This One Time at Kern River...
California will always hold a special place in our hearts because it's not just where we met but also where our adventures first began! Ryan grew up in Wisconsin, doing many outdoor activities such as camping, jet skiing, water skiing, and things of that nature! He not only knows how to do these things,but he can do them very well! But I'll tell you more about that when we talk about our trips to Wisconsin! Let's just say he was very well versed in the outdoors when we met. Growing up in Texas, if you're allergic to mosquito bites, such as myself you can't really be too "outdoorsy" because of all the pesky bugs that are also "outdoorsy". So while I played sports outdoors, my camping and lake knowledge was quite limited. I did enjoy the lake and floating the river later in life, but camping had never been my forte. The first time Ryan took me camping, I was so excited, even after my friends asked me repeatedly, "what will you do about the bugs Cytarah!?" Well, jokes on them because Southern California's bug problem is not nearly as bad and I was able to camp without embarrassing myself, for the most part.
There are so many beautiful national parks around America and I can't wait to see more of them! For now, let's talk about camping in Southern California! Our first camping trip was to Kern River! There are numerous campsites to check out up and down the river. The one we went to isn't open anymore but the river runs through the Sequoia National Forest so you can check out the official parks site and see which spot would be best for you! When we went on our trip, we had been dating a couple of months and it was our first little get away from Los Angeles, just the two of us. Needless to say we had a great time as we continued to go on camping trips the rest of the time we lived there! If you want to see if you're compatible with someone, I suggest going to a place where there is no cell service and no distractions. We were able to connect with nature and ourselves. We explored the area around the campsite and went for hikes down the river. If you're looking for more strenuous hikes, you may want to stay in the upper Kern River area. The lower you are, the flatter the area. When I say flat though, I do not mean boring. It was magical. The scenery out there is like something out of a storybook. There were streams that led to the river that will have you climbing over huge rocks and hopping across smaller ones. While it wasn't a lot of uphill hiking there was enough diversity in the terrain to keep it interesting and get the heart rate going! Our days off were always Tuesday and Wednesday, so we were able to have the place all to ourselves. It was so peaceful and quiet, you could actually hear the river flowing. It was a hot spring day but we had so many trees for shade and we even had a spot right next to the river to set up camp. Ryan was in charge of setting up our camping area. He set up the tent and put lights up and made sure everything was nice and cozy inside the tent as well. The tent we had at the time wasn't too big but unless you plan on having a party inside of it, you don't need all that much space. We did upgrade to a larger tent that could fit more of our things inside because trekking back and forth to the car is just a hassle. I was in charge of taking pictures and making sure ants were nowhere near our site. (I did this at every single site we camped at btw) I also familiarized myself with the bear boxes..... *hold for shock that's equally as big as mine was* Yeah... Bear boxes... Now to some this may not come as a shock but I was quite surprised. (I spent an unnecessary amount of time watching videos online about bears and campsites when we got back and do not recommend doing that if you're camping in Southern CA for the first time) Worried?? Don't be, the campsites have you covered! There are many signs warning you of bears and giving you advice on what to do if you encounter one. They have bear proof locks on the dumpsters and boxes for your food. Always put your food in these bear proof boxes before you get in your non bear proof tent for the night. Though we never saw any bears any time we camped, I was always pretty sure they were around. Alas, on this trip, the only thing that attacked us was the cold. We went camping at the very beginning of April, as in April 2nd, and you would think a beautiful and perfectly hot spring day would turn into a nice comfortable night. But you would be wrong. The cold crept in like I assumed the bears were going to, slow but with a mighty force. We played card games and drank beer and enjoyed seeing actual stars for the first time in a while, without knowing nearly freezing temperatures were coming for us. After a great day of exploring and playing games all night, we realized we were getting kind of cold and it was getting late so we headed to the tent to lay down. By the way, I highly recommend having a blow up mattress to sleep on. It may be our age, I mean I know we aren't too old but we're not so young either and neither of us do well sleeping on the hard ground. We learned that quite quickly. We had what we thought was enough blankets and pillows but we were not that comfortable. We did not go camping without an air mattress again, which is another reason the bigger tent came in handy on future trips. The other reason for the discomfort, was the cold weather I mentioned earlier. Being from Texas, I can handle heat like it's nothing and I actually prefer it. Ryan, being from Wisconsin is more comfortable with the cold, as in, wear a short sleeve shirt when I'm wearing 3 layers, comfortable. That night however, neither of us were prepared. We had on extra pairs of pants and hoodies and even onesies and it might as well have been nothing. We were so cold, we would fall asleep and wake back up, only to talk about how cold we were and lose consciousness (or fall back to sleep if you don't want the dramatic version) all over again. Either way, it was so cold though we could barely stay awake to talk about it, so you be the judge. I had never been in cold temperatures like that and suddenly our peaceful spot by the river seemed to have betrayed us, because the breeze coming from the water was so disrespectful. Ryan, bless his heart, was able to keep us up long enough to come up with the plan to sleep in his car. And so we grabbed our belongings and went to the car and turned the heat on to thaw our bodies out. Once we were in the car we decided to watch As Above So Below on his media system. Why couldn't we sleep? Was it because of the cold? Was it because walking past the bear boxes suddenly made me remember about the bears and I couldn't go back to sleep?? Honestly, I don't remember, but I do know that we stayed up and watched the movie and talked and laughed and finally fell asleep for a little bit before the sun started to come up. With the sun, came some warmth, like an old friend, that had left you in the middle of the night, with no way home, only to show back up in the morning like "Ahhh haha gotcha!" We got the fire started and made some breakfast and laughed about our lonely tent sitting there by itself.
To avoid any trouble when you are camping in Southern CA, be sure to check and see if you need a California Campfire Permit for the site you are looking into and be aware of any fire restrictions at that time. Never leave your fire unattended (just sleep in your car lol) With the fires we have had this past year, you want to make sure you respect the laws of the land.
It was honestly such a wonderful night and it was the first time I realized, that we could get through any situation as long as we were together. We've had our share of hiccups on trips, just wait until you hear about Paris haha but we've always found a way to make it work. We learned our lesson and always packed enough clothing, blankets, pillows, light sources and an air mattress, every time we camped after that. More on those trips a little later! If you find yourself wanting a peaceful little getaway I do highly suggest checking out a site along Kern River! Just pack accordingly and use your bear boxes! :)