Posts Categorized: Whisper Canyon

Whisper Canyon Spared from the Chimney Fire

Posted by & filed under General, LOG, Whisper Canyon.


“If the fire had come up the canyon even three hours earlier, we’d have had to pull out, and Whisper Canyon would have been lost.” Camp Hosts Larry and Jennifer Lewis heard those words while being given a comprehensive post-fire tour of the camp by a Ventura fire captain. Instead by 1:00pm on August 22, when a 60-foot wall of flames raced up the canyon, several firefighter crews HAD arrived! By the Lord’s mercy, temperatures had cooled, the fog was forming, and the winds had dropped. twelveyear Family Camp veteran Randy Martin’s fire crew joined in from Camp Roberts, and through the night they fought the fire back, saving the Campground. The “Chimney Fire” burned for 25 days, consuming 46,000 acres, 49 homes, and 21 structures. It burned to within 15 feet of our “yurt” cabins.

“If the fire had come up the canyon even three hours earlier, we’d have had to pull out, and Whisper Canyon would have been lost.”

The two primary residences on the property and all eight Yurts have “open” foundations, and flames can easily be sucked underneath. The fire crews used our camp mowers, brush cutters, chainsaws, and shovels to clear areas around these structures, and near our propane tanks and water systems, setting “backfires” which pulled the flames away. In the end, not one yurt even had an ember land on it, and the surrounding pine trees were untouched. So, why were all those fire crews at Whisper Canyon? Because, again by the Lord’s provision three years ago, a volunteer named Emmet, donating his expertise and a week on his motor grader, had converted a sloped area into a full-size soccer field—it was a perfect “staging zone” for these crews. Emmet saved Mount Hermon over $25,000 on that project and having that open field available also saved the camp. Whisper Canyon gave hundreds of firefighters a bivouac spot and allowed them the use of bathrooms and the yurt bunk beds. Once the roads opened, a team of volunteers came and worked with Larry and Jennifer to scrub all the ashes from inside and outside the yurts. They cleaned the bath facilities and cleared the brush fire crews had cut to help divert the fire. One guest group had to cancel, but when we tried to send their refund, they said, “No, just reschedule us for September!” Groups have returned to this peaceful place of rest amid the beauty of God’s creation. And for a while, they’ll see the evidence of God’s grace, a whisper in the canyon where the Lord brought His rescuers.

  • Whisper Canyon Fire
  • Whisper Canyon Fire

Extent of the fire at the camp

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Here  is a crayon representation of where the fire came through the camp. My crayon skills have degraded a bit, but as you can see, while it came close to some buildings, the fire did no damage. On a positive note, it cleared out a lot of brush. It gives us some ideas for some new trails into the canyon.

This sketch represents “The Hand of God”:

Some More Chimney Fire Pictures from Whisper Canyon

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The camp did not lose any structures. Immensely grateful to God and the men who fought the fire. We got to the camp Friday 8-26 about 6PM and got over an hour tour with blow by blow commentary from the firemen. We learned a back fire was set at the rear of the caretakers. It reduced the flames to about 60′ or so. With out the back fire, the flames would have been closer to 100′ and the fire fighters would have had to retreat.

The above photo is looking from the caretakers house toward the bathhouse which is beyond the oak. The trail to the canyon shows on the right side on the distant slope. There was still some smoke but this is fog. Just what was needed to reduce the heat and help beat the fire down

Coming around the corner of the house a little. You can see the fibar for the zip swing. The tree did not catch fire. I am amazed that there is brown grass along with burnt grass.

The burn marks were attempts at back fires.. It burnt erratically in this area. Not sure why. You can see the kitchen supply trailer to the right of the play structure. Unscathed would be the word. Fire trucks are getting ready to move out. Our neighbor came over and brought his dogs. Again this is fog not smoke.

