary near Wet Meadows.
Trail closures: Trail 31E10, south of Broders Cabin and west of Coyote Pass; Trail 32E02, north of the public pasture near Tamarack Creek; and at the junction of Trails 31E11 and 31E13 at Wet Meadows.
by John Elliott
Continuing a trend that began in 1998, enrollment at Three Rivers Union School declined to its lowest level since the 1980s. On Wednesday, Aug. 20, the first day of the 2003-2004 school year, district records showed 183 students registered for the kindergarten-through-eighth-grade school that has served area students at the same site since 1927.
"We had several families with multiple children move out of Three Rivers over the summer," said Sue Sherwood, who serves as both principal and district superintendent.
Sherwood also cited the higher costs of Three Rivers real estate, which makes it more difficult for families with school-age children to purchase a home here. Even with the declining enrollment, no layoffs were necessary.
Laura Harrison, the former third-grade team teacher, assumed the kindergarten class. That position was vacated last year when Deana Godsey resigned.
Linda Warner is now the only third-grade teacher. Currently, 12 students are enrolled in that class.
"We’re fortunate because our kindergarten through third grade enrollments are still below the state guidelines for class–size reduction," Sherwood said." Laura [Harrison] has kindergarten experience so that turned out to be the best move."
There were also several changes in classified staff. Kris Hanggi, who was cafeteria assistant last year, has been promoted to manager. She fills the vacancy created when Jeff Mashtal resigned to take another position.
Tam Lineback will be in charge of the after-school program. Her new assistants will be Jennifer Hammer and David Mashtal, son of the former cafeteria manager. Both Hammer and Mashtal are TRUS alumni.
Pam Kambourian has been hired as an instructional aide and will coach varsity volleyball. Pam is the daughter of John and Gloria Crabtree, longtime TRUS employees.
1946 ~ 2003
Milton Edward Hunt of Three Rivers died on the morning of Tuesday, July 29, 2003, in a car accident in Vernal, Utah. He was 56.
Milt was born Sept. 4, 1946, in Orange. For the past 35 years, he has been involved in the oil industry, most recently as a directional driller, employed by T.H.E. Drilling in Orange County, Halliburton of Bakersfield, and Baker & Hughes of Casper, Wyo.
Milt is survived by his companion of 17 years, Carol Brown-Hunt, of Three Rivers; two sons; one daughter; one stepson; his stepmother, June Hunt, of Riverside County; two sisters, one brother; a stepsister and stepbrother; and six grandchildren.
A service was held Friday, Aug. 8, in Orange County.
1908 ~ 2003
Dorothy Marie Long, 94, of Three Rivers died Sunday, Aug. 10, 2003.
A Mass of Resurrection will be held at St. Clair’s Catholic Mission in Three Rivers on Monday, Aug. 25, at 3:30 p.m.
Dorothy was born Dec. 13, 1908, in Oklahoma and moved to Southern California in the early 1960s.
In 1990, she moved to Three Rivers to live near her daughter and family.
Dorothy was preceded in death by her daughter, LaVona Powert, in October 2002. She is survived by her son-in-law, Gene Powert, two grandchildren, Lori Diaz and Mike Powert; and five great-grandchildren.
Mickey Hardy of Three Rivers died Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2003, at Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia. She was 73.
A memorial service will be held today (Friday, Aug. 22), 3 p.m., at First Baptist Church in Three Rivers. A gathering of friends will be held immediately following the service at the Three Rivers home of Mickey’s daughter, Teddi Johnson.
On March 15, 1930, Mickey was born in Jellette, Wyo., to Oscar and Juanita Haumann. Mickey married Don Bloomfield and during that marriage of nine years, she was blessed with two children, son Ron and daughter Tina.
Later she married Ted Hardy and was blessed with another daughter, Teddi. The Hardys moved to Three Rivers in 1970.
After the passing of Ted, Mickey married Jim Lang of Three Rivers. The last years of her life were spent "on the road"as a fulltime RV’er.
Mickey enjoyed camping, golfing, and fishing with the Three Rivers Lady Anglers. In June, a small reunion was held and she was able to visit with her family members, including her children, grandchildren, sister, nieces, and nephew.
