US Forest Service Ranger Station

Friday I drove back down to an area I had visited earlier in the week to get pictures I didn’t feel I had time to stop and take on that occasion.  Along the way I saw this sign outside a Ranger Station as I entered the Sequoia National  Forest and stopped to ask what it meant:


I had a nice long conversation with a man named Gabriel, who works there.  He explained that it is a restriction on the use of chainsaws.  In hot, dry conditions like the area is currently experiencing, the use of chainsaws is prohibited due to the additional air pollution it would cause.  Worse conditions could lead to even more restrictions on other activities and use of machinery.

Gabriel told me about the Pier Fire which occurred last year in the area I was about to revisit, and we talked about a wide range of topics including his history with the Forest Service and other organizations leading up to his current job.

I also had a chance to buy this spiffy Smokey the Bear hat:


Saturday is a travel day as I say goodbye to my EXCELLENT Airbnb hosts Chris and Nicole in Visalia and head north to my next stop in Sonora, California, where I will be spending the next 7 nights.  I will drive many of the scenic roads up that way today and tomorrow and will probably wait until Monday to start spending time in Yosemite National Park, which evidently has LOTS of spectacular scenery to offer from the road.

Air quality

On Wednesday as I drove up to Kings Canyon National Park I stopped again on a stretch of road which is up at around 5,000 feet (many of the roads in this area have signs advising you of the elevation in 1,000 foot increments) and offered a spectacular view to the southwest.  The day before I had taken photos at around 330pm, looking partially into the afternoon sun.  Wednesday I passed the same spot around 915am.  Here are both three-shot panoramas (looking left to right).  The areas closer to me are fairly visible but it was obvious that in the distance were even more things to see, but the view was diminished by haze and air pollution.  Earlier in the week as I drove towards Sequoia National Park in the morning (driving east towards the sun) I could barely see that there were huge peaks in the distance but it was too hazy to see them clearly (pun intended).  Too bad that instead of flamethrowers Elon Musk can’t invent something to eradicate pollutants in the air.  Or maybe Trump could direct Scott Pruitt, the lame EPA Secretary, to actually do something GOOD for the environment….









This year I don’t think I can blame any of this on wildfire smoke.  I have been keeping an eye on active fires and so far it looks like the immediate future doesn’t have me very close to any, although that can change very quickly.  A friend of mine sent me a link to another resource and it gives me even more information about active fires than the ones I had bookmarked last year.  The two fires which had been burning in Colorado earlier this month, near Durango and Silverthorne, have dropped off the “Large Fire” map and, while still burning, are getting further under control.  Durango recently got some much needed rain which helped with the fire control effort there.

Pier Fire

This has nothing to do with the fire on the Santa Barbara pier which I posted information about several days ago.

Earlier in the week I drove through the Giant Sequoia National Monument – South Unit which is located southeast of Visalia and east of Porterville CA.  I had noticed that a large section of the hillside had burned, presumably in a wildfire.  Friday I stopped at the US Forest Service Ranger Station and got the whole story.

The Pier Fire (wildfires get names, based largely on where they occur.  There is a resort nearby called Pierpoint Springs which, fortunately, was spared fire damage).  The Pier Fire started August 29 of last year when four thugs plunged a stolen 2017 Dodge Challenger down an embankment and set it on fire.  It seems the young men (three of them age 21 and one only 19) had a stolen rental car scam going.  Well, fire doesn’t destroy fingerprints and the four young men were quickly arrested and are cooling their heels in jail, to give them time to think about what they did.  I seriously doubt they will ever pay any restitution for the estimated $ 36.5 MILLION dollar cost of extinguishing the fire, plus the property damage it caused (see post below).  The fire consumed over 36,500 acres and wasn’t fully contained until October 6, 2017.






And to add some color to this post, this lone poppy plant was growing at one of the little pullout areas next to the road:



And when I reached a high point on my drive I stopped to take another picture from about the same vantage point as I had posted a few days ago.  That day I took the photo around 6pm, looking towards the late afternoon sun.  This photo was taken at 1107am with the sun behind me.  A very different image!




You must be this tall to ride this ride

I saw this old flume in the Sierra Nevada mountain range southeast of Visalia, CA on Friday.  I was revisiting an area I had been to earlier in the week.  This flume was originally built in the early 1920’s and carried water down to the little town of Springville (and later to a hydroelectric power plant east of there).



Further up the mountainside I could see portions of a newer, 15-mile long flume which was built starting in 2011.  It provides water directly to the SoCalEdison Hydroelectric station east of Springville.  That flume is located within a completely enclosed pipe.



Unfortunately, portions of this flume were destroyed in the Pier Fire last year, with damages estimated at 11 million dollars (when they built it they had to use several helicopters to lift sections of the pipe up into the rugged terrain, including a SkyCrane which rents for $10,000 per hour).