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

  December 26, 2003
The Christmas List
I have a list of folks I know
All written in a book.
And every year
when Christmas comes,
I go and take a look.

And that is when I realize
That these names are more a part
Not only of the book they’re in
But of my very heart.

For I am but a total
Of the many folks I’ve met.
And you are one of those
Whose love I’ll ne’er forget.

And whether I have
known you now
For many years or few,
In some way you have had a part
In shaping things I do.

And every year when
Christmas comes,
I realize this anew;
The best gift life can offer me
is meeting friends like you.

—Author Unknown

Our wish for everyone is that you are able to take time to enjoy life, be with friends and family, and treasure the joys and opportunities that each day brings in the New Year.

Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy New Year, and Peace on Earth to all!


Cyber-champs: The Three Rivers Shcool CyberQuest teams.Cyber-champs: The Three Rivers School CyberQuest teams returned home with trophies and medals after the sixth annual competition held Saturday, Nov. 22. The Three Rivers teams consisted of: (back row, left to right) Andrew Basham and Jordan Vieira, seventh grade; Kylie Castro, Abby Bloetscher, Holly Gallo, and Sarah Gray, eighth grade; and (front row, l-r) Daniel Keeley, Conner Beck, Alex Law, and Kelsey Ruehling, fourth grade; Alex Gray and Selena Harrison, third grade; and Analisa Skeen and Katie Keeley, fifth grade. For background on the competition and the specific assignments presented to each grade level, scroll down this page to the December 12 installment.


  December 19, 2003

COLLEGE GRAD… On Sunday, Dec. 14, Anne Lauren Wright received her degree of Bachelor of Arts in Communication during the commencement ceremony at the University of California, Davis.

Annie is the daughter of Victoria Wright of Three Rivers. She graduated from Woodlake High School in 1999.


THEY’RE ENGAGED… Jenni Tompkins and Jarrod McClintick will be married May 23, 2004, at The Little Church in the Pines at Bass Lake.

Jenni is the daughter of Roger and Janice Tompkins of Oakhurst. She graduated from Yosemite High School in 2000 and will graduate in May from Azusa Pacific University with a B.A. in Cinema/Broadcast Arts and a Communication Studies minor. She currently works in the Registrar’s Office at APU and is a published photographer.

Jarrod is the son of Jim and Lori McClintick of Three Rivers. He graduated from Exeter Union High School in 2001 and will graduate in May from Azusa Pacific University with a B.A. in Communication Studies. He is currently working as a media specialist for APU and as a magician/comedian for churches, youth groups, and events.

Following their marriage, Jarrod and Jenni plan to work and make their home in Southern California while Jarrod pursues his Master’s degree.


FOR THE RECORD… In the Friday, Dec. 12, issue, a Visiting Around Town segment entitled "Cyber-winners"listed the members of the fourth-grade team incorrectly. The team actually consisted of Conner Beck, Daniel Keeley, Kelsey Ruehling, and Alex Law.

As my children get older and leave Three Rivers School, I’m not as closely associated with TRUS activities or know all the children by name any longer, but I still enjoy writing about every child’s accomplishments, so be patient with me, parents. And, certainly, never hesitate to submit a child’s milestone.


  December 12, 2003
Peace on Earth: The Peace Bird, a stone sculpture by Adrian Green of Three Rivers, will be part of the festivities at the Three Rivers Historical Society’s Open House on Sunday. EnlargeAdrian invites all who attend to place hands on the sculpture and extend wishes for peace around the world before the bird takes wing to its final home in the south of France.

HERO STATUS… On Wednesday, June 25, Brandon Watters, 22, was with a group of friends and his younger brother, Garet, at the "Research Pool," a Sequoia Park swimming hole.

Sadly, the day took a tragic turn and Brandon became the third victim of the 2003 season to drown in the Kaweah River.

Brandon saw a member of his party in trouble in the high, swift water. Without a second thought, he dove in to assist.

The friend made it to the shore. Brandon did not, but Rene Sudduth credits Brandon with saving his life.

"You gave your all of yourself to so many," his parents wrote later in a tribute to Brandon’s life.

On Wednesday, Dec. 10, Congressman Devin Nunes held a reception in Visalia where he presented Brandon’s family with a plaque bearing his citation in the U.S. Congressional Record, entitled "Tribute to Brandon Philip Watters."

"Brandon’s courageous act cost him his life," said Rep. Nunes in his speech before the House of Representatives last month." Brandon was undoubtedly aware of the danger. His sacrifice is a testimony to his personal character."

