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In the News - Friday, October 28, 2011



Silver City resort cabin destroyed in fire

  A fire ignited in the chimney of a rental cabin at the Silver City Mountain Resort consumed the rustic structure and all its contents Wednesday night, Oct. 26. Two workers, who were asleep in the cabin when the fire started, said they were awakened by the smell of smoke.
   They were able to escape the burning structure uninjured before the cabin became fully engulfed. The men, who used fire extinguishers and a nearby garden hose to try to douse the flames, were aided by several others who were sleeping in nearby cabins.
   The destroyed cabin was located up-slope from the store and was called “Cozy Pines.” It was built in 1930, remodeled extensively in 1981, and is listed among the “historical” cabins for rent.
   The resort closed for the season on October 16. A crew of workers is being housed on-site to complete an expansion of the dining room and kitchen.
   National Park Service and Tulare County firefighters assisted at the scene, which is located 23 miles from Highway 198 on the Mineral King Road. A Tulare County Fire Department investigator was on scene Thursday to officially determine what caused the fire and to estimate the value of the loss.

Scientists work to save mountain yellow-legged frogs

  Scientists from Oregon State University announced recently they have discovered a freshwater organism that might be the key in fighting a fungus that has been determined to be the root cause of the decline of amphibians like the mountain yellow-legged frog in the Sierra Nevada. A freshwater zooplankton, Daphnia magna, could provide a desperately needed tool for biological control of the deadly chytrid fungus that is believed to have caused what one researcher has called “the most spectacular loss of vertebrate biodiversity due to disease in recorded history.”
   In the 1970s, scientists first noticed that the mountain yellow-legged frog was conspicuously absent from much of its historic range. The species is still present, however, in the southern Sierra Nevada, but the population is in rapid decline, which has also captured the attention of biologists at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   In addition to the impact of the chytrid fungus, introduced fish species like trout are known to feed on the tadpoles of the yellow-legged frog, further contributing to their decline. Within the last several years, scientists working at several high country lakes in the Sierra noted the return of some yellow-legged frogs after the removal of non-native fishes.
   As a result of these studies and their own experiments, ecologists at Sequoia National Park have offered several proposals for removal of non-native trout populations. These removal projects, where budgets have yet to be approved, might never be funded if using the freshwater organism to consume the free swimming pores of the deadly fungus would in itself ensure that more frogs could survive.
   The research at Oregon State suggests that introduction of the organism, which is actually a water flea, might even speed up the restoration of the species. When used in the field, the introduction of the water fleas has been shown to be able to stem the unprecedented population decline and extinctions of all threatened amphibians.

Kaweah run/walk promotes local fitness

  Plans are taking shape for the second annual Kaweah Country Run to be held Saturday, Nov. 26, at Lake Kaweah. The 10K run event will start at 8 a.m.; the 5K walk will begin 15 minutes later.
   This year, the walkers will take the high road where the course forks left and travels along the old highway past the remains of the former Cobble Lodge and the site of Hale Tharp’s original pioneer homestead. The turn-around at the 1.55-mile mark is on the old bridge that spans Horse Creek below the present-day Horse Creek Campground.
  “It’s a scenic area that few visitors, with the exception of the equestrians, ever see,” said one of the Lake Kaweah park rangers. “Thanks to the work of the horse camping folks and volunteers who work in the area, the old road and mostly packed-dirt track is weed free and in great shape.”
   Runners will continue on the straightaway at the fork in the trail and follow the course along the river into the lake bottom. At the 1.5-mile marker, the dirt trail veers right crossing another old Horse Creek bridge that currently separates the lake and a pond teeming with fish and several species of waterfowl.
   Recently, a bald eagle was spotted, one of a pair that has frequented a nest between Highway 198 and the lake, overlooking the trail at the two-mile marker. Runners continue along the lakeshore, then fork left up a small hill to a cul-de-sac in the dirt road at 3.1 miles that currently is marked by two barricades.
   Earlier this week, a tractor worked to smooth the dirt road surface and remove some of the cockleburs. A little rain prior to race day will pack the dirt and provide optimal traction.
   On the return segments to Slick Rock, the scenic course gets even better. Runners and walkers will enjoy an epic viewshed from the mouth of the Kaweah canyon that looks into the foothills framing Three Rivers all the way to landmarks Moro Rock and Alta Peak in Sequoia National Park.
   Volunteers will be manning strategically placed aid stations along both routes, dispensing water and electrolytes. Thirsty runners and walkers can stop for the pause that refreshes or drink on the fly.
   This year, thanks to the electronic chip timing provided by Sole 2 Soul Sports, every walker and runner will have an accurate time. The top three finishers in each age category of the walk and run will be awarded special commemorative ribbons.
   Grand prizes will also be awarded to top overall finishers in the run and the walk. Every registrant also gets a quality technical T-shirt just for signing up.
   But the big winner of the event will be the Chris Dudley Foundation. All proceeds from the Kaweah event will be donated to the diabetes advocacy organization founded in 1994 by Chris Dudley, a 16-year NBA player with Type 1 diabetes.
   As CEO of the foundation, Chris has dedicated his career to raising awareness and funds for research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes. Through his foundation, Chris established the only basketball camp in the country for kids with diabetes.
   The annual camp held each summer at Vernonia, Ore., has been a life-changing experience for hundreds of kids ages 10 to 17 who have been fortunate enough to attend. The Kaweah Country Run takes place on the Saturday following the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Week (November 13-19), a week-long series of sports camps and wellness events held in the Dudley Foundation’s home base of Portland, Ore.
   For more information about the Chris Dudley Foundation, visit www.chrisdudley.org. For course information or to register for the Kaweah run/walk event, go to this website's Home page and follow the link.

