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In the News - Friday, August 5, 2011

 

 

 Mystery solved:
Historic cabin has 3R ties

  Among the benefits of moving fire personnel deep into the forest is that on occasion previously undocumented resources are discovered. In the past, these finds have included burials, prehistoric sites, caves, rare artifacts, and even a long-lost cabin or two.
The discovery of the remains of an old cabin recently by a Sequoia National Park helicopter crew working the Lion Fire (July 23) near Wet Meadow in the Golden Trout Wilderness is evidently one of those fortunate finds. When the crew spotted the log structure, they were able to direct firefighters on the ground to the site so the fire could be diverted from the immediate area.
   The news of the discovery of the cabin and an accompanying map in the Commonwealth (“Lion Fire roars to life,” July 29) prompted Earl McKee, 80, a lifetime resident of Three Rivers, to contact the Commonwealth and debunk some of the mystery surrounding the cabin’s discovery.
   IN EARL’S OWN WORDS: “In the fall of 1944 I had the privilege of spending a few nights in this cabin with my father, Earl A. McKee, Sr., and one of his close saddle partners and early cattleman R.I. “Whisperin’ Bob” Lovering (who by the way was my wife Gaynor’s grandfather) while we were there on a deer-hunting trip. Because of the proximity to Wet Meadow (which had a fenced horse pasture around it) we spent a few nights in this cabin and put our horses and mules inside the pasture during the night and we used the stock while we hunted during the day. I’m sure of this date because 1944 was the last year that Tulare County would allow a hunter to bag two bucks, which I did that year. I was 13 years old and the buck I shot on that trip was a three pointer. His antlers are hanging on the wall of our house today.”
   According to Earl, this shelter was called “Dan Brown’s Cabin.” Dan Brown was a trapper who frequented the upper South Fork and worked across the plateau that included Hockett Meadow, he said. He also trapped in the headwaters of the Little Kern much like Shorty Lovelace, who worked the Kings River country about the same time.
   Brown’s cabin was built ca. 1920 and used by him until about 1940, Earl recalled. In 1948 or 1949, Earl became acquainted with Dan Brown, who lived in Three Rivers at what was known as the “Cactus Patch Cabin,” which Brown rented from Miss Frankie Welch. The Welch property where Dan Brown lived was approximately a half-mile up the road from the house where Earl still lives today.
   There are several cabins attributed to Shorty Lovelace still standing in the Kings River country with one good example along the Roaring River and another in upper Cloud Canyon.  The rough-hewn log construction of these cabins is similar to Dan Brown’s cabin near Wet Meadow, just outside the Sequoia boundary.
   The discovery and preservation of these historic resources shed light on a time in local history that may otherwise be lost and forgotten.

Dan Brown's Cabin

Old Dan Brown went to town
And left his cabin in the wood
… for good.
He would never return
And folks would never learn
About his cabin in the wood.

The cabin was forgotten
The logs got rotten
Explorers wandered close
On foot and horse
But no one would report
This historic trapper’s fort.

Eighty years went by
Trapper Dan long since died
When lightning started
a fast-moving blaze
And a helicopter
emerged from the haze
To find the cabin in the wood.

Life was different then
Than it is today
We don’t hunt for our supper
Or trap fir for pay
We rarely stray from our cars
Or the list of restaurants
on our GPS radars

What was once Dan Brown’s
mountain pleasure
Is now the 21st century’s
buried treasure
Through weather and time
it has withstood
This old log cabin in the wood.
—Sarah Elliott