Mickey will always be remembered as a loving mother and a very generous and caring person. She will be dearly missed by her family and friends.
Mickey is survived by her husband, Jim Lang, of Three Rivers; her children, Teddi Johnson and husband Tyler of Three Rivers, Tina Cunningham of Idaho, Ron Bloomfield of Washington, Bill Lang of Oregon, and Jan Lang of Washington; four brothers, Carl Haumann of Washington, Dick Haumann of Idaho, Keith Haumann of Nevada, and Kyle Haumann of Idaho; two sisters, Audy Bates and Jan Ross, both of Idaho; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.
School boards identify goals
The Woodlake school boards have grand plans.
The elementary and high school boards share the common goal of increasing family involvement in the students’ education. While board members are pleased already with the current level of involvement, they’re focused on increasing it for a variety of reasons.
One reason is that student motivation and achievement are directly related to their family’s expectations and involvement. With more families involved, more students will succeed in school.
Another reason is that demands from active parents help the board meet their needs and influence school policy. High school board member Kent Owen recalled a powerful example.
"About 25 years ago, the mindset was that nobody from a small school went to college," he said. Some parents, however, pushed their kids to go to college and pushed the high school to prepare students for the college environment.
"The school developed the counseling and AVID programs, everybody bought into the idea, and going to college became the norm, not the exception," said Owen." The question is now not if you go to college, it’s where."
While the boards have asked the collective school staff to think of ways to involve more families, board members have also been busy brainstorming.
Some ideas are increasing communication, issuing invitations to school functions, involving parents in programs such as Senior Portfolio Day, and sending school representatives to WHS feeder schools, such as having WHS athletes host sports clinics at TRUS, Seville, and Stone Corral.
Both boards are also committed to maintaining school facilities, most notably the new gyms and swimming pool. The challenge will be to accomplish this in light of state budget cuts squeezing capital resources. The boards aim to use money and other resources wisely, efficiently, and creatively.
In addition to the communal goals, individual board members have personal goals to champion.
Joe Martinez, a member of the elementary school board, is focusing on resources for the "average"student.
"There’s always money for the GATE program, and there’s money for those who are failing," he said." But what about the ones in the middle? We need resources for those who are not on both ends of the extreme. We have to be able to challenge them all."
Kent Owen advises the need to expand the idea of "college," that aiming for acceptance to a four-year university is not a goal suitable for all students.
"We have some kids with a more vocational than academic bent," he said.
Kent sees the high school working with families to identify
vocationally-minded students, and steering them toward the appropriate
Improvements to begin at Bravo Lake
by Amy Dolcourt-McElroy
A final meeting Wednesday evening, Aug. 20, gave the seal of approval to begin development at Bravo Lake. The meeting between City of Woodlake staff and Lee’s Paving of Visalia finalized the construction plans and gave the green light for work to begin.
Lee’s Paving now has 90 days to complete the project, which lays the foundation for the Woodlake Pride Botanical Garden.
Lee’s Paving will place the infrastructure, but eventually the garden will be a mile-long stretch of greenery and walking paths on the north shore of Bravo Lake.
With work likely to begin after Labor Day, the project includes installing irrigation lines, large-scale landscaping, and constructing walking paths on and below the levee from the Wutchumna Ditch to the site of the present Woodlake Pride garden.
Future Bravo Lake projects include installing curbs, gutters, sidewalks, and pave-outs to accommodate pedestrian traffic in the vicinity of the garden.
by Jay OConnell
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks
archives and museum collections
PART III: The road beyond Sequoia
This is the third and final installment in a series celebrating the centennial of the occupation of Captain (later Colonel) Charles Young and soldiers of the all-black troops of the 9th Cavalry in Sequoia National Park. During the summer of 1903, Capt. Young and his mounted cavalry troops were assigned to patrol and protect Sequoia National Park and General Grant National Park (now the Grant Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park).
In the previous installment, we saw how Charles Young not only finished the road into Giant Forest, but also how he was able to convince local landowners to sell the remaining private parcels within the park to the government. Unfortunately, Congress failed to act on Young’s recommendations to purchase the privately-owned land that he had successfully optioned and did not appropriate the necessary money to buy the lands.