Prescribed fire planned

  National Park Service fire crews plan to begin ignitions on a prescribed burn in one of two proposed areas as early as today (Friday, Oct. 28) or Saturday in Kings Canyon National Park.
   One of the possible locations is a 242-acre unit located in the northeast portion of Grant Grove. Known as the North Boundary Prescribed Fire, the unit is north of Crystal Springs Campground and east of Highway 180.
   Ignitions would last two to four days. The Panorama Point Road will be closed during initial operations, as will several area trails.
   The other proposed fire location is in the Cedar Grove area of Kings Canyon National Park. The 216-acre Nature Trail Prescribed Fire would be located along the north side of the River Road and the Kings River and west of the NPS pack station.
   Ignitions on this fire will take two to three days. The River Road, also known as the Motor Nature Trail, and a nearby horse trail will be closed.
   If given the go-ahead from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, fire crews will light one, but not both, of these fires.
  “Our priority is North Boundary because it’s the last piece in the fuel-reduction puzzle that helps protect the developed acres,” said Deb Schweizer, parks’ fire education officer. “But Nature Trail may be easier to do right now because it is lower elevation and not quite as wet.”

Where in the world is Matt Lauer?

In Three Rivers, of course

  With the announcement last week that the popular Today Show travel segment, “Where in the World is Matt Lauer?,” is returning November 7, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the popular TV personality turned up right here in Three Rivers. It wasn’t Matt in the flesh but actually a beaded wire bust that was made by fans during the 2008 segment when Matt visited Capetown, South Africa.
   The route of Matt’s most recent visit to Three Rivers was a circuitous one.
“When I submitted a bid on eBay I never would have imagined that mine would be the winning bid,” said Sylvia Durando of Three Rivers. “But now that Matt is here, I’m taking him around, just like I would any tourist, and showing him all the beautiful scenery and sights we have here in Kaweah Country.”
   On Wednesday, Oct. 26, “Matt” made an appearance at the office of THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH, then it was off to the river, Lake Kaweah, and a trip to the nearby mountains for a succession of photo shoots. Sylvia said she’s having a ball taking Matt around town, and it’s all for a good cause — proceeds from the sale of Matt and donations from the other personalities who co-host the Today Show — netted nearly $10,000 for The Salvation Army.
   Matt’s latest globe-trotting escapades will begin Monday, Nov. 7. During that week, Matt will visit five secret destinations with plenty of hoopla and fanfare at each stop. From now until the start of Matt’s journey, viewers may log onto www.todayshow.com for a chance to win an all-expenses globe-trotting trip of their own.
   In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the “Where in the world…” segment, and for the first time ever, viewers will be able to log onto Facebook and Twitter for picture clues to help Matt’s co-anchors guess where in the world he will be. There will be prizes galore, more giveaways, and some deserving charities that will undoubtedly reap the rewards of this latest “Where in the world is Matt Lauer?”