Rain slows Lion Fire

  Due to the monsoon moisture that reached the Golden Trout Wilderness on Sunday, July 31, the Lion Fire has only grown a couple of hundred acres in the last four days. As of Thursday, Aug. 4, the area charred by the backcountry blaze is 19,272 acres.
   At a meeting held Wednesday, Aug. 3, in Three Rivers, Paul Gibbs, Lion Fire incident commander, cautioned that even though the fire’s progress has been slowed there is still active fire and there are no guarantees that the incident has run its course. Gibbs reiterated the goal of a fire strategy that seeks full containment when the acreage reaches 22,000 acres.
  “The Forest Service would prefer see a patchwork of low-intensity fires in different seasons compared to the McNally Fire, which consumed more than 150,000 acres in 2002,” added Priscilla Summers, Western Divide District Ranger. “That fire decimated the landscape and the wildlife too.”
   And that’s why, according to a panel of Forest Service experts at the Three Rivers meeting, low-intensity fires like the Lion Fire are beneficial. In the McNally Fire, the native golden trout population was wiped out while in the Lion Fire there will be little or no impact on the fishery, Ranger Summers pointed out.
   IC Gibbs said that his team expected the fire that started July 8 near Lion Meadow in the Giant Sequoia National Monument, which is managed by Sequoia National Forest personnel, to eventually spot onto national park land. That happened as expected, Gibbs said, with approximately 400 acres within Sequoia National south of Hockett Meadow being involved.
Shawn Ferreria, a senior air quality specialist with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, said the worst smoke event was Thursday, July 28, when the air in Three Rivers was unhealthy for everyone the entire day. Ferreria said his office is working on a warning system that could lessen the health impacts from intense smoke events for communities like Three Rivers.
  “When you can smell smoke, there are health risks,” added Dr. Karen Haught, a Tulare County public health officer.
   U.S. Forest Service officials couldn’t say for certain when the Lion Fire will be extinguished, but they all agreed that they believe the worst of the smoke for Three Rivers is over.
   Another fire in the forest: The Redwood Mountain Fire in a western portion of Kings Canyon National Park continues to smolder amidst the giant sequoia grove. The 626-acre prescribed fire was ignited July 10 and is being managed by the National Park Service.

Fire near Crystal Cave causes evacuation

  When Crystal Cave staff smelled smoke and saw flames burning nearby on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 2, the thought of what might happen caused some anxious moments. That’s because in addition to the staff on site at the popular Sequoia National Park attraction, there were more than 150 visitors that had to be evacuated via a steep and narrow trail.
   Lodgepole and Ash Mountain fire crews responded to the brush fire that was contained in less than one quarter of an acre on a steep slope below the trail that is the only access to the cave. The cause of the fire was determined to be related to the area’s electrical facilities.
   There were no injuries reported but cave tours were cancelled for Wednesday. Tours using furnished flashlights resumed Thursday as electricity to the cave had not been restored.
   A spokesperson for the parks said the containment of the blaze was aided by the fact that the terrain in the vicinity of Crystal Cave was inside the fire perimeter of the 2008 Hidden Fire.

Serrano’s reopens as Casa Mendoza

  When Serrano’s suddenly closed last week, dozens of regulars and hundreds of visitors in the prime time of the tourist season had to be turned away. According to Aurelia Mendoza and her new partner Alex Hernandez, it was simply time to make a change.
   The new operators of the former Mexican eatery in the Village Shopping Center in Three Rivers both agreed that although it would be difficult to be closed for any of these busy days, the timing was now. Gone is Hector Serrano, Aurelia’s former partner in Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant.
   As of today, Friday, Aug. 5, the new venture will open as Casa Mendoza and feature a new look, staff, and menu. But best of all, according to Alex Hernandez, seven percent of all purchases will be donated to the American Cancer Society.
   Hernandez, who has a law degree and is enrolled in graduate school at U.C. Berkeley in   Quantum Mechanics, said his life has been totally changed by coming to Three Rivers six months ago. Both he and Aurelia see the new business venture as an opportunity to give something back to a supportive community and, in their own way, maybe make a difference in this chaotic world.
   Aurelia is a cancer survivor and is thankful for each day. Essentially running Serrano’s since it opened a decade ago, Aurelia said she has been ready to do something totally different with the business and her plans for some of the recent changes have been in the works for quite some time.
   The new restaurant will have a more café international style and menu. Traditional Mexican dishes will complement Cuban entrees and there will be a more Latin American feeling in the kitchen and in the dining room.
   The changes will come gradually at first as the new eatery finds its niche in the local market. According to Aurelia, one thing is for certain: “You will be treated like family when you are in our Casa Mendoza.”
   The new restaurant will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily with lots of exciting new menu items presented with the same warm and friendly service.

Arrests made in 3R burglary

  Tulare County Sheriff’s Department detectives announced earlier this week that two arrests have been made in connection with the recovery of stolen property taken in a Cherokee Oaks burglary that occurred Monday, May 30. Arrested on Tulare County warrants were   Chastity Carney, 22, and Michael Madison, 34, both of Tracy (San Joaquin County).
   When detectives traveled to Tracy to serve the warrants Madison was already in a San Joaquin County jail in connection with another case. Carney was escorted back to Tulare County where she was arraigned on charges that included receiving stolen property.
   Detectives learned the identity of the duo by using a McDonald’s restaurant receipt that was found at the scene of the burglary. McDonald’s handed over the videotape of the suspects that matched the date and time of the fast food transaction.
   Currently, both suspects are free on bond awaiting a court appearance. To date, property valued at $16,375 has been recovered that was reportedly stolen during the local heist.

