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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  September 26, 2003

LOCAL BOY MAKES JUDGE… On Monday, Sept. 22, Lloyd Hicks, a Visalia lawyer, was appointed by Gov. Gray Davis to the Tulare County Superior Court. Lloyd will fill the judgeship vacated by Judge John Moran, who retired this past summer.

Lloyd was raised in Three Rivers. His father is George Hicks (1912-2001) and his mother is Billie Hicks (1919-2002), both of whom lived in Three Rivers for more than 50 years.

Lloyd graduated from Three Rivers School and Woodlake High School. He continued his education at Stanford University and began his law career in Visalia in 1969.

 

POSTHUMOUS HONOR… On Saturday, Sept. 20, the late Samuel Pusateri was inducted into the Harvard Cup Hall of Fame in Buffalo, N.Y.

"Sam is still remembered in these parts as one of the area’s greatest football players ever," wrote Richard Kozak, a Hall of Fame representative.

Sam (1912-1995) lived in Three Rivers for more than 50 years. He was a biologist, author, and a teacher at College of the Sequoias.

Sam played football at Bennett High School in Buffalo. He was captain of the team, earned All-High honors, and was the best halfback to have ever played for the school. He went onto become one of the University of Buffalo’s most outstanding halfbacks.

"Sam is very fondly remembered in Buffalo even after all of these years," concluded Kozak.

 

B&B REWARDS… Many will remember Peter and Helen Allen, who lived in Three Rivers until their retirement from the National Park Service seven years ago. Helen also served on the Three Rivers School board of trustees.

The couple moved to Orcas Island in Washington and established the Kangaroo House Bed and Breakfast. Recently, Peter and Helen were voted number one in the nation for "Friendliest Staff"in a survey by Arrington’s Bed & Breakfast Journal, a national trade magazine, in which inn guests from the United States and Canada were invited to vote for their favorite inns in various categories.

The Kangaroo House also received votes in the "Best Breakfast"and "Best Garden"categories. Check out the Kangaroo House and its amenities at www.kangaroohouse.com.

 

  September 19, 2003
Johnnie takes a blood-glucose test on the top of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous U.S. (elevation 14, 495 feet). It have been a family quest to ensure that Johnnie realizes that he can do anything, even though he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of eight.
EnlargeJohnnie takes a blood-glucose test on the top of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the contiguous U.S. (elevation 14, 495 feet). It have been a family quest to ensure that Johnnie realizes that he can do anything, even though he was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of eight.

ON A MISSION… There is a gaping hole in the entertainment industry as last week we all lost two talented artists — John Ritter, actor, 54, and Johnny Cash, musician, 71.

Although Johnny Cash has been in ill-health for awhile now, his death was still a blow to many. For me, as a mother, the reports that his death was "due to complications of diabetes"hit home every time it was written or said. Having a child with Type 1 diabetes, I renewed my commitment that I will do everything in my power to ensure that these words are never spoken about my son, but as a family, we still need to fear these always-looming "complications."

Johnny Cash had Type 2 diabetes, a totally different disease that is usually diagnosed later in life. The main similarity between the two types of diabetes is that the long-term complications are the same — blindness, kidney failure, amputation of lower limbs, heart disease, stroke, and peripheral and autonomic neuropathy (nerve damage in the extremities and internal organs, respectively).

Type 1 diabetes strikes children suddenly, making them insulin-dependent for life. While insulin allows a person to stay alive, it does not cure diabetes nor does it prevent its eventual and devastating effects.

To survive, those with Type 1 diabetes, no matter how young, must take insulin continually via injection or infusion pump, test their blood sugar six or more times per day by pricking their fingers, and balancing their insulin, food intake, and exercise to avoid potential hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) and hyperglycemic (high blood sugar) reactions that, in themselves, are life-threatening.

Johnnie with his insulin pump on Sawtooth Pass (elevation 11,500 feet), in the backcountry of Sequoia National Park. Sawtooth Peak towers over him and is also depicted on his T-shirt.
EnlargeJohnnie with his insulin pump on Sawtooth Pass (elevation 11,500 feet), in the backcountry of Sequoia National Park. Sawtooth Peak towers over him and is also depicted on his T-shirt.

In our mission to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes and ensure that someday the world is rid of this disease that targets mostly children in its onset, our family participates each year in the Walk to Cure Diabetes, which is held in many locations nationwide. We are currently in the process of collecting donations from friends and family that support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International, the only major diabetes organization focused exclusively on research, whose motto is "dedicated to finding a cure." On Saturday, Oct. 25, beginning at Fresno City College, we will further this goal by presenting to the foundation our personal donation and all other monies raised and participating in the walk.

If you would like to assist us in our goal to find a cure and help millions of innocent children around the world or learn more about Type 1 diabetes and its effect on the lives of children and their families, you may contact us (John or Sarah Elliott) by calling 561-4843. If you would like to make a donation, make checks payable to "Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation"and mail to: P.O. Box 728, Three Rivers, CA 93271. Or stop by and visit anytime at the office of The Kaweah Commonwealth.

Thank you.

