News and Information
for residents and visitors
of KAWEAH COUNTRY —
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam
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  Celebrating 10 years:

March 1995 ~ March 2005

For the past decade,

The Kaweah Commonwealth

has been telling readers

things they won't read, hear,

or see anywhere else!

 

In the News - Friday, MAY 20, 2005


Only in the May 20 print edition:

ABOVE IT ALL: The last cool place
A Mineral King photo gallery

of a mid-May high-country snowpack

   A WINTER LANDSCAPE is lingering in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. As is the tradition, the Mineral King Road will open to vehicular traffic on the Friday before Memorial Day and will accommodate those wishing to drive to Silver City. The campground at Atwell Mill will be open but Cold Spring Campground in the Mineral King valley will remain closed until at least early June. Mineral King cabin users may be able to access the cabin area but it is unlikely that water systems will be operational. Unique recreational opportunities exist for those hikers who carry skis to higher elevations in and around the Mineral King valley. Backpackers should revise their high-country plans or postpone them until later in the summer unless they have winter-travel experience.


ON THE

WATER FRONT
Warm weather

heats up

rafting season

   With the gradually rising temperatures, the local whitewater rafting season will commence with a flurry of rafters expected for this weekend. The recent rise in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah has brought ideal conditions for the some of the best and most sustained whitewater since 1998.
   The runoff from the rain showers of last Monday muddied the Middle Fork and for several hours during the afternoon had water rushing in places reminiscent of the dramatic flows of a couple of years ago. The peak flows recorded for Monday’s event were measured to be more than 5,800 cubic feet per second (cfs).
   By Tuesday afternoon, flows were more normal, averaging around 2,600 cfs. That, according to Frank Root, owner and operator of Kaweah White Water Adventures, makes for absolutely optimal conditions.

  “When the river is running way up like it was on Monday it can be very dangerous because of all the debris and its unpredictability,” said Root. “When it’s in the 2,400 to 2,600 range, it really makes for a fast ride and a lot less paddling.”
   In fact, when the river is running at optimal conditions like it is now, guides ensure the safety of their clients but then do little more than steer their inflatable craft and bark commands while rafters get a wild, thrill-a-minute ride, whether they do much paddling or not. What’s really exciting about the current season is that these optimal conditions are expected to last into July with the gentler, more family-friendly Class III trips even a possibility on into August.
   For the commercial rafters, it translates to at least a dozen weekends where thousands of dollars may be grossed by any or all of the eight commercially-licensed local outfits. As required by Tulare County’s Kaweah River Management Plan, riverfront property owners and other interested parties in Three Rivers were given official notice last week as to which companies are permitted to be on the river.
   Noticed parties, especially during this busier season, are asked to contact the local rafting hotline (733-6291) if parking or behavior of the rafters becomes a problem. In the past several seasons, the local companies have settled into a routine that has been community-friendly and virtually complaint-free.
   The eight licensed companies for the current season are: All-Outdoors Whitewater Rafting, American River Recreation, Mariah Adventure Connection, Tributary Whitewater Tours, Whitewater Connection, Whitewater Voyages, Wilderness Adventures, and Kaweah White Water Adventures. The latter company is the only locally-owned and operated rafting outfitter.
   The bulk of the clients will actually book trips on the Kaweah River with only three or four of the companies.

  “When you contact some of these companies they will try to persuade you to book a trip on another river where they have more customers and boats,” said Root.
   But Root said he hopes that customers who call this year won’t be talked out of coming to Three Rivers. Because this season, he said, the action on the Kaweah is as good it gets.

  “It just doesn’t get any better than this, and we offer the scenic Kaweah canyon in the package,” Root said.

