Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hiking and exploring Red Rock Canyon, Lake Isabella area below the dam and west of the river and driving the Bodfish road.

A long day trip, but where else can you see geologic wonders, wildflowers, rivers, meadows, trees, and natural wonders all along the road? My sister is here visiting from Germany and she as I appreciate the wide-open spaces and natural beauty of the area. We packed a picnic lunch, the dog, plenty of water and food for Tashidog as well. Our first stop was Red Rock Canyon where we hiked for 2 hours, until it got too hot for Tashi. The road to Isabella is best this time of year with all the pastures green as emeralds, cows happily grazing and the large cottonwood trees framing the boundary between green and rugged high desert-mountain terrain.
Flowers are everyplace. The lake was low and a few campers lined the shore. Once below the dam we crossed over the river to the west and rested on a secluded spot on the river. We found evidence of Native American occupation in many places along the river. The polished rocks are like sculptures. The river was slow, so Tashi was able to take a swim. (On a long leash.) In the back-country the oaks are just beginning to leaf out and vast areas of bright yellow Golden Fields spread beneath them, mixed with the first Evening Snow opening after the sun dropped lower on the westerly horizon. On the way home we chose the Bodfish road that winds up the mountain, passes historic Havila and will give you white knuckles if you mind steep drops. All along the way we were rewarded with views of meadow after meadow of flowers. As we dropped into beautiful, green Walker Basin. The road again rose and here we saw what we first took as fields of snow. The “snow fields” actually turned out to be areas covered with the delicate star-shaped flowers: Evening Snow! We watched the sun set, back lighting the vast oak woodlands in their Spring Green. This is open range country, so smile back at the happy cows, slow down and enjoy. A wonderland right here in Kern County!

Hiking among the Poppies at the Lancaster/Palmdale Poppy Preserve

Most of the people go to the Visitor’s Center, but I prefer to go out where no people and pavement distract me from the breathtaking beauty of the flowers. I take Willow Springs Road to 135; turn to the west (towards Highway 5) to the preserve sign. Turn left. Once you park take care to look where you walk. Birds are nesting on the ground and snakes are present occasionally. They move away if you give them a chance. Arrive after 10 am and before 4 pm, as the poppies “close shop” without full sun (on a windy day as well). Once-in-a while you will see yellow rather than orange blooms.