Brandon was raised in Visalia and a pre-med student at UC Santa Cruz.


CYBER-WINNERS… Students from throughout Tulare County converged on the Visalia Convention Center on Saturday, Nov. 22, for the sixth annual CyberQuest multimedia competition. Among this computer-savvy crowd were five teams from Three Rivers School.

The goal of this event is for students to work in teams to create a solution to an assigned scenario. Each grade level has the same scenario, and the teams have a three-week period to research the problem, then create a multimedia presentation and script to present before a panel of judges and an audience.

CyberQuest has evolved from a 25-team event in 1998 to, this year, more than 150 teams with over 400 students participating. Three Rivers School has participated since CyberQuest’s humble beginnings and always brings home a trophy or two… or three… or more!

The teams reenacted their presentations last Wednesday evening for the Three Rivers School board at their monthly meeting. This year’s teams and scenarios were as follows:

Third grade— Cyber Eagles. Alex Gray and Selena Harrison presented "Kids In Space." The goal of this project was to prepare an application to be counselors at a camp that is held in a space station that orbits Earth.

Fourth grade— Three Rivers Eagles. Conner Beck, Daniel Keeley, Jim LeFave, and Alex Law were assigned "One Hundred Years of Flight," in which they had to prepare a proposal of the important contributions to flight made by California in the 100 years since the Wright Brothers first took to the air.

Fifth grade— Cyber Wizards. Analisa Skeen and Katie Keeley "Tapped into Water"by providing recommendations about the conservation and future of water in California.

Seventh grade— Wise Wizards. Andrew Basham and Jordan Vieira explored virtual reality with "Asteroid Island." They were required to report on the actual risk of an asteroid striking Earth.

Eighth grade— Cyber Monkeys. Abby Bloetscher, Kylie Castro, Sarah Gray, and Holly Gallo presented "A Brave New Colony"… located 10 light-years away from Earth.

Each team received a rating of "Superior"for their research, production, and presentation. In addition, the fourth through eighth-graders each received a first place in their grade level.


NUMBER TWO, OR NOT… It’s a source of pride to live next to Sequoia National Park, which is the second oldest U.S. national park (1890), created after Yellowstone (1872). Or was it?

An interesting tidbit I ran across recently is that there was another national park that came into existence three years after Yellowstone, making it the second national park. Mackinac Island National Park, located in Michigan, was a 1,000-acre park on northern Lake Huron.

It was later determined that Mackinac Island lacked the qualities associated with a national park. In 1895 — five years after Sequoia, General Grant (now absorbed into the larger Kings Canyon park), and Yosemite were created — Mackinac Island reverted to the care of the State of Michigan and is now a state park.

Sequoia received the designation of "second national park"by default; for five years, it was actually the nation’s third. Sequoia will always remain California’s first national park, but even this designation was a close call; Sequoia was created a mere six days before General Grant and Yosemite, which had been a state park since 1864.


WORTHY WEBSITES… The next time you hit the web for a little surfing, check out these sites that offer interesting information about local areas:— Eshom Valley in located in the next canyon over from Three Rivers, just west and north. It is accessed via Dry Creek Road. Discover Eshom Valley by visiting this website that contains history, photo gallery, map, cemetery index, and points of interest.— This site offers past, present, and future information about the Mineral King area of Sequoia National Park. Photos, news updates, and an ongoing series on the history of the Mineral King Road are the highlights.


  November 28, 2003
Who’s News
Who’s News is a biographical or autobiographical account of an
experience written by a reader

Vacation of a lifetime

by Richard Ainley


Upon reading the call of The Kaweah Commonwealth for favorite vacation photos, Dick Ainley sent this story about his trip of a lifetime...

This involves the adventure of two 17-year-old Woodlake High School junior students. It was the 1939 summer vacation when my classmate Jack Gaines and I started off on a three-week trek into the Sierra Nevada mountain range on our horses and one mule.

All our parents were somewhat apprehensive because the stock were strictly "valley"animals, i.e., not accustomed to the many surprises and unexpected dangers often encountered in the high backcountry. To make matters even worse, my horse, a young mare, was high strung and easily spooked.

Finally, we got the parents’ approval and took off from our Echo Cove Ranch in Tulare County. After about three days of riding, using established roads and trails of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks, we reached Cedar Grove on the Kings River.


Forester Pass was almost the end of the trail.
Forester Pass was almost the end of the trail.
Almost to the summit of Mount Whitney.
EnlargeAlmost to the summit of Mount Whitney.