Hells Angels

cruise into town

   That thundering roar that will be heard this weekend up and down the canyon is not just the swollen Kaweah River. It’s actually more than a 100 members of several Hells Angels motorcycle clubs who have chosen Three Rivers for a fun run and some good old-fashioned Angel fellowship.
   It’s not the first time they’ve been here. In fact, they’ve been here on numerous occasions. More than a decade ago, a large contingent of Angels camped on Bobby George’s North Fork property and spent an uneventful weekend mostly relaxing, drinking beer, and making forays into town to spend tourist dollars.
   The late Bobby George was the former owner of the Indian Restaurant, a popular Three Rivers hangout where Hells Angels often parked their fully-dressed Harley Davidson choppers while cooling off with their favorite beverage. One year, they came during Jazzaffair and told the High Sierra Jazz Band that their music was really boss, listened to a couple of numbers, and rode off down the road.
   But what is new this visit is that instead of camping out like they’ve done in the past, this time they’ve booked 100 rooms at Holiday Inn Express for Friday and Saturday nights. The decision to let the Hell’s Angels book what amounts to the entire property was not a hasty one.

  “A gentleman from the San Fernando Valley [SFV] chapter came here [Holiday Inn Express] last January with his family as an advance scout for the event,” said Wayne Lance, HIE general manager. “He was right up front about who was coming and that they were not looking for any trouble.”
   Lance, who said he is acquainted with other Hells Angels from San Francisco, said these modern-day Angels are actually club members, not really gang members like the pop-cultural perception from the 1960s and 1970s. Many Angels, along with the traditional insignia “colors” now display the popular “1%” diamond-shaped logo that refers to the small percentage of Hells Angels who, according to law-enforcement officers, engage in criminal activity and give other members a bad rap.

  “Just because you have long hair, tattoos, and ride a Harley doesn’t mean you are a criminal,” said one Angel, quoted on the SFV-chapter website.
   In reality, Hells Angels is an international organization of chartered social clubs with thousands of members who are proud of their heritage of individual freedom and, of course, their customized Harley Davidson motorcycles.
   The first Hells Angels motorcycle club was founded in 1948 in Fontana, Calif., when a group of returning servicemen began riding their motorcycles together and organizing events that, at first, were little more than rides to a particular destination.
   The name came from a popular film of the time produced by Howard Hughes. The excitement of the Angel lifestyle appealed to many military veterans because returning to the normalcy of life stateside was dull compared to the adrenaline rush of wartime. Much of the bad-boy image of Hells Angels grew out of the sex, drugs, and violence of the 1960s and 1970s.
   The media did a great deal to sensationalize the exploits of certain chapters, especially those in San Francisco and Oakland. In the so-called hippie era (ca.1970), Hells Angels often served as bouncers for high-profile rock-and-roll groups like Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, and the Rolling Stones.
   In 1970, a Hells Angel was believed to have been responsible for the death of an unruly concert fan at a Rolling Stones concert at Altamont. In addition to the Altamont incident, much of the Angels’ reputation for excessive violence grew from confrontations with rival gangs, in some cases over drug-dealing turf, but mostly jealousy of the status and fame of the Hells Angels.
   But though most Hells Angels today are business owners, professionals, and respectable members of their communities, their reputation for criminal activity often precedes them wherever they go. For this reason there will be plenty of extra law-enforcement presence this weekend in Three Rivers.
   Anticipating that like most tourists, many of the Angels will want to visit Sequoia National Park, the local park received a grant that will pay for additional rangers who will be here to ensure that all the park regulations are enforced. Closer to home, extra sheriff’s deputies and CHP officers will be in town… just in case.
Just in case of what? No one really knows except perhaps that nattily dressed FBI agent who’s here and there about town.
   In the slightly adapted words from the 1968 song written and recorded by Eric Burdon and The Animals: “Old angel, young angel, feel alright. On a warm [Three Rivers] night.”

‘Bear Affair’ to assist

parks’ management program
Final evening event at

The Cabin will be wild

   The Cabin in Three Rivers will kick off Memorial Day weekend early with a special evening of music, poetry, performance art, and education on Thursday, May 26. The “Bear Affair” will benefit the bear-management program in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
   The event — co-hosted by the Sequoia Fund, a nonprofit park partner — will feature a silent auction and pick-a-prize to fund an intern whose job will be to educate park visitors so that the black bear population can remain free from human influences.

