News and Information
for residents and visitors
of KAWEAH COUNTRY —
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam
HOME ABOUT TKC ADVERTISE SUBMIT NEWS CONTACT US SUBSCRIBE

TKC ONLINE BLOG...

Read and respond online.

Check it out at:

www.kaweahcommonwealth.blogspot.com

 

—See this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)

 

—Summer/Fall 2007 VISITOR GUIDE now available

See the FRONT PAGE

(PDF; 90 seconds download time)

 

In the News - Friday, OCTOBER 19, 2007

Aspen glow

   The quaking aspens in the Mineral King valley have turned golden, marking the arrival of autumn in the High Sierra.

  The Mineral King Road will close to vehicle traffic for the winter as of Thursday, Nov. 1.

Flu shot or not?

   In the past, most doctors were quick to point out to their patients who should receive the annual vaccinations for influenza. But recently, based on new research and the fact that influenza causes more than 36,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, many medical professionals are now rephrasing that widely held prognosis.
   The question is no longer who should but who should not be vaccinated, according to Dr. Nayer Khazeni, an internal specialist, researcher, and teacher at Stanford Medical Center. Dr. Khazeni said the infamous 1918 epidemic killed more people in that single flu season than all the World War I casualties combined.
   The real tragedy, Dr. Khazeni said, is that many of the thousands of today’s flu-related deaths are preventable with annual vaccinations. We must be vaccinated annually because our immunity declines and the influenza is constantly mutating.
   Pneumonia is the common complication and is often the cause of death in the elderly and patients with a chronic medical condition. These at-risk groups will receive free immunizations at the upcoming clinic at the Three Rivers Memorial Building (Wednesday, Oct. 31). For others, flu shots are available on a walk-in basis for $5 at Family Healthcare Network.

  Flu vaccines take nine months to develop so keeping up with a mutating virus isn’t an exact science. In addition to protection against the latest strain, the annual vaccine acts like a booster to prior shots.
   With a well matched vaccine, researchers predict as many as 80 percent will not have symptoms. Even with a poorly matched flu vaccine, doctors say, the infections will be less severe.
   Infants younger than six months and those who are allergic to eggs should not get vaccinated. At-risk groups and others who want to lessen the chance of contracting the virus should be vaccinated.
   One recent study found improved immunity from a group that performed 25 minutes of light weightlifting prior to immunization.
   If you’re still reluctant to get the shot, Dr. Khazeni asks that the mathematical principle of herd immunity be considered: Immunizing one individual (who may otherwise serve as a biological vector) can protect the at-risk populations.
   So roll up you’re sleeves, Dr. Khazeni urges. The life you save may be your own… and somebody else’s too.

Observers invited

to pot-cleanup site

   The High Sierra Volunteer Trail Crew, a Fresno-based nonprofit group working in partnership with U.S. Forest Service law enforcement, is conducting cleanup operations on an eradicated marijuana site in the Monarch Wilderness (between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks) of Giant Sequoia National Monument. Work began yesterday (Thursday, Oct. 18) and is scheduled to continue through tomorrow.
   More than two tons of trash and debris was left at the site — which is near the Kings River, a National Wild and Scenic River — along with hazardous chemicals and pesticides. On Friday and Saturday, a helicopter will be assisting in the cleanup operations.
   Those interested in observing the effort should meet at the small Convict Flat Campground and Picnic Area on Highway 180 (between Grant Grove and Cedar Grove, about 20 miles from the Kings Canyon park entrance).

Park shuttle exceeds expectations

   The results are in for the for first season of the direct shuttle service from Visalia to Sequoia National Park, and according to figures released at last Monday’s Visalia City Council meeting, the first year of the three-year pilot program met or exceeded most expectations. According to Monty Cox, the city’s transit director, expected next year is a spike in users of the route to and from Visalia that connected with a separate service that shuttled park visitors to the attractions in and around the Giant Forest.
   In its inaugural season from May 23 to September 3, the five-a-day trips from Visalia through Three Rivers and into the park operated at 30 percent of capacity and generated $28,430 in revenue at $10 per roundtrip from either Visalia or Three Rivers. Council members agreed with Cox that a fare increase was in order, although a $1.2 million grant could more than cover the shuttle’s revenue shortfall of approximately $200,000.
   Council members who rode the shuttle said even at $15, the service would be a bargain, so they voted 5-0 to raise the fare five dollars for the 2008 season.
   Leslie Caviglia, assistant city manager, said that in the shuttle’s second year there will be more time to book reservations and for marketing so she expects an immediate increase in riders.