Rangers rescue backcountry travelers

Half Dome hiker suffers fatal fall

  Sequoia and Kings Canyon search-and-rescue personnel located and rescued three hikers this week in two separate incidents. On Tuesday, Aug. 2, rangers rescued Ken Connelly and Linda Duvall-Connelly, both 39, of Richardson, Texas.
   The couple became stranded in the upper Kern Canyon after losing their way while hiking the John Muir Trail. In an attempt to find the trail, they traveled cross-country down the steep, rocky terrain of the Rock Creek canyon, heading toward the Kern River.
In their descent, both fell several times suffering leg injuries though they remained ambulatory.  At noon, they activated a GPS locator device and park rangers were notified of their approximate location.
   Park rangers in a helicopter spotted the couple one mile east of the Kern River where they decided to short haul the couple to a safe landing locale. The injured hikers were then transported to Lone Pine.
   On the following day, Wednesday, Aug. 3, park rangers located Richard Reynolds, 60, of Santa Clara after his wife had reported him several days overdue from his solo Sierra trip. Reynolds, an experienced backpacker was hiking in the Kid Lakes area east of Granite Pass in Kings Canyon National Park.
   Reynolds was spotted after he lit a signal fire to alert rangers to his location. He was airlifted to Grant Grove where he was checked by park EMS personnel and subsequently transported via ambulance to a local hospital for further evaluation. His condition was not immediately known.
   Yosemite National Park reported that on Sunday, July 31, Hayley LaFlamme, a 26-year-old female from San Ramon, was descending from the top of Half Dome when she fell from the cable route 600 feet to her death. There was a severe lightning, thunder, and rainstorm in the area, but it was not immediately known if the weather was a factor in the fatality.
   Weather and hiking: Thunderstorms can form over the Sierra quickly and at any time in any season. When hiking in this range it is important to watch the sky. Stay off of summits if lightning is imminent.
   In addition, the highest Sierra passes are still snowbound, so caution and good navigation skills are necessary.

Needles Fire Lookout burns

  In what can only be described as a cruel irony, the historic Needles Fire Lookout Tower was destroyed by fire on Thursday, July 28. A burning ember from the chimney was determined to be the cause. The woman who was on duty in the tower escaped without injury. The lookout, built in 1937 by the Civilian Conservation Corps and located off Highway 190 between Camp Nelson and Ponderosa, was situated on a rock pinnacle at 8,275 feet elevation. The area overlooks the Kern Canyon drainage where the Lion Fire is currently burning.

3R artists embark on ‘Painting a Day’

  Well-known in Three Rivers and beyond for their creativity that knows no bounds, Nadi Spencer and Wendy McKellar are on a new mission. Beginning last month, the two artists and gallery owners have been generating a painting a day... each.
   Nadi’s original goal was to create a painting a day for 80 days using locales within her two-mile commute from her home to her studio/gallery. She has strayed outside those boundaries a few times, but for the most part, the finished products have consisted of everything from landscapes to viewscapes to close-ups of a single natural scene or man-made feature within that proximity. She is also threatening to extend the project beyond her self-imposed 80-day deadline.
   Nadi’s current watercolor paintings reflect her signature style of outlined objects. Look at the murals throughout Three Rivers and one can always recognize Nadi Spencer’s work.
Wendy, on the other hand, has been painting classic Three Rivers and Sequoia scenes during the project. Living in Three Rivers her entire life, she knows the ingredients that say Three Rivers. Her daily creations are consisting of lots of water and reflections, granite, flowers, and foothills and mountain views.
   Both of the women are posting photos of their finished products on Facebook (Nadi Spencer Art; Colors Art Gallery) to the delight of all who “Like” them. Many of the paintings have sold, but what’s still available will be on display at their respective galleries during August’s 1st Saturday event, scheduled for tomorrow.
   Stop by Nadi’s Studio during this day-long artists’ open house event and see her new line of “Slicky” gear. Fans of this favorite swimming hole will appreciate the T-shirts and tank tops, cards, and coffee mugs that mean Slicky can now be shared and enjoyed year-round.
   Dozens of artists will display their various brands of art during 1st Saturday. Maps of the artists’ hideaways are available at Anne Lang’s Emporium.
   Wendy’s Colors Art Gallery and Nadi’s Studio are both located on Sierra Drive between Three Rivers Market and Three Rivers School.
   For additional information on 1st Saturday, go to www.1stsaturdaytr.com.

