This is one of two markers erected at a roadside overlook -- which the U.S. Forest Service modestly calls Rim of the World -- in memory of wildland firefighters killed in blazes in Stanislaus National Forest, just west of Yosemite. Most of the country you can see from here burned in 2013 during the Rim Fire -- apparently named after the vista point -- which is the third-largest in terms of acreage in California history. The markers predate that fire.
David Ross Erickson, the firefighter commemorated here, died in one of a series of major fires (the Stanislaus Complex) that broke out in the national forest west of Yosemite. Erickson died, according to reports you can find online, when a tree he was cutting toppled into a second tree, which snapped and fell on him. Erickson was one of 11 people -- heavy equipment operators, aircraft crews, National Guard personnel and firefighters -- who died fighting California wildfires in 1987. And the week before Erickson died, there was a close call on the same fire that took his life: 28 firefighters were trapped and forced to deploy their emergency shelters as a fire threatened to overrun them.
Here's the text of the Erickson memorial:
In Memory of David Erickson
A U.S. Forest Service crew leader from Siskiyou County, Calif. Lost his life while fighting the Stanislaus Complex Fire which destroyed 147,000 acres. For the love of the forest he gave the ultimate sacrifice, Sept. 11, 1987.
Sit and rest awhile,
Listen to the pines whisper in the light wind,
Gaze at the trees and look upward
Where branches reach the sky,
Where clouds pass by and day turns to night,
Where memories are everlasting.