News and Information
for residents and visitors
Three Rivers,
Sequoia and Kings Canyon
National Parks,
Lemon Cove and Woodlake
Kaweah Kam

  August 29, 2003
Who’s News
Who’s News is a biographical or autobiographical account of an
experience written by a reader
Friends in
high places


   This story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t give enormous credit to those who made the trek with me. Without their companionship and assistance, my goal would have never been accomplished.
    The following list is in counter-clockwise direction, not chronological order: 1.  Carson Mittlesteadt, Aero– engineer major, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo— Atwell Mill to Tar Gap to ridge west of Mineral Lake.
2. Joel Gist (Ministry major at The Master’s Commission College) and Ben Purves (Bible major at Multnomah College, Portland)— Ridge west of Mineral Lake to Hengst Peak.
3. Lauryn Pillsbury (daughter), Los Osos— Eagle Crest to Hengst Peak.
4. Carson Mittlesteadt— Eagle Crest to White Chief Peak to Talon Peak to Vandever Mountain to Farewell Gap.
5. Josh Kunz, History major, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo— Farewell Gap to Florence Peak to Franklin Pass.
6. Josh Kunz— Franklin Pass to Rainbow Mountain to Panorama Peak to ridge above Crystal Lake.
7. Joel Gist— Ridge above Crystal Lake to Sawtooth to Glacier Pass.
8. Dan Voelz, Mineral King summer resident— Glacier Pass to Empire Mountain to Timber Gap to ridge above Silver City.
9. Heather Jones, History major, Sacramento State— Atwell Mill to ridge above Silver City.
Rim rest: The author relaxes on the vertical ridge that towers above Crystal Lake in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. Mineral Peak is in the background.
EnlargeRim rest: The author relaxes on the vertical ridge that towers above Crystal Lake in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. Mineral Peak is in the background.
Rapture on the rim
A top of the world hike on the Mineral King divide
by Norman Pillsbury

"Why would I want to hike the topographic divide around the Mineral King Valley?"I’ve been asked several times. Basically, as a professor of forestry and hydrology, I’m always interested in where water flows.

The Mineral King valley in southern Sequoia National Park is defined by steep, sometimes vertical cliffs that mark the watershed boundary. On my first rim hike to Hengst Peak, which towers over Mosquito Lake No. 5, the idea of staying exactly on the divide while traversing around the valley started to grow, and I wondered if anybody else had ever made this trek.

On that day, I found the passion for rim hiking. Soon, I became hooked on "rim rapture"itself.

When you’re up way high, it’s like being lifted off the Earth. The thrill of the wind hitting my face from both sides of the ridge, buffeting my already precarious balance, is never something I will quite get used to.

Once you experience it, you know you’ve got to go back.

And go back I did. It ended up as nine one-day hikes to complete the loop.


Norman Pillsbury, owner of Silver City Mountain Resort in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, goes where water flows
EnlargeHigh tops: Norman Pillsbury, owner of Silver City Mountain Resort in the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park, goes where water flows.

As owner of Silver City Mountain Resort in the Mineral King area with my wife, Connie, my schedule didn’t allow overnight hikes, so I had to complete the circuit via a series of dayhikes.

Also, it was sometimes difficult getting someone to hike with me. Usually, I could talk one of my college student summer workers into an all-day hike, but not always.

I had no idea of the beauty and adventure that lay ahead when I embarked on this journey. The hiking trails of Mineral King are some of the best in the Sierra, but they quickly paled when I saw the many sheer cliffs and vistas, on both my left and right, as I would work my way along a ragged ridge.

Sometimes the divide was wide and open, and we ran. Mostly, it was rocky and narrow, requiring meticulous step-by-step, hand-over-hand movements.

Our speed depended on how much time was spent photographing the ridges and valleys and on how treacherous the divide became. Sometimes a full hour was required to manage 100 feet of distance.

Ropes were never used except once, to lower our packs down a steep place on the ridge above Crystal Creek.


The ridge above Crystal Lakes to Sawtooth proved the most exciting. The sheer walls, narrow passages, and sections of crumbly rock kept us on our tennis-shoe toes.

In places, the divide was only a line, like the edge of a skinny pyramid, with 70-degree sides.

Here, we had to go hand-over-hand while our body and legs slid and dangled along the sides, several hundred feet above the lakes directly below. Where possible, we would crawl across the dividing line with both arms and legs straddling the line, all the while hugging the almost non-existent ridge.

Sometimes, we found a three-inch-wide ledge along the side of the rim wall that we could stand on, while digging our fingers into cracks and fissures.

The day it rained, we found a new set of hazards. Not only was the rock slick, but the wet moss and lichens growing on the boulders resembled walking on ice.

Passing across these areas was nearly impossible. Yet, the rain changed the landscape in ways not expected.

Cliffs that we’d seen before suddenly turned shiny gold and bright green. Beautiful, blue alpine lakes turned pasty gray. Ominous black clouds covered us and then passed beyond and we heard thunder below us.


The ridge above Monarch Lakes is an example of the sheer cliffs that encircle Mineral King.
EnlargeThe ridge above Monarch Lakes is an example of the sheer cliffs that encircle Mineral King.

