Monthly Archives: July 2018

PG&E Urges Safety During High Whitewater Flows on Pit 5 Reach

REDDING, Calif. — Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will provide high whitewater flows on the Pit 5 Reach of the Pit River in eastern Shasta County over two weekends, the company announced today.

A kayaker navigates the Pit 5 Reach of the Pit River during high whitewater flows in 2014. Photo by Jeff Cook of Spring Rivers Ecological Sciences, LLC.

The higher flows will occur on August 11-12 and September 8-9. Those recreating in or near this portion of the river are encouraged to use extra caution during the increased flows. This portion of the river contains Class III, IV and V rapids, which are appropriate only for skilled paddlers. The reach is not appropriate for tubing.

The Pit 5 Reach is the 9.3-mile portion of the Pit River that extends from PG&E’s Pit 5 Dam and the J.B. Black Powerhouse near Big Bend.

Prior to the increase for August 11-12, flows in the Pit 5 Reach will be about 450 cubic feet per second (cfs).  On early Saturday morning PG&E will gradually increase water flows until it reaches 1,500 cfs, before 10 a.m. The flows will be held at this level until about 4 p.m. that day when flows will gradually be reduced to 600 cfs.

The higher flows will be repeated the next day at the same times, then, after 4 pm, gradually decreased to the normal flow of about 450 cfs.

On the weekend of September 8-9, PG&E will increase flows to 1,200 cfs on both days. As with the previous releases, if needed, starting early in the morning the flows will gradually be increased to the target level by 10 a.m. and then after 4 p.m. gradually decreased to more normal flow levels. But starting September 5, flows in the Pit 5 Reach will already be in the 1,000 to 1,500 cfs range in September due to a planned maintenance outage at the Pit 5 Powerhouse, and will remain above their seasonal normal until November when maintenance finishes.

The whitewater flows are a requirement of PG&E’s license conditions for the Pit 3, 4, and 5 Hydroelectric Project.

Due to the potential for wild fires in the region, higher flow dates are subject to change. PG&E recommends verifying the dates via the PG&E recreation website

PG&E offers the following water safety tips:

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can stimulate the “gasp reflex,” causing an involuntary inhalation of air or water. It can even trigger cardiac arrest, temporary paralysis, hypothermia and drowning. When faced with swift water, even the strongest swimmers may be easily overwhelmed.
  • Many unseen obstacles can be lurking below the water’s surface. Swift water can make these obstacles even more treacherous. Guided trips for inexperienced paddlers are recommended.
  • Recreating in PG&E canals and flumes is strictly prohibited. Stay out of canals and flumes, which are very dangerous due to slippery sides, sub-surface obstacles, fast moving water, and transitions to full tunnels and pipes.

About PG&E

Pacific Gas and Electric Company, a subsidiary of PG&E Corporation (NYSE:PCG), is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, with more than 20,000 employees, the company delivers some of the nation’s cleanest energy to nearly 16 million people in Northern and Central California. For more information, visit and


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Filed under Burney, Kayaking, PG&E, Pit River

High hopes and big dreams

Alberto C. Flores off trail in his Sunday best

Sitting in the coffee shop after Sunday service at WOLA, I saw a dapper young gentleman sporting a straw hat stroll through the room. Though he didn’t have a pack or poles, I surmised that he might perhaps be a PCT hiker.

I introduced myself and asked if I might take a picture and ask him a few questions. He politely agreed and introduced himself as Alberto Clement Flores, known on the trail as “Rowdy.”

Rowdy is 28 years old. In a few weeks he will celebrate his 29th birthday as he continues his hike to Canada. After his hike from Lost Creek Canyon over Hat Creek Ridge, he decided to come in to rest in Burney for a few days to rehydrate and gain back some weight before continuing.

Rowdy is from McAllen Texas. He began his trek on the Pacific Crest Trail at Campo on March 20. He likes to begin his hiking day at 4 a.m. and hike until midnight. That gives him only four hours of sleep. When he’s hiking he makes good progress but every so often he takes a string of zero’s to regain his strength and rest. On one occasion he even took a break to journey over to the Pacific Coast to spend some time at the beach.