Last call for Three Rivers Community Phonebook

Additions, corrections, updates

  The busy spring event season has long passed, the hectic summer visitor season is now subsided, and The Kaweah Commonwealth is ready to go to press with the all-new Three Rivers phonebook. We will take changes for one more week (through Friday, Nov. 4) and that’s your last chance for two years! Send correspondence to: 3Rphonebook@gmail.com.

‘Are You Alive? My Journey of Hope’

  In the September 9, 2011, issue of THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH, a letter to the editor from Rene Ardesch broached a difficult, yet intriguing subject, in recognition of the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
   Rene wrote: “I was going toward Visalia, coming into Lemon Cove late the Wednesday before September 11, 2001, and there was a horrific head-on collision with a big car and a gravel truck right in the center of town. I was on-scene with only one fire engine there.
  “Turns out it was a newlywed couple from New York on their way to Sequoia for their honeymoon. The husband died and the wife was taken to Kaweah Delta.
  “On the Tuesday of 9/11, her dad and uncle were flying out to be with her and were on one of the jets...”
   On the Friday that this issue hit the streets, Jana Botkin of Three Rivers responded to the letter: “Rene Ardesch wrote of a terrible car accident in Lemon Cove right before 9/11. The survivor of the wreck is named Valerie, and she wrote a book about her experience called Are You Alive?
  “She was on her way to visit Clancy and Gail Barlow at the time of the wreck.”
   As soon as I received Jana’s email that afternoon, I went online to Amazon.com and ordered the book. It was obviously the last copy because Jana tried to buy it as well and it was, and still is, listed as “Out of Stock.”
   I haven’t had time to read the book in its entirety — I was hoping that I would before I wrote this — but here is what I’ve gleaned thus far. Valerie Barlow was the second of five children born to Chinese parents in Hong Kong. Her birth name is Ng Fung-Ling, but says she “was born to be an American.”
   Valerie met Stephen Barlow at a pet store in Hong Kong where he was charged with the importation of reptiles. The couple lived in Hong Kong together before moving to Three Rivers where she worked as a waitress. Valerie and Stephen were married in 1994; they divorced two years later. But Valerie stayed in close contact with her former in-laws, Gail and Clancy Barlow of Three Rivers, as well as her ex-husband and his son.
   Valerie returned to Hong Kong but met Alan Zykofsky, her future husband, in an online chat room and returned to the U.S. in December 1999, this time New York. The couple married in July 2001.
   Valerie and Alan decided upon a week-long trip to California for their honeymoon that, due to Valerie’s work schedule and the couple’s other commitments, would be taken from September 1 to 8, 2001. They would fly into Los Angeles, visit some of Alan’s family in San Diego, then head north toward the Barlows’ Three Rivers home and Sequoia National Park.
   It was about 10 p.m. on September 5 when the newlyweds entered the town of Lemon Cove, just 20 miles or so from their intended destination. Alan had been driving the rented mid-size car the entire way as Valerie never saw a need to get a driver’s license while living in New York.
   Reportedly, Alan took the curve by the First Presbyterian Church of Lemoncove too fast, causing him to go into the other lane. A semi-truck traveling west tried to avoid them by swerving but it was too late and the truck struck the couple head-on.
   Alan most likely died at the scene. Valerie was extracted from the car by firefighters. Both were transported to Kaweah Delta Hospital in Visalia, which is where Valerie was later informed that her husband had died.
   Valerie’s story doesn’t end here. On September 11, Alan’s father was on his way to California to be with Valerie. He was on Flight 93, which crashed into a field near Shanksville, Pa. Valerie also writes about being later diagnosed with cervical cancer and her battle with clinical depression.
   Valerie was hospitalized for nearly a month before she was allowed to go home to New York and the apartment she shared with Alan.
   In December 2002, Valerie returned to California, Tulare County, and Highway 198 where the road travels through Lemon Cove. The Barlows accompanied her to the crash site where Alan’s last words were to Valerie, asking “Are you alive?”
   As of 2006 when Are You Alive? My Journey of Hope was published, Valerie was still residing in New York where she was working full-time while pursuing a degree in psychology. Clancy and Gail Barlow continue to reside in Three Rivers.


Meadows, mosquitoes, and mountain memories

By Sarah Elliott

  This is part four in a series about an eight-day backpacking trip embarked upon this past August.