The watershed was defined starting at Atwell Mill parking lot and following the rim counterclockwise until reaching Paradise Ridge and back to the parking lot. My goal was to hike exactly on the watershed boundary, not 20 feet left or right, but exactly on the divide itself. Sometimes my hiking companions followed my footsteps in the spirit of the hike, and sometimes they went around the steep areas and waited for me farther down the ridge.

The hiking distance was right at 40 miles, and the vertical elevation gain was 31,000 feet (next time I should try Mount Everest!). We topped a total of 35 peaks, an average of nearly one per mile.

Some were only a few dozen feet higher than the adjacent ridgeline, others were the famous peaks of the Mineral King mountains and required short spurts of a thousand feet and, in one case, a 2,000 foot elevation gain.


Joel Gist, who braved two hikes with the rim-raptured author, grips a vertical face above Crystal Lake.
EnlargeJoel Gist, who braved two hikes with the rim-raptured author, grips a vertical face above Crystal Lake.

Ironically, the distances and elevation changes that we hiked to get to the rim and then back exceeded the actual rim distance. To get to our starting places and then return after the rim segment for the day was completed, we hiked a total of 70 miles.

In this distance, the vertical elevation gain was 53,000 feet. This effort was the cost of completing the rim during day hikes only. If we had completed the loop in one continuous period, camping along the way, it would have eliminated these starting and ending hikes.

Norman Pillsbury is proprietor of the Silver City Mountain Resort in summer and professor of forestry and hydrology at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, during the academic year. Other accomplishments include running/hiking from Atwell to Hockett Meadow in 2 hours, 39 minutes, with Ben Purves of Visalia this summer and running to Eagle Lake in 56 minutes two years ago. He is an avid adventurer and has a passion for exploring God’s creation.




State of the Community
, editor/publisher


Framers are nearly finished on the new CDF/Tulare County Fire Department station across adjacent to the Valley Oak Credit Union in Three Rivers. Several local projects are nearing completion as another busy summer season winds down.
EnlargeFramers are nearly finished on the new CDF/Tulare County Fire Department station across adjacent to the Valley Oak Credit Union in Three Rivers. Several local projects are nearing completion as another busy summer season winds down.

Each week I intend to update one story or another… then BAM! A giant sequoia falls on a car, a fire starts, another tragic drowning. There just isn’t space to do all the news that’s fit to print.

But here’s my end-of-summer attempt at playing catch-up. Firstly, lets dispel some of the more widely-circulated rumors.

The former Indian Restaurant, where all that construction is going on adjacent to Holiday Inn Express, is not going to reopen as a Chinese restaurant or with a drive-thru. That interesting walled courtyard out back is slated to become a beer garden.

"What we’re trying to do is make a warm, friendly place for Three Rivers working people and visitors, too," said Fred Tafti, one of the owners.

Fred says there is no hurry to open the new Indian because they (a brother is doing the construction) want to do things right. Look for the new local hangout to open sometime in early 2004.

* * *

There still is no "official"news on plans for the Shoshone Inn. The deal has been rumored to include partner(s) interested making the property a time-share, conference center, or even an Indian casino.

With the multi-billion-dollar Indian casino industry asking the State of California to allow casinos on non-reservation land, could a casino in Three Rivers become a reality? California lawmakers could be eyeing more gaming revenue as a way to fix the budget woes.

Now lawmakers are blaming the budget shortfall on wild fluctuations in state income tax revenue. When the economy is sluggish, deficits grow quickly, so the argument goes.

How do states survive without an income tax? Oregon and Montana have higher property taxes, but do not have sales taxes. In truth, California government has just grown too big for its own good.

What are the three biggest expenditures of state government? If you answered education, social services, and the penal system, then you’re more informed than the average voter who will decide whether or not to recall Gray Davis on Oct. 7.

Where do you think we should make the cuts that are obviously needed?

Dumping Gray Davis or electing Arnold won’t fix anything. It will cost more millions for an election that will tell us little more than how many votes Gary Coleman and Peter Ueberroth actually received.

* * *

Also on the local business scene, new owners are feverishly remodeling the former Loose Change. The old video store will soon reopen as "Chumps," featuring family movie nights and some hard-to-find video titles.

Kevin Wind, the longtime proprietor of Loose Change, is purported to be back in Santa Barbara where he owns a house. I, for one, will miss screening some of those pre-released demos.

* * *

But business in general has been great in Kaweah Country this season and especially this month, traditionally the busiest time of year. Holiday Inn Express and Pizza Factory report their best months ever in Three Rivers.

Are the high gas prices hurting the local economy? It’s difficult to say. Today, a new generation of visitors, mostly from California, is discovering Three Rivers, and higher gas prices are suggesting to families in L.A. and the Bay Area to take more economical road trips. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks are an easy day’s drive for millions, many who are rediscovering the national parks and good old-fashioned camping.

During this past week, there has been a steady stream of campers with all sorts of rigs headed to some relatively inexpensive and uncrowded sites in the Lodgepole/Dorst area and the Mineral King campgrounds in Sequoia. Every room and available site is booked for summer’s last blast — Labor Day weekend.

