Last Friday, June 11, when a
Three Rivers homeowner on Eggers Drive was finished staining his deck,
he thought he had taken the necessary precautions with the rags that
still had the residue of Penofin (PENetrating Oil FINish). But when
the soiled rags were left to dry in direct sun, spontaneous combustion
resident] was very careful placing the rags on gravel to dry,”
said Steve Green, a CDF captain stationed at Three Rivers. “But
it is important to soak the rags with water and dry them in a shady,
Captain Green said that after the first combustion,
a spark caught some nearby bushes and was extinguished without calling
the fire department. But a few minutes later, a nearby knoll with tinder-dry
grass became engulfed in flame. That’s when a neighbor called
approximately 30 minutes after the initial combustion for the fire to
flare up,” said Captain Green. “We received the call at
4:14 p.m. and were right on it. By the time we set up a hose line, it
was out of control.”
Captain Green said that although the blaze was “going
pretty good,” once it was surrounded with a hose line, firefighters
were able to quickly gain the upper hand.
like the La Cienega incident last week, good clearance was a contributing
factor in controlling the fire before it could spread to a nearby home,”
Green said. “The fire scorched about an acre and was under control
by 4:40 p.m.”
Green also said
that the extra personnel that are usually stationed at the Hammond Fire
Station during the summer are now sharing cramped quarters at the Three
Rivers Fire Station. For the immediate future, a second wild land engine
that is usually housed at Hammond is standing by in Woodlake.
supposed to be in the new station [across from Valley Oak Credit Union]
by April 19,” Captain Green said. “We’re expecting
to hear any day now that we can occupy the new quarters.”
In other personnel-related
news, Tulare unit division chief, Gary Marshall, who formerly served
as an area battalion chief in Three Rivers, was promoted to Madera-Mariposa-Merced
unit chief. Chief Marshall, who served 31 years in Tulare County, was
instrumental in the rebuilding of the Porterville Air Attack Base (2002)
and the construction of the new Three Rivers Fire Station.
On Tuesday, June 8, a Mexican national was apprehended in a remote area
of Sequoia National Park with over 400 pounds of food, additional supplies,
and a 22-caliber rifle with ammunition.
The 36-year-old male is suspected to have been attempting
to deliver these goods to people who are currently cultivating clandestine
marijuana farms in the Kaweah River’s East Fork canyon. The National
Park Service was assisted by agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration
and Tulare County Sheriff’s Department officers.
Ongoing operations by the TCSD and the NPS have been
seeking to eliminate these illegal activities before the seasonal pot
farms can become fully established this year. Three separate supply
drops were intercepted by NPS rangers within the past two weeks.
Anyone noticing suspicious activities on public lands
is asked to report it immediately. The high incidence of marijuana cultivation
in the area poses a risk to human safety and causes severe damage to
property and natural resources.
The public is asked to watch for gear and/or food
being left in a campground or beside a road, people in the national
parks with farming supplies in their possession, such as irrigation
hose/pipe, fertilizer, or pesticide, or anything else that seems out
of the ordinary. Hikers are urged to remain alert and to use caution
when walking off-trail, especially near year-round waterways because
many marijuana fields that have been found in recent years have armed
To report suspicious activities, call toll-free 1-888-NPS-CRIME.
Callers may remain anonymous or speak to an investigating officer, whichever
Wednesday, June 16, office personnel at Three Rivers School discovered
an unwelcome visitor. It was a typical Three Rivers rattlesnake, approximately
20 inches in length.
Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes strike when threatened,
cornered, or deliberately provoked, but given room, they will retreat.
“We called John Crabtree, our maintenance supervisor, who placed it
in a bag,” said Margaret Reyes, TRUS secretary. “We wanted to be certain
that the snake could be returned to the wild.”
BY SARAH ELLIOTT
For the better part of a half-century, Three Rivers School eighth-graders
have earned the funds necessary to take a year-end class trip. The major
contributors to, and supporters of, this annual effort are Three Rivers
With the hindsight
of a chaperone who has participated in the three-day sojourn to San
Francisco twice, as well as having participated in the trip as an eighth-grade
student, I know that this trip is both fun and educational, as well
as a personal-growth experience for these young teens. The bonding ritual
is priceless as well — students with students; parents with parents;
students with chaperones; and parents with teacher. The kids will always
consider this trip one of their favorite memories, made poignant because
mere days after returning, they graduate from TRUS and their school
days in Three Rivers come to an end.
