After spending two days exploring the winter version of Yosemite National Park, two friends and I spent a day in Kern River Valley, near Lake Isabella. We chose this location on a whim really, seeing that it was near Sequoia National Forest and thinking it would be forested, or, immediately accessible to, well, forests. And it was close to a pine region...but due to logistics of our trip...we didn't end up having time to get to the pine area further down the road.
At first we were a little uncertain what to think of the arid terrain. We had just been in lush, snow accented, rainy Yosemite and now we were in a sunshine-sky, dry, treeless foothills landscape. But, we soon grew to love it.
We had little daylight, so went to the closest trail head we could find, which was actually the Audubon Kern River Preserve. There is an easy, flat nature trail that goes through a cottonwood and willow forest. Most of the trees were nearly leafless and a crunchy-leaf carpet lay upon the trail. The wind through the trees and the lighting of the afternoon and the fact that we had the trail to ourselves amplified the peacefulness of the walk.
We drove further down the road and pulled off to walk along some boulders near the Kern River's edge. The sun was approaching sunset then, so gave an amber hue to everything. And the sound of the white water flowing over rocks was ... well ... the best sort of music.
From there we drove into the dried bed of Lake Isabella. The drought was made evident here, but also allowed us to have a bit of fun - there is something completely electrifying of driving through an area where water should be...and driving through mud and getting a truck filthy.
We took in the sunset near our camp area and sunrise the next day as well. There was this open grassland nearby, with these eerie, leafless, dead-looking trees with branches stretching to the sky like skeleton arms.
All in all, it was a great place to wrap up our few days of nature adventure.