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for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
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Kaweah Kam

  In the News - Friday, april 30, 2004




by John Elliott


    This week’s unseasonable daytime temperatures in the 90s caused some early-morning tumultuous water flow in the main fork of the Kaweah River. For residents living on or near the Middle Fork, the roaring river can be deafening, especially between the hours 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.
     The precise time of the nightly meltdown is dependent on how far all that snowmelt must travel. This past week, the snow was melting at elevations above 9,000 feet.
     From the higher elevations of the Kaweah drainage, it can take melting snow more than eight hours to reach Three Rivers. Pre-dawn readings at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ gauges behind the Chevron station recorded flows in excess of 1,500 cubic feet per second (cfs).
     Whitewater-rafting companies were caught off-guard by the earlier than usual melt, but hope to extend the current season at least through May. Last Sunday, to celebrate the excellent rafting and kayaking opportunities of the season, Kaweah White Water Adventures launched the Kaweah Whitewater Challenge.
     Three rafts, escorted by a fleet of kayaks, paddled some of the Kaweah River’s best-known rapids from the Gateway Restaurant near the Sequoia Park entrance to Slicky, across from Three Rivers School. The Cabin’s entry finished first, Petit Pinson’s Wild Women raft ran a close second, and The Gateway's vessel followed in third place.

   “We hope this race will become an annual tradition like the old tube races,” said Frank Root, local guide and race organizer.
    All that water under Three Rivers bridges means that the Lake Kaweah basin is beginning to fill. On Wednesday, April 28, the mean inflow at Lake Kaweah was measured at 1,117 cfs (cubic feet per second), the highest to date of the current season.
    Though much of the visible snow in the nearby mountains appears to be diminishing rapidly, there is plenty of high-country snow that still has to melt.

  “I doubt whether we have seen the peak flows yet,” said Phil Deffenbaugh, Lake Kaweah’s park manager. “The current elevation is at 669 feet [above sea level] so we still have to go to 694 to reach the old spillway level.”
   At that level, Horse Creek Campground and the second boat ramp will be out of commission, Deffenbaugh said.

   “Our biggest challenge will be Memorial Day weekend when we must face the busiest part of the season with pre-1995 facilities,” Deffenbaugh said. “The only boat ramp in service will be at Kaweah Marina.”
    Deffenbaugh said that Three Rivers residents and all motorists should be very careful when approaching the marina.

   “We will probably have vehicles parking on both sides of Highway 198 in the vicinity of the marina and pedestrians trying to dart across,” Deffenbaugh said. “Prior to the busy weekend, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol will advise as to how the extra parking will be permitted.”
    Deffenbaugh said, in general, everything happening this season at Lake Kaweah is running as expected. On Tuesday and Wednesday, CDF firefighters will be conducting training exercises near the newly acquired houses below the new take-line at the lake’s inlet.
    An official dedication of the new fuse gates at Terminus Dam will be held Monday, June 7. More details of the event will be made public as they become available, Deffenbaugh said.


Lions have next go-round with County

    On Wednesday, April 28, on the heels of the biggest Team Roping in the 54-year history of the local event, the Three Rivers Lions Club had another hearing before the Tulare County Planning Commission.     At stake is an application for a special-use permit deemed necessary by county planners if the club wants to continue to stage fundraisers and other community events at Lions Arena.

    The purpose of Wednesday's proceedings was to address concerns by neighbors of the arena who claim that events like Jazzaffair and the Team Roping generate noise, offensive lighting, and parking problems. No persons among the dozens who attended the Visalia meeting spoke against the Lions being able to hold such events in the future.

   “I think we made progress [today] and were able to present more information about the easements and some of the plans for the property,” said Cal Johnson, who is acting as Lions liaison with the county.

    The Lions “rodeo ground,” as described in the application, is a 5.78-acre parcel. For larger events that include overnight camping, the Lions have a cooperative agreement to use the adjacent site of the former Three Rivers Airport, now a part of Sierra View Catfish Farm, owned by Tom Chess of South Pasadena.

    Johnson said it was obvious from the number of persons who attended the hearing that the Lions have plenty of support for their application. Ed Dias, a planning commissioner, attended last weekend's Roping at Three Rivers and said he was impressed at how the event was managed.

    Dias also said he didn't feel that the noise of the announcer or the crowd was excessive. Cal Johnson requested that Lions be permitted to stage a minimum of five or six “amplified” events annually.

    The Planning Commission will now consider new information from Wednesday's meeting.

    The Lions application will next be on the agenda of the commission's Wednesday, May 12, meeting, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. at the Tulare County Resource Management Agency building across from Mooney Grove Park in Visalia. Inquiries may be directed to Beverly Cates, county planner, 733-6291.

