Jeff David led a group of 11 bikes and two cars on a 3 day trip to Kernville, Ca. which is located at the Southern tip of Sequoia National Forest. Our group included Stu Weist and his fiancee Michelle, Rick & Debbie O'Connell & Family, Jeff David, Karen, Brandon Eguchi, Dennis & Karen Peji, Michael Brogan, Walter & Sandy Wilson, Burt Sherriff, Anthony Andolini, and Steve & Doris Malott.
On Friday, August 6th, it took us about 5 hours to take I-15 North from San Diego to Rt. 395 and then Rt. 178 East. We took Sierra Way along the Northern edge of Lake Isabella into Kernville and arrived around 2 P.M. Many of our group were camping while some of us chose to stay in nearby lodging. We took a break to check into our lodging or set up our campsites.
We were fortunate to have somewhat cooler weather since the normal August high temperature is in the 90's. We had a big swing in temperature over the course of the day with a low in the 50's at night.
Friday evening's ride was to the Sequoia trail of a 100 giants-we made our trip up the Kern River to the Trail of a 100 Giants, some 33 miles and 4000 ft higher. Crossing the Kern river on the way you enter Tulare county. This county has some of the most interesting road signs: First sign read "Road Narrows" followed by another "Road Further Narrows", and then you get curve sign "slow" or 35, 30, 25, or even 15 in some places.
The Sequoia's were magnificent, a sight to behold, trees thousand of years old. The tree bases were 20 feet in diameter and larger. This was the highlight of the trip. We took a group picture at the base of one of the largest trees.
We felt dwarf sized next to these huge trees. They extended upward forever.
The return ride to Kernville was as challenging and scenic as the ride up to the trail of giants. We found a great viewpoint to see the entire Kernville area.
A hearty breakfast and we were ready for the main ride of the trip. North along the Kern River to Johnsondale, East over Sherman Pass, and a descent to the Mojave Desert.
As we headed up J41 to Sherman Pass, the sign said: "Curves next 95 miles". What an understatement. This road with all its beauty had more curves, twisties and switchback than most of our group had ever seen. What make it even more difficult was the obstacles on the road: rocks, pot holes, and lot of sand and gravel in the turns. The sign should have read, "turn back if you value your life". We took our time ascending 7000 ft in 16 miles and made it to Sherman Pass some 9200 Feet above sea level. We saw an endless view of mountains and forest with Mt Whitney in the background some 40 miles away. By-the-way Mt Whitney does have snow on the top of its peak year round, that is how high it is above sea level.
As we descended down Sherman Pass, a sign appeared, "rough roads next 11 miles". The sign should have read, "washboard road". This road had been damaged by logging trucks which were removing trees killed by bark beetles. After the 11 mile stretch of road, the ride got better and we enjoyed the cruise through Kennedy Meadows to a creek on the other side of town. We stop and enjoyed the view of people getting ready to ride there horses in the meadow area, and overlooked the stream we just passed over.
As we were climbing up to Sherman Pass, we turned a corner and ran straight into a small herd of cattle. One calf started to race my Harley down the road and then just stopped. We did avoid them, but it was sure fun seeing cattle stirred-up as we passed by. For a moment, I thought we were on a cattle drive riding Iron Horses. The cattle did leave some "deposits" on the road so we had to be careful.
The last leg of the journey was very exciting as the temperature began to raise and we descended 5000 ft in ten miles clinging to the mountains edge. If you looked off to the right it was 4000 feet straight down. Not a road to travel if faint at heart, especially since there were no guard rails. We soon were down in the desert on Route 395, a relatively cool day around 100 degrees. Then we rode back though Route 178 Walker pass and continued around Lake Isabella for a quick need for speed. Route 521 is my favorite ride in the Kernville area, since you have great sweeping turns and can maintain good speeds throughout. Of course, Stu tested out his Valkyrie and found it was a little more efficient than the other bikes in the group.
After long days of riding we would hang out at the Frandy campsite on the Kern River. This location was very peaceful and tranquil. The campfire each evening brought many great stories and shared comradere. Thanks to Rick and Debbie we had plenty of chairs to accommodate everyone at the site.