Generous 3R professionals

donate to ‘Scholarship Park’

  In the rural flatlands southwest of Three Rivers, there is a party happening every Sunday.  Managed since 2007 by Pam Lockhart of Three Rivers, the El Rancho Grande Swap Meet is a friendly place where everyone is treated like family.
   To that end, Pam has seriously upgraded the entire experience and also created Scholarship Park, a nonprofit organization that exists solely to dole out funds to new and continuing college students.
   Scholarships, currently in increments of $250, are awarded to students who work at the swap meet, some of whom have been coming to the weekly meet year-round their entire lives. To apply, college-bound students submit an essay telling about their experiences working at the swap meet and their educational goals.
   Last Sunday, July 31, Scholarship Park’s 10th scholarship was awarded. The $250 was provided to Luis Garcia, who is majoring in Criminal Justice. The donation came from Valerie Deveraux of Three Rivers, a lawyer with a commitment to higher education in her field.
   Earlier this month, Don Mosley, DDS, and wife Teriz of Three Rivers donated to the scholarship fund as did Greg Lockhart, a local real estate broker.
   Scholarship Park is the name of the nonprofit organization (IRS approval pending) that presents the dollars for scholars, but it is also the place on the El Rancho Grande grounds that has been developed to present the gifts. A gazebo, lawn, and mural grace the area.
   El Rancho Grande is the largest swap meet in Tulare County. It is held every Sunday just off the Tulare-Lindsay Highway on Road 152 (from Three Rivers, take Spruce Road to Highway 137, travel west for 13 miles).
   Each week, there are vendors selling produce, Mexican pastries, and dozens of other food, household, clothing, and gift items.
   There is live mariachi music, Mi Casitas taco stand, a beer garden, ice cream, and lots of activities for children: pony rides, a pinata every week, the “Balloon Man,” and more.

Tiger Sharks teamwork

  They might not be interested in sitting still long enough to pose for a photo, but these young Michael Phelps wannabes will sure take to the water when the buzzer sounds. These littlest Woodlake Tiger Sharks brought home second-place medals in the boys 6 and under category for their efforts in the Freestyle Relay during the Central Valley Recreational Swim League’s Division III time trials. The event was held Saturday, July 16, at Monache High School in Porterville. On July 23, the team advanced to the All-Star Finals in Corcoran where they placed 10th overall.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

What’s on your barbie?

