Thursday, June 18, 2009

California Trip Report: The Forks of the Kern

Testing out the backpack system on the Forks of the Kern hike in

While camping at the Kaweah we met a nice couple (Rebecca and Eric) from Kernville that suggested Gareth and I go check out the Forks of the Kern run outside of Kernville. Because Gareth's shoulder was tweaked (he hurt it on the South Merced and aggravated it during his swim on the East Fork) we had been looking for a mellow option for the following few days and the forks seemed to be just what the doctor ordered. We were told it was an amazingly beautiful class four run that could be done as an overnight with some sweet side hikes. Sounded great to us so after taking off hospital rock we followed Eric and Rebecca south to Kernville.

Following a night camping out at the take-out, we were met by Bob (our shuttle driver) who took us the 20 miles up river to the put-in. The run had a two mile downhill hike in that Gareth and I decided would be a good opportunity to practice using our backpacking systems in anticipation of the 12 mile Upper Cherry hike in our near future. Turns out the carrying a loaded kayak on your back really isn’t as comfortable as one might imagine. I am glad that I got the practice using my backpack system but I am really not looking to ever putting it on again.

The river turned out to be just as beautiful as we were told and was filled with granite walls and tall peaks. We took our time moving downstream and managed to squeeze in some naptime by the river. After paddling over half of the total 18 miles of the run, we finally found a nice campsite and settled in for the evening.

A view from the hike in

Gareth on the hike

Gareth enjoying some of the 5 liters of wine we (aka Gareth) hiked in

Me hanging out in the hammock at camp

We spent the next morning relaxing at camp and catching up on some reading. When we eventually got back in our boats we only paddled for a couple hours before seeing a creek coming in that Gareth wanted to fish. After further inspection we realized it was the Dry Meadows creek side hike that had been mentioned to us. We decided to go check it out and man am I glad we did because it was absolute paradise. There were about ten teacup style drops, most of which were beautifully sculpted circular potholes. We probably spent around four hours just hanging out at this spot fishing and hiking and napping. The fishing was unbelievable considering we caught over thirty total trout within the pothole pools, one of which was over 13 inches (Gareth got that one). After catching four fish that we thought were sizeable enough to eat, we hiked back down to our boats and cooked them up over a granite slab fire by the river.

Thats me unhooking one of the fish I caught

Gareth fishing the pothole pools

Gareth reaching out for a fish that fell off the line at the last moment

Cleaning the trout

Fresh trout cooked over a granite slab...delicious!

Gareth cooking up the fish

Eventually we decided we had to keep moving downstream and finish up the river. It wasn't much further before we arrived back at the truck. We decided the best way to finish up such a great day was to hit up the Kern River Brewing Company, owned and run by Eric and Rebecca, the couple that brought us down to Kernville in the first place. We ate, we drank and we slept in the parking lot.

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