DAY TWO: THURSDAY, MAY 27
2 P.M.— It’s a museum and an educational center but, shhhh,
don’t tell the kids. Founded in 1969, the nonprofit Exploratorium
— “the museum of art, science, and human perception”
— is located near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, housed
in the landmark Palace of Fine Arts, which was built in 1915 for the
International Expo. With more than 650 experimental, hands-on exhibits,
the kids had more than enough to keep them occupied, but the highlight
of this excursion was their trip into the darkest depths of the Tactile
The Tactile Dome is a geodesic structure inside the
Exploratorium that requires advance reservations to visit. The inner
sanctum of the Tactile Dome is a series of rooms, and the kids must
crawl, climb and slide through amazing textures in complete darkness,
with only their sense of touch to guide them.
The students went through in two groups, boys and girls, for obvious
4:30 P.M.— Our Charter Classic bus delivered
us back to the hostel at Union Square. Everyone had about an hour to
ready themselves for a night on the town.
6 P.M.— Table for 38, please, as we arrived
for dinner at Hard Rock Café at the entrance to Pier 39. The
courteous and efficient staff had actually been forewarned that we would
be arriving. The chaperones shared a table while the students sat at
tables of four and ordered on their own.
Although teacher/tour guide Gail Matuskey picked
up the four-figure tab and tip, using class funds, the kids were each
provided with $20 to use in the Hard Rock Café store, if they
8 P.M.— The bus dropped us at the historic
Golden Gate Theatre for a performance of Hairspray. The two-act Tony-nominated
musical, set in Baltimore in 1962, had a talented cast of 50, amazing
sets, a live orchestra, and is a story with a moral.
After the show, since our bus driver was now off-duty,
the class walked the six blocks or so back to the hostel, an experience
that the girls in high heels won’t soon forget. And even though
it was 11 p.m., the streets were still bustling with people, quite a
contrast to the Three Rivers lifestyle.
Last December, after reopening
the former Noisy Water Café as the Main Fork Bistro, owner Linda
Ewing and chef Audrey Blake promised more changes than just a totally
new menu. At the start of the busy Memorial Day weekend, the local eatery
unveiled another change — its long-awaited patio seating.
has always been known for riverside dining,” said Linda. “The
new patio with its 11 attractive tables is just another reason to come
here and enjoy the Main Fork.”
Ewing said she noticed that many diners, especially
European visitors, come in asking to be seated outdoors.
moment, the view is limited because Fish and Game has asked us not to
cut the cover vegetation on the property during nesting season,”
she said. “But to hear all the birds along the river is really
When nesting season ends July 1, Ewing said she plans
to trim the dense vegetation and really open up the beautiful view of
the river. Directly across the river from the Bistro is the private
riverfront park and retreat developed by Imad Rasool, a Los Angeles
To celebrate the opening of the new patio, the Bistro
hosted a wine tasting, the first of many such food events that Blake
plans to accommodate.
is the ideal setting for all types of gatherings,” said chef Audrey.
“Come for the cuisine and enjoy the natural beauty of Three Rivers.”
BY SARAH ELLIOTT
This is the seventh installment
in a series about a family backpacking trip in the Sierra during July
2003. Previous installments may be seen on the Hiking page on this website.
Wednesday, July 23,
layover day— Our camp was strategically placed among
trees near a granite ledge that looks north over all of Deadman Canyon.
As darkness fell the previous evening, we watched a severe lightning
storm move directly up the canyon.
The situation was about to get serious. We were in our
tents, which were pitched side by side, when the storm arrived.
Rain began falling — peaceful droplets at first,
then a violent downpour accompanied by hail and wind. Lightning was
flashing in the sky with thunder following soon after.
We counted the seconds between strikes of lightning and
claps of thunder. The storm was swiftly and steadily moving closer and
we were directly in its path.
Peeking out the tent doors, we watched the lightning along
Glacier Ridge, the string of peaks just to the east of us that divides
Deadman and Cloud canyons. It was as thrilling and suspenseful as any
show we will ever watch.
When our calculations of the distance of the lightning
moved within the one-mile range, we all put on our boots and crouched
on top of our sleeping pads.
“Are you scared,
Mom?” asked one of the kids.
but definitely on alert,” I replied, while silently repeating
a favorite phrase — “This too shall pass” —
reserved only for the most tense of situations.
