Sequoia / Kings Canyon / Clair Tappan Walkabout – Day 4, Mammoth to Kernville

I got a late start today. I don’t think I was out the door until 7:30am. First things first. I stopped at The Stove in Mammoth Lakes for breakfast. It was simple, and fast. Coffee right up, eggs over medium, patty sausage, potatoes, and english muffin. I downed it all while thumbing through Flipboard on my phone and reading the morning news.

Soon I was on the 395 heading south towards the highway 178 turnoff to Lake Isabella. I stopped to take a few pictures of Crowley Lake and the nearby desert mountains.

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I also got this great shot of the road crews laying down new asphalt before the winter storms. I couldn’t decide on the color or B/W photo for this one.

The trip today was a little strange. You have lots of time for thinking when you’re by yourself, on the road. I had plenty to think about. My best friend in high school, Jim Kleinsmith, succumbed to cancer a few days ago. We haven’t really seen each other for decades (my fault), but it has hit me hard. I spent a lot of time listening to old rock and reminiscing in my head.

I finally reached the Hwy 178 turnoff and went up and over a beautiful pass bordered by forests of joshua trees. It was really quite striking. Back down the other side, the hwy enters the South Fork Kern River watershed. Since it has been such a dry year there wasn’t any water to be seen. But the mountains were pretty and the riparian habitat was green.

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Soon the turnoff towards Kernville came up and it was a quick 11 miles into town. The present Kernville is really the second Kernville, the original is at the bottom of Lake Isabella.

I stopped to get gas, fried chicken for lunch, and some canned chili for dinner (I was planning on camping this night). I took my picnic to the River park, right in the middle of town, and ate at one of the picnic tables there.

It was at that point that I decided that my knee, still swollen from biking yesterday morning, was a good enough excuse to stay at the Kernville Inn located about 200 ft from my lunch spot.

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After checking in, I iced the leg, watched endless MSNBC discussions on the Supreme Court nomination issues, and read (I’m re-reading Treasure Island for the umpteenth time). Finally at 5pm, I decided that i could break out the gin and tonic and have a drink. It was pleasant sitting in the shade of the trees, sipping the G&T and watching a cat hunt birds in the trees.

For dinner, I had a great hamburger, followed by apple pie and decaf coffee at Cheryl’s Diner. The whole experience was nice. Good food and service. However the political discussion at the nearby tables, although anthropologically interesting, was at the opposite end of the spectrum from my personal views.

After dinner, the sun had gone down, and I had a very pleasant walk around the town. I haven’t been here in years, but Gretchen and I used to visit it quite frequently during our whitewater kayaking years. The place brings back fond memories.

That’s all for today. I haven’t yet decided on what is happening tomorrow. I may choose to cut things short because the knee is acting up. We’ll see how it feels in the morning.

Happy trails.

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