Fire on the Mountain: Families mourn loss of Sierra Nevada cabins

Fire on the Mountain

The SQF Complex Fire, that burned over Sequoia Crest and through the Alder Creek Grove, inspired artist Kerry Kaye Davies to create this painting of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Tree, the fifth largest Giant Sequoia on the planet. The Stagg Tree, recently purchased by the Save the Redwoods League, was one of only a handful of giant sequoias on privately owned land and the largest giant sequoia outside of Sequoia National Park. 

We sure have had a wonderful opportunity to have spent even a moment in our mountains. It’s hard to explain to someone the experience if they’ve never had it.

Kerry Kaye Davies

Of the 102 cabins/homes at Sequoia Crest, 55 survived but unfortunately, not the original Rouch cabin built ca. 1946 Fire on the Mountain

In any disaster, and especially in this unprecedented fire season, there are hundreds of tragic stories. But for those who lose everything, and others whose homes are spared and return to desolation all around, their lives are forever changed. 

Countless other persons are attached to these mountain communities across several generations whose lives were shaped by their time spent in these special places. Meet Kerry Kaye Davies, a mother of three, artist, photographer — her heart was broken the moment she heard about the SQF Fire burning in Sequoia Crest. Fire on the Mountain

Davies 52, who now lives in Riverside, was immediately inspired to create a painting of the Amos Alonzo Stagg Tree. The Stagg Tree, see TKC article below, is the fifth largest giant sequoia in the world, and the centerpiece of Sequoia Crest, a cabin community nestled in the Alder Creek Grove of giant sequoias. 

Sequoia Crest was a subdivision developed by Sonny Rouch in the years following WWII. The original Rouch cabin was built ca.1946 on Redwood Drive. With the end to logging in the area, it became the real estate office to sell other lots in the tract. After at least one other family owned the cabin, John and Hardie McFadden, parents of Kerry Kaye Davies, purchased the cabin in 1987 and owned it until 2009. During those years it was known as McFadden’s Cottage. Fire on the Mountain

Fire on the Mountain
McFadden’s Cottage from 1987-2009. It was the original cabin built by Sonny Rouch ca. 1946 and later the real estate office to sell lots in the subdivision for mountain cabins. It was destroyed along with 46 other cabins in Sequoia Crest; 55 survived.

Kerry Kaye Davies in her own words:

Sequoia Crest won our hearts back early in the 1980’s I was barely a preteen taking art lessons with an art teacher who had a cabin in Sequoia Crest. They had invited our family up to their home and I immediately fell in love with the essence. I later got married and started a family and my parents bought their cabin in 1987 on Redwood Drive. Fire on the Mountain

Fire on the Mountain
Kerry Kaye Davies, artist

 

This began our family’s trips to the mountain, and our escape from the business of cities.  My three sons and two nieces grew up visiting and living upon the Crest as this place became my parent’s retirement home. When they bought the cabin, it came with two old photographs evidence of a great storm season that had dropped a record snowfall.

There were many tales of that storm (late-1940s), although it wasn’t until 1997 that a measurable amount to match it landed on the Crest once again. My dad told me to take care of these photos because they are special, they were old when we got them, and yes they are indeed special.

 

Sequoia Crest cabin covered with snow from an epic storm in the late-1940s.

Even though my parents did a major remodel of their cabin, the side door and window to the loft were kept the same as this photo. And it was that top window that became our room and our children’s when we visited. As you can see in the photos, it must have been quite a task to dig and to get in and out. I’ve had these photos hanging and in my possession for 30 years . And now, since the fire, they hold even greater significance for the several families who have graced this cabin’s life.

There are special places upon the Crest — Jordan Peak, Poppy Lake, the Amos Alonzo Stagg Tree, and the embodiment of the Sequoia National Forest itself, that makes us migrate back making memories as evidence of the generations who care and love this mountain. Even though my parents did move several years ago (2009), for 23 years we called this place our second home.

Today, even though we live in cities and towns, our hearts never leave this special place once you have fallen in love with the Crest. You can’t open any of our family photo albums without having some photos of the cabin in them and the evolution of the growth of the kids.  

“It feels like salt on a wound to think of the devastation” 

THE BIGGEST OF THE BIG TREES: Stagg Tree (#5)

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5 thoughts on “Fire on the Mountain: Families mourn loss of Sierra Nevada cabins

  • October 3, 2020 at 6:56 pm
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    Wonderful article! Soooo, did the Stag tree survive?

    Reply
    • October 4, 2020 at 9:53 am
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      Reportedly, the Stagg Tree simply added another burn scar to the ones it already had. The fire apparently did what fires do in giant sequoia groves. We plan to revisit and update in the near future.

      Reply
  • October 4, 2020 at 7:44 am
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    This is a very informative article about the Rouch family and Sequoia Crest. Sonny Rouch’s sister was a great friend of our family. Thank you.

    Reply
  • October 4, 2020 at 3:12 pm
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    A very nice article to read from a place I have visited as a child in the sixties, myself from Running Springs, CA and now living in Andorra.

    Reply
  • October 5, 2020 at 3:51 pm
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    Thank you. We live full time in Sequoia Crest. You captured our love of that place. We are full of gratitude for our home’s survival while we mourn with those that lost all.

    Jerry and Deborah Jackson

    Reply

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