Here we followed the John Muir Trail along Bubbs Creek on a gradual ascent to the 13,000-foot Forester Pass. At this point, the trail made a sudden and steep descent where, over 2,000 feet below us, lay a beautiful valley.

However, I was beginning to sense that something was wrong with my horse. I was leading the mule with the rope in my right hand while my left hand held the reins.

Suddenly, the mare began snorting and showing obvious agitation. She reared up on her hind legs and refused to take another step, instead lunging toward the cliff as if to commit suicide.

In desperation, I tugged on the strong leather reins with all my strength, pulling her back beside the mule. Even though there was little room to spare, the two of us slipped past the pack-mule while I swiftly scooted off.

Needless to say, I thanked my lucky stars for my good fortune. After the mare settled down, I led her down the winding trail on foot.

Reaching the floor of the valley (Upper Kern Basin), we stopped at one of scores of blue lakes (Lake South America). Here we hobbled the equine members of the party, set up camp and prepared our fishing gear for a couple of hours of searching and snaring our dinner. We did have good luck pulling out several fat golden trout (California state fish) from the icy waters. Baked beans and fish topped off with a Hershey chocolate bar proved to be a delightful ending to an eventful day.

The following day, we rode to Crabtree Meadow (10,500 feet), where we left the stock and began the long, steep ascent on foot to Mt. Whitney (14,494 feet). Although it truly was a grueling hike, we were able to return before darkness set in.

We were very tired, but content in our accomplishment. The livestock treated us with loud and prolonged whinnies. It was obvious they were also glad to see us return to camp.

* * *

Shifting ahead 64 years to June 2003, my wife, Laverne, and I found ourselves relaxing in Lone Pine, the closest town to one of the most popular hiking destinations in the world. Rising almost 15,000 feet above the desert floor is Mt. Whitney, the tallest peak in the contiguous 48 states.

The last several years I have contemplated another Whitney climb. However, much to my disappointment, the "golden years"have a way of changing the most resolute of plans.

So, instead of preparing for another strenuous hiking adventure, Laverne and I had to be satisfied with merely gazing up at the famous peak from the comfort of our delightful motel swimming pool while sipping a delicious cool drink!

Richard Ainley was raised in Elderwood and now resides in Santa Maria.



 November 21, 2003

CONTRIBUTOR… Last week, the Who’s News submission by Lisa Lieberman," Artists merge in local show," did a great job in describing Wendy McKellar and Rick Gregory and their artwork, but neglected to include a tagline telling about the writer. Lisa, who resides in Three Rivers, is a freelance writer who regularly contributes a column to the Valley Voice, a Visalia newspaper published twice monthly, and is a feature writer for The Fresno Bee’s South Valley Bureau.


COWBOY POETRY: KAWEAH COUNTRY STYLE… Also last week, in the story discussing Earl McKee’s selection as Tulare County Cattleman of the Year, a poem was printed that was written by John Dofflemyer. In preparing this poem for publication, I had the opportunity to thumb through the book "Sensin’ Somethin’," published in 1989 (paperback, 56 pages), which features cowboy poetry by John, who is a fifth-generation Tulare County cattleman.

There are many local subjects in John’s poetry, which makes it required reading for Kaweah Country residents. For instance, the first poem in this book is called "tennis shoes," written about and in memory of Craig A. Thorn III (1954-1989).

"he cowboys the granite where it lies on its side… and rode every crack where the wilder ones hide… jumped horses off hillsides a buck wouldn’t go… and trailed ‘em to places the Lord left in limbo…

"now he’s ridin’ the ridges and rimrock beyond… from cahoon to vidette and mt. silliman… from kearsarge to pinchot to the brush here below… we’ll know he’s been there, wherever we go…

"Lord, keep him happy where he found life serene… he loved your rough places that most never seen… we’ll meet him out there, when our time comes along… until then, his good memories’ll be part of our song."

In the preface of the book, John credits Craig with being his biggest fan. In addition to Earl McKee and Craig Thorn, John also writes about "a hard rock driller," Leroy Wicks ("1/2 of the best well-drillin’ team around, bar none!"); and "for haley thorn," Craig and Maggie’s daughter ("since I am my father’s child, i like horses that are wild… and that’s the way i’d like to be… runnin’ loose, wild and free…").

The book also contains pen-and-ink drawings by Lesley Fry, John’s Dry Creek neighbor; photos by Trudy Johnson of Visalia; and four poems specifically for children.