Generally, because of the hours that he keeps, he hikes solo. This gives him time to reflect upon his life. He has seen several bears and numerous rattlesnakes, including several on Hat Creek Ridge. (He also told me that he met Coppertone on the ridge where the trail crosses Bidwell Road. Coppertone is a legendary PCT magic man who parks his trailer at various spots along the PCT to supply hikers with bananas, apples, and root beer floats. (See Finding Dilly Dally)

As we talked, Rowdy revealed that his PCT trek is just one leg of a planned seven year global journey. The journey began on January 1 when he left his home in McAllen to ride his bicycle to San Diego where he spent several months before shipping his bike back to Texas and beginning his PCT adventure.

Alberto biking a montain highway – photo courtesy of Alberto

Rowdy is an experienced bike rider. In his early 20’s he experienced tragedy when his girlfriend committed suicide. It devastated him emotionally and mentally. As part of his recovery he began going on long bike rides. One of his trips was riding to Colorado and back. As he explored the West on his bicycle, he took time to interact with many different types of people, some of them homeless and discouraged, seeking to understand their lifestyle and psychology.

He developed a thirst to see and understand the world. He also developed a desire to develop his survivalist skills. Eventually this desire blossomed into a plan to hike the PCT and then travel the world.

Rowdy hopes to reach the Canadian border before the snows get too heavy. Then he will return south to spend the winter with friends he met who own a ranch in Tehachapi.

Next year he plans to get his bike back from Texas and then bicycle north through Canada into Alaska. Once he completes that, he is hoping to be able to return and then travel south through Mexico, Central America, and South America to Argentina.

Rowdy wants to complete a north-south transcontinental journey! He is hoping to accomplish this within 3 years! He doesn’t want to use any motorized transportation. In addition to hiking and bicycling, he hopes that he can do some of it on horseback or with the help of pack animals.

It is a journey of high hopes and big dreams. And there is more. After completing his longitudinal journey through the Western Hemisphere, he wants to travel across Europe and through Asia to China. In preparation and on the way he hopes to learn several more languages (he already speaks English and spotty Spanish).

Altogether, Rowdy hopes to accomplish this in seven years. He also hopes that through his world travels he can carve out a professional career. He has good writing skills, but he says that he needs to acquire a better camera.

After Rowdy explained much of this to me, I introduced him to my wife Linda. Linda told him that we had a pool and invited him to come to our house for a refreshing swim. Rowdy said he was planning on staying at the WOLA gym that night, but perhaps would call us the next day.

Sure enough, the next day he called. I went to the gym to pick him up. Ten of so hikers were lounging in the gym. I asked if any of them wanted to come jump in a cold pool. A few were tempted but said they had just arrived and wanted to get settled in and shower, so there were no takers.

Linda and I had a pleasant afternoon and evening with Rowdy. We cooled off in the pool and then talked several more hours. Then Rowdy had some quiet alone time to catch up on Wi-Fi and take a short nap. After dinner that night he slept in our back yard on an army cot.

The next morning, driving through Burney on our way to the 299 trailhead, I saw two more hikers heading out of town. I was pulling over when we saw that a white pick-up had already stopped to give them a ride. So Rowdy and I drove to the trailhead enjoying more pleasant conversation as we sat in traffic waiting for the pilot car to lead us through the construction in Johnson Park.

When we reached the drop-off point, the white pick-up pulled in behind us and who should jump out but Jim Billo with the two PCT hikers he had picked up: Kiwi and Bear from New Zealand. Kiwi is 64 and Bear is 62. They had jumped to a northern point on the trail and were now headed south.

Rowdy, Jim Billo, Kiwi and Bear near the 299 trailhead

We chatted for a bit. Then Rowdy, Kiwi and Bear returned to the trail to resume their journeys and Jim and I headed back to Burney.

When I got back into town, I stopped in at WOLA to see Kathy Newton. Once again, the room was full of PCT hikers. Beautiful classical piano music was streaming from the sanctuary.

Kathy told me that a hiker from Portugal was playing on the piano. I went in to listen and heard a powerful heartfelt rendition of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata being played.

