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2020 - Trip Report - A Different Type of Trail

A Different Type of Trail

by Lindsay Woods

While the thing they call COVID has many sequestering themselves a fellow explorer, a few friends and myself decided to get outside and explore on foot. We stopped and ate lunch in Kernville after a brief stop at a local fly-fishing tackle store to get some new flies. The upper fork of the Kern River was our destination, after traveling for nearly four hours without any historical or geological narration we arrived at the trail head and readied ourselves for a four-mile descent to the valley floor. My Desert Explorer partner in crime was our young friend Jarred Keeling, who I think might have over packed his backpack by the look of it.

Heading out we were enthusiastic about what the next three days would hold for us. There were a few clouds in the sky that provided us with some relief from the sun. As we descended into the valley the views were breath taking and increased our desire to get to a campsite and enjoy all that nature had to provide. With all the cars at the trail head we had expected we would encounter a number of other backpackers, but we didn’t. Once on the valley floor we came to a stream which had to be crossed. While the others thought through the pros and cons to remove their socks or footwear I decided to go through the stream with my boots on. Once I hit the other side of the stream it began to thunder and soon after began a very hard rain. Shelter was sought under trees while the others put their sock and shoes back on. The rain continued heavily for at least 15 minutes if not longer. Once the rain stopped, we hiked on and found a beautiful campsite right along the river’s bank that we made our home for the next few days.

After setting up camp and hanging our rations from a tree branch the fishing gear came out in hopes of landing one of the elusive golden trout which this area is known for. Several rainbow trout were caught and released. I kicked back and read a book in 

the shade enjoying the tranquility of our temporary home. It was soon time for dinner, you know the type of gourmet meals you eat while back packing. Mine is the ever-popular Top Ramen while the others ate MREs or dehydrated food.

Following dinner, I was attacked (by the sandman), so I crawled into my bivy sack and called it a day. The next morning, we awoke to the sounds of the river. We had a few brief conversations with other hikers and fishermen who were headed into the area. We swam, read, explored and Jarred learned to fly fish. He then made it his sole purpose to catch a fish. After hours of fishing he finally succeeded in catching a legal rainbow trout. It was great to see his excitement as well as entertaining to say the least. If you want to know the final disposition of the fish, you’ll have to ask Jarred.

During our stay there were several F-18 jets that flew through the canyon so low that when one of them turned on its side you could see the helmet of the pilot. Let me tell you it was loud! Soon the skies began to darken off in the distance. It was thought the thunder head was going to miss us but it turned and headed our way. The decision to break camp and backpack out was made a little after 6:00 p.m. You might say I have quite a bit of experience in breaking down camp as I have had to do it in a hurry several times before. This is the part of the trip I was not looking forward to as let’s just say my workout regiment has been virtually nonexistent. The first mile was not as strenuous as what lay ahead, I thought maybe a rescue helicopter might be in order. I pressed on realizing that leaving under these conditions were far more favorable than leaving the next morning. Usually when hiking the first two people in the group arouse the wildlife, our trek out was no different as I was nearly bitten by a two-foot-long baby rattle snake. Its rattles were so small it sounded like a cricket. It would not have been a good spot to get bitten. A few minutes later at one of our rest stops Jarred said something had bitten him and he thought it was a mosquito so we marched on. 

After a little more than two hours and frequent stops we were able to see the reflectors on the car thanks to a headlamp. We made it alive! It was time for a quick baby wipe rinse down at least for the two adults, and believe me the car ride would have been a lot nicer if all would have taken their hygiene more seriously. We loaded up and headed for home stopping in Lake Isabella at a Taco Bell and to fill up on gas. We pulled into Hesperia a little after 1:00 a.m. The trip was great but you know it is always good to get home.

The next day Jarred’s bite had flared up and his arm had become swollen and was increasing in size. It appeared to have been a spider bite that resulted in swelling and irritation. After monitoring the bite and the subsequent reaction he was taken to seek medical attention. Jarred was relieved to not have to take me up on my offer to amputate his arm.

Jarred and I hope to see you all on the trail soon. ~ Lindsay