Every year we make it a point to do a campout on the Kern River for some cliff jumping, soaking, and river floating. This year was no different except we decided to camp along the Kern for the very busy 4th of July weekend. Holy crap was the river crowded. Every single spot you could possibly camp at along the river was jam packed with people. It almost looked like mini Hoovervilles every where. After scouring up and down the river for a spot we finally found a little bit of real estate at the lower springhill campground. We got lucky and found a small amount of space to set up camp in kind of a rocky area with nobody next to us. Either way we made it work and had a blast visiting other camp sites on the 4th and celebrating America’s Independence Day with every patron on the river.
After setting up camp we immediately blew up the rafts and headed for the river for some tubing down the Kern. We started by hiking up river from our campground and floated about 1 mile downstream going through some petty crazy rapids. We then hiked back to camp to do it all over again until dusk came about. People usually tend to start their floating at the power plant and float for a couple hours down river back into town, but since California is in the middle of a drought we figured that portion of the river would be too shallow to comfortably float down the river so we put it on the agenda to find other areas/rapids to float down. We succeeded. We drove to some pretty cool spots with awesome rapids to float down. At one point we made it to the Johnsondale Bridge for cliff jumping and floating but as soon as we got there, Larrdawg slipped on some rocks and busted his knee open (you could see his patella) which cut that day trip short. Thankfully we have an EMT in our group and he was able to do some bleeding control and patch the knee up for the hike back to the parking lot. Larrdawg ended up getting stitches in his knee that night and stayed dry for the rest of the trip. He’s a trooper for sticking it out.
Since our cliff jumping portion got cut short we did some bridge jumping instead. Even though the water level was super low all over the river, the water level under the bridge was decent enough to jump. We spent a few hours jumping and using the rope swing with a huge group of party goers before heading back to camp. Before we left we floated down to the “hidden” warm spring on the Upper Kern. We use the term hidden because it definitely isn’t a secret. It’s just hard to find if you don’t know what you’re looking for. This warm spring emerges from the river when the river level is significantly low. Even a normal summer thunderstorm can raise the river level enough to hide the warm spring. The water comes out warm so it isn’t worth soaking in when the cold river rises above the spring.
This was a super solid trip even though we had 1 minor injury. Floating down the river for 3 days straight definitely did not get old. We already have some new cliff jump spots and floating spots scouted out for next summer’s campout.
Check the pictures below of the warm spring, bridge jump, and tubing.