This is the crew that was on site when the fire roared up to camp. They are from southern California. When they first got to the camp it was one truck, 4 guys. Slowly trucks would roll in to join the fight. We heard they went into our shop and grabbed 18 shovels, chainsaw and sickle mower. They cleared around the yurts. Ran the mower down slope of the caretakers, all to make it defensible

Here is the back of Jon’s RV covered with gel. Yurt deck railing in the distance

Back side of yurt 6 and 7. Unscathed as well. No ember burns just a little smell of smoke. Hard to see but a bull dozer made a pass here.

This is the back side of the chapel with Jennifer in the view. Three or so dozer tracks and some singed grass. The amazing thing is the fire stayed on the ground. It did not climb the trees.

Down in the canyon near the tee in the service road a tree was smoldering. They put this out.

Here is another hot spot across the creek. Tree root system smoldering away. I had brought 10 gallons of water down, which they used in the previous photo and above.

A little break time on the deck of yurt 8.

Back top side this is a big oak that had been shedding branches. The trees are stressed by 5 years of drought. In the background is the bathhouse. Back and to the right is the trail down to the creek.I did not take a picture but to the right it is a scorched earth hillside.

This is looking over the camp BBQ at where the oak had been growing for a long time.It was dying and they cut it down before the fire charged up the slope. You can see the far slope and the fire did not burn everything. My guess is it burned about 30%. Rather amazing isn’t it.

One last picture. This is just off the side of the shop. The small structure is the camp well. The fire crossed through the fence onto our neighbors yard.. You can see how it stayed on the ground. They put it out with a bull dozer. Thanks be to God for his mercies

OK one more. This is near the fire pit with our hose bib in view.This is some scorched earth that occurred when the fire swept east. The far ridge is pretty well denuded of brush. This is the knob the cross is on. You can see as you look to the left, it is wiped bare by the fire.


Chimney fire, rebuffed

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All photo’s were taken by Katrina Hearne, forwarded to me by Marty Wize

Pictures taken from west of the camp looking generally S SE from our neighbors property. Received them as text messages. Jennifer and I were in Santa Clara the whole time. Tried to retrieve some items from the caretakers unit Sunday AM but were turned back at Interlake and Bryson Hesperia. Power to the area was cut Sunday evening. For the camp, no power means no water.


I think this picture is the drainage behind the chapel. Viewed into camp from the west. Suspect the power pole is near the orchard along the entrance driveway. Tuesday morning 6:43 AM

The ridge behind (south) of the camp. Monday night 8-22-2016

You can see the pole barn and the kitchen trailer through the smoke on the west side of the picture. Monday afternoon 8-22-2016

Marty Wize’s front yard looking East. The Wize’s are our neighbors to the west across Smith road. Tuesday5:30 PM

12:30 PM Tuesday, firetruck coming down the driveway into camp near our gate

1PM Tuesday kitchen trailer and dining pavilion in the background. Yurts are behind the bull dozer but not really visible. The trees around the yurts are not singed. Most encouraging,

Tuesday 8-23-2016 The soccer field looking East. Big oak just left of center is on our fence line and in the distance is along the West side of the soccer field we can make out the camp truck, our SUV, Danny’s tractor along with various Cal Fire vehicles. The chapel is behind the big oak and is not visible. We heard from Danny, our neighbor to the North, that a crew spent the Saturday night on the field. What we hear is the camp weathered the storm without structure damage. The caretakers unit has fire retardant gel on it. Not sure how that will clean up. The fire still poses a threat but the fuel load is greatly reduced. Our first trip down will be for assessment, likely a day trip till we have power. The refrigerator and freezer will need to be emptied and hopefully they can be cleaned up. What we have observed is God doing his fire strategy thing. The fire circled east first and then moved toward the camp and but was rebuffed by some very hard working firemen. Thank you and blessings on those men who are doing it again tonight just down the road a piece.


PBCC week at Whisper Canyon

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The high school advance team comes in on Saturday to get organized for the week. They do a VBS program in King City at three of the churches. Wednesday they do a clothing give away in town. Here is a little of camp life.

In the mornings they have a time of prayer before heading into town.

Their food pantry on the left. here is a some of them enjoying dinner.

