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  The Best of Visiting 2002:

February 8- Snake stories revisited some harrowing tales of the past while reminding readers to always keep an eye to the ground when walking around outside in these parts.

One whopper of a story came from the Aug. 26, 1926, issue of the Visalia Times-Delta, about the late Ernest John Britten, who was 15 at the time, and his uncle, Noel Britten. They had two encounters with rattlesnakes in one day, the second being when coming down from the hills in the dark and encountering a big, feisty, slithering serpent and killing it via match light and handgun.

Another snake story recounted came from the 1906 book called The Pass, by Stewart Edward White, about a pack trip into the Roaring River country and the surmounting and subsequent naming of Elizabeth Pass in Sequoia National Park. This tale involved White's wife, Elizabeth (nicknamed "Billy"), who, after snake talk that evening around the campfire, awoke in the night thinking there was a snake in the hood of her sleeping blanket.

"She did not know what to do. If she moved, even to awaken me, the snake disturbed in the warm comfort for the sake of which he had made his invasion, would probably strike… Finally, Billy reasoned that she was doomed to be bitten anyway… [so] she softly inserted her hand in the hood, poised it over what felt to be the thickest coil, pounced suddenly - and nearly yanked herself out of bed by the braid of her hair!"

 

February 15- Seems as though everyone has a snake story to tell. After the column the week before, the tales came slithering out of the woodwork.

One out-of-town reader emailed and told of her snake experience that was similar to Billy's, but with not such an amusing outcome. While camping in New Mexico, she was awakened by feeling a snake slither into her sleeping bag.

She remained still and the snake soon slithered out, but she spent the rest of the night sitting up.

 

March 15- This week's installment featured the annual Three Rivers School science fair winners. Each February, TRUS seventh and eighth graders are required to complete a science project as part of their curriculum.

"Although it is constantly lamented that the nation, and California, lags behind in math and science, in Three Rivers, when students submit their science projects, it's the projects that are placed under the microscope. That's because Three Rivers School is visited by a team of scientists who are just a phone call away at Sequoia National Park."

Of the 40 or so projects, five were selected to advance to the Tulare County Science Fair. From the county level, two Three Rivers students were picked from a field of 275 to advance to the California State Science Fair.

This is the second consecutive year that two local projects made it to the state competition. The first year, the announcement was front-page news. In 2002, because one of the winners happened to be my daughter, the news was relegated to the Visiting column.

Soukarana Stephens and Jennie Elliott, then both eighth-graders, attended the 50th annual California State Science Fair in May.

Soukarana's project was "Remarkable Memories," which compared the memories of literate children with illiterate children. Jennie's project," Into Thin Air," studied weather and temperature patterns at varying elevations.

Soukarana ultimately received a bronze medal and a $100 cash award by placing third in the junior division of the Social Sciences category. He became the first Three Rivers student to win an award at the state-level event.

 

April 12- The Three Rivers chapter of the Red Hat Society was the colorful story in this issue. The Red Hat Society began about 10 years ago with one woman buying red hats for her friends and has now become a nationwide organization with hundreds of chapters and a website.

Bill Clark of Three Rivers did what he always does when so inspired. He wrote a poem:

...So get your hat and join the gals, You will surely make new pals… "Red Hat Society" is their name, Just to meet and laugh and chat, It's nothing more, and that is that!

April 19- This column, entitled "Generation Past," documented the passing of a Three Rivers native, who also happened to be a twice-removed cousin of mine.

Lois Barton Reed, 93, died Sunday, Feb. 3, 2002. She was laid to rest Saturday, April 6, at the Three Rivers Cemetery beside her husband, Warren, her parents, grandparents, and numerous other family members.

Lois was born April 12, 1908, to Milton Montgomery "Mont" Barton and Harriet "Hattie" DeMasters Barton at their Three Rivers home. That house, the oldest still standing in Three Rivers, is located on North Fork Drive, just downriver from the Kaweah River Drive junction.

 

May 10- Type 2 diabetes was the subject of this column as it is in many households these days. Statistics show that Type 2 diabetes is currently in epidemic proportions and expected to double in the next 25 years. It used to be most prevalent in adults ages 40 and older (formerly called "adult onset" diabetes), but now young people are also being diagnosed, mostly due to poor diet and lack of exercise which eventually causes insulin resistance in the body.

Type 1, or "juvenile diabetes," is an altogether different disease, afflicting just five percent of diabetes patients.

Carmen Laro, owner of Mountain View Fruit Stand (in Lemon Cove at the junction of Highway 198 and the Woodlake turnoff) and Sierra Lakes Campground in Badger, wrote about his life with Type 2 diabetes, which he has had since 1978. His mission in revealing his experiences was to educate readers and offer support for those struggling with lifestyle changes due to the disease.

 

July 12- In "under-the-hoodlums," sparked by a magazine article sent in by an out-of-town reader and the onset of summer in the High Sierra, marmot stories were told, most of which did not have happy endings, either for the rodent or the vehicles in which they are infamous for dismantling by chewing hoses and wiring.

Marmots, a large groundhog-type rodent, have become a bother in the upper Mineral King valley of Sequoia National Park because of their early-summer pursuit of a fix of car fluids.

The story was accompanied by a couple of photos which show the lengths Mineral King visitors will go to when attempting to keep the antifreeze-addicted nuisances out of their vehicles' engines. Some of the tactics include leaving the hood open, wrapping the car in chicken wire, sacrificial offerings of radiator hosing, bowls of antifreeze, and - naughty, naughty - poison.

 

August 16- In "The night the Mountain Light went out," it was a time to mourn the passing of Galen Rowell, 61, world-renowned photographer. He died in a small plane crash in the high desert near Bishop on August 11. Rowell's wife, Barbara, also an accomplished photographer, was also killed in the predawn accident.

I've had a love affair with Rowell's work for almost 20 years. His images and writing inspired innumerable daydreams and profound respect, and I continually looked forward to his dramatic visions he brought back from the farthest corners and highest reaches of the Earth.

Galen helped invent outdoor adventure photography. He was also a big-wall climbing pioneer and a quietly powerful environmentalist.

What's ironic is our family had finally made a long-awaited visit to the Rowells' Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop just five days prior to their death. We spent more than two hours there, drinking in the breathtaking photographs that reflect not only the genius of Galen Rowell, but the color and light that is usually only seen by those who spend time amidst mountains.

"An interest in photography did not begin with books or mentors, or with any burning desire to see the world through a camera. It evolved from an intense devotion to mountains and wilderness that eventually shaped all the parts of my life." -Galen Rowell (1940-2002)

 

 

 
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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