Community Calendars on sale

   They’ve been a major fundraiser for the seventh-grade class at Three Rivers School and a community fixture for 35 years. They list birthdays, anniversaries, and other important dates for everyone in the community, but the only way to get listed is by ordering one.
    Community Calendar orders will be taken throughout May. All proceeds go to the class’s San Francisco graduation trip fund.
Watch for students selling the calendars door-to-door and at the Redbud Festival. They will also take orders at Village Market on various dates, and orders may be placed at the TRUS office anytime during normal business hours.
    A calendar may be purchased for $7, which includes four free listings of the buyer’s choice. Additional listings may be purchased for 50¢ each.
    Each calendar is graced with a color photograph of the current seventh-grade class, surrounded by advertisements by local businesses. A local business or individual also sponsors the photo each year and, in doing so, has their name listed beneath the photo.
    Currently, a local business, group, or individual is needed to sponsor this year’s class photo. The cost to sponsor the photo, which covers processing and developing, is $150.
    The calendars will be delivered in late August and cover the 12-month period based on the current school year, September 2004 through August 2005.
    For information, to place an order, or to sponsor the class photo, call Heidi Crouch, 561-3363, or email her at



Norma Hardison
1906 ~ 2004

Norma Doris May Lovering Hardison, 97, of Three Rivers died Friday, April 23, 2004. A service will be held Saturday, May 1, at 5 p.m., at the Church at Kaweah on North Fork Drive.
   Norma was born June 30, 1906, in Anaheim to Nell Weaver Lovering and Bob Lovering. When she was 2½ years old, the family traveled by wagon to relocate to the South Fork area of Three Rivers.
   Norma attended the old Three Rivers School (located at the present-day intersection of Old Three Rivers and Blossom drives in the building that is now the McCoy home). She graduated from Fullerton High School, which is where she met her future husband, Arthur “Sonny” A. Hardison. They were married Dec. 1, 1926.
   Throughout her lifetime, Norma resided in Sonora, Mexico; Houston, Texas; El Dorado, Ark.; Grover Beach; and Southern California.
   Norma was preceded in death in 1982 by her husband of 56 years, Sonny and, in 1984, by her grandson Earl McKee III.
   Norma is survived by her son, Roy Hardison, and wife Frances; daughter Gaynor McKee and husband Earl of Three Rivers; five grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; and nephew Martin Lovering of Three Rivers.

Eleanor Stewart
1929 ~ 2004

Eleanor Jeanette Stewart of Three Rivers died Tuesday, April 20, 2004, at Kaweah Delta Hospital. She was 74.
   Eleanor was born May 26, 1929, in San Diego to Oscar and Lulu King. She resided in Southern California until moving to Three Rivers in 2002 to be near her daughter.
   Eleanor is survived by her three daughters, Nancy Schneider of Arkansas, Betsy Goldman or Corpus Christi, Texas, and Suzie Nichols of Three Rivers; one son, Darby Alben of San Bernardino; two brothers, Franklin and William King, both of Washington; 10 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
   Online condolences may be sent via

Billie Dale Bates
1923 ~ 2004

Billie Dale Bates of Three Rivers died Wednesday, April 21, 2004. He was 80.
   A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 1, at 2 p.m., at Church at Kaweah on North Fork Drive. The private family graveside service was at the Church at Kaweah cemetery.
   Dale was born in New Mexico on May 10, 1923. He moved to California in 1966.
   Dale is survived by his wife of 55 years, Evelyn; two sons, Bill and Jack; and four grandchildren, Matthew, Eric, Kristin, and Kyle.
   Condolences may be sent via



by Sarah Elliott

This is the sixth installment in a continuing series about a family backpacking trip in the Sierra during July 2003. Previous installments may be read at DUE NORTH: Mineral King to Kings Canyon.

                                  — DAY FOUR —
In the meantime, however, having finished our hardtack and raisins, we poured about two spoonfuls of whiskey over a cupful of snow and solemnly christened this place Elizabeth Pass, after Billy.
—THE PASS, 1906