   After such a grueling hike the day before, it would seem obvious that sleep would come easily. It wasn’t meant to be for me as my Therm-a-Rest self-inflating sleeping pad decided to go flat.
   This second equipment malfunction of the trip left me sleeping on the hard, rocky ground. I have an exceptional sleeping bag, however, so the lack of insulation didn’t cause me to become cold, just uncomfortable.
   To add salt to the wound, John this year had added a Big Agnes “self-contained sleep system” to his gear arsenal. That means while I was on a 10-year-old Therm-a-Rest that was about a half-inch thick when filled with air, he was next to me on an ultra-cush three-inch-thick Insulated Air Core sleeping pad.
   My pride wouldn’t let me beg him for it. And he certainly wasn’t offering.
   Here we were, at the historic Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin. It is a beautiful site just off the High Sierra Trail.
   It is a popular overnight stop for Crescent Meadow-to-Mount Whitney thru-hikers, but we were currently sharing the area with just one other party of four who were divided in their backcountry pursuits; three were intent on summiting the surrounding peaks while the other was here for the fly-fishing.
   It was to be a leisurely layover day for us after three days of hiking and nearly 30 miles. First thing in the morning, I took my cup of tea and wandered over to check out the old log cabin.
   On August 19, 1921, my grandparents, Bob and Muriel Barton, were married at Bob’s parents’ cabin in Mineral King. For their honeymoon, they took a pack trip, heading out of the Mineral King valley via Farewell Gap.
   They spent a night at Broder’s cabin and upon reaching the Kern Canyon, headed south to Lewis Camp. At some point, they worked their way back out of the Kern and camped at the Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin site.
   Here we were at the same locale on August 23, 2011. It is entirely conceivable that my grandparents had been here exactly 90 years ago to the day.
   As I wandered around the cabin and along the worn-in, rutted trail nearby, I could feel their presence. I was embraced by a warmth that was much more encompassing than the hot tea I was sipping or the early morning sunbeams filtering through the trees.
   It was a fleeting moment of togetherness. And it was gone all too soon. But this will always be hallowed ground to me.
   I returned to enjoy a hot breakfast of oatmeal with the gang. Then John and Jimmy were off to the creek to fish.
   Jennie and I did camp chores, which included gathering wood, general organization of our backpacks, and the washing of socks and other necessary clothing items.
   Big Arroyo is a side canyon of the Kern. It is formed by the 13,000-foot pinnacles of the Kaweah Peaks Ridge to the east and the Great Western Divide on the west. Mount Eisen, Lippincott Mountain, and Eagle Scout Peak dominate the views to the west while Mount Kaweah and Red Kaweah tower over the eastern skyline.
   The Big Arroyo Patrol Cabin is at the junction of the High Sierra Trail and the Little Five and Big Five lakes trail. Maps show that the Big Arroyo trail also meets up here, but it is not maintained and travel is not advised for those experienced in route-finding.
   After a lunch of rehydrated pasta salad, hummus and crackers, dried fruit, and other finger foods, we each found sunny spots on the smooth granite slabs and read and played backgammon.
   Later in the afternoon, after working up a sweat by playing Frisbee, we made our way upstream to an inviting swimming hole that we had scouted out earlier in the day.
   It was time for a cleansing dip into the chilly stream. Being clean always wins out over my reluctance to be cold, so I immediately immersed myself from head to toe. It’s best to just get it over with, but I hope my heart can take it. Water this cold is a shock to the system and always causes me to gasp.
   Where the creek flows over a granite step became the perfect place to dunk our heads for a soapless, yet rejuvenating High Sierra hairwash.
   Back at camp, we prepared for an early evening walk up the High Sierra Trail toward Kaweah Gap and Nine Lakes Basin. A group of four mountaineers were gathered around the food-storage locker that was located mere footsteps from our camp.
   The only female in the group walked into our camp and asked if we’d seen a black stuff stack filled with food. Hers was missing out of the food box.
   What I had noticed that morning when retrieving our own food from storage was that most everybody had black stuff sacks, and all the bear canisters were identical too. It’s extremely poor backcountry etiquette, which could become life-threatening, to accidentally hike away with someone else’s food, but easy to see how it could happen.
   This group of four had been storing their food at this site and returning every couple days to restock after bagging one Kaweah peak or another. They informed us that another group of 15 had camped here a couple days previously, and the woman’s food bag was probably inadvertently taken by one of them.
   The Park Service discourages the practice of using the bear-resistant food-storage lockers as a food cache. But in the case of these mountaineers, it seemed necessary and responsible.  They were out for multiple days, setting up base camps below the peaks, planning to climb high, fast, and with a light load. To have their two weeks worth of food properly stored rather than unattended at base camp seemed to be a sensible decision.
   The consequences could be dangerous, however. The climber would be able to share food with her three companions for the next week, but the rations would be meager.
   Everyone ventures into the backcountry with a different goal. We met several other peak-baggers and a few avid fishermen, but most along this High Sierra Trail freeway had the lone goal of reaching the lofty summit of Mount Whitney.
   Our evening walk up-canyon was along a beautiful section of trail lined with wild onions, shooting stars, lupine, and a palette of other blooms. A few backpackers went by, being propelled east by the lure of Mount Whitney, but mostly it was just us, some flitting birds, the gurgling creek, and the serrated mountain peaks turning pink as the sun set on another glorious day in the High Sierra.
   To be continued...