Another flash of lightning and the night was as bright
as day. And there was no need to count the seconds until the thunder
because there weren’t any. The storm was directly overhead.
Although our two tents were mere feet apart, we were shouting
back and forth to be heard in the melee. Philosophical observations
and a few jokes dominated the conversation.
Suddenly, we heard a loud explosion that was at once both
deafening and barely audible because of the thunderclap that accompanied
it. As our minds attempted to decipher the unfamiliar sound, it soon
On the boulder-strewn slope directly across the creek from
us, lightning had touched down, striking granite. It triggered a rock
slide and we were now listening to massive rocks tumbling down the slope.
Although we knew we had pitched our tents well away from
any steep slope, the sound was hauntingly close, causing us to reevaluate
our location. We optimistically deemed our camp in as safe an area as
possible considering the circumstances, which is good because the last
thing any of us wanted to do was to leave the relative comfort of those
nylon walls to relocate in the dark during a lightning and hail storm.
Finally, the storm moved over the top of Glacier Ridge
into Cloud Canyon and the rain subsided to a mere shower. We gazed at
the continuing light show until we fell asleep.
As we peered out the tent flaps at the break of day, the
sky was mostly clear with just a few billowing clouds. The sun’s
rays beamed above Glacier Ridge as it prepared to rise, and it was a
Since our granite slab of a patio was already dry, the
only sign of the extreme weather of the night before were a few puddles
and two waterfalls cascading down Glacier Ridge that weren’t there
the previous day. We spent the morning drying out while preparing for
a cross-country trek to Big Bird Lake, located in a basin to the southwest
of our camp.
But the sky darkened again and, at 11:30 a.m., just as
we were about to embark on our day hike, raindrops again began to fall.
As is a fact of backcountry life, it arrived quickly and increased in
Again, thunder and lightning moved into the vicinity. The
kids scrambled for a tent, while the parents decided to ride this one
out, and we nestled on a log at the base of a tree, taking cover beneath
The storm lasted for an hour. The kids passed the time
by playing backgammon and chess on their Therma-Rest game board. The
grownups watched the storm unleash its fury on the ridge opposite of
the previous night’s storm track.
There was a break in the weather at 12:30 p.m. The granite
dried fast and we were soon sprawled on it, eating a rehydrated pasta-and-pinenut
salad for lunch.
At 1 p.m., the storm switched directions and the heavens
dumped on us once again. Clouds as black as night, a cold, harsh wind,
and lightning and thunder were once again forces with which to be reckoned.
At this point, we were thankful for layover days. This
would have been an unpleasant day to be on the trail, and we instead
spent a cozy afternoon playing games, reading and, an activity that
is unheard of at home, napping.
* * *
We had all dozed off late in the afternoon and awakened
to hear nothing but the creek. This was a good sign, since it meant
that the storm cycle was once again in retreat mode.
It was 5 p.m. when we finally set off to find Big Bird
Lake under a sky that was blindingly blue. There is no maintained trail
to this high-country lake, located at 9,765 feet elevation.
As is human nature, we picked the shortest route to what
we thought would take us to the north, and closest, side of the lake.
This, as is so often the case, was not the best route as it became steep
and treacherous, so we backtracked a ways and then turned and traveled
We surmounted a low ridge and emerged onto a plateau with
the lake within sight. Surrounded by serrated ridges, Big Bird Lake
is much longer than it is wide and large as high-country lakes go.
The boys took their fishing poles and headed toward the
shore. The girls got comfortable on a rocky viewpoint and basked in
sunshine that had, thus far, been elusive during this trip.
At 7:30 p.m., the sun dropped behind the western ridge.
It was the signal to return to camp.
It had taken us 45 minutes to reach the lake. We were back at our campsite
and cooking dinner in 20 minutes.
That night, as was now the norm, another storm rolled through. Although
not quite as intense as the previous night’s, it brought along
its share of thunder and lightning, and we fell asleep asking the weather
gods for benevolence.
But although everything we had in our possession was dampened,
our spirits were not. Following each storm comes the reward of immense
beauty — sparkling puddles on the rocks, a dustless trail, streaming
rainbows, clean air and a glorious sky, sunlight glistening on the landscape.
There was a moment or two when it was tempting to get angry
and hurl insults skyward, but never once did we consider surrendering
and slinking home.
After all, rain in the backcountry is still better
than a day in the office anytime.
To be continued...