Willow Creek History by Marcia Penner Freedman About the Author Fighting Fire in the Sierra National Forest Willow Creek History Marcia Penner Freedman

About the Author

Marcia Penner Freedman

I was born and raised in the New York City Metropolitan area, and until my mid-twenties my idea of an outdoor adventure was to round up my friends, catch a train into Manhattan and march in the Easter Parade along Fifth Avenue. For me, the granite peaks and two-hundred-year-old ponderosa pines that would come to inhabit my life were still part of my distant future. The mountain streams and waterfalls that I would later come to write about were the stuff of songs and stories.

Then I moved to San Francisco. There, even surrounded by concrete and steel and urban distractions of every kind, nature demanded that I notice her. She called me to hidden treasures like the redwoods of Muir Woods, amazed me with rolling fog and cypress trees that bent with the wind towards the sea.

During those early years in California I found myself increasingly drawn to the mountains. Finally, the inevitable happened, and I decided to leave city life behind. I moved to the small town of Oakhurst, adjacent to the magnificent Sierra National Forest. The inspiration for both of my books have come from personal experiences hiking and camping in the forest.

Willow Creek? I encountered her little by little. At first it was at the falls beach where the creek flows into the lake. Then it was on the popular hike along the creek just above the lake. When I joined a local hiking group I met the hydroelectric Willow Creek on hikes along the flumes at Bass Lake; and the logging Willow Creek in walks that follow the historic route of the railroad tracks over the Bass Lake Dam. One day, while hiking way up in the forest I came across a Willow Creek sign at a bridge. Below, in a ravine, the creek meandered down through the forest, out of sight. Following that encounter, Willow Creek became my focus, an obsession my friends would say, and after years of editing newsletters and immersing myself in other people’s interests, I decided it was time to write about something that captivated me: Willow Creek.

My interest in fire? What can I say? Everyone who lives in the foothills is interested in fire. We live with it day after day during the summer months. But it was several years ago while on a hike in the forest that fire became the focus for my next book. We were resting beside a small lake when a helicopter flew in, sucked up water into a giant tank and flew out. Our conversation turned to wildfire, and as the helicopter repeated its routine over and over, my interest in firefighting was aroused. After that, I began learning all I could about the subject. At one point I attended a prescribed fire field trip put on by Southern California Edison Forestry. That’s when my interest in learning about wildfire turned to a determination to write about it.

By that time I had raised my children, received a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, and had been teaching psychology and child development at community college. For fifteen years I split my career between my writing and teaching. Since my retirement from my community college position, I have had the luxury of devoting myself exclusively to my writing.


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