  “We hope to raise $3,000, which will pay the costs of a seasonal intern,” said Bette Bardeen, Sequoia Fund secretary and co-owner of The Cabin.
   The event will begin at 6 p.m. and include educational exhibits, a silent auction, pick-a-prize, and scrumptious desserts. Beginning at 7 p.m., bluegrass music will be provided by Buckeye Flatts, followed by poetry and performance art by Three Rivers residents Petit Pinson, Bill Haxton, Anne Haxton, and Bette Bardeen.

  “We particularly encourage local families to attend,” said Bette. “Young people play an important role in educating others about the need to keep black bears wild, and this applies to bears in Three Rivers as well as the parks. Plus we are having a special pick-a-prize with items of interest to young people.”
   Auctions items will include a Black Bear Study Weekend, presented by the Sequoia Natural History Association’s Sequoia Field Institute; a framed bear print by Three Rivers artist Nadi Spencer; other local art; a backpackers’ bear-resistant food canister; and several special vacation packages. The pick-a-prize will include books, stuffed animals, T-shirts, and junior ranger hats.

  “We hope that all of our Cabin ‘Evening’ regulars attend as well as other community members and supporters of the parks and the Sequoia Fund since this will be the last Cabin Evening that we organize,” said Ken Woodruff, co-owner with wife Bette of The Cabin, which is currently in escrow. “We want to thank everyone who has supported our evening programs and invite them all to this unique event.”
   Admission to the event is free. Donations, which are tax-deductible through the Sequoia Fund, will be gratefully accepted.
For more information, call Bette, 561-3546.

Community Calendars

now on sale

   Three Rivers residents wouldn’t even know what day it was if the annual Community Calendars weren’t around. For more than 35 years, the calendars have been keeping locals abreast of birthdays, anniversaries, and various events.
   Community Calendar orders are currently being accepted through the end of the school year by Three Rivers School seventh-graders. All proceeds go to the Class of 2006’s San Francisco trip fund.
   The cost for a calendar is $7, which includes four listings of birthdays and/or anniversaries. Additional listings may be purchased for 50¢ each.
   Each calendar has a color photograph of the seventh-graders and advertisements by local businesses.
   The calendars will be delivered in August and cover the 12-month period from September 2005 to August 2006.
   For more information or to place an order, contact any seventh-grader or call Lynda LeFave, 561-2502.

Artists invited to head

for the high country

   If you’re an artist and/or photographer and need an excuse to escape the heat for a day this summer, here’s an opportunity that should fit the bill.
   Silver City Resort will host their “Mountain Magic Art Show & Sale” on Sunday, Aug. 7, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Artists will be provided with six-by-eight feet of space (no wall space available).
   There is no registration fee and lunch will be provided for all who participate. Call Connie Pillsbury, 561-3223, to reserve a space.

TIME WILL TELL
Ten years ago:

Community concurs

on disbanding MAC

   FRIDAY, MAY 19, 1995— By a vote of four to two, the local Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) voted to disband due to differences within the community and on the appointed board of directors as to the exact mission and responsibilities of the organization.
   A 19-YEAR-OLD paraplegic, Anjie Wardean, visited fourth and fifth-graders at Three Rivers School and explained that on her 19th birthday she was injured when she dove into the North Fork of the Kaweah River at Paradise Recreation Area. The presentation was sponsored by the Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Kaweah to promote water safety.
   INDIAN OAKS RESIDENTIAL Care in Three Rivers announced a June 1 opening date. The licensed senior-care facility is owned and operated by Dan and Elizabeth Weaver on the 22-acre South Fork property that was formerly the home of Dan’s parents, Clarence and Laura Weaver.
   Forty people participated in a tour of the historic South Fork, sponsored by the Kaweah Land Trust and Three Rivers Historical Society. Participants visited the Wells Ranch, the Conrad Alles homestead, and Garry Kenwood’s Cahoon Meadows Ranch.

 
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
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