Olancha sounded like an exotic place, but when I got there, I discovered a wide spot in the road where RVs and Pick-ups pulling trailers dominated other traffic. To be fair, this was be the time of year when folks who had spent the summer up in the high country and didn't want to spend the winter there too, dragged their stuff back to the home 20. A few more miles and the two lane opened up into this...
The Los Angeles aquaduct and US-395. It was barely noon, so going into the back side of Sequoia National Forrest seemed a sensible thing to do...3 hrs later and with no idea of where I was...it didn't seem quite so bright.
a look up the hill...
a look back down.
In the rain shadow of the southern Sierra Nevada Mtns. the presence of water is easily seen.
The high country is here...
...the alpine meadow.
...the ultimate rock garden
The sky was exciting...the day breezy and swirling.
and a hawk flew through my field of view.
This was still pretty open country...lots of sunlight and a good road surface. As I moved west on the plateau, this would change, but the sky stayed crazy.
I might not have stuck my neck out had I not spoken to a guy in a pickup back at US-395. He had just come down and told me that if I weren't in a hurry, it was an unforgettable ride. Road marking was non-existant ...GPS and roadmap conflicted and there were few signs to set things straight. I would come to two forks and I was supposed to bear left at both of them. Hmmmm.
Toward the western edge of the meadow, the trees crew closer and cast shadows. The roadbed became pitted and the turns tightened up. Sand and pine straw appeared at the unhappiest places and my pace slowed.
This was the South Sierra Wilderness and it was time to start down.
at the bottom, I met the Kern River...although, like the highway I was on and the highway I Tee'd into, it was not marked...at all.
I turned right and within 5 miles, I was entering Great Sequoia National Forrest. The shadows were lengthening, so I pulled a 180 and ran south along the river. After 20-30 miles, some signs of civilization began to appear. The river was a mecca for Kayakers...with a sign denoting all of the rapids by name...even in Spanish...but not the name of the river.
This would be Kernville.
Once I passed Kernville heading west on CA-178, there weren't many options. It had been a long day with the last 3-4 hrs picking my way across questionable sections of road.
By the time I hit US-395 and turned back north, the hills I had climbed with the sun at my back, were now darkening in shadow.
When I got to the intersection were I could turn south and away from LA, I was less than 50 mi. from where I first entered the hills leading to Kennedy Meadows...
almost a complete circle in the mountains and a hell of a way to get home.