Ah! Another great summer in Three Rivers is winding down. Life is good. Go outside, give thanks, and count your blessings.


TKC Opinion

Highlighting issues that affect life in Kaweah Country
, editor/publisher

Here we blow again


Lodged between boulders in a remote, high-country creek were 36 balloons, bound together with yards of synthetic, heavy-gauge fishing-type line.
EnlargeLodged between boulders in a remote, high-country creek were 36 balloons, bound together with yards of synthetic, heavy-gauge fishing-type line.

We aren’t in the backcountry as much as we’d like, but we get there as often as we can. It is wild, quiet, scenic, exciting, and gives us one-on-one time with our teenagers as well as a break from the rest of humanity.

But what has become a fascinating, yet appalling, part of our backcountry treks is the regular discovery of balloons in various states of decomposition.

We have found latex balloons — in all their bright colors — and metallic balloons — with every celebratory message imaginable — tangled by ribbon in trees, melted onto sunny granite boulders, along streambanks, in meadows, and floating upon lakes. It doesn’t matter how far we’ve traveled or how remote and pristine the location, a balloon is sure to be a part of the experience.

And, still, at the advent of every sports season, at birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, family reunions, retirement bashes, wedding ceremonies, grand openings, and more, revelers still cheer loudly and applaud ecstatically as balloons are released into the sky and successfully float out of sight, with not a thought about where their final resting place will be or taking any responsibility for retrieval. It’s legalized littering.

From the Central Valley, prevailing breezes take balloons on a due-east ride to the Sierra Nevada. They speckle the landscape with color and material that is foreign and invasive.


To add scale to the size and placement of this monstrosity in the mountains, there’s a person behind those balloons, while, in contrast, a magnificent waterfall and the snowcapped Great Western Divide serve as the backdrop.
EnlargeTo add scale to the size and placement of this monstrosity in the mountains, there’s a person behind those balloons, while, in contrast, a magnificent waterfall and the snowcapped Great Western Divide serve as the backdrop.

On an eight-day trip into the southern Sierra this summer, we were descending into a remote canyon from a ridge above when we spied movement in the creek far below. As we approached the ledge directly above, we could make out the colors of red and white and assumed it was hikers, the first we would have seen in two days, filtering water or some such chore.

When we were on the slope directly above the location, we could tell that, contrary to our first assumption, it wasn’t people, but still couldn’t identify the brightly colored object. As we reached the closest point to the creek from the trail, curiosity got the better of us and we dropped our packs and hiked off-trail the additional quarter-mile to the mysterious object.

To our dismay and utter astonishment, it was three dozen inflated balloons — white, red, yellow, and green — tied together with thick monofilament and wedged between rocks, disrupting both streamflow and creating a hazard for fish, birds, and other wildlife dependent on this water source. We were disappointed in mankind as we proceeded to puncture the balloons and placed them — an amazing three pounds of trash — in an already overloaded backpack, now our moral responsibility to remove from the backcountry.

We not only were burdened by this additional weight for another five days until the conclusion of our trip, but we found another inflated bouquet — Just Married! — and packed it out as well.

As cities and towns encroach more and more upon our last wild places, it is important that we, as stewards of these areas, immediately abandon certain traditions.

Spread the awareness that the release of balloons as a means of celebration is not an acceptable practice, but instead a blatant form of littering. Please make it a habit to always hang on to your balloons, teach children to do the same and, instead, save them with your memorabilia or discard them properly.


  August 22, 2003
School daze: Laura Harrison, newly reassigned as the kindergarten teacher at Three Rivers School, greets her 17 students — some happy, some sad — on Wednesday morning, Aug. 20, the first day of the new fall semester.


SCHOOL DAZE: Laura Harrison, newly reassigned as the kindergarten teacher at Three Rivers School, greets her 17 students — some happy, some sad — on Wednesday morning, Aug. 20, the first day of the new fall semester.Enlarge


PRICE HIKE… The most recent installments of “Hiking the Parks” that were published in July created a flurry of correspondence, interest and, especially, memories. In fact, this series continually elicits more feedback than anything else that appears in the paper.

Here are a couple of written comments received from subscribers:

“I enjoy very much the pieces by Sarah on Hiking the Parks. I would hope she will continue to write such narratives.”

“Have saved many of your articles for scrapbook material in case some of the grandchildren want to visit the High Sierra, they will be informed of areas not to be missed.”

The photos of the tunnel on the High Sierra Trail between Hamilton Lakes and Kaweah Gap brought back a flood of High Sierra hiking memories to Ben Prusek, 74, of Three Rivers. Ben stopped by the newspaper office after digging out his travel itinerary, gear list, fishing map, and Walter Starr guidebook, all of which were used during his trip through the tunnel and beyond in 1945.

Time stands still in the backcountry, meaning what the Elliott family saw during our 2002 backpacking trip was pretty much the same as what the Prusek party saw nearly 60 years before. The most dramatic change is in the list of supplies; the prices, the materials, and the weight.