by Allison Millner

  No, I’m not interested in what clothes you’re putting on your overly endowed Mattel dolls (well, I am a little, but that will have to wait). I want to know what kind of grillin’ is going on out there? What deliciously seasoned and sauced food is on your barbecue for dinner?
   I’m curious, you see, because I’m just stepping into the world of BBQ. I’m comfortable in the kitchen but at the grill I’m a nervous Nellie. Worrying and wondering about temperatures and times, indirect and direct heat, dry rubs versus wet marinades. I know how all this works in the kitchen with my trusty sauté pan and oven by my side. The grill is a whole different animal.
   I’ve been eyeing barbecues for quite a while, expressing to Dane my need to have one. Every time we’d drive past a row of gleaming stainless steel cookers in some parking lot or another my eyes would linger and I’d make some sort of proclamation like, “Dinner would be so much better if we had one of those.” Dane would always remain quiet with some sort of motion of agreement.
   Up until now, I’ve been using my stovetop cast-iron grill pans whenever I’ve felt the urge to grill. They are seasoned to perfection and give the food a great smoky flavor; the problem lies in the fact that I’m grilling indoors. With the heat cranked up too high, the house inevitably fills up with smoke, and we battle smoke alarms, use fans to clear the air, and the whole thing becomes a major event.
   All of this smoke-filled yearning finally led us this past Monday to purchase a barbecue of our own. I had an idea of what I wanted, but had no idea of how many options there were.
   Charcoal versus propane: If I had the time and luxury of stoking coals until they reached the perfect temperature, I would. But I’m not entering any competitions, and I need something that turns on easily, heats up quickly, and does the job. Propane it is; this narrows the field slightly.
   Next question: Do I need that little burner on the side of the grill? Am I going to stand out there and grill while cooking something separate on the burner? Probably not, but it could go either way, so this won’t factor into my grill choice.
   From here, Dane and I basically commandeered the entire barbecue section, yelling back and forth, trading BTUs and burger capacities (which seems to be the method of choice for measuring grill space). Lids were lifted, prices compared, grill grates poked and prodded. In the end, we spent entirely too much time viewing and reviewing pros and cons, but we left the store with a beauty!
   What arrived home with us was a propane-powered Master Forge grill, forest green with stainless steel trim. It has a fairly large main grill with cast iron grates, a separate side “searer” that puts out intense heat for quick cooking and a side burner. She’s magnificent to behold, but will she perform?
   My first test at the helm was to grill some squash, eggplant, onions, and peppers for a pasta dish I was making. Armed with my tongs, I went to inspect my bounty and to flip them so they could grill on the other side. As I opened the lid, leaning in way too close, a wall of heat seared my eyes and made me jump back. I’m not sure how many BTUs we ended up with,  but I’m safe in saying it’s sufficient enough to grill vegetables... or perhaps burn vegetables.
   The second attempt at the grill was slightly more successful. With the heat turned down, I was able to make foil-wrapped, rosemary-flavored fingerling potatoes, marinated vegetable kebobs (this helped to keep my little veggies from falling through the grill as they did the first night), and I used the side-sear grill to cook a medium-rare steak for Dane.
   I’m slowly learning and becoming comfortable with my new cook mate. On the plus side, I’ve avoided heating and smoking up the house with the oven or stove. As a negative, Dane and I will probably have to choke down some less-than-delicious dinners as I am now willing to try anything on the grill.
   What’s on the menu tonight? Grilled veggie sausages for me, country-style pork ribs for Dane. I’m making some beans on the grill’s side burner and chopping up some coleslaw in the kitchen. I’m envisioning everything coming together as some sort of barbecued tacos; the tortillas are in the warmer. A watermelon is chilling and will be diced and tossed with mint as a nice cool side.
   Will I be triumphant? I’ve got the Master Forge on my side, but only time and a little bit of heat will tell.
   When not singeing her eyebrows on the new barbecue grill, Allison and husband Dane put in full days preparing food for others at Sierra Subs & Salads, which they own and operate.

No, I’m not interested in what clothes you’re putting on your overly endowed Mattel dolls (well, I am a little, but that will have to wait). I want to know what kind of grillin’ is going on out there? What deliciously seasoned and sauced food is on your barbecue for dinner?
I’m curious, you see, because I’m just stepping into the world of BBQ. I’m comfortable in the kitchen but at the grill I’m a nervous Nellie. Worrying and wondering about temperatures and times, indirect and direct heat, dry rubs versus wet marinades. I know how all this works in the kitchen with my trusty sauté pan and oven by my side. The grill is a whole different animal.
I’ve been eyeing barbecues for quite a while, expressing to Dane my need to have one. Every time we’d drive past a row of gleaming stainless steel cookers in some parking lot or another my eyes would linger and I’d make some sort of proclamation like, “Dinner would be so much better if we had one of those.” Dane would always remain quiet with some sort of motion of agreement.
Up until now, I’ve been using my stovetop cast-iron grill pans whenever I’ve felt the urge to grill. They are seasoned to perfection and give the food a great smoky flavor; the problem lies in the fact that I’m grilling indoors. With the heat cranked up too high, the house inevitably fills up with smoke, and we battle smoke alarms, use fans to clear the air, and the whole thing becomes a major event.
All of this smoke-filled yearning finally led us this past Monday to purchase a barbecue of our own. I had an idea of what I wanted, but had no idea of how many options there were.
Charcoal versus propane: If I had the time and luxury of stoking coals until they reached the perfect temperature, I would. But I’m not entering any competitions, and I need something that turns on easily, heats up quickly, and does the job. Propane it is; this narrows the field slightly.
Next question: Do I need that little burner on the side of the grill? Am I going to stand out there and grill while cooking something separate on the burner? Probably not, but it could go either way, so this won’t factor into my grill choice.
From here, Dane and I basically commandeered the entire barbecue section, yelling back and forth, trading BTUs and burger capacities (which seems to be the method of choice for measuring grill space). Lids were lifted, prices compared, grill grates poked and prodded. In the end, we spent entirely too much time viewing and reviewing pros and cons, but we left the store with a beauty!
What arrived home with us was a propane-powered Master Forge grill, forest green with stainless steel trim. It has a fairly large main grill with cast iron grates, a separate side “searer” that puts out intense heat for quick cooking and a side burner. She’s magnificent to behold, but will she perform?
My first test at the helm was to grill some squash, eggplant, onions, and peppers for a pasta dish I was making. Armed with my tongs, I went to inspect my bounty and to flip them so they could grill on the other side. As I opened the lid, leaning in way too close, a wall of heat seared my eyes and made me jump back. I’m not sure how many BTUs we ended up with, but I’m safe in saying it’s sufficient enough to grill vegetables... or perhaps burn vegetables.
The second attempt at the grill was slightly more successful. With the heat turned down, I was able to make foil-wrapped, rosemary-flavored fingerling potatoes, marinated vegetable kebobs (this helped to keep my little veggies from falling through the grill as they did the first night), and I used the side-sear grill to cook a medium-rare steak for Dane.
I’m slowly learning and becoming comfortable with my new cook mate. On the plus side, I’ve avoided heating and smoking up the house with the oven or stove. As a negative, Dane and I will probably have to choke down some less-than-delicious dinners as I am now willing to try anything on the grill.
What’s on the menu tonight? Grilled veggie sausages for me, country-style pork ribs for Dane. I’m making some beans on the grill’s side burner and chopping up some coleslaw in the kitchen. I’m envisioning everything coming together as some sort of barbecued tacos; the tortillas are in the warmer. A watermelon is chilling and will be diced and tossed with mint as a nice cool side.
Will I be triumphant? I’ve got the Master Forge on my side, but only time and a little bit of heat will tell.
* * *
When not singeing her eyebrows on the new barbecue grill, Allison and husband Dane put in full days preparing food for others at Sierra Subs & Salads, which they own and operate.

