In early June I realized that I was going to have time for a little western adventure this summer. Having paddled a good bit in Colorado in the past, California was at the forefront of my mind. California in summer is on every creekboaters wish list and after years of missing out, I finally got my first taste this year. With all the hardcore trip reports from California lately, it kinda has me feeling like a slacker. Our quickie trip to California this summer was not hardcore. It was, however, fun and picturesque and certainly wetted my appetite for future California adventures.
The whole trip came together at the last minute. When I mentioned to John Kern that I had a window of time to make a trip happen, he was immediately as ready and excited for California as I was. A short time later Leigh Knudsen and Terran Viehe also decided to join the trip. The plan began to come together. John and I would drive across the country with everyone’s gear while Leigh and Terran would fly into Reno, rent a car to come meet us, and all of us would have eight days together to paddle in a region of the country that would be new to us all.
John and I wanted to give ourselves a time-cushion to make our cross country drive. We wanted to allow ourselves enough time that that if we had any car trouble etc., we would have time to deal with it and still be in California in time to meet Leigh and Terran. If everything went perfectly on our cross country drive, we would arrive a few days ahead of everyone else and get a few extra days of bonus boating.
There are only about two turns between Chattanooga, Tennessee and the state of California… and only a few more to get us to Kernville. Our entire drive went extremely smoothly and we arrived three days before we would be joined by Terran and Leigh. After a brief stop in Kernville we headed immediately headed up to Brush Creek to shake off the drive with some California rock sledding.
All told, John and I spent four days doing laps on Brush Creek with Terran and Leigh joining us for the final day. The water levels were fairly low (mostly in the 1.5-2 range) throughout our stay, but the smooth bedrock and constant slides kept smiles on our faces during every run. We caught a lucky break in the declining water levels when afternoon thunderstorms on our last two days there brought the level up to around 2.5 for a few hours late each afternoon.
It’s hard to beat Brush Creek’s easy logistics: free camping at the takeout, a short shuttle, and good food/beer a short drive away at the Kern River Brewing Company. Unfortunately I also strained my left shoulder on the third day. It was an injury that I kept trying to ignore, but for the rest of the trip it would hang in the back of my mind at every put-in, every scout, and every left stroke/brace. Eventually I had to just admit that nothing would help my shoulder until it got some rest, so I sat out the final three days of our trip, but I’ll save that story for another time.
Until Next Time...