  “After we evaluate the schedule, we hope to be up and running on the website so riders will be able to book next season’s reservations by January 1, 2008,” Caviglia said. “That’s when visitors start booking their trips so we want to be ready so they can include the shuttle in their plans.”
   Caviglia said she doesn’t foresee any major changes in the scheduling but there will be better service up the hill at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., the most popular departure times.

  “We’re still going to have to deal with road construction on Generals Highway so that limits the schedule,” Caviglia said. “We’re also looking to improve the return service in the afternoon though some of the shuttles will remain in Giant Forest to work those intra-park routes.”
   The park routes, according to Alex Picavet, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks spokesperson, far exceeded NPS expectations and operated at 75 percent of capacity.

  “From our perspective the internal park shuttle was very successful,” said Picavet. “We were touched by several riders who told us that by having the service they can again visit Sequoia on their own because they no longer drive or their families won’t bring them up to Giant Forest anymore.”
   Caviglia said there are still some questions to be resolved relative to how Three Rivers can best use the shuttle. If Tulare County would be willing to partner by furnishing a linking commuter service, residents and visitors could use the service to go to and from Visalia daily and better accomplish what the service is actually intended to do: get more folks out of their autos and into public transportation.

Chamber of Commerce update…
County to return tourist tax dollars

for local projects


by Mark Tilchen
President, Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce


   Three years ago, the board of directors of the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce requested consideration be given by the Tulare County Board of Supervisors to returning a part of the “bed tax” or TOT money collected in this area to the Chamber for tourism marketing. The Foothills Chamber represents Three Rivers and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, where a substantial amount (75 percent) of the county's bed tax or transient occupancy tax (TOT) is collected.
   The Chamber argued that our area collects this money from tourists and a portion should come back to expand tourism marketing for this area. The Foothills Chamber has repeated this request to the county every year, and Supervisor Allen Ishida has been working on a way to use some of the bed tax to benefit tourism.
   Ishida recently announced using bed tax money to hire media expert Eric Coyne, who will head the county tourism effort. Coyne will have TOT money available for tourism-marketing projects.
   Ishida and Coyne have met with Foothills Chamber president Mark Tilchen to determine how to best use funds to support efforts in the Sequoia region. The Foothills Chamber will attend two California travel shows this winter, and use of county tourism funding for support at these venues is being discussed.
   Ishida informed the local Chamber that he is pleased to be able to return some TOT money for the promotion of tourism.
   The Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce is also working on ways to support business members who are not directly related to tourism. Plans being discussed include a local country living expo and a welcome package for new residents.
   The chamber will hold its annual holiday mixer with the Three Rivers Historical Society at the museum on Wednesday, Dec. 12.

Work underway

on Mineral King webcam

   Many people are aware that the Mineral King webcam stopped returning images beginning mid-morning Monday, Oct. 8. In spite of extensive remote troubleshooting by the webcam operators, it finally became obvious that a trip to Mineral King would be necessary to determine the specific problem.
   On Tuesday, Oct. 16, three engineers traveled into the Mineral King valley in an attempt to restore the webcam to operation. The repair party consisted of Glenn Cunningham and Gordon Wood, the webcam designers, accompanied by Bill Pooley, a part-time resident of Three Rivers.
   Despite near-freezing temperatures and intermittent rain, the repair party explored the possible causes of the webcam outage. Ultimately, it was determined that the camera electronics itself was malfunctioning and on-the-spot repair was not possible.
   So the webcam was removed and is now at Glenn and Gordon’s home near Los Angeles. Further examination of the camera may result in it being returned to the manufacturer’s repair facility in Orange County.
   The webcam will be brought back into operation for the coming winter season, but it may be two or three weeks before it is reinstalled and working again. In the meantime, the Faculty Flat webcam will continue operation and is displayed on the same web page as the Mineral King valley webcam (www.mk-webcam.net).
   Fall weather has truly come to the Mineral King valley. Most of the aspens have turned beautiful colors, but many trees are bare following the winds that accompanied recent storms.
   The normally beautiful ferns along the upper valley road are now dormant and brown due to recent freezes. Very few cabin occupants and campers remain in the area.
   Special thanks go to the National Park Service for going out of their way to provide access to the webcam location that is behind locked roadways controlled by the Sequoia-Kings Canyon ranger staff.