Washington Tree revisited

The Washington Tree in the Giant Forest of Sequoia National Park was the second largest tree in the world until it burned during a park-managed fire in 2003. Eight years later, the tree still shows signs of the major damage sustained during that blaze. Its former double-crown is completely gone. The limb that resembled a large arm signaling a right turn is on the ground, so large that it’s easily mistaken for another burned tree. But the tree is obviously still alive, even though it is hollow and just a shell of its former self. The root system remains intact and there are green branches growing on its south side.

The BIGGEST of the BIG TREES

The top 10 giant sequoias

  This is a recap of the biggest five giant sequoias that was published in July 2002 (Big Trees number one and the former number two were published in the July 29, 2011, issue). This is all leading up to next week, when number five will make its debut.

GENERAL GRANT TREE (#2)
GRANT GROVE
KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK
   There is no other tree on Earth that has such attention and honor bestowed upon it by U.S. presidents than the General Grant Tree.
   The second largest tree in the world was designated as the Nation’s Christmas Tree by President Calvin Coolidge on April 28, 1926.
   The General Grant Tree is also a living memorial to the men and women of the United States who have given their lives in service to their country. It was proclaimed a National Shrine on March 29, 1956, by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
   The tree was discovered by Joseph Hardin Thomas in 1862. It was reportedly named by Lucretia Baker of Visalia on Aug. 20, 1867, while General Ulysses S. Grant was still in command of the Union armies, however, there is some controversy in my family about who really named the tree.
   My great-great-uncle, Hudson Barton (1844-1929), was once quoted as saying:
  “In 1866, one year before it is claimed that Mrs. Baker named the tree, I myself held a tapeline to my belt and walked around the General Grant Tree. I found it to be 106 feet in circumference. The tree was known as the General Grant Tree at that time. I further state that   I was told by Joseph Hardin Thomas, owner of the sawmill in Shingle Flat, now Sequoia Lake, that he himself discovered and named the tree. Thomas made this statement in the presence of men who could have disputed it had they knowledge to the contrary.”
The first Christmas service at the base of the tree was inspired by the late Charles Lee of Sanger. In 1924, as he was staring in awe at the huge tree, a small girl approached.
  “What a lovely Christmas tree that would be,” she said.
   The idea stayed with Lee and, on Dec. 25, 1925, he organized the first Christmas program at the tree. Upon returning home, Lee wrote a letter to the president, who adopted Lee’s suggestion.
   The services have been held each year since, except during World War II when travel was restricted. The ceremony is sponsored by the Sanger (Fresno County) Chamber of Commerce.
   At the annual event, the National Park Service places a wreath at the base of the tree in honor of the country’s fallen heroes.
   The General Grant Tree is 268.1 feet in height, almost seven feet shy of the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree. It is located just inside the Kings Canyon National Park entrance in the Grant Grove.
   Turn left off of Highway 180 one-quarter mile past Grant Grove Village. Travel 1.2 miles past Azalea Campground and Columbine Picnic Area. It is an easy, quarter-mile walk to the General Grant Tree from the parking lot, where also seen will be the Fallen Monarch, which has been historically used as both living quarters and a stable; the Gamlin Cabin, built by brothers Israel and Thomas Gamlin in 1872 while they worked their 160-acre timber claim in Grant Grove; and the Centennial Stump, all that’s left of a Big Tree that was cut down in 1875 for display at the World Exposition in Philadelphia.