Silly skits are in the mix as well. Here the two youth pastors demonstrate how to use whip cream


Star Gazers at Whisper Canyon

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Early September, we had astronomers come to Whisper Canyon. For the previous eight years they had used Lake San Antonio. I hear it was a barren 5 acre parking lot, but the viewing was pretty good being away from city light. What was fun was they camped in new and creative places. Below is one site just below the shop in Kavanaugh creek.

Many of them just camped next to their telescopes.

This was Thursday PM as they were rolling in

They did have some pretty nice scopes, as one would expect. These folks take their star gazing serious. This scope had a mirror to capture the light. There might have been 8 of these with minor variations.

Carl was a digital photographer of the stars. Home was just outside of Albuquerque NM. He has rigged up this cart to move his equipment in and out of his van. It has batteries underneath and a winch to move it up and down his ramps.

They mostly did their own meals but Daniel did some breakfast cooking for some of the men. One of the men had acquired some white gas Coleman stoves. So they had fun using them instead of the wolf stove.

Here are some of the men camping under the big oak in  my staging area. I found that particularly delightful as more of the camp was used, instead of everyone clustered together in the RV park.

We took great delight in serving this group. For example, pointing out that the swamp cooler was running in the chapel if they needed to cool off. We had sub tropical moisture come in so they had 1/2 a night of viewing on Thursday night. Friday night and Saturday night were not really cloudy but it was hazy enough to make it a bust. Most of these folks were old friends so there was plenty of conversation. We enjoy every group but this one was our new favorites.

The camp was opened up to the community on Saturday evening. Some folks came and interacted with the astronomers. It was too overcast to see stars though.


Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church, Milpitas

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This weekend we hosted a group of young folks from Milpitas. There were about 80 students from 7 to 17 years old. They have a club called TNTT which promotes God as well as teaches about their culture.  They were supported by about 40 parents which worked the kitchen and assembled a stage and worship tent. This was a student lead program.

Above is the stage they erected. the projector was behind and it was well secured for the breezy conditions. Below is a place of worship and prayer. They also had Eucharist in the tent/gazebo.


Good thing I leave a milk crate in the kitchen area, when you put a 50 quart pot on it, well, stirring it can be a problem.

They ate in shifts. First the  students got a meal then the adults ate. We were concerned about the limitation of the dining quarters but their system worked well.

They had prayer bags where you could drop off a note to someone in the the group. They originally were under the blue canopy by the worship gazebo. This is similar to PBCC having a Barnabas board for leaving encouraging notes.

Saturday AM they had different stations they went to. Skits were practiced songs were sung.

The weather changed Saturday night. The lightning was visible about 10 PM and lasted till dawn. It got close enough to add thunder about 2:30 AM into dawn  the rain started then as well. We got over 1/2″ during the night, and another 1/2″ between 10AM and 4 PM. Hopefully, it will help some of the trees, which are drought stressed.

So the activities Sunday morning were in the dining pavilion. They held mass and we heard “How great thou art” being sung several times.

We had one motor home on the soccer field which make it off successfully.  This car had some challenges with street tires. Fortunately, he had some friends.


Comunidad Cristiana de Fe

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This group come from King City. It is a ministry reaching out to students giving them alternatives on Friday nights

They had some teaching times and just enjoyed the camp and hanging out.


Way back in March at Whisper Canyon

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PBCC is our first group of the season. They come in and hold Vacation Bible School with several of the churches in King City. Here is some worship time at the camp.

Charlie from Mount Hermon was their teacher this year

They formed up into teams prior to the trip. Here they are praying prior to heading into town. They teach bible verses, sing songs and just love on the younger students in town. The real story is what happens in King City, But that is for them to tell.


Framers at Whisper Canyon

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We had 11 framers come in and start building the decks. Most of the holes had drained from the previous weekends rain.

The wire keeps the mice out of the fiberglass which is only under the yurt floor.

They worked most of Tuesday and all of Wednesday before the rain came in. Three of the decks have the piers cemented in.