Dr. Pineapple playing the Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the baby grand in the WOLA sanctuary

The pianists name is Tomas. His trail name is Dr. Pineapple. He is a doctor. He completed his medical training two years ago. In Portugal, doctors must complete a one-year foundation before beginning their residency. Dr. Pineapple has finished his foundation. Before committing to a five-year residency, he wanted to take time off for an adventure. So here he is in Burney, California enriching the area with beautiful classical music. It reminds me of Albert Schweitzer, also a doctor, also a classical musician, and a distinguished scholar who then devoted himself to missionary work in Africa.

Ah what a blessing that the world comes to Burney thanks to the PCT. So many interesting and diverse personalities. So many high hopes and big dreams.

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Filed under Burney, Hiking, Pacific Crest Trail

Mayor Ralph presents Burney Fire District with a donation for new pagers

On Tuesday July 24, Honorary Mayor of Burney Ralph Freitas presented the Chief of the Burney Fire Protection District Monte Keady with a check for more than $1000 at the Burney Fire Station.

Mayor Ralph presents BFD Chief Keady with a check

The donation will be used to buy two new pagers for BFPD volunteers.

Mayor Ralph said that on Saturday, July 28 he will be at the MMA BATTLE CRY CAGE FIGHTING sponsored by Pit River Casino to raise more money for the fire district.

“My goal is to raise another $500 to $1000 to get them two more pagers.” said Freitas.

Freitas was announced winner of the 2018 Honorary Mayor’s Race at the opening event of Burney Basin Days on July 5. Four candidates competed to see who could raise the most money for a local charity. Mayor Ralph raised $2,110.85. Half of the money raised went to the charities the candidates ran for and half of the money went to the Burney Chamber of Commerce who sponsored the Mayor’s Race.

Upon being presented with the check, Chief Keady said, “I appreciate it very much when people step up as Ralph has done to help out. If people volunteer, that’s great. If they do something like this, I am happy.”

Mayor Ralph said, “I would like to thank everyone for their support and love. I love you all for what you have done. Without all of you, I couldn’t do this.”

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Filed under Burney, Chamber of Commerce, Fire Departments


 (Compiled by Evalee Nelson 941-7909)


(next week MissionImpossible -Fallout)


(next week Hotel Transylvania 3)

FYI : At the last Town Hall meeting in Burney, Supervisor Mary Richert said she would write a weekly article for our newspapers to let us know what is happening at the Board of Supervisors meetings. She has been doing that and I hope you have been reading them, especially the past few weeks. They are discussing potential revenue options through local taxes, assessments or fees. I encourage you to go to and watch the Board meeting video of the 10 July to get all of the details. It is long, but very interesting and informative. You may not be able to do much about world or national events, but this is local and the board is asking for feedback from you.  Watch the video and then send your thoughts to Shasta County Administrative Analyst, Ayla Tucker at

Jul 20 – FOIL Used Book Store is open today from 10am – 2pm The book store will be oppen every Fri from 10 – 2 thru August.

Jul 21 – Fall River Century Bike Ride begins at 7am for the 200K, 100 mile, 100K and 25 mile rides. American Legion will be serving breakfast for $5 per person. Visit their webpage for more info

Jul 21 – Hat Creek Volunteer Fire Department Deep Pit BBQ served from 1pm-5pm at Hat Creek Hereford Campground. Craft Fair and lots of raffles prizes Adults $15; Children 5-12 $5; 4 and under are free

Jul 28 – Bulldog Sports Foundation Golf Tournament at the Fall River Golf and Country Club starting at 9am. Cost is $100 and includes golf fees, cart, snack, lunch, contests and games. This is their major fundraiser for school athletics. Contact Yulan Dobson at 530-515-7638

Jul 29 Soldier Mountain VFD Chicken and Ribs Dinner at the Fire Hall in Glenburn from 2pm-7pm. Adults $12 and children under 12 $

Hoping to get back to the weekly email schedule and get the yearly events up to date. If your event is missing, please email

Aug ?? High Cars and Low Bars

Aug 18 – Mayers IM Healthcare Foundation On-The-Green- Golf Tournament

Aug 30 – Sep 03 100th INTERMOUNTAIN FAIR

Aug 30 – Free admission and parking for Fair 31 Aug — Seniors Day with free admission Sep 01 – Kids day with free admission

