Tour without a goal – 28 August 2014

Giant feet

I wish to say nothing. What does the sky say?

last walk with giants
Even after yesterday’s long climb there was still nearly 3000 feet remaining up into the Giant Sequoia Monument. This was much easier being first thing in the morning when it was cooler and I was more rested. But I also think it was just a bit easier – the grades seemed less and I was able to establish a steady pace. At one point on the climb I was passed by a car which I then found a couple of switchbacks up with its hatchback open. I was passed by a roadie at about that point and he waved off the woman at the car. We had a few words – mutual complaints about the black flies – and he mentioned he hadn’t seen another cyclist in four days. He rode on and I really wondered what sort of a ride he was doing. He was climbing this hill supported and had been doing this for days. I was even more mystified when I saw him descend the hill in the car.

Looking back

I reached the summit before noon and at the tiny “town” of Ponderosa I stopped for lunch. It was all big trees up here and while I’d seen a few sequoia, there didn’t seem to be any of the big groves up here. But after riding the plateau for some time and descending to closer to 6000′ I came to the Redwood Campground and the Trail of 100 Giants. Here I took one last walk among these magnificent trees; this is I think pretty much the southern extent of the sequoia range. It really is humbling to walk among these trees. Thousands of years old, survivors of ages of fire, snow, ice, changing climates, mans insatiable appetites. The rough, textured reddish bark, the broken crowns, the celery stalk shape of dusty green foliage all towering far above you with a mass that can be sensed. Farewell sequoia, you will be missed.

Giant sequoia

There was now about thirty miles of descending primarily following the Kern River once I was down from the mountain. It got hotter and hotter as I descended and down in the Kern river Valley it was mid to upper nineties according to one thermometer I witnessed. The river was quite lively, with a decent amount of flow over big rocks with many pools. Once again I was tempted to stop and cool off in these pools. But alas I had too much distance ahead. There was a small dam, which didn’t make a reservoir but they were clearly getting power from. Below the dam the river continued to rush along and there was much recreation going on. This is USFS land so you can camp freely in “developed spots” and these were becoming packed. The wind also increased as I came down the valley at times blowing really vigorously. Happily I was mostly going downhill as a counter to it, but can’t deny I’d have preferred no wind.

Lake Isabella

The Kern River was clearly a big recreation area and when I reached Kernville there was many resorts, campgrounds and the accompanying tourist facilities. I turned south and followed the river to Lake Isabella. Another reservoir lake it was again obviously quite low. The road along the lake had the usual up and down, with one more significant upward section that went right through a cut in the shear cliffs. More traffic than I prefer in a narrow winding road likes this. I Passed multiple USFS campground along the lake but I wanted to be a the farther east south one which is the closeted to the town of Lake Isabella. When I got there I found that it was “reservations only” and “full”. Talking to the host it turns out that due to the drought and extreme fire hazard the bulk of the ‘ground was closed and being the closest to the lake it was fully reserved in advance of the Labor Day weekend. So I had to ride two miles back to the Hungry Gulch Campground which in contrast was entirely empty.

gazing into the deep sky–
    no clouds
        no stars
            no sky

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