  September 5, 2003

Ode to trail crew– They are the unsung heroes of our roadless landscape. They provide the key that opens the door to explorers and adventurers of wild places.

They are the frontiersmen (and women) who create a navigable course for those who have the luxury of time and are willing to make an extreme, yet worthwhile effort to enter a magical realm that at once whisks away humanity and its development in exchange for peace and solitude.

They are trail crew. They clear, they cut, they scrape, they dig, they chop, they saw, they build, they reroute, they blast.

They live for months in the backcountry, from snowmelt to snowfall, maintaining foot and stock trails that, in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks alone, consist of more than 800 miles. In fact, the parks encompass nearly a million acres with 80 percent of that acreage accessible only by trails.

Bridge over raging waters: The bridge that spans Granite Creek between Redwood Meadow and River Valley in Sequoia National Park makes an otherwise treacherous crossing picturesque and pleasant.
Enlarge Bridge over raging waters: The bridge that spans Granite Creek between Redwood Meadow and River Valley in Sequoia National Park makes an otherwise treacherous crossing picturesque and pleasant.

In our backcountry travels this summer, we met up with trail crews based at Lone Pine Creek in Sequoia National Park and at Roaring River/Scaffold Meadow and Bubb’s Creek in Kings Canyon National Park.

The Sequoia crew was clearing brush from the Elizabeth Pass trail on the south while the Roaring River crew was clearing rockslides to the north in Deadman Canyon.

But it’s the Cedar Grove gang that demonstrated the real mettle that all trail crews must have. We descended from Avalanche Pass (elevation 10,013 feet) to Road’s End at Cedar Grove (elevation 5,098 feet) on the steepest, most narrow trail imaginable, carved out of the sheer canyon wall.

 

To create an access from the depths of Kings Canyon — which, at the confluence of the South and Middle forks of the Kings River, is several thousand feet deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona — to Roaring River country over this ridge took vision, fortitude, sheer will… and a lot of dynamite. The resulting trail consists of miles of switchbacks and hundreds of rock steps.

 

Stairway to heaven: Steps on the Sphinx Creek Trail in Kings Canyon National Park are evidence of trail-crew artistry.
EnlargeStairway to heaven: Steps on the Sphinx Creek Trail in Kings Canyon National Park are evidence of trail-crew artistry.

It’s art in its most natural, primitive form. It’s backcountry creativity and ingenuity. This trail, and the others throughout the parks, are constructed using mostly materials from nearby — logs, rocks and boulders.

To minimize wet boots and trail erosion, trenches are dug to divert rainfall and snowmelt. Routes are planned so that fragile meadows and creek banks are circumnavigated.

Bridges are built, then rebuilt in high-water years. Rocks and logs are strategically placed across waterways without bridges.

Switchbacks are built to lessen the grade — whether traveling uphill or down. Trails are rerouted to avoid rockslide-prone areas or avalanche chutes.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks trail crews take us safely to lakes, across rivers, over passes, and onto the highest peaks. Their summer home is in the backcountry so that we, too, may experience life in the wild. But thanks to them, pickaxe and shovel is not on our list of essential gear to carry. —sbe

 

 

MILESTONES 

A new life together

Wedding party: Keio Ogawa and Mamady Kourouma (center) on their wedding day in Africa. The couple will make their home in Three Rivers and a celebration is planned here tomorrow (Sept. 6) afternoon.
EnlargeWedding party: Keio Ogawa and Mamady Kourouma (center) on their wedding day in Africa. The couple will make their home in Three Rivers and a celebration is planned here tomorrow (Sept. 6) afternoon.

Once upon a time… Keio Ogawa of Three Rivers and Mamady "Wadaba"Kourouma of Guinea, West Africa, were married earlier this year in Oroko, Guinea.

Tomorrow (Saturday, Sept. 6), a celebration and potluck will be held from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the Cort Gallery. There will be a short group prayer, toasts, video of the Africa wedding, and music.

If you’ve ever heard of storybook weddings, then this will outshine any as this tale has many more chapters to be written.

Keio and Mamady have made their home in Three Rivers, where they will live happily ever after. Here’s the story thus far, as told by Keio:

"Our legal marriage certificate is dated Jan. 16, 2003, however, we consider our ‘real’ wedding to have taken place in Mamady’s birth village of Oroko on March 30, 2003. There, we had a wedding ceremony in the village mosque and a huge party where every man, woman, and child feasted."

Keio had left for Africa in November 2002. When she still had not arrived home by spring, her friends and family began to wonder if the world traveler would ever return.

"Because of all the work trying to get immigration papers for Mamady, I did not arrive home in the U.S. until June 9. Mamady successfully immigrated to the U.S. on July 12 and is now a new resident of Three Rivers, where we make our home together."

Keio has a love of drumming, whether playing drums or creating them. This passion led her to research the cultures where drumming has its very roots; this, in turn, led her on the path to her husband-to-be.

"My husband is a world-renowned musician and has appeared on five CDs with international distribution. He is known as likely the best resident artist of his instrument and culture within, at least, the western United States. If there is any artist more prestigious, they live in Europe or Africa."