Sep 02 – Cattlemens Day $5 admission 03 Sep – Free admission and free parking

08 Sep – 3rd annual Hat Creek Beer, Food and Wine Festival

15 Sep – Burney Boosters Homecoming Hoedown at the Rex Club at 6pm 22 Sep – Burney Chamber Fall Fling at VFW

Oct 07 Heritage Day at McArthur Burney Falls State Park

Oct 10 – Burney-Fall River Soroptimist Sandwich Wednesday

Oct 13-      Intermountain Hospice Chair-ity Plus

Oct 14 – AAUW Soups, Salads and Sweets

Oct ?? – Burney Chamber/Pit River Casino Fall Festival Nov 04 – Day Light Savings ends

Nov 17 – BES PTA Craft Fair from 9a-2p in Cafeteria Nov ?? – Glenburn Church Annual Piano Recital Nov 27 – National Giving Tuesday

?? – American Legion Post 441 annual Christmas Ham Dinner

01 Dec – Santa’s Workshop at Ingram Hall 09 Dec – Christmas Light Parade in McArthur

01 Dec-12 Dec (days & times TBA) IM Heritage Foundation 12 Days of Christmas

BURNEY TAXI 530-605-7950


American Legion Post 441 – 1st Monday 5pm at Burney VFW Hall

Burney Chamber of Commerce – 2nd Tuesday, noon at Gepetto’s (335-2111)

Burney/Fall River Rotary – Every Thursday, noon at Gepettos

Itermountain Artists – 2nd Thursday noon-2pm at Evelyn O’Royce Art Center next to Fall River Hotel.                      Usually have a special presentation. Open to the public

Lions Club – Every Thursday, 6:00pm at the Lions Hall in Burney

Soroptimists – Every Wednesday, noon at Gepettos



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Filed under Burney, Fall River Mills, McArthur

Burney Water Board passes 2018-2019 budget, discusses parks, water safety, and other issues

At their regular monthly meeting on Thursday July 19th The Burney Water District Board passed the 2018-2019 budget and discussed various local issues.

BWD members Tanya Taylor, Fred Ryness, Roger Borkey, Britta Rogers, and Jim Hamlin

Board President Fred Ryness, Vice President Jim Hamlin, and Directors Tanya Taylor, Roger Borkey, and Britta Rogers were present. District Manager Willie Rodriguez and Pool Manager Stephanie McQuade also attended.

The main item on the agenda was review and passage of the 2018-2019 budget. The budget is divided into three areas: water, sewer, and pool.

For water, total revenues are expected to be $701,000, total labor expenses $291,500, and total general expenses $518,500 for a net loss of $109,000. The deficit is due to depreciation expenses of $109,000.

For sewer, total revenues are expected to be $656,000, total labor expenses $286,500 and total general expenses $484,400, for a net loss of $114,900. Once again, the loss is due primarily to a depreciation expense of $115,000.

For pool, total revenues are expected to be $126,500, total labor expenses 58,150, and total general expenses 68,350 resulting in a balance of zero.

District Manager Rodriquez said that revenues from water fees are down due to decreased water usage by BWD residential customers. It appears that the water use restrictions imposed during the drought have affected people’s use. After the restrictions were lifted, people have not raised their watering back to prior levels.

The budget was passed unanimously. The full budget is available for the public to review at the Burney Water District office.

During the Public Speakers portion of the meeting Lola Harris commented that she was concerned that the lawns at Washburn Park were not being watered or mowed. She was concerned about fire hazard and that the grass could die. Rodriquez explained that there were sprinkler problems that would be addressed and said that watering would begin within seven days.

The Board further discussed overall issues relating to parks in Burney including Washburn, Lions, and Bailey Parks. Rodriguez said that he attended a stakeholders meeting which included owners and users of the parks. Among those included were representatives of BWD, the Fall River Joint Unified School District, Tri County Community Network, the Lions Club, and Little League. This meeting was the first of a series of proposed meetings.

The purpose of the meetings will be to discuss the situation of the parks in Burney and to explore models and strategies for long-term maintenance and increased usage. It is hoped once the specific and concrete needs of the parks – including maintenance, manpower, insurance, etc. – are assessed, there will be a general town meeting at which individuals and organizations can discuss what they want, how best to achieve that, and what they are willing to do to help.

