The sad state of California whitewater this year was evidenced by a Memorial Day weekend which saw flows below runnable across the state. So instead of kayaking, I headed for a weekend of camping and relaxing along the Lost Coast. Even got in some yard-work and a movie. A full weekend with nary a boat in sight (except for the fleet I needed to move around to mow under). So I was a bit surprised when I woke Tuesday morning to an invite to a class V overnight trip on the Kern.
My buddy Matt's birthday was Thursday and he always spends it on the river. The Kern had crashed out for the weekend, but somehow rebounded. He saw the Kern turn green on Dreamflows and rushed to put together a crew for a Wed/Thu trip down the Forks of the Kern, one of my favorite runs in the world. Could I say no?
I had lots of reasons to say no, actually. It's a nine hour drive to get down there. With commitments through the afternoon, I couldn't leave until 5pm. The run starts with a two mile hike in and I haven't set up a backpack system for my new Karma (my old system for my Villain was sweet, but requires some boat modification and custom webbing adjustments). My wife was taking off for the weekend on Friday, so I'd have to drive straight home after the trip (another 9 hours) just to get few hours with her before she leaves. And I've done the Forks a lot, it's nothing new and special.
But you can't say no to your buddy on his birthday. I made the trip, not for the kayaking but for the company. A couple new friends joined us on the trip and I got to show them this beautiful river for the first time. Flows were ideal and the weather perfect. The Air Force training runs gave us an air show the entire weekend, with F-16's screeching up the canyon ahead of their thunderous roar. We even ran into some friendly rafters who ran the shuttle for us, saving us a couple hours on the back end. Clean lines and a hike up Dry Meadow Creek rounded out a great couple of days.
I didn't shoot a single picture or video of the kayaking action. It was all about the lifestylin' and scenery. Sometimes kayaking is a sport that enraptures us and consumes our world. Sometimes it's just transportation to a magical place.