Kern River Plateau Trip
August 9 and 10, 2003
Led by Chuck and Jeanice Kalbach
Reported by John Page
It was already getting uncomfortably warm at the Burger King al fresco patio in Pearsonville at 8:00 a.m. as the participants (Mary and Bill Cook, Nancy and John Hoopes, Emily Murphy on her first DEx outing, Shirley and Bob Bolin, and John Page) joined the Kalbachs for breakfast before heading up to the Kern Plateau.
Chuck reminded us that Pearsonville had been the site of a large sawmill that processed lumber brought down from the Plateau. I remembered some white‑knuckle encounters with logging trucks on 9‑Mile Canyon and on the road to Kennedy Meadows in the '70s and '80s when I visited the Troy Meadows Campground pulling my Smuggler trailer with its load of dirt bikes. The road is clear now, with a sawmill in Porterville now taking the lumber logged on the Plateau.
The climb up 9‑Mile Canyon brought us up to where the air was a little thinner and a lot cooler. Our first stop was at the Black Rock Ranger Station where Chuck obtained a fire permit and checked out road and camping conditions. Fire danger was high so we were told to camp in “Fire Safe” areas only. The Ranger did not know the status of the Sherman Jeep Trail, but expected to when another Ranger, currently on patrol, returned to the station. We said we’d return tomorrow (Sunday).
We took the Jeep trail to Monache Meadows where we had lunchin a shady grove near the cow camp in the southwest side of the meadow. Then across the Kern River to Bakeoven Sand Dune and further on, down to a camping area by the Kern where we talked with a guy hauling lumber into a worksite farther up the stream. An existing “fish barrier” which protects the native Golden Trout from intrusive stocked Rainbow Trout is being repaired. Unfortunately, the road to the worksite is closed to the public.
Returning to blacktop from Monache Meadows, with a stop to cool off under fresh stream water running from a holdup tank, we headed to the Osa Meadows camping area that the Kalbachs had scouted during their June prerun. Only this time the road into the camping area was blocked by a car whose owner claimed “rights” to the whole campground. There was no reasoning with this hostile, obnoxious jerk, so we returned to a backup, quite lovely, campsite at Granite Knob.
As always, the potluck dinner was a total success, and the evening was calm and pleasant so we were able to enjoy a campfire together before a good night’s sleep in the cool mountain air.
Sunday morning we checked in at the Ranger Station to be told that the Sherman Jeep Trail was open but in pretty bad shape. Chuck and Jeanice huddled and decided that the Jeep Trail might be a little too difficult for some of the vehicles in our group so decided to skip that run on this trip.
We took blacktop to the Sherman Overlook, down the grade to the Kern River and upstream to the Trail of 100 Giants, which we all walked slowly and enjoyed thoroughly!
Then back down the Kern River, and through Kernville, past Lake Isabella, over Walker Pass and (for me) home via Highway 14.
Thanks, Kalbachs; it was a very good trip!