Monday, April 13, 2015

K is for Kern River

269 people dead since 1968

The Mighty Kern. As of April 2015, 269 people have died in it’s waters. Even though there is a drought going on and the river is at record lows, it can still be very dangerous. 

When I was growing up, the river flowed through the city, in canals and man made rivers, under bridges and freeways and around parks.

There was more than one area where locals could go swimming in calm areas and many have gone “tubing”, where you get a giant inflated tube and you float down the river in it. There are also companies that lead boat trips over the white water rapids.

As well as fun in the water, there is also food! You do have to catch it, but it’s there. With the weather warming up, we are really looking forward to crawdad dinners.

The Kern River can offer fun, in a raft, in a tube, swimming in calm areas, but it can still be dangerous, especially around weirs and rapids.

Weirs at Riverview Park

I once drowned in the Kern River. I nearly died. I was swimming at Riverview Park, near the weirs. This was years and years ago, long before the drought, when the Kern River roared past the park, deep and unrelenting. I got sucked into the weirs and became trapped in a whirlpool under the waterfall.

I don’t know how I survived. But as someone who drowned in the river and lived to tell about it, I can say with certainty, that the river is no joke. It may be at all time lows, but it’s still slippery and cold and fast moving. It is beautiful, majestic and lovely, it can be so much fun for friends and family, as well as the provider of yummy foods. But it is still the Mighty Kern River and it deserves respect.