My best friends are as nature loving as me and it was just a matter of time before we were going to organize a “ladies only” camping trip filled with lots of fun and adventure. We left on a Friday evening with two packed cars with Kern River as our destination. We read some reports with chances of rain and floods up there, but nevertheless, we just decided to go, there was nothing stopping us (consulting the local rangers who reassured us that it was fine to go, was crucial in our bold decision, too!). Driving through the Sequoia National Forest alongside the river at night was so eerie: It was pitch dark, we could only see the trees’ silhouettes and hear the water streaming. The roads were winding and, as we were approaching Lake Isabella and Kernville, they got narrower and dangerously close to a rocky wall.
We arrived at our campground around 11 p.m. and we were thrilled to see that our site was literally right by the river. We set up our tents in the hot and humid night (yup, no rain or floods) with our headlamps and flashlights on in record time. Seriously, who needs men? We sat by the table and sipped our well deserved wine and chatted late into the night.
The next day, the hot sun woke us up at 8 o’ clock, we were just stunned to see how our surroundings looked in the daylight; the river was so much bigger than we thought (although, the noise should have been a good indicator that it wasn’t exactly a stream) and there were small mountains covered with pine trees framing the horizon.
Saturday was all about exploring, so we drove up the mountains in search of some natural water slides that we heard about. We had some directions downloaded from the Internet, which were a little cryptic but we trusted our girl scout instincts and we kept going. We knew we arrived at the right place when we spotted a large group of shirtless tattooed guys with a big cooler walking out of a rocky parking area; when asked, they were more than delighted to confirm that, yes, we were close to the water slides and that we should waste no time and follow them. We hiked the mile-long road in the hot sun on our own; we had to rest a couple of times in any little shade we could find, but once we arrived at our destination, all the pain was gone and we started sliding down the fun chiseled and slippery rocks. The water was freezing cold, especially the little pool at the end of the slide, but it was so worth it!!
We dried up on a large rock where we also had a small picnic — it was so delightful and relaxing. We stayed for a couple of hours and then walked back to the car grateful that this time we were going downhill and that we were able to admire the sequoia trees along the way. By the time we descended the 5,000 feet and got to our campground, the heat intensified leaving us panting and super thirsty. We stopped to get some ice for our coolers and a refreshing drink at a fun little restaurant called McNally’s. The decor is Old West with fun little figures representing various cowboys and Indian scenes.
We felt the need to be in the water and cool off again, so we embarked on yet another expedition; this time in search of some natural hot springs by the river. We followed more directions downloaded from the Internet but made some wrong turns and I was actually wondering if we were ever going to make it … but we did, and I felt like there was nothing we couldn’t accomplish when we set our minds to it! After parking, we walked down a cute little hill. We had a clue that we were approaching our nature-made jacuzzis when we saw some women walking back in their bathing suits. I really felt like we won a scavenger hunt when we saw the three tubs right in front of us; we immediately tried them all and it was the most rewarding and magical time of the day. The temperature of the water varies from lukewarm to super hot and it’s filled with minerals that soothe every inch of the skin. Combine that with the sunset colors, the relaxing flowing sound of the adjacent river, and wine with your besties, and that’s paradise!
Back at the campsite, we grilled some delicious dinner on the fire and passed out under the starry sky. The next day, we decided to “take it easy” by just inner tubing on the river. Needless to say, if you’re in Kern County, you must get an inner tube; the river is low enough and safe for anyone to cruise down in “big donuts”. You can find them everywhere for a mere $11 and you can blow them up right outside the main store or gas stations (also recommended are a pair of water shoes, as the river bed is usually rocky and slippery; these can also be found everywhere for less than $10). We made fun of Melissa’s super deluxe inner tube, as it came with a headrest and cup holders, so much so that she deserved the title of “The leader of the ladies’ rat pack!!!”
We launched ourselves into the river from the next picnic area by the grocery store. The river there is so calm, that we tied all of our inner tubes together and we happily floated with our beverages and sun hats. I was chatting away when I bumped into a few rocks with my tush; that’s when I realized that I had to keep an eye out and lift my royal booty in order to avoid any contact with them, especially in the small fast rapids. Some of the rapids were so much fun, though, we decided to go for a second run.
Before leaving, we went for a small stroll in Kernville, we behaved ourselves and didn’t shop. I personally, didn’t need any souvenirs, I had a collection of small purple bruises on my behind, but precious memories to carry forever.