PRESIDENT TREE (#3)
GIANT FOREST
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
   The President Tree is the third largest tree in the world. It is easily accessed via the Congress Trail in Sequoia National Park’s Giant Forest.
   The Congress Trail is a paved loop trail that begins and ends near the General Sherman Tree. It is a self-guiding trail and although the most famous of the named trees are also graced with carved, wooden signs, there are pamphlets available at the trailhead that correspond with numbered markers along the trail that discuss various natural features of the forest.
   It is also advised to travel in this area with a map in hand (available at park visitor centers).  There is a network of trails criss-crossing the Giant Forest plateau, and though most junctions are marked, it’s easy to become confused.
   To reach the President Tree, take the trail from the Sherman Tree and walk east into the forest past the Leaning Tree, where the route then turns south.
   In less than a tenth of a mile, the trail crosses Sherman Creek. Although above the return loop portion of the trail, the route can be spotted intermittently below.
   The trail climbs gently, and in just over one-quarter of a mile, crosses another tributary of Sherman Creek. A trail junction is reached in under a half-mile that connects with the return loop.
   Stay left here and continue to gradually ascend on the Congress Trail south. At just over three-quarters of a mile, the trail meets the Alta Trail.
   This is where a slight detour will allow a glimpse of the beautiful Chief Sequoyah Tree. Instead of turning right on the short portion of the Congress/Alta trails just before they again go their separate ways, continue instead straight, crossing the Alta Trail.
   This one-tenth of a mile segment is part of the Trail of the Sequoias, a six-mile loop trail that explores the highest reaches of the Giant Forest plateau, as well as Log, Crescent, and Circle meadows, Tharp’s Log, and provides access to several other trails in the area.
   About 500 feet south of the Alta Trail on the Trail of the Sequoias, the Chief Sequoyah Tree comes into view. It is reached by a short spur trail that ascends to the left.
   The Chief Sequoyah Tree was named in 1928 by Colonel John R. White, park superintendent, for the man who developed an alphabet for the Cherokee people, one of the greatest intellectual feats of all times. German botanist Stephen Endlicher, who originally named the trees Sequoia gigantea (the Big Trees are now botanically known as Sequoiadendron giganteum; Sequoia sempervirens is the coast redwood) did so in   Sequoyah’s honor, but changed the spelling to how it appears today.
   Back on the trail, the President Tree is in sight on the right side of the trail, an easy jaunt of one-tenth of a mile. The President Tree was dedicated Aug. 10, 1923, in honor of President Warren G. Harding, at the hour of his funeral.
   Presidents of the United States well understand the checks and balances provided by their various branches, and for this, the President Tree is aptly named. It’s branches are high up, large, and powerful, keeping the main body of the President, its trunk and lifeline, upright and true despite the species’ shallow root system.