For information about purchasing this book or others by John, contact Dry Crik Press, P.O. Box 44320, Lemon Cove, CA 93244


 November 7, 2003

TRIBUTE TO TRUDY… Trudy Schuckert, a 30-year resident of Three Rivers, passed away October 8 at the age of 89. She will be greatly missed.

Jackie Harris-Groeber submitted a poem that she requested be published in memory of Trudy.

"It is fitting that Maya Angelou compares great trees to great souls in this poem," Jackie said." Didn’t we lose a great tree just after we lost the great soul that was Trudy?"


When the great trees fall
rocks on distant hills shudder,
lions hunker down In tall grasses
and even elephants
lumber after safety.

When great trees fall in forests,
small things recoil into silence
their senses eroded beyond fear.

When great souls die,
the air around us becomes
light, rare, sterile.
we breathe briefly,
our eyes,
briefly see with a hurtful clarity
our memory, suddenly sharpened,
gnaws on kind words unsaid,
promised walks never taken.

Great souls die and
our reality, bound to them,
takes leave of us,
our souls,
dependent upon their nurture,
now shrink, wizened,
our minds, formed and
informed by their radiance,
fall away.
We are not so much maddened
as reduced to the
unutterable ignorance
of dark, cold caves.

And when great souls die
after a period peace blooms,
slowly and always irregularly.
Spaces fill with a kind of
soothing electric vibration
our senses, restored,
never to be the same,
whisper to us.
They existed. They existed.
We can be. Be and be better.
For they existed.
                 — Maya Angelou


RIDING HIGH… Last month, the Wood ‘N’ Horse show team, based in Three Rivers, traveled to Los Angeles for the ETI National High Points Awards horse show.

"This show will serve as a warm-up for the coming show season," explained MaryAnn Boylan of Three Rivers, a member of the traveling team.

MaryAnn reported the following results:

Caitlin Steiner and her horse, Impressive Andrew, were high-point award winners for the day in the 13-17 age group. Riding English-style, she placed first in Working Hunter, Hunter Under Saddle, and English Equitation in her age class.

And this was Carly Tristao’s first open show. She rode western on The Boss Man and was Reserve High Point of the day. She competed in the 12-and-under Western Pleasure, Western Equitation, and Trail Class.

Also competing in the event were Christy Wood, Wood ‘N’ Horse owner and trainer; Jana Black, riding Will E Smoke; and MaryAnn, who rode Straw Finale. In all, the team came home with 17 ribbons in 20 classes.

SERVING ST. CLAIR… The women of St. Clair’s Catholic Mission have elected their officers who will serve for the 2003-04 year. The group meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month from September through May.

This year’s officers are: Estelle Christensen, president; Jane Dempsey, vice president; Hilde Seifried, treasurer; and Charlotte Little, secretary.

LOOKING OUT FOR LOOKOUTS… During October, the PBS series California Gold featured the Buck Rock Lookout in Giant Sequoia National Monument. Huell Howser, the show’s host, climbed the 172 steps to the lookout and received a tour of the facility by Kathy Ball, the current fire lookout and "eyes and ears of the forest," who lives at Buck Rock during the summer.

Kathy was also instrumental in founding the Buck Rock Foundation, whose mission is to preserve fire lookouts as a "great symbol of our conservation heritage."

Buck Rock is located between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks off Big Meadows Road. It is open to the public for tours during the summer.


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


WHS alum earns MBA from Harvard

by Sandy Owen


In 1992, Amanda Renteria graduated from Woodlake High School as valedictorian and Senior Athlete of the Year. She left Woodlake for Stanford University, where she earned her B.A. degree with honors in political science and economics.


Amanda Renteria,
EnlargeAmanda Renteria,
WHS Class of 1992

Amanda played for two years on Stanford’s basketball team and all four years on the Stanford softball team. As a member of the softball team, she was voted an Academic All-American and Most Inspirational Athlete.

After her graduation from Stanford, Amanda worked for three years in Goldman, Sachs & Co. in Los Angeles as a financial analyst in the investment-management practice. During this time, she decided to begin work on her master’s degree.

While deciding where to do her graduate work, she took a year off. She returned to Woodlake, where she taught economics and algebra at the high school. She also coached the girls’ junior varsity basketball and softball teams.

Amanda started Harvard School of Business in 2001. Recently, she earned her master’s degree in business administration with a focus in public/nonprofit management. She has now returned to California and will pursue a career in government and/or education administration.

Sandy Owen is a resident of Three Rivers and longtime Woodlake High booster.



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