For instance: Ben’s nylon tent cost $15. Our Mountain Hardware tent, purchased nearly 10 years ago, weighs just seven pounds, but cost $375.

Ben’s one-burner stove cost $6.50. Our one-burner ultra-light butane stove cost $30 plus gas canisters.

His lantern cost $22. Our headlamps cost about $25 apiece.

Ben’s water bag cost $1.25. Our Nalgene bottles cost about $6 each plus $50 for the Pur water filter.

Sleeping bag: Ben, $23; Elliotts, $175 apiece for three-season, lightweight fill, either synthetic or down.

Air mattress: Ben, $21.50; Elliotts, $40 for self-inflating ThermaRests.

Jacket with hood: Ben, $20; Elliotts, about $100 each for waterproof yet breathable, lightweight pack jackets.

Hiking boots: Ben, $19; Elliotts, between $80 and $150 depending on sales and if they’re Goretex or not, and a new pair has been purchased for the kids nearly every year as they grow out of them over the winter.
Sweater: Ben, $5; Elliotts, $40 each for Polartec fleece.

Field pants: Ben, $15; Elliotts, $30 to $80 for nylon hiking pants with zip-off legs.

Rucksack and pack board: Ben, $8; Elliotts, over $100 each for internal-frame packs — we have a Lowe Alpine, North Face, REI, and Dana Design — and we always make our purchases when they’re on sale.



Three Rivers A/C and Heating won the Poison Oak men’s softball league and tournament championships for 2003

Team players: Three Rivers A/C and Heating won the Poison Oak men’s softball league and tournament championships for 2003. They are the first local softball team to win both titles since 1997. Top row (left to right): Gerald Hurt, Josh Gannaway, Steve Sorensen, Terry Gannaway, Joe Triste, Andy Grinsfelder, George Rauch (captain). EnlargeKneeling: Jed Hurt, Danny Kiefer, Mike Law (manager), Hans Radmacher, Fred Reimer. (Not pictured: Kris Schlossin.) This Saturday, the local softball season concludes with the annual Homerun Derby competition.

Who’s News
Who’s News is a biographical or autobiographical account of an
experience written by a reader

‘ Thanks for the memories’

by Keith Edwards

Unless you’ve been on the dark side of the moon (this really is a small town, after all), you know that I’m leaving Three Rivers Community Presbyterian Church this coming Sunday after worship. I’m answering the call to be pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Altadena, just north of Pasadena.

Yep, crazy as that may sound to many of you, I’m returning to the wilds of Greater Los Angeles — which surely will cause some of you to question my sanity in the first place. But I digress.

As I write this, I’m thinking about another loss — the death of Bob Hope. We all know his signature song: “Thanks for the Memories.”

I want to thank this unique community and its wonderful people for filling my memory banks to overflowing these past eight-and-a-half years (can it really be true?).

I have re-ignited an almost-forgotten passion for backpacking and the backcountry. What mountain range anywhere can compare to the glories of our Sierra?

Oh, I’ll do all right in Southern California; after all, Altadena backs right up against the San Gabriel Mountains, with several trails originating right in Altadena itself. Higher up is the Angeles Crest, and crisscrossing it, the Pacific Crest Trail.

But this won’t compare to Mineral King, Kings Canyon, and Mount Whitney. Thanks, National Park Service and hiking and backpacking buddies for the memories. I’ll be back!

I have indulged a long-simmering desire to try acting in live theatre and, previously, had chickened out many times. Steve, Elizabeth, and Jim LaMar; Adam and Georgia Harris; and the Three Rivers Players to the rescue, followed closely by Eileen Farrell and Dottie Stokes! Thanks for the memories, from farce to comedy-drama to operetta to melodrama to musical.

As I begin a very challenging and demanding new call, I doubt I’ll find the opportunities — or the time — to indulge this passion again outside of church-related theatre. But that could change!

I had the privilege of volunteering at a tremendous school in Three Rivers Union School as a tutor, a library assistant, and a volunteer at the Carnival (even a few big flushes from the flush tank one year!).

Thanks for the memories, from an amazingly dedicated teaching staff and conscientious school board to Sue Sherwood and Barbara Merline. They are what great education is all about.

I’ve also had the pride and privilege of watching an entire class rise through the ranks from kindergarten to eighth grade — with all the struggles and successes that go with it.

I had an open invitation to write articles — even a regular column! — for Our Favorite Newspaper. When I followed through, it opened doors for a wider ministry through print and plenty of thoughtful feedback, discussion, and commentary from you readers.

Thanks for the memories, John and Sarah Elliott and your marvelous staff. You think that big Pasadena paper is going to give me such breaks? Not on your life! I only regret that I did not write more and regularly.

I had the joy of ministering ecumenically with most of the churches and their clergy in this town. Imagine — a Baptist, a Catholic, and a Presbyterian were together, and... it sounds like the start to a stale old joke.

But this relationship was no joke, and it certainly wasn’t stale. I valued all our rich ministry and fellowship times together. What other community unites so strongly and effectively to produce such a quality Vacation Bible School, Easter Sunrise Service, All-Church Sing, and Community Food Pantry?

