Today was a planned half-day of hiking, about seven miles down down down into Kern Canyon towards the Kern Hot Spring. The Kern river is a nice place to relax and fish, so we were looking forward to our afternoon off and started off the morning at a leisurely pace. I think we were the last ones to leave Moraine Lake. The one big concern about the day was rattlesnakes. It’s not common to find rattlers up high, but the trail would take us down to about 6500 feet while passing through a rattlesnake’s paradise. Several years ago the area burned, and now the trail is lined and overgrown with shady ferns that a rattlesnake would just love to nap under.
So we took off and hoped to make it through the rattlesnake gauntlet before the heat of the day. Last year both Paige and I encountered rattlesnakes on this stretch so I was extra alert this time. Of course, not a single rattlesnake was seen. When we reached our campsite slightly downriver of the spring, we also made sure it was rattlesnake free. The hike down wasn’t void of excitement, however. We had our first official Whitney sighting from a distance (it looked so far away!), and had a cute bird begging for food almost like a squirrel (no, we didn’t feed it).
We spent the afternoon relaxing along the river, fishing, and hanging out at the hot spring. At the spring we chatted with a friendly group from Mountain View and Sunnyvale (my town) and followed it up with a good night of sleep.