On other topics, Fred Ryness raised two issues. The first concerned pool fees for commercial BWD customers. Rodriguez explained how the fees were assessed by meter and that commercial customers could receive pool passes in return for fee payment.

The other topic concerned low water pressure in Las Colinas Mobile Home Park. Ryness said that water pressure within the park was very low and he was concerned whether there might be a resulting public health risk. Rodriguez said that water supplied to the main meter at the park was safe and of adequate pressure. Water distribution, flow and metering within the park was the responsibility of the park itself. He said that he would do his best to check into it, but that if there were a problem within the park, that would not be under BWD jurisdiction and concerns should be reported to the health department.

During the Pool Manager’s Report, Rodriguez said that some customers had reported that rumors were going around that Burney Creek was polluted with high levels of E. coli bacteria and that BWD sewage overflows or spillage might be responsible. Rodriguez informed the board that he checked all possible locations at which overflow or spillage might occur and found no problem. As an additional precaution he had BWD water supply tested at several locations and found 0% E. coli. BWD water is safe and the sewage system is intact.

Rodriguez also said that he had heard of no reports of symptoms that may have been caused by E. coli from anyone swimming in the creek. He has no way of gauging the presence of E. coli in the water in Burney Creek and he doesn’t know the source of the rumor or their reliability. He said that he will check with other organizations such as the environmental officers of the Pit River Tribe to see if they have any information concerning the matter.

In her report, Stephanie McQuade said that pool attendance has been good this summer. There have been no major problems and what minor issues have arisen have been dealt with as they arose. Top Hat Energy has installed the solar panels, work on the interface with PG&E and necessary paperwork is progressing, so the solar electric system should be operational this August. Ms. McQuade said that the closing date for the pool this year would be August 31.

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Sierra Pacific plans to have new Burney sawmill building completed and operational by the end of November

Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) is currently constructing a new sawmill to replace the current mill at their Burney Division located on Highway 299 West of Burney. Construction is proceeding on schedule. The new mill startup is currently scheduled for late November.

Burney Mill Manager Robbie Terras, Northern Sierra Community Relations Manager Kristy Lanham, and Northern Sierra/Coastal Operations Manager Shane Young onsite as concrete is poured

Project Manager Robbie Terras said, “This is a very important project for SPI. We have a fantastic basketful of various types of timber in the Burney area. This project will help establish and maintain longevity for SPI in this community for a long time in to the future.”

The Burney sawmill processes white fir, Douglas fir, ponderosa pine, and sugar pine. When complete, the new facility will bring an increase in productivity of approximately 35%.

New Sawmill going up

Construction began in April when the first pilings were put in. The entire foundation is expected to be finished in 3-4 weeks. Because the new building has a 54-foot-high ceiling, it will have overhead cranes which will help in the transfer and installation of the equipment. Also, this is the first time an SPI manufacturing facility will have everything bolt-connected, which will decrease the amount of welding necessary.

Construction of the new sawmill, including electrical and underground, planer, building erection, fire systems, and sub steel and equipment setting, will be completed by early September.

Crew consulting with a CGI inspector

SPI is currently planning to shut down mill operations for a short period beginning on September 26, in order to transfer sawmill equipment from the old facility to the new. There will be no layoffs during the transfer period. Tasks have already been assigned to current crewmembers to help with the transfer and installation.

Mill Manager Robbie Terras and Northern Sierra/Coastal Operations Manager Shane Young explain details of the ongoing construction project

The Burney sawmill operation currently employs more than 170 men and women. Ten new jobs been have added to help with the sawmill upgrade. Once the new mill is completed, additional jobs in the planer will be created due to increased output. Increased production will also bring an increase in demand for logs to be brought in from local logging contractors, who harvest and deliver timber to the mill.

In addition to Burney SPI crewmembers and men and women from the Sierra Pacific Fabrication Shop in Anderson, four outside contractors will be involved in the project. Terras said there are approximately 40 contractors who have come to Burney to work. By completion, there will be more than 100 folks who have participated in the project, and by so doing have contributed to the intermountain area’s local economy.

After the new sawmill is on-line and fully operational, the existing facility will be decommissioned; all materials will be reused or recycled.