Thanks for the memories, my brothers and sisters in ministry, particularly Pastor Mannon Wallace, Pastor David Robertson, Father David Johnson, and Father Rick Juzix. Thanks, clergy and lay leaders and musicians from all five of this community’s Christian congregations. It was a rare honor and privilege.

Best of all, however, I had the supreme joy of pastoring the best little church in the world (OK, so I’m biased, but this is my last article, so I’m allowed!). While this was my third call in my pastoral career, this was my first as a solo pastor.

But “solo” isn’t the right word for it. Together we grew in faith and function.

Together we sought the Lord and tried new things. Together we raised up young people and developed new leaders.

Together we sought and carried out God’s mission, core values, vision and ministry plans. Together we walked through my process of earning a doctorate.

Together we worshipped Jesus Christ, who loves us so fully and perfectly. Thanks for the memories of so many incredible blessings from so many incredible people. You are the best!

Now I shift from Bob Hope to The Apostle Paul (now isn’t that a stretch!). Paraphrasing John 21:25: “Jesus did many other things as well [in and through our experiences together over these last eight years]. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

In other words, I have left out far too many experiences, far too many stories, far too many people — with profuse apologies to you all.

So let me simply say, thanks for the memories — every single one of them — from every single experience and every single person who has touched my life and ministry. Bob Hope often concluded a line in his song with, “How lucky we are.”

I don’t believe in luck. Better to say, “How blessed we are.” And it’s true.

Keep right on being blessed, so that you will be a blessing to so many — as you have to me. Thanks.

Pastor Keith begins his new call in Altadena on Sept. 1. You can keep in touch with him at


  August 15, 2003
Who’s News
Who’s News is a biographical or autobiographical account of an
experience written by a reader

Babes in the woods

by Tanya Brothwell
Cody (left) and Brodaeia contemplate the impending hike from their backpacks.
EnlargeCody (left) and Brodaeia contemplate the impending hike from their backpacks.

On July 30, Cody Brothwell and Brodaeia Bischoff, both five months of age, hit the High Sierra Trail for their first ever backcountry trip. On their mothers’ backs, they hit the trail about 9 a.m., with a destination of Bearpaw High Sierra Camp, 11.5 miles away.

The morning was cool and the sky cloudy with an impending thunderstorm on the horizon. The first snack stop was about 11 a.m. at the Panther Creek crossing.

After that, breaks were every couple of hours. The creeks were alive with color as brilliant wildflowers were in bloom.

The babies rode comfortably in their packs, taking in the sights as well as a nap here and there. As they greeted other hikers with smiles, their fellow backcountry enthusiasts were in awe of their age.

As hikers noticed the child carriers, a common response was “There are little ones in there!”

At Buck Creek, we had intended to take a long break before the last mile of steep switchbacks into camp. However the thunderstorm looked ominous, so we only stopped long enough for a sip of water.

On the last leg of the switchbacks, we were caught in rain. But camp was close and we received shelter from the trees.

We arrived in camp about 4:30 p.m. Once unloaded at Bearpaw, the rain stopped and everyone (moms and babes) was able to stretch out and relax on the back porch.

Trail tale:  Tanya and Cody Brothwell (right) and Becky and Brodaeia Bischoff at the beginning of their backcountry journey.
EnlargeTrail tale: Tanya and Cody Brothwell (right) and Becky and Brodaeia Bischoff at the beginning of their backcountry journey.

The rest of the evening was typical Bearpaw — filled with great conversation and beautiful views. Other guests at Bearpaw were impressed to see the young backpackers.

Later in the night, the mothers were both awakened by a very loud thunderstorm, but the little ones slept right through.

The following morning, the four of us hit the trail about 9 a.m. and headed back to Crescent Meadow. All enjoyed Cody and Brodaeia’s first backcountry trip.

A very special thank you to Brian Czibesz for his help on the way into camp. Thanks also to the Bearpaw crew for making our stay a memorable one and accommodating the little travelers.

Cody is the son of Tanya and David Brothwell. Brodaeia is the daughter of Becky and Paul Bischoff, both of whom used to work at Bearpaw, as did David.

The Bischoffs live in Three Rivers. The Brothwells recently relocated to the Valley.


VACATION PHOTOS… We’ve heard stories of some outstanding vacations this summer. We always love to hear tales of travels… which gave us an idea.

If you have a favorite vacation photo or postcard, submit it and we’ll publish it in an upcoming special section that will detail where Kaweah Country residents like to go.

It will be an interesting spread, to say the least, and readers whose interest is peaked by a particular place will then have a contact with whom to receive first-hand information and discuss specific details of a vacation.

Submit photos digitally to or bring snapshots to our office. Include a family name and the place name.


NIGHT OWLS… If Three Rivers had sidewalks, folks would be noticing that we don’t roll them up at sundown anymore. That’s right, if you need milk, a beer, a sweet treat, a DVD, or even some pipe and fittings, you can get this and more after dark in our town.

Kaweah General Store was the first to keep the lights on, staying open until 9 p.m. on weeknights and 10 p.m. on weekends.