The privately-owned land within the park would be a looming problem within Sequoia for many years to come. After years of negotiating, the United States eventually acquired the land, but at a cost much greater than the deal that Young and the landowners had agreed upon years earlier.
Even though Young’s recommendations fell on the deaf ears of Congress, the fact that he was able to obtain such an option, which before his tenure in Sequoia had never been accomplished, further indicates Captain Young’s effectiveness as superintendent of Sequoia National Park. Furthermore, it is testimony to his ability to utilize his popularity and charm in convincing settlers to sell their land.
Young’s considerable charm is identifiable in one story still told today by old-timers in Three Rivers. Once, while on patrol and fighting a fire near Oriole Lake, Young and a number of his black troopers stopped at the Grunigen’s Lake Canyon house.
The house was a stage-stop on the Mineral King Road. The Grunigens were the parents of a young white man by the name John Grunigen, who had once worked on the road for Young.
It was getting late, the troopers had run short of rations, and Young asked Mrs. Grunigen if she would feed his men. She prepared a meal and invited the soldiers to eat.
Young, aware of the racial overtones, told her that his men eat outside. Mrs. Grunigen informed him that they would do no such thing — they would eat under her roof or not at all.
The Grunigens and Charles Young quickly developed an immediate and mutual respect for one another. Mrs. Grunigen was from Alsace, she was fluent in German and French, but her English was very shaky.
After dinner, as the soldiers set up camp for the night, Mrs. Grunigen and Captain Young sat out on the front porch and conversed in French until well past midnight.
Young would also become good friends with the Winsers. Phil Winser had come from England to join the Kaweah Co-operative Colony and remained in the area after the colony’s demise.
Young had once told Winser that he had come to Sequoia "with his heart full of bitterness and left it a different man with a better outlook."
Charles Young refused to let the difficulties connected with the racial temperaments in the United States at the time bring him down. He told Winser he "went through hell to get his commission, and so he had no fear for future."
Young once told John Grunigen that the worst thing he could wish on a person was "to make him black and send him to West Point."
While he could not ignore the racial tensions that he faced by being a high-ranking black official, he was able to deal with them in a effective manner. One example turns up again and again.
The episode is reported to have taken place in various places, including Virginia, San Francisco, and Three Rivers, during his Sequoia tenure. The Three Rivers version recounts Captain Young’s troops as all African American, except for one white doctor and two white lieutenants.
One afternoon, at the old Three Rivers Store, the two white lieutenants deliberately walked by the Captain without saluting him. Young responded to this disrespectful act by whipping off his shirt and hanging it on a fence post.
He then brought the two insubordinates back to the fence post, and said," You don’t have to salute me, but by God, you’re going to salute these bars!"
And salute they did.
Despite his desires and the recommendations of others, Young did not serve a second year at Sequoia. On May 13, 1904, he assumed duties as military attaché to Haiti. He later served as military attaché to Liberia and fought with General Pershing in Mexico against Pancho Villa.
Young’s exceptional military career almost came to an end on a sour note. As he achieved a higher and higher rank, his skin color became increasingly problematic for the Army.
In 1917, Young was ordered before a retirement board. The lingering effects of malaria provided enough justification for the Army to retire him.
In 1918, after America had finally joined the "war to end all wars," World War I, Young rode on horseback from his home in Ohio 500 miles to Washington, D.C., to prove he was still fit for active duty. Begrudgingly, he was recalled to service and assigned to Camp Grant, Ill., as the war in Europe came to an end.
On Jan. 8, 1922, Col. Charles Young, on duty in Lagos, Nigeria, died from an acute exacerbation of his old-standing illness, malaria. His body was brought back to the United States, where he was given a hero’s burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
* * *
Many giant sequoias in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are named for national heroes. After completion of the road to Giant Forest, the Visalia Delta reported that "so appreciative are the leading citizens… that a tree has been selected and in the future Captain Young’s name will be inscribed on it never to be blotted out."
Young, however, wouldn’t allow the tree to be named after him.
After "repeated requests and the wishes of the workmen who finished
the Giant Forest road," the Colonel finally compromised. He agreed
to name it after another "great and good American," Booker
Jay O’Connell was raised in Three Rivers and now resides in Southern California, where he works in the television industry and is an author/publisher of books on Three Rivers history.