Let’s start this by admitting that I am not a hiker. But I do enjoy walking around new places and exploring – provided it is not uphill, hot and a place that will trigger my allergies. So, you know when I agree to go hiking (or even plan a hike), it must be a special occasion. And it was – Andy’s birthday (and he’s a legit hike-lover, so…). And we were enjoying a mountain retreat in Kernville, California.
Our lovely hostess at Durrwood Creekside Lodge, Dee, told us about a short hike (for Andy) that stopped up by a waterfall over a large rock slide. It wasn’t a far drive to get to the base (about 9 miles from Durrwood), and there was day parking.
It was a hot day, but this sounded like an ideal option. The hike in to the water was only 1.5 miles, and it was marked on the map as an easy grade. I just keep forgetting that a park ranger’s easy, and Patricia’s easy, are not the same thing. Sure, we saw kids scrambling down the path as we were walking in, but for all I knew those kids were mountain climbers.
I kid. The incline was not steep, though there was an incline, but the altitude was such that I was losing air faster than I anticipated. Andy was in easy stride mode, though, unaffected by the altitude. It was beautiful. And it was hot. Even though it was probably 2:30-3:30pm when we started, it was still in the mid-80s, and shade was not plentiful as we trudged up the dirt service road.
Still, I didn’t start to get serious doubts until we entered an area that didn’t really look cleared, no longer had the sound of water, and felt like we’d gone beyond the 1.5 mile mark. It felt that way because we had. Not by a lot, but we had passed the climb down area, and had to double back. Luckily, it was Andy who realized that we should turn around, so I didn’t even have to start whining for that to happen. Score!
It turns out the marker on the hand drawn map was not a bridge (as I thought it was), but instead a path. That path was a climb down over rocks. In addition to hiking, I’m not much of a climber, but this was easy enough. We walked out over the rocks and saw the remains of the waterfall.
It was a beautiful area, and I can see why it’s a popular spot for people who are looking for some pools of cool water after a hike (there are actually a number of trails into the area). But what amazed me was how low the water levels were. The rocks we stood on when we entered have been rubbed smooth by rushing water over the years – water that was not there now. In fact, it must be quite a sight when the full weight of water thunders by.
But that was only part of the dismay. The other part was the amount of trash that people had left behind. Beer bottles, plastic bottles, chip bags, and other snack bags all had been left either on the banks of the trail or near/in the water. It baffles me that people would do that. What’s the reasoning? Do they think a maid is following them to pick up their offings? Are they just lazy? Are they that thoughtless? I really don’t understand. Even if this was a formal park with full-time park service (it isn’t), they aren’t there to pick up your beer bottles.
While I was busy being deeply annoyed, Andy was more proactive. Notice his pockets. He began picking up the trash – at one point even stepping into the water bushes in order to pick up someone’s leavings. He crushed as much as he could and stuffed everything into his cargo pant pockets. You can tell by his face that he’s thrilled about it all. So for the love of Andy, the next time you go out into the woods, rivers, anywhere in nature, or anywhere outside of your own home really, please pick up after yourself. If you took it into the world, you can take it back out.
Would I recommend the large rock fall area above Kernville, California for novice hikers? Yes. As much as I complained about the heat, for most people this hike won’t be a big problem, and even at the current drought levels there is water and a beautiful view to enjoy. So, hike on!
From R-Ranch in Johnsondale, the service road and day parking area is 6 miles. You’ll go north from Johnsondale and make a right at the fork, passing Lloyd’s Meadow. You’ll cross three bridges and at the second green utility gate, you’ll see day parking on your right. The service road is across the street. Walk up the service road approximately 1.5 miles. You’ll see the water on your right. There are two climb down points. Pick the easiest for you and enjoy!