Three Rivers Market was next to extend the town’s self-imposed curfew. Sam and Sookie are open until at least 9 p.m. or till the last customer leaves. And, most likely breaking a record for Three Rivers Market and perhaps all retail outlets within a 20-mile radius, the store stayed open until midnight during the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

Silver Spur has joined the trend. They are open every night until 10; 11 p.m. on weekends.

So, no need to do your shopping in the blazing noonday sun. Now it’s possible to run errands locally after dark.


COUNTRY POST OFFICES… After what this community went through during Christmas and the early part of the year, folks have to be wondering if there is any such thing as a small-town post office anymore. A recent camping trip reassured me that they still do exist as we used them almost daily to mail our postcards.

To further verify that the smaller the post office, the more personalized the service can be, the following email from Van Bailey of Three Rivers explains:

“I’m up on SR 395 for the season. I haven’t been home since June 8th. Please send me the news at … Vinton, CA 96135 (pop. 90, elev. 4,988 ft.).

The post office has the old boxes and is in the local store. They are fighting to keep it open. There is no rural delivery so my box is free and since I had no local ID, word of mouth was all I needed to get a box. I mailed $16 worth of stuff on Saturday and the money machines were down, so [the postmistress] says no problem, just catch me later. Our mail goes to Reno, then back to California.


PAPER CHASE… Two alternative publications in Three Rivers have recently celebrated milestones.

“The Kaweah Covenant,” a newsletter published monthly by Warren M. Campbell, a pastor at the Church at Kaweah, announces on the front page of its August issue that it is beginning its fifth year of publication. Describing itself as “Serving the foothill communities of Kaweah Commonwealth and Three Rivers,” the newsletter contains mostly articles and opinion regarding religion versus government.

References in the newsletter to the small town of Kaweah as the “Kaweah Commonwealth” must be confusing to some, I know, but there is no relation or affiliation with the weekly Three Rivers newspaper, The Kaweah Commonwealth. We have this name because it was the first newspaper ever published in the area; no political undertones, just a historic newspaper.

The newest periodical that’s made its debut is proudly celebrating its third issue. Entitled “Muddwumpus,” this eight-page tabloid bills itself as covering “Music and Art” in Three Rivers. Published via advertising dollars, the newspaper is compiled by Steven Harris of Three Rivers and features the drawings of Gary Cort and other submissions.


  August 1, 2003
Aaron Robertson with his parents during his graduation from Oklahoma Baptist University.
EnlargeAaron Robertson with his parents during his graduation from Oklahoma Baptist University.

COLLEGE GRADUATE WITH HONORS… On May 28, 2003, Aaron Robertson, son of David and Barbara Robertson of Three Rivers, graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University summa cum laude (3.95 or above GPA).

Aaron, a 1999 graduate of Exeter High School, was one of two graduating OBU seniors and just one of 64 from colleges nationwide selected to perform with the National Small College Intercollegiate Honor Band as part of the College Band Directors National Convention.

Aaron, a trombonist and church music major, has been presented with numerous awards and selections during his college career, all of which are bound to continue as he continues his education by pursuing a graduate music degree at Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.


GO FOR THE GOLD… While visiting son Gary and family in Nome, Alaska, last month, Bill Hart lived the stuff from which Jack London novels are made. He took part in the 2003 Poorman’s Paradise Gold Panning Contest, coming in 13th overall and, at age 76, took first place in the 70-or-older class (okay, so he was the only one over 70, but that’s impressive in itself).

Competing against mostly Alaskans, the contest entailed accruing the fastest time in panning five gold nuggets from a can of Nome beach material, with a penalty of two minutes for each lost nugget. The contest is in commemoration of the discovery of gold on the beaches of Nome on July 20, 1899.

Bill had a time of 3 minutes, 58 seconds, with no penalties. The fastest time was a mere 40.67 seconds.



    July 18, 2003

Woodlake High Lady Tigers’ basketball team

Clean break: The Woodlake High Lady Tigers’ basketball team give Engine No. 14 of Three Rivers a new shine during a carwash/bake sale last Saturday to raise funds for their upcoming tournament in the Lake Tahoe area.Enlarge

July 4, 2003

A LIFE CUT SHORT… It was a tribute that a family never dreamed they would have to write. It was a letter to a child that no parent should ever have to write.

Brian Watters, 22, of Visalia, who had just completed his first year at UC Santa Cruz, died Wednesday, June 25. Brian drowned in the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River near the Ash Mountain entrance of Sequoia National Park while reportedly attempting to save a friend who he perceived was in trouble in the water.

The friend made it to shore safely; Brandon, however, was pulled under the water by the undercurrent and never emerged.

In the Monday, June 30, issue of the Visalia Times-Delta, a heart-wrenching account of the accomplishments of a short life was published. His family wrote:

“Our dearest Brandon, How can we say good-bye to you? You were so beautiful and loved by so many…

“We were seeing a beautiful young boy turn into a perfect young man. We were so enjoying those conversations with you as an adult friend, son. The son was now teaching the parents, not just about what you were learning at school, but how to be, how to give, how to love; to be accepting and nonjudgmental, to listen, to relax, to see.

