Tubing the Kern River

This past weekend I was invited to rapids/lazy river that is the Kern. My last experience with the Kern River was 2 years ago, when my boyfriend at the time and I joined a meetup group to experience a whitewater rafting adventure. Doing these type of meetups (through meetup.com) are awesome. You get to meet a group of cool people who also live in Southern California and want to experience adventure. It’s like a weekend at summer camp, and when you leave you’ve made life friends. This first trip is where I met Amber (who I’ve written about here before and who was also on this trip) and many others I still keep in touch with. If you want to explore the outdoors but don’t have anyone to do it with, join these trips. They are often lead by super experienced guides who want to teach you, so newbies are very welcomed.

This trip, almost exactly 2 years later, was less of a whitewater rafting trip and instead a tubing adventure. This past winter Southern California got very little rain/snow in the mountains and this river is powered by that melting snow. You can imagine, the water was very low.

We camped at the Frandy Campground, which is a great place to stay. It’s right along the river, so if you drive up the road and get into the water you can end at the campsite (where you have another car waiting to pick-up the other car). It’s a lot of coordinating to make sure the pick-up/drop-off works out.

Here you can see the challenge of getting the tubes to the launch site. The Frandy
Campground has a very powerful pump, which makes blowing up tubes fast and easy. But this also means you have to bring them to the river blown up. The photo below was taken by a member of our group. This was also a successful ride with the tubes. We had one drive where they all came undone in the street. Oh well, we did your best.

The next two photos were also taken by people in our group. I was too worried about my camera to bring it since it’s not waterproof. Their GoPro’s got some great shots! You can see the river is perfect for lounging…

…and then it gets rocky and wild! That’s me folks, and I LOVED taking on the rapids in the tube. So much fun. And yes, I did fall out once, but it was worth the bruises.

After a Saturday full of tubing (we did 2 long runs) we washed up and decided to take a tour around the cute little town of Kernville. It’s not very big so it didn’t take long at all, but there’s something really fun about a small town. And you know how I love to walk.

See, it’s like a ghost town! Doesn’t it look like a movie set? I should mention that my car registered it was 112 degrees at high noon on Saturday. It probably averaged around 100 for the weekend. This meant you needed to be in the water because the bathwater temperature of the river felt so refreshing. I mention this now, because the above photo of the “ICE” sign was taken when we would have loved to pour it over our heads.

A western easily could shoot here. Swap the cars for horses and maybe we’d catch a glimpse of John Wayne.

We stopped in what looked like a tiny gift shop, which ended up being quite large as it just kept going and going. “Howdy,” says the bear.

That night we had a celebratory dinner at the Kern River Brewing Company. If you like dark beer, try their Class V Stout. Quite tasty!

This was the place ot be on a Saturday Night and you could tell the locals love this bar/restaurant. They even had live music. You can see below, Jacqueline Taylor (a mother of two) was raising money to audition on American Idol in Oklahoma. She was a fine singer but I don’t get why she couldn’t audition in LA. It’s a three hour drive away, which is basically a half a tank of gas away. She was trying to raise $3000 (?) to get to Oklahoma. Why? Well, good luck to Jacqueline. Maybe you’ll be the next American Idol.

I had to add this photo, as all of the food we served in bowls, so we had a table full of bowls. I got the fish tacos with a side of the cheesy garlic fries. It was I’m sure high in calorie, and totally worth it. The fries were especially tasty. After getting such a workout on the river (hand-paddling takes a lot of arm work) this was a nice celebratory meal.

It’s campfire time!!

We played The Cards Against Humanity (like I played in Chicago) and I tied for first place. I must have a sick mind. We played while wearing headlamps. I’m sure we looked like geeks but we had a blast. And of course, no camping trip would be complete without s’mores!

I had such a great trip and I hope to do many more activities with this group of people. Maybe even some canyoneering! Getting out of LA was so easy and camping is so cheap once you own the gear (which I do). It’s shocking to me that this was my first camping trip of the year and I hope to go on more this summer. This was also on my list of goals for the year, so already I’m crossing things off. At the end of the month I’ll take another look at that list of goals, since 2012 is flying by!

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