Tuesday, July 22, 3.5 miles— We lounged in our tents and watched the sunlight illuminate Castle Rocks, then creep up the Kaweah’s Middle Fork canyon toward the granite bench where we had made camp. As the sun finally rose over 11,400-foot Elizabeth Pass and its warmth washed over us, we were reminded of our purpose for the day — to head up and over this saddle along the Kings-Kaweah Divide.
    The rain that occurred the night before was a distant memory. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the exposed granite ridge on which we had made our camp was barely damp as we set about preparing breakfast and packing.
    My motivation for exploring the Elizabeth Pass area was a favorite book of mine that I have, so far, read several times. Published in 1906, The Pass was written by Stewart Edward White about a summer-long Sierra expedition he took with his wife, Billy (Elizabeth); friend Wes; and their mounts, pack-stock, and two dogs.
The eventual goal of their excursion was to find a route from north to south, from the Kings River canyon to the Kaweah canyon, over a ridge today known as the Kings-Kaweah Divide.
    Somehow the names fascinated me — Roaring River, forking into Cloudy and Deadman’s Cañons, beneath Table and Milestone Mountains of the Great Western Divide. It is a region practically unvisited… —THE PASS
    The book details the exploration from north to south; we were now in Stewart Edward White country, but traveling south to north. No matter; we still imagined what life must have been like during that first journey over Elizabeth Pass 100 years before.
    At 9:30 a.m., we began our 1,000-foot climb toward Elizabeth Pass while I told Stewart Edward White stories. This invoked the pioneer spirit in our son who decided to forgo the tedious switchbacks on the final ascent and instead took off cross-country through the talus on what we dubbed “the Stewart Edward White route.”
    We slid down a rather steep and stony ridge at right angles to the main system, turned sharp to the left across its shoulder, and so gained a shallow ravine. All this was over shale, stones, and angular rocks the size of your head, not to speak of half sunken ledges, down which the horses had to slide or jump. But for all that, the going, as granite country runs, was neither dangerous nor too difficult… —THE PASS
     In 45 minutes, we gained the top of the pass, which is also the boundary of Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks. Passes and peaks are special places and, as has become the custom in our family, there’s always a surprise treat in a pack that is reserved for such triumphs.
We hiked up the east ridge a ways and found a granite boulder on which to sit. As we were taking in the view and munching on our sweet treat, we viewed the surroundings.
    Moose Lake was the most talked about feature, mainly because we had been waiting to see it. The lake is due west of Elizabeth Pass and is the largest lake in the region, although accessible only via cross-country routes beginning at the terminus of the Alta Trail from the south or the Lakes Trail to the north.
    As we were savoring each and every distinct Jelly Belly flavor, our son spotted something out of place near the trail on the pass. He went to examine it and found it to be a metal box that contained weather-worn papers that were the trail register.
    We cached a screw-top can in the monument. It contained a brief statement of names and dates, named the pass, and claimed for Billy the honor of being the first woman to traverse it.
    It was disappointing but not surprising that we weren’t in possession of the Whites’ “screw-top can,” but we did each sign in on a piece of notebook paper. We carry paper and an extra pen for such occasions and restocked the trail register with both.
    In reading the entries contained within this metal box, it is always revealing to learn how many people are totally out of their element in the backcountry. The complaints were many — mosquitoes, cold, rain, snow, wind, lack of food, sore muscles, sunburn, and sheer exhaustion. Weather, the one thing that can’t be controlled, was the number one gripe.
    Here we were — healthy and strong, happy and together — sitting atop this historic pass and looking down on some of the most beautiful country on Earth in front of us and behind us and, try as we might, we couldn’t think of anything about which we would possibly want to complain. Sure, we had experienced thunderstorms for two out of the three nights thus far on our trip and the sky was once again looking ominous, but we couldn’t be happier.
    And, thus, we shrugged into our backpacks and started our downward leg of the day’s journey. Although less steep on the north side of Elizabeth Pass, the terrain takes some serious concentration so as not to twist an ankle.
    After negotiating a snowbank immediately below the pass, we embarked on dozens of switchbacks that would take us 1,000 feet down on a trail literally blasted out of solid rock. It was the residual pieces of this blasting that created the trail’s surface.
    Stewart Edward White and party did not have the luxury of a trail crew to forge the way for them, but they did have miners. Looking east along the ridge beyond Elizabeth Pass where granite meets red metamorphic rock were the distinctive tailings of an old copper mine.
    The old trail to the prospect holes part way up the mountains we found steep and difficult, but not dangerous… —THE PASS
    We left the all-granite zone, meeting up again with actual vegetation at a creek-crossing. Due to the proximity of the stones to be used to keep our boots dry being within a mere body length of a 75-foot waterfall cascading down a slick rock slab, there was no room for a single misstep.
    Being the most wobbly in the family with a pack on my back, I crossed the creek first then kept on walking without looking back while the kids crossed. There are some things that are just better for a mom to not watch.
    The rest of the family hopped across without incident. At this point, as we started down a trail beautifully overgrown with wildflowers, the view down Deadman Canyon was dramatic, lined on each side by sloping rock faces.
    We camped that night in the very last grove at the timber line.
    As did we.










THE KAWEAH COMMONWEALTH is published every Friday in Three Rivers, California.
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