“Your friend said you saved his life. You gave all of yourself to so many…

“Your father said that God took you to Him because you had become perfect in His eyes and because His work for you here on earth was complete. Your mother wants reconsideration because she still had work to do with you, because this is so very hard to accept and because you were so very young.

“Brandon, you really were perfect, God is right. We love you, we will forever miss you, and we have been so blessed with the 22 years you shared with us.”

I remember listening to a sermon in church one Sunday about “God’s will.” We were being taught to accept everything that happened as God’s will, and I thought about how much easier that acceptance was before I had children.And for all you children of parents out there, please, PLEASE make safe, sane, and careful choices, because just one wrong one and your parents will be writing such a tribute to you with broken hearts and spirit.


MAKING THE GRADE… Louis Cannarozzi of Three Rivers made the President’s List at CSU Monterey Bay with a 3.6 GPA. He is an Earth Systems Science and Policy major.

Louis, who graduated from Three Rivers School in 1995 and Exeter High in ‘99, is the son of Mike and Kaye Cannarozzi of Three Rivers.


VBS 2003… Another year of Vacation Bible School is now a wrap. The weeklong morning gathering was held June 23 to 27.

Dozens of volunteers from teens to parents to senior citizens helped longtime director Mary Ann Crow keep all organized and flowing smoothly at the Community Presbyterian Church and Memorial Building venues. More than 80 children from Three Rivers and nearby communities, preschool age to completed fifth grade, participated in the daily activities, which included music and song, skits and stories, outdoor games, and crafts.

Vacation Bible School is provided free to all children each summer due to the support of the volunteers, Three Rivers churches, and generous donations from the community throughout the year. And the generosity of the young participants and their families this year was commendable as, in lieu of a free-will offering, nonperishable foods were donated.

At end of the week, it was announced that more than 300 meals would be able to be provided to those in need due to the donations of food received.

The culmination of the week of Bible education was the VBS Closing Program, performed Friday afternoon to a full house at the Memorial Building. The kids sang from the heart, displaying their multi-talents and all they had learned during their week at VBS.


POTTER-MANIA… We didn’t preorder or stand in line all night long, but we, like you, have book number five in the Harry Potter series, all 870 pages of The Order of the Phoenix. A friend of my daughter’s read it in a weekend… that’s gotta be a record of some sort.

Our niece, who graduated in June from Bozeman (Mont.) High School, wrote an opinion column for the acclaimed BHS newspaper Hawk Talk. In one of her last columns, she wrote:

“I was watching CNN and saw a reverend preaching to his parish (in stadium seating, by the way) that Harry Potter was an instrument of Satan. I sat on my couch, giggling. Silly man. Harry Potter is not Satan, I thought to myself. He is all things good and pure in the world. He represents the child in all of us, and his fantastical world gives us something to envision, imagine, and love. Satan working through Harry Potter. What a joke…

“Harry Potter doesn’t open the door for the devil,” Megan concluded, “he opens the door to imagination, creativity, and success in our children’s futures. So, pointy hats off to you, Harry Potter!”


OWN A PIECE OF THE ROCK… They could have hauled it off to a landfill, very labor intensive and at great expense but, instead, tons of crumbling concrete on Alcatraz are instead being packaged for sale to the public.

The proceeds from the sales will assist in the ongoing restoration of the island that sits in the middle of San Francisco Bay, acquired by the National Park Service in 1972. Alcatraz is one of the most popular destinations in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.



  June 27, 2003

WEST POINT GRAD… Martin Davis Rafter Jr., a Three Rivers School alum and 1999 graduate of Exeter Union High School, graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point on May 31, 2003. Marty earned his bachelor’s degree in U.S. history and was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army.

After a brief European vacation, Marty will report to Armor School at Fort Knox, Ky., where he will spend four months. This will be followed by his first tour of duty, which will be in Germany for two to three years.

The mission of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point is to train each graduate to be a commissioned leader of character, provide professional growth through a career as a U.S. Army officer, and inspire a lifetime of selfless service to the nation.

Marty is the son of Martin and Eileen Rafter and brother of Leslie Rafter, all of Three Rivers.



  June 20, 2003

COLLEGE GRAD… A graduate of Three Rivers School in 1995, then Woodlake High in 1999, Katie Burke graduated this spring from UC Berkeley with highest honors. She received her B.A. degree in political science.

Katie will work on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., for one year, then she’s off to law school. She is the daughter of Bob and Brenda Burke of Three Rivers


TCOVE GRADS… Two Woodlake High students from Three Rivers received a Health Careers Certificate during an evening ceremony on Tuesday, May 27. Danielle Harris, Keri Vines, and eight other Woodlake High students began the nurse assistant course with the Tulare County Organization for Vocational Education’s Regional Occupational Program last August, attending class from 4 to 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. In February, the students participated in clinical training at the Delta Care Nursing Home in Visalia.

Danielle and Keri will be seniors at Woodlake High in the upcoming 2003-2004 school year. Danielle is the daughter of Jerry and Laura Harris (River Inn). Keri is the daughter of Ete Vines (Country Properties).