With Mamady now making his home here, Three Rivers receives the gift of culture, as well as becoming a known place to those who are a part of or follow the risings of an international star.

"There are many who are very jealous that Mamady Kourouma of Guinea lives in Three Rivers, California," explained Keio." We can be proud that he is here."

As the newlyweds have now settled into life in Three Rivers together, they now are ready to share their happiness with friends, family, and well-wishers.

"We are HAPPY and going to have a REALLY BIG PARTY! All who know Keio and Wadaba are invited," said the couple.

After all, the marriage of a U.S. resident and an African national doesn’t come about easily. Sure, love is simple, love is kind, but it can sure cause some red tape when two worlds become one.

"We thank the many who helped us in this effort, both with information and moral support. We especially thank Mr. Famoudou Konate, Mamady’s master and surrogate father for the marriage in Conakry; Madame Nanyouma Camara, the wife of Mr. Konate and Keio’s surrogate mother, who traveled all the way to Oroko and honored us by cooking the wedding feast; Mr. Douglas Hurt, who generously agreed to be Mamady’s sponsor for U.S. immigration purposes; and Mr. Buddy Jones, who connected him to us."

Congratulations to Keio and Mamady for sharing with us how love can span continents and oceans if it’s meant to be.

 

Celebrating his first century

Recently celebrating his 100th birthday is Leland Keller, a Kaweah Country native. Although he now lives in San Clemente, Leland has roots deeply entrenched in local history.

In fact, if not for his grandfather, there may have never been a Kaweah Colony, meaning Three Rivers and Sequoia National Park history would have taken a decidedly different path. It was in 1885, while Charles Keller was a passenger on a train that he overheard a conversation about a "magnificent forest of giant redwoods"and, as a member of the Co-Operative Land Purchase and Colonization Association of San Francisco, investigated the matter, visited Giant Forest, and sent a report back to the organization.

The rest, as they say, is history.

By the time Leland was born in August 1903, the colony had come and gone, but the Keller family was one of several who remained in the area even after the dissolution of the utopian experiment.

Carl Keller, Charles’s son was, ironically, a ranger in Sequoia National Park. It was the creation of this park, California’s first, that dashed all hopes of timber being the colony’s economic mainstay, leading to its demise.

In the wintertime, the Kellers resided in Kaweah, having purchased the old Halstead ranch. In the summers, they resided in Giant Forest.

According to the book A Strength Born of Giants: The Life and Times of Dr. Forest Grunigen, by Jay O’Connell (Raven River Press, 2002):

"Forest and Leland were the best of friends. While they worked hard because they had to, they played even harder, because they could. Even though ‘Kelly’ was two years older than ‘Fory’ [1905-1999], they became inseparable and together earned the nickname ‘the two rascals.’ At the end of each summer, just before school was to start and they had to head down the mountain, the two boys would get a reprieve from chores. They would spend an entire week out on their own, hiking and packing into the backcountry, fishing for their supper and realizing an independence few children their age ever experience..."

Leland’s carefree life changed just before he turned 12. His mother died and, instead of spending the summer in Giant Forest, he would now be living with relatives in Oregon.

Leland did not return to his Kaweah home until three years later.

"Although two years younger, the teenaged Forest had now grown taller than Kelly."

By 1917, Carl Keller, Leland’s father, was Sequoia’s chief ranger and head of all construction in the park. John Grunigen was assistant chief ranger.

"The two men, neither with wives to help them, had little time to look after their boys.

"Left to their own devices, the self-proclaimed rascals once hiked to Mankins Flat where they happened upon a still and got their first taste of ‘hooch’… And one New Year’s Eve, they managed to wake up the entire Kaweah valley with their antics."

Here’s how Leland Keller described this escapade to Jay O’Connell, more than 75 years later:

"We had all this dynamite. I hauled I don’t know how many tons of TNT up from Lemon Cove for use on the roads. We had access to these 100-pound boxes of powder.

"It came New Year’s Eve. Fory and I had to do something."

According to the book," they filled a five-gallon container with powder and stuck a fuse in it. They went up on the knoll behind Britten’s Store and hung it on the limb of an old oak tree.

"We lit that fuse and ran like the dickens," Leland chuckled." Boy, we woke up the whole countryside for 40 miles… That was the sort of thing we’d do."

During his Woodlake High School years, Leland was hired to drive the bus, delivering Three Rivers and Kaweah students to and from school. Forest took over after Leland’s stint.

Leland did not follow his father’s career choice with the National Park Service, even though he had worked throughout his childhood and teen years on various park tasks assigned by his father.

Before he even finished high school, Leland had moved to Santa Cruz.

Longevity is a gift and, as Leland enters the second century of his life, I ponder the secret to a long and healthy life. As I study those who were raised in Kaweah and Three Rivers in the early part of the century, it becomes evident that the combination of a simple life and time spent in the Sierra Nevada foothills and mountains are certainly part of the equation.

 

 

 
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
PHONE: (559) 561-3627 FAX: (559) 561-0118 E-MAIL: editor@kaweahcommonwealth.com
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