HIKING THE PARKS

Rerouted in Sequoia’s backcountry

Day 3 (Part 4)
Monday, July 16
Big Arroyo to Nine Lake Basin
3.5 miles


  The previous day, we did not see another person until arriving at the Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin. Even then, the rain continued and despite a half-dozen tents in the area, there were no signs of human activity.
   In the early evening, the rain relented and people began milling about their campsites, drying out items, and performing various camp chores. Our gear hanging on the old cabin to drip-dry became an attraction, and soon several backpackers gathered around and tales were swapped of rainstorms, weather forecasts, and destinations.
   We prepared a dinner of enchiladas, which we consumed with our daily ration of one sourdough biscuit apiece. This a real rib-sticker of a side dish that accompanies every dinner; it’s the only bread product I’ve found that can endure an entire backcountry trip without spoiling or crumbling.
   We had a restful night’s sleep because our surplus food was stashed safely in the metal bearproof food-storage locker.

   The next day, in spite of the clear, sunny weather, John and I decided to abort the trip into the Kern Canyon and not venture any farther into the backcountry. We would instead head northwest at this junction of the High Sierra Trail instead of southeast.
   At the start of the trip, John felt poorly at the higher elevations, so it was sensible to shorten the route and travel slower in our allotted time.
   This was disappointing, but we all understood that our priority is to keep everyone in the party safe and healthy.
   The original route had consisted of new trails for us, visiting Moraine Lake and Sky Parlor Meadow on the Chagoopa Plateau via the High Sierra Trail, as well as venturing farther south down the Kern than we had been before, to the Kern Canyon Ranger Station. Our final few days were to take us up and over Coyote Pass, also new territory for us, toward Farewell Gap, the Mineral King area, and home.
   It had been a challenging itinerary. To accomplish it, every aspect of the trip would have had to go exactly according to plan, but it hadn’t, so it was time to reroute.
   We now had a short day’s hike in front of us, so we spent a leisurely morning drying our gear. Then we headed up-canyon (instead of down) on the High Sierra Trail.
   This day would certainly assist the altitude-challenged among us. And it did. It’s remarkably gentle terrain from Big Arroyo to Nine Lake Basin, beginning at about 9,520 feet elevation and not gaining more than 1,000 vertical feet.
   Our first stop on this leisurely day was just a mile-and-a-half up the trail near the creek-crossing. The sun-drenched granite slabs were too inviting to pass by, as was the ice-cold, sparkling pool of water.
   The day before, we traveled in a rainstorm. Now we were splashing in the creek and sunning ourselves. Out here where nature rules, each day’s a different experience.
   We enjoyed the luxury of taking over an hour off during a hiking day to spend at water’s edge. After we dried off and were warm and fed, we shrugged the packs back on and headed up the trail.
   Walking through this hidden High Sierra valley was a treat, especially on this mostly sunny day following a rainstorm, because everything was moist and refreshed. It is always inspiring to find that such beautiful places exist, yet remain untrammeled.
   Even though this area is along a main thoroughfare to and from Mount Whitney, we didn’t see any other hikers along the way.
   It is a beautiful route that parallels the lively creek that is a tributary to the Kern River. The trail wanders through idyllic subalpine meadows of green grasses and colorful wildflowers, isolated clumps of lodgepole pines and firs, and glacier-polished boulders that have been liberated from the towering peaks that form this hidden enclave.
   The east side of this stunning canyon is bordered by the Red Kaweah and Black Kaweah massif. The obtruding wall of the Great Western Divide is to the west, anchored by Lippincott Mountain, Eagle Scout Peak, and Mount Stewart.
   Where the trail turns west toward Kaweah Gap, we parted from it and climbed north over granite slabs and grassy flats. We forded the creek once again and set up camp well above the first lake in the Nine Lake chain, on an exposed rock outcrop near the confluence of two other outlet creeks.
   This area would be our home for the next three days. In addition to filtering water, meal preparation, and other housekeeping duties, activities would include reading, fishing, and various excursions to acquaint ourselves with the secluded area.
   Dominating the skyline to the west are the soaring summits of Eagle Scout Peak (12,000 feet) and Mount Stewart (12,160 feet),. Directly above our campsite to the east was a waterfall cascading from a precipitous chasm.
   The area to the north was also beckoning. This would be the cross-country route to take to explore the Nine Lake Basin, to climb the Kaweah Queen and adjacent Lawson Peak, or to exit over the headwall to continue along the Great Western Divide arete toward Lion Lake and Triple Divide Peak.
   Hmmm… so many places, so little time.