No more cliffhangers: Rent TV series on DVD at Chump’s

By Andrew Glazier

  To sit here in my tired, old recliner and write how impressed I was that a tortoise did a flawless impression of John Huston would be ridiculous if it wasn’t true. I should add, a computer-animated tortoise.
   The film Rango is an instant classic. If you haven’t seen it and made the tragic mistake of assuming it’s a kids’ film, take a moment and get it. Get the popcorn ready and put the kids to bed.
   Oh sure, you could let them stay up and watch it and they would like it, but you would miss the wealth of inside jokes geared toward adults that makes this film so special. My three-year-old watched it and loved it.
   Did she know the tortoise did a beautiful homage to John Huston’s Chinatown character? No, but she loved it still.
   Numerous cinematic references were slipped in, and I watched it three times and once with the director’s comments on, and each time I saw something new. This film has set the bar so high for computer animation that I feel it will take a miracle to surpass it.
   Gone are the porcelain shiny highlights and sparkles and instead, a dusty Wild West setting is carefully created where water, smoke, fire, and human eyes, the Holy Grails of animation, are achieved with convincing execution. I love this film and give it Three Rivers.
   MY SECOND REVIEW is actually a number of reviews in one. Chumps has several made-for-television series such as The Wire, Rome, Treme, and Sons of Anarchy. All of these would receive Three Rivers except Sons of Anarchy, which I would give Two Rivers.   Instead of seeing a single episode on cable, you can watch two or three in a row.
   I couldn’t tear myself away from Rome and watched hour upon hour of one of the most expensive series ever created.
   The Wire has been voted the best television series ever. Watch it before you disagree.
   RECENTLY, NETFLIX STOCK took a huge drop as consumers and Hollywood alike took to the markets to register their disgust with the company’s rate increases. Since the two largest video chains have filed for bankruptcy, Hollywood is struggling to redefine itself.
   I hope they take notice of small video stores like the one that has served Three Rivers for a good number of years now. Remember, friends don’t let friends rent Netflix!


Pearl Seward
1921 ~ 2011

   Pearl Ida Seward, a former resident of Three Rivers, died Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas. She was 90.
   Pearl was born February 9, 1921, to Homer and Ruby Ellis in Crane, Mo., where she was raised and educated. She was the fourth of five children.
   At the onset of World War II, Pearl enlisted in the U.S. Army and attended Army Nurses Training in Memphis, Tenn. She served two years as a lieutenant during World War II, then worked as a nurse for over 30 years, ultimately overseeing the pediatric clinic at Vandenberg Air Force Base.
   In 1946, Pearl married Samuel R. Seward. Sam was in the Air Force, so he and Pearl lived in many places during their married life, including Washington, Georgia, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Guam.
   They retired while living in Lompoc and both working at Vandenberg AFB. In 1988, they moved to Miami, Okla.
   After Sam died in 1990, Pearl stayed in Oklahoma until 1997, which is when she moved to Three Rivers.
   In 2006, she moved to Florida to an assisted-living facility near her sister. In 2010, she moved to Fort Worth, Texas.
   According to her family, “Pearl loved Three Rivers and all the friends she made here. She loved fishing with Sam, playing bridge, and reading.”
   Pearl is survived by her children, Ray Seward and wife Pat Williams of Los Angeles and James Seward of Alexandria, Va.; sister Lola Duncan of Gainesville, Fla.; and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins.


THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
EDITORS/PUBLISHERS: John Elliott and Sarah Barton Elliott
41841 Sierra Drive (Highway 198), Three Rivers, CA 93271
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