LINCOLN TREE (#4)
GIANT FOREST
SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
   While on the subject of presidents, it is appropriate to continue this journey without interruption, so it’s on to the fourth of the biggest Big Trees.
   From the President Tree, which is located at the junction where our short spur trail meets the Congress Trail, we rejoin the Congress Trail and continue south. The Senate Group of giant sequoias is located at the southernmost portion of the Congress Trail at its junction with the west loop of the Trail of the Sequoias.
   As we round the bend and turn back north on the Congress Trail, the House Group, another magnificent cluster, is on the left. Continue north until again reaching a junction with the Alta Trail.
   Here, on the right side of the trail is the General Lee Tree. It is one of two giant sequoias named for the Confederate military leader; the other is the Robert E. Lee Tree in Grant Grove, located along the well-traveled trail to the General Grant Tree.
   The Congress Trail goes north here as it begins its route back to the trailhead. To continue to the Lincoln Tree, veer left on the Alta Trail.
   The trail climbs slightly and passes The Cloister group, four Big Trees growing closely together. Named by Colonel John R. White, park superintendent, in 1920, he was no doubt inspired by the secluded, spiritual space encompassed by these trees, and the divinity of the place is felt still today.
   In less than one-quarter of a mile, the stately Lincoln Tree can be seen standing sentry alongside the trail. A fallen giant sequoia on the opposite side of the trail, at the junction with the Rimrock Trail, provides abundant seating from which to view the tree.
   The Lincoln Tree, obviously, is named for Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.
   The recent fate of the Lincoln Tree may have been determined because it had been named earlier in the century. This segment of forest was intentionally burned in recent years as part of the National Park Service’s prescribed fire program, an attempt to resynthesize the natural pattern of fires in the forest ignited either by resource managers or natural events such as lightning.
   The fire left several giant sequoia casualties in its wake, reducing some of the ancient trees to standing, but dead, blackened toothpicks. In their quest to reintroduce fire to the landscape, the National Park Service (NPS) will not, however, burn a tree that has a name, but it has also discontinued its Big Tree-naming policy to ensure that there are no other trees to which the public may get to know and love on a first-name basis.
   The Park Service has had an aggressive fire management policy since 1968. Major forest health concerns include excessive fuel buildup, which accumulated during a century of active fire suppression, and catastrophic fires, which can damage land and resources.
   Giant sequoias require fire for reproduction, and the sequoia groves may be endangered by the absence of fire. Fire opens the egg-sized sequoia cones, which store a large quantity of seeds, and allows them to disperse and take advantage of the water, nutrients, and space made available immediately after a burn.
   The mimicking of natural fire continues to be a controversial subject due to air-quality and health concerns and for the very reason that giant sequoias, which have survived for thousands of years, are sacrificed at the hands of humans, no matter how gallant their intentions.
   From the Lincoln Tree, dozens of miles more of trails await the energetic hiker who can’t get enough of the grandeur of this breathtaking forest. To return to the General Sherman Tree, backtrack northeast on the Alta Trail for a half mile until reaching the Congress Trail junction. Turn left and travel an easy three-quarters of a mile north.
   Although the General Sherman has gained fame worldwide for being the biggest tree, there are several that rival it in size, including the President and Lincoln trees. Although just barely less voluminous, these two giant trees are suspected of actually being older than the General  Sherman, which may put them at a youthful 2,500 years.
   Next week: Big Tree number five will take readers out of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

NOW ON BOARD

Naming names: 3R board members

This is the third in a summer series that will list those currently serving on boards of directors of the more than one dozen community service organizations in Three Rivers.

REDBUD GARDEN CLUB
   At 60 years, the Redbud Garden Club isn’t getting older, it’s getting better. Currently there are five native-plant demonstration gardens at public agencies throughout Three Rivers that were planted and are maintained by the club. The following gardens are open to the public for self-guided tours: Cal Fire Station, Three Rivers Memorial Building, U.S. Post Office, Tulare County Library, Tulare County Fire Station.
   The officers are:
President—
Marcia Goldstein
1st Vice President
(Programs)— Kathy Bohl
2nd Vice President
(Membership)— Elsah Cort
Recording Secretary-—
Susan Simpson
Corresponding Secretary-—
Kristen Miller
Treasurer—
Aranga Firstman

THREE RIVERS
WOMAN’S CLUB
   Since 1916, the Three Rivers Woman’s Club has donated time, effort, and financial assistance to various causes throughout the community, including the presentation of thousands of dollars in scholarships to graduating high school seniors from Three Rivers. The club’s sole fundraising vehicle is The Thingerie thrift store in the Village Shopping Center, which has been in operation for nearly 40 years. Local residents assist the club’s goals by donating unwanted items — clean out closets, cupboards, dresser drawers, the garage, barn... and donate it! — and by shopping for new-found treasures at the store.
   The officers are:
President— Ginni Lippire
Vice President—
Linda Lewis
Secretary— Polly Kelch
Treasurer—
Karen McIntyre
Directors— Mary Scharn,
Evelyn Thompson

 
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