Michele Fresella, 1978-1980

Crater Lake National Park Centennial Oral Histories

 Michele Fresella, 1978-1980

In 1978, I was a YCC crew leader. Toward the end of that summer another crew leader, Mark Bonito and I were taking a group of YCC’ers to the Redwoods for the weekend. Another crew leader was taking a second to the same destination. As it turned out, most of the camp’s well-behaved kids had signed up to go on the trip Mark and I were leading, except for one rowdy kid. The rest of the rowdy and rambunctious kids had signed up for the other crew leader’s trip, except for one easy going kid. Right before we left for the Redwoods Saturday morning, the kids that didn’t fit in their respective groups switched. Mark and I ended up with a great group of kids to take to the Redwoods. Experiencing the trees, ocean, and Smith River with this group of teenagers was the highlight of my summer.

When the YCC camp ended several of us on staff stayed on through September and worked as back country rangers. It was a particularly wet fall. Each day we went out usually in the rain, to mark ski trails and the park boundaries. I loved seeing out of the way parts of the park. In particular, the mushrooms were everywhere and especially phenomenal! The best part of the day was coming back to our YCC quarters, sitting in front of the stone fireplace with a warm fire and reading books from the Crater Lake Library.

In the summer of 1979, and 1980 I worked in Dispatch. In 1979, I lived in Sleepy Hollow with Evangelina Rubalcava and I had our bedrooms upstairs. One bedroom wall had a roughly cut door to use as an emergency exit. One night I was awakened to the sound of squeaking. Lying in bed, my eyes opened to see a bat face looking through the gap of the roughed door. Soon it’s wing came through the gap, as it made its way into the room. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep in y room the rest of the night! The next day, while I was at work in Dispatch a research biologist studying mammals in the park came to me and with great excitement asked if she could search my room for the bat. She didn’t find it. The maintenance department did put up a screen door that fitted snugly in the emergency doorway.

At the end of the summer, I was once again awakened in the middle of the night by the bat. It was crawling on the exterior side of the screen door unable to get into my room. This time I could comfortably sleep in my own bet, and watch the bat as it scampered across the screen!

During the summer of 1980, several of us, who worked in various capacities for the park service, realized that we all had Tuesday and Wednesday off. Most of us didn’t know each other very well, but ended up forming a hiking group during one of our mutual days off. There were about six of us in this group, which day hiked in and around the park. We hiked Mt. McLaughlin and Mt. Thielson, as well as other beautiful spots. The hike up Thielson was particularly strenuous, and included about ten feet of free climbing near the summit. We rewarded ourselves at the end of the hike with banana splits at Diamond Lake Resort.

Cheese cake contests started by Karn Stigelmeier, Nancy Rohn, Debbie Kruse and Terri Thomas – lasted as a tradition for years. Quotes by Ron Mastrogiuseppi (M13) became a main stay “You always live with the possibility you may be wrong” and “with taste there is no dispute” have even been passed down to my kids.

Roger Rudolf’s sayings kept everything light – one I never heard anywhere else “dumb as a skid track”. I was there from 1976 to 1982 (seasonal in interp, back country and research) it was a time of prescribed fires (northeast corner, panhandle, sun creek), and wildfires (northwest corner and southern area). Camping out on the fires, carrying gas tanks in for miles, thumps in the night, big foot sightings, elk and pronghorn antelope sightings, goofs in fire ignition patterns that caused losses of acres of trees, crazy professor’s cutting down burning snags, Debbie Kruse running from a swarm of yellow jackets, watching fires jump from snag to snag through the air, trucking miles across the pumice desert every day and watching flames, timing flames, enjoying flames renew in their fascinating way – are all memories from that time.

Inventorying the vegetation on Wizard Island was a real highlight. Being able to spend the day out there.

Charlie Bacon – his presence, knowledge, teachings, such an amazing guy! I’m so honored to have been able to spend time with him and with Cynthia! It seemed like everyday there would be a new finding that changed the institutional knowledge of the caldera.

Jim Agee – Humor, guidance, fire-lover, vegetation -understander – helped map the vegetation history and ecology for us. One night (in the 5 summers I was there) a full-moon boat ride was given. It was entrancing.
Rim runs every year, catching fish in the lake and having the lodge cook them up for us, swing dancing, hot tubs in the permanent’s houses, running and exercising as a social event daily, and life at its best!!!!!

Crater Lake stands out as a highlight in my life.