For the 4th of July weekend Dan, NJ and I went up to Kernville to camp with the family. There are a bunch of things do up there. Fish, hike, mountain bike, tube, raft, sit, drink beer, etc… Since there was a descent sized group of us I decided to bring the toyhauler (the camper trailer) so we’d have an extra bathroom and shower for everyone. My parents bought one after seeing mine. Fortunately for them its been awesome. For me, I liked the idea but since I’ve had issues with it I’m not so in love with it anymore. More on that later. Dan, NJ and I loaded everything up Thursday afternoon and drove up to Kernville. It took 6.5 hours to get up there. Longer than I wanted or estimated but we arrived just before dark. We got to see my Mom and Ted and have a nice relaxed evening.
Friday morning I walked around Kernville looking to see if I could find some fellow riders who were planning a ride that day. Walking out the front door of Mountain River Adventures I came across Ryan, Seth and Paige looking like they were getting ready for a ride. As they say, if you don’t ask the answer is ‘no’ so I approached them and asked if they were going for a ride, and if I could join them. It turned out, they were trying to figure out logistics on how to get to the top of Sherman Pass with three bikes and two cars that could only carry two bikes each. I said “I have a truck! If you can give me a ride to it after the ride I can put everyone in the truck.” And a deal was struck. I rushed back to the campsite to get my bike and gear.
On the way up to the top of the pass I got to know the gang a bit better. Seth and Paige were out on vacation from Colorado visiting their daughter in San Diego. And Ryan is from Lancaster. It turns out Ryan is an adventure monster. For fun the guy rides a bicycle from Lancaster to Santa Monica. At this point I started to think “Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into.” Paige fortunately informed me that her and Seth were not quite so extreme.
Our ride started at the summit of Sherman Pass at 9200 feet. The air up that high is pretty thin and I was feeling it on the climbs. The first 18 miles or so was a bunch of up and down. Through the forest, meadows and a little bit of fire road. Its a generally well maintained trail but sandy, kind of like this kitty litter sand. Going down, not much of a problem. Its a little squirrely but you get used to it. But on the flats and climbs it was pretty tiring. Not all of the trail is like this, but there was a fair amount of it. We only ran into three other people on the trail. It was a small group of three guys attempting the same ride we were on. I didn’t have good hopes for them as one was without a helmet, and another was saying he was toast, just an eighth of the way into the ride. Not good!
Along the ride we got to see some really neat stuff. You’ll have to take a look at the pictures to get an idea of it all. Highlights (and lowlights) were the Cow Poop Swamp, Big Climbing Rock, Lord Seth’s Throne, Sandrock Pile and the Plunge itself of course! The top part of the ride is in the woods and meadows. Very green and lush. Stream crossings every once and a while along with some rocky technical sections.
Once we hit the top of the Cannell Plunge we do a 7000 foot descent in 9 miles. At two points there are climbs which are very technical and steep. The second climb I couldn’t even ride it was so steep. This is what Ryan called “Up-Plunging” I preferred the term “Suck.” It is a pretty awesome ride if you are in great shape and like a challenge. The riding varies significantly and you get to apply your skills and fitness level to the test. We finished off the day with a BBQ and watching the fire come down the mountain on the southside of the lake.
If you’re in the area, go for the ride. I recommend taking munchies and plenty of water. And be physically prepared.
For more pictures of the ride: Cannell Trail Photo Album
Tubing and Rafting the Kern River
On Saturday we did some tubing and rafting. From my prior experience at the Kern River I discovered that tubing and I don’t get along. Seriously, this is one of the most idiotic things a person can do. You sit in a tube, which has no directional control other than your futile paddling. Most people wear no life jacket (myself included) nor a helmet. You ‘flow’ down a rapid moving river over rocks and logs. And hope you don’t get tossed. Everytime I’ve done this, I’ve been tossed. This time I was cruising down the river trying to avoid the first eddie and I ended up right in it. There I was, stuck, and trying to figure out how to get unstuck. I paddle some, try to bounce, and finally I get dislodged and tossed over a rock off of the tube. Now, I’m being pulled downstream rapidly over rocks and branches trying to figure out how to get back onto the tube before I drown. At some point, I thought it would be a good idea to try to stop myself with my feet on the rocks. Bad idea. I ended up smashing my left big and second toes. Finally I got to the calmer area with Ted and Danny there and I said “This is just f%$#ing retarded” and stormed out of the river. I had thought I broke my toe but it just turned out to be jammed badly and the nails were torn off their beds.
Rafting however went much better! I had be kayaking on the Kern before and enjoyed it alot. Even though I had be tossed on that trip too. But, you at least have a paddle and some far fetched notion you are in control. (HAHA!) This time, I decided to do the raft with the rest of the gang. Six people + the guide can ride in the raft. We had eight, so Carmen and Jerry took the inflatable kayak (IK) while the rest of us piled into the raft. The most important thing they say to do is keep your hand on the T-handle on the paddle. Apparently having one of those swing around can be very bad and give you summer teeth. (Summer in your mouth, summer in the raft, summer in the water).
They start you out by teaching you how to work together, for about 60 seconds. Then they just go for it. For the most part, if you do what he says, and do it together you’re good to go. Paddle forward three means everyone paddle forward three times. Paddle back four means paddle backwards four times. Or, if they just say paddle forward you keep paddling until he says stop. Along with following the front left persons pace, and some other tips you’re pretty much ready to go down the river. Until you hit the first rapids.
The first rapids was an entertaining experience. Jerry and Carmen were ahead of us in the IK. The guide yelled to them “Follow the other kayak in front of you down!” The look on Jerry’s face was priceless. It was the look of “Are you f$%#ing kidding me?!” They did as told and bounced through the first rapids and pretyt much aced it. Then, it was our turn… Dan was front left, I was front right. Behind us were the two boys, Jimmy and NJ. Then Rob and Norma were in the back. The first rapids we dipped hard forward and it basically turned into Dan and I paddling with screaming kids on our back and everyone all over the place. We probably got spun around two to three times as we were pretty much flailing all over the place. The guide is yelling “Paddle forward!!!! Paddle backward!!!!” Pretty hilarious actually. After that, it was much easier. There were a few more rapids but pretty mellow compaired to the first one. We mastered the “splash your neighbor” skills as well as paddling in unison.
On Sunday we took a short road trip up to see the giant sequoias. I can’t even explain their magnificence and just encourage you to take a look at the photo album.
You can find more pictures of the forest in the Photo Album
As I mentioned earlier I had brought my trailer. I wanted to bring it because it has a real bed, a shower, power, a fridge, and some other nice things. Unfortunately everytime I’ve taken this trailer out I’ve had problems with it. I’ve reached a point that I just plain done with it. I bought it for two reasons. 1. Dirt biking in the desert and 2. Alison. Well, I don’t have dirt bikes anymore and I don’t have Alison. I can’t see any reason to continue to drop money into it anymore. This last weekend both the generator failed to work and the fridge died. These are things that have happened before and cost me a fair sized chunk of money. Currently its in the shop and its already cost me $350 just to see what’s wrong with. That’s not even including the cost it will be to fix it. Like I said, done. I’m going to get it working and get it sold.
Not to end on a negative note. I had a good weekend even if I was a little baked from the sun. At some point Sunday afternoon I decided I was just done with 95 degrees plus temperatures, dust, and the relentless Sun. With smile and fond farewells we packed up and hit the road to go home. It only took us five hours to get back home opposed to the six plus it took to get up. I attribute it to driving ‘down’ the map.
Good weekend, fun adventures, and loving family members. Love you guys!
Mountain Biking Cannell Trail
Danny’s Photos (He has alot)