Museum resumes summer field trips

Museum resumes  summer field tripsBy JANET WESTBROOK, Maturango Museum volunteer

The Mountains and meadows are calling, and we should go!

Seriously, let’s head for the hills! The Kern Plateau Meadows are currently as lush as I’ve ever seen them, and should produce a bunch of nice summer flowers. Due to contagious viruses it’s safer if you travel in your own car or with someone you know well ... Once up there, there’s clearly enough space to stay apart and wander. The Kern Plateau has over 22 meadows, most with good dirt roads to them. These trips are great for families, kids, dogs on leash. Not rushed, just relaxed where it’s cool and green.

All trips go up 9 Mile Canyon to Kennedy Meadows area and keep going up another 1000 feet to the Kern

Plateau, and on up another 1000 feet to the meadows. These are all just above 8000 feet. Bring a picnic lunch, lots of water, a folding chair for meadow gazing, TP (there are a few bathrooms), and rain coat, mosquito stuff, definitely sun stuff and hat. Each meadow has different features, so you could go on all of these trips if you can!

Meeting time for the trips is 8:30 a.m. We meet at the Museum for check in; participants will be required to sign liability waiver. Car caravan will be organized and carpools may not be a good thing.

Cost is $25 for museum members ($40 for 2 adult members), $30 non-members ($50 for 2 adults), children 14 and under are free. Sign up in the museum store (possibly opening July 1) or on-line at shop.maturango.org

June 27 to Paloma and Bonita Meadows — early summer time in the Sierra – the meadows are green, the flowers just starting. We’ll head up 9 Mile Canyon road to Kennedy Meadows and continue up 5 Mile Grade to the Kern Plateau and the Meadows. We’ll inspect Troy Meadow on our way to Blackrock Station.

Lunch stop? Then on up the Sherman Pass road to Bonita Meadow. It is indeed pretty! Shooting star flowers should put a path of purple across the meadow and there’s an interesting cow camp cabin. Just a lovely place to be! Then across the street to Paloma Meadow horse camps. On up the road past another little meadow that got badly burned in 2002. And on to Sherman Pass at 9200 ft. for outstanding views of Mt. Whitney, Domelands, the Kern River gulch and the whole Plateau. Along the way we’ll learn about trees – good examples of how elevation affects what lives where.

From here we could a) go back down the way we came, or b) go down the west side to the Kern River and to Kernville and back over Walker Pass. 180 miles roundtrip either way.

Bring your fishing poles!! The South Fork has been planted twice now with Golden Trout, the specialty of the Kern Plateau!

July 11 to Blackrock Station — Early summer time in the Sierra – the meadows are green, the flowers just starting. We’ll head up 9 Mile Canyon road to Kennedy Meadows and continue up 5 Mile Grade to the Kern Plateau and the Meadows. We’ll inspect Troy Meadow on our way to Blackrock Station.

Lunch stop? Then on up the Blackrock trailhead road to the end. Backtrack to the Monache Jeep road but we’re headed for Powell and Granite Knob meadows. Powell is large and gorgeous, unique flowers. Granite Knob (there are 2 of them above the meadow) always has little green frogs to catch.

If there’s enough time, we can go down through lovely Red Fir forest to Osa Meadow (yes, maybe bears), and enjoy the Strawberry flowers, little stream pools, etc. We’ll go back to Blackrock and down to Kennedy Meadows and down the hill. About 200 miles roundtrip. We’ll be back to Ridgecrest in time for dinner

August 1 to Beach Meadow and others up that way —Beach Meadow is over 3 miles long, part of a US Gov pasture program, and favorite of horse campers. There is a perennial stream, a pond, and a wonderful old 1906 line shack that is now used as part of the snow survey program of CA. Many birds, a meadow full of summer flowers and willows – lovely place to be. Learn more trees, and how snow surveys are done. We go up 9 Mile to Kennedy Meadows, to Troy and Blackrock station, then head west down into the Beach system. 5 miles of good dirt road driving. Return a slightly different way back to Blackrock and down to Ridgecrest for dinner. About 150 miles roundtrip.

The museum, located at 100 E. Las Flores, is not yet open to indoor visitors.

Pictured: Hikers near Blackrock Station in Kennedy Meadows. — Photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2020-06-26