The old sawmill building will be decommissioned

SPI Northern Sierra Community Relations Manager Kristy Lanham explained that “ SPI has a very detailed and thorough process for reforestation in accordance with our 100-year Sustained Yield Plan. Our forests and mills are all third party certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI). SPI’s participation in the SFI Program demonstrates its on-going commitment to actively and responsibly managing its forestlands for the future.”

Ms. Lanham also said, ““We are so very proud of our SPI crew for all their hard work and success with this project to date! We are confident that the new sawmill and planer will bring new jobs and a bright future to the Intermountain/East County Area.”

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Filed under Burney, Sierra Pacific Industries

Happy Feet and the Hissing Bear


Gargoyle, Happy Feet, Cheerie, and Whistler

Happy Feet was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail through Kings Canyon National Park. He came upon two other hikers who had stopped to eat by the side of the trail. They told him to be aware that there was a bear by the trail a little further ahead.

Sure enough there was a bear, a very big brown-colored California black bear. The bear was a safe distance off to the right of the trail and appeared to be foraging for food. After observing it for a while, Happy Feet went on his way.

Some time later, he stopped for food. He took some supplies out of his pack and enjoyed a brief meal, then repacked. Before starting on his way again, he pulled out his cell phone to see if he could check his GPS location.

As he did so, he heard a hissing sound behind him. When he turned, he saw the bear he had seen earlier moving toward him hissing loudly.

Happy Feet was startled. He jumped up, grabbed his hiking poles and started clanking them together, waving his arms and yelling at the bear.

The bear stopped. He was only about 12 feet away.

Happy Feet backed off continuing to clack his poles together and make noise.

The bear just stood there. Happy Feet continued to back off.

After he had put some distance between himself and the bear, the bear walked to where Happy Feet had eaten his snack and sniffed around to see if there were any food.

Seeing that the bear no longer seemed interested in him and did not appear to be aggressive, Happy Feet continued on his way.

According to the North American Bear Center, “Bears blow and clack their teeth with they are afraid. When this is done in response to being startled by a person, it appears to be a defensive threat, but they also do it when they scare themselves by almost falling from a tree.”

The NABC website also says, “Apprehensive expressions are forceful expulsions of air accompanied by threatening body language and sometimes deeper throaty sounds.  This explosive behavior looks and sounds very threatening but is harmless bluster from nervous bears…”

So when the bear came upon Happy Feet, he was probably just as startled as Happy Feet. Once a safe distance was established and things quieted down, both went on about their business.

I met Happy Feet at the Word of Life Assembly of God Church in Burney. He and three other hikers had slept the night before in the WOLA gym and then attended Sunday morning service. After the service, I took a picture of the four of them and Happy Feet told me his bear story.

Happy Feet’s name off the trail is Phillip Hennessy. He hails from Yorktown, Virginia and left Campo on March 14. Asked why he was hiking the trail he said, “We hike to reconnect with nature, to reconnect with people, to reconnect with ourselves and the simple values of a healthy lifestyle.”

Happy Feet has spent much of the hike together with Ben Ferguson “Gargoyle” from New Hampshire who began his hike on March 16. They usually camp together. They were surprised when I said that several other hikers I had talked with had seen no bear. They have seen four bears, most recently one near Quincy.

Happy Feet and Gargoyle were excited to hear that I had met Hardcore the day before. They had hiked with her south of the Sierras but had not seen her for some time. I told them that she had gone to Redding and they may well meet her soon coming the opposite direction because she was going to hitch to Weed and then hike south.

Gargoyle said that he was hiking the PCT “to see the world, to meet new people every day, to see the nature and the many towns, communities and cultures we pass through. Also to challenge myself physically and mentally.”

One of the other hikers was Lea Bravin “Cheerio” from the German speaking part of Switzerland. She had met Happy Feet at the beginning of her hike in Southern California and reconnected with him and Gargoyle at intervals along the trail. They just happened to meet again here in Burney.

The fourth hiker was a young gentleman named Nicholas Turney from Seattle Washington. He began his hike from Campo on May 14 so he has been hiking a bit faster pace. His trail name is “Whistler.” You may hear him in the next few days if you are in the woods near the PCT.

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Filed under Burney, Pacific Crest Trail, Word of Life Assembly of God