WOOD ‘N’ HORSE RESULTS… The 2002 results are in for the National Appaloosa Horse Club. According to owner, trainer, and judge Christy Wood of Three Rivers, the local Wood ’N’ Horse show team once again made the honor roll, won several national championships, and seven of the eight riders on the team placed in the Top Ten.

Erin Farnsworth of Three Rivers had seven Top Ten placings and the Club Champion Award.

Kym Wilkerson of Agua Dulce had two Top Ten placings and a Reserve National Championship in Novice Non-pro Trail.

Steve Wood of Three Rivers had one Top Ten placing.

Jessica Gannaway of Three Rivers had five Top Ten placings, including a National Championship in Youth Jumping and a Reserve National Championship in Hunter Hack (18 and under).

Grace Ogawa of Three Rivers had two Top Ten placings.

Ashley White of Lemon Cove had nine Top Ten placings.

Christy Wood had three Top Ten placings, including a National Championship in Senior Saddle Seat Pleasure and a Reserve National Championship in Open Hunter Hack. She also won the Club Champion Award and Versatility Award.

The team’s current plans are to take time off from the horseshow circuit in 2003 to focus on fundraising for the 2004 circuit and Nationals.

Christy judges 20 or more shows each year across the U.S. She recently returned from Australia where she judged the Appaloosa and Paint Horse Nationals.

Christy and her training techniques will also be featured in upcoming issues of two national magazines, Horse and Rider and Western Horseman.


COWBOY QUILTER… Paul Smith of Three Rivers (see photo, June 20 print edition of The Kaweah Commonwealth) was one of the volunteers who dropped in one Tuesday at the Comfort for Kids gathering. Dozens of volunteers meet weekly each year from January through April and create handmade quilts that are delivered to terminally-ill patients at Children’s Hospital Central California. This year, 1,117 quilts were completed. The project is spearheaded, organized, and supplied through the year-round efforts of Jack and Joyce Nielsen of Three Rivers.


June 13, 2003

Three Rivers Women's Club Officers 2003-2004

On board
: Officially taking the helm of the Three Rivers Woman’s Club at the annual installation luncheon held Wednesday, June 4, are the 2003-2004 officers (from left to right): Estelle Christensen, director; Joan Johnson, director; Margie Ewen, president; Barbara Bodine, 1st vice president; Anne Hayes, 2nd vice president; and Julie Gray, secretary. (Not pictured: Evelyn Thompson, treasurer, and Kathy Stanton, director.).



  June 6, 2003

SUMMER’S PASTIME… Enjoy watching baseball with some of Tulare County’s best up and coming athletes as the Exeter Lions Club hosts the 43rd annual East/West All-Star Baseball Game tomorrow evening (Saturday, June 7) at Exeter Lions Stadium. Evan Garza of Three Rivers, who graduates tonight from Woodlake High, will be playing on the East Squad team.


UNDER FIRE… So everyone in Three Rivers knows everything there is to know about protecting their home, property, and community from wildfire. This is evident due to the fact that just two homeowners attended The Heritage Project’s last program of the year, “Fire: Creating Defensible Space,” led by the Tulare County FireSafe Council’s director, John Wagy.

We all watch it on the television news each summer. Wildfires raging out of control; homes burned. If you still think it won’t happen here…

Recently, I came across a foreboding piece of correspondence written in 1980 by William G. Trowbridge, who was then the fire protection planning officer for the Tulare County Fire Department. He wrote that the then-draft Three Rivers Community Plan (1980) had overlooked “the potential for a major wildland fire in the area. A major fire could have severe impacts on the environment, economics, aesthetics, and human health of the community.”

He continued, “Unfortunately, the combination of physical and climatic conditions combine to make the area a potential time bomb in terms of a major wildland fire… it not only can happen, but will happen… The risk potential increases as residential and recreational developments encroach further into and interface and intensify within the wildlands.

“During the last decade, the largest fire in the Three Rivers area was approximately 2,000 acres, which in our terms is not a major fire. It would not be overly pessimistic to predict that a major fire of 10,000 acres or more will occur in the area when all the elements come together in the proper proportions.

“A major fire in the Three Rivers area could have severe impacts… One can imagine what would happen if several of the major drainages feeding the Kaweah River were denuded as a result of fire… The aesthetic qualities of the community would be devastated for several years…

“The road system in Three Rivers would create severe traffic problems in the event of a major emergency. The existing collectors — North Fork, South Fork, and Dinely Drive — are all long, narrow, dead end roads. This could become a critical life hazard…

“If development in the area, particularly single family residential, is of the one lot/one house variety, it creates logistical problems for the protection of structures. For example, if a house is built on each one-acre or five-acre parcel, it would be impossible to adequately protect all of them from an approaching wildland fire. We realize one of the motivating factors for people to move to these types of areas is the privacy and open space aspect of country living, but another aspect they must also consider is that they cannot expect the same level of service and therefore must accept a certain amount of risk…”

Now do you feel like removing flammable vegetation, planting nonflammable plants, and creating a much wider swath than a mere 30 feet of defensible space?




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
MAIL: P.O. Box 806, Three Rivers, CA 93271
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