                               Acute mountain sickness
  Acute mountain sickness usually occurs if someone ascends from sea level to a high altitude, typically 8,000 feet or above, at a rapid rate.
In most cases, the symptoms are mild. In severe cases, fluid collects in the lungs — high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) — or brain swelling may occur — high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).
   AMS doesn’t affect everybody. About 20 percent of people experience mild symptoms at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, but HAPE and HACE are rare at these heights. However, above 14,000 feet, a majority of people experience at least mild symptoms.
   Symptoms of mild AMS are described as feeling like a really bad hangover. They include headache, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, rapid pulse, and shortness of breath with exertion.
   The telltale symptoms associated with HAPE and HACE include cough, congestion, coughing up blood, and confusion.
   Most mild cases of AMS can be cured by taking a day off to rest — a day of inactivity should alleviate most symptoms — or returning to lower altitude. Severe cases may result in death if emergency evacuation or medical assistance is not immediately available.
   Acclimating is the key to prevention. Basic principles, albeit not very practical, include a gradual ascent, stopping for a day or two of rest for each 2,000 feet above 8,000 feet and sleeping at a lower altitude when possible.
   It is also important to drink sufficient fluids, avoid alcohol, and eat regularly. Foods should be relatively high in carbohydrates.
People with underlying cardiac or pulmonary (lung) diseases should consult a medical professional before traveling to the high country or avoid high altitudes altogether.
  Acute mountain sickness usually occurs if someone ascends from sea level to a high altitude, typically 8,000 feet or above, at a rapid rate.
In most cases, the symptoms are mild. In severe cases, fluid collects in the lungs — high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) — or brain swelling may occur — high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).
   AMS doesn’t affect everybody. About 20 percent of people experience mild symptoms at altitudes up to 10,000 feet, but HAPE and HACE are rare at these heights. However, above 14,000 feet, a majority of people experience at least mild symptoms.
   Symptoms of mild AMS are described as feeling like a really bad hangover. They include headache, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite, rapid pulse, and shortness of breath with exertion.
   The telltale symptoms associated with HAPE and HACE include cough, congestion, coughing up blood, and confusion.
   Most mild cases of AMS can be cured by taking a day off to rest — a day of inactivity should alleviate most symptoms — or returning to lower altitude. Severe cases may result in death if emergency evacuation or medical assistance is not immediately available.
   Acclimating is the key to prevention. Basic principles, albeit not very practical, include a gradual ascent, stopping for a day or two of rest for each 2,000 feet above 8,000 feet and sleeping at a lower altitude when possible.
   It is also important to drink sufficient fluids, avoid alcohol, and eat regularly. Foods should be relatively high in carbohydrates.
   People with underlying cardiac or pulmonary (lung) diseases should consult a medical professional before traveling to the high country or avoid high altitudes altogether.

 
THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
OFFICE: 41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, California
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL: editor@kaweahcommonwealth.com
Entire contents of this website © Copyright 2003-2004 by The Kaweah Commonwealth