The Kernville Kampout

By Sasha Johnson

Rise and Ride

Friday morning started with a cold 4 am wake up call. After grabbing coffee and gas, we were on the way to our group’s first meet-up spot at the world’s largest Chevron in Jean, Nevada. The excitement was palpable, as this would be Black Patch MC’s first field trip with every member and supporter in attendance. Just as we were rolling out of the station, first light crested over the mountains and painted the October sky with the most brilliant shades of orange the desert could provide. The sleep was jostled out of our eyes by the rumble of hundreds of bikes chasing the daylight, racing to Kernville, CA for the best campsites.

By 6 am we were making good time, headed to Boron for breakfast and where we would also meet with our friends from Cali who joined us. After a quick bite to eat we were back on the road and aimed for the Kampout. The Frandy Park site opened at noon, and we were eager to make camp and start the party we were promised.

Pleased Upon Arrival

Picture an entire town run, not ‘Taken Over,’ by bikers. That is the scene as you roll into Kernville. The vibe is very old west, only instead of horses, everyone is on a motorcycle. Everything from shops and restaurants to gas and fully stocked grocery stores are within walking distance from the campgrounds. We pulled in and promptly registered. This year tickets for the event sold out quick, and I can see why. For only $50.00 your entry into the Kernville Kampout gets you your campsite, a goodie bag, their 2019 patch, and all the 805 beers and Sailor Jerry’s rum and cokes you could drink.

The ticket purchase also included route maps for rides and live music on Saturday night performed by local Vegas band, The Rhyolite Sound. There were also tug-a-war and arm-wrestling competitions, and of course, a bike show. We were lucky enough to get the last spot with waterfront property for our campsite, and by 1 pm everyone was set up and ready to explore Kernville.

Fun with Friends

A quick lap around the campgrounds had us running into old friends left and right. Some from Las Vegas, and others we’d met this past summer at the Orygun Run. The day was filled with good food, great people, and free booze. The exceptional atmosphere carried on well into the night with obscure conversations going on around the bonfire and capped off with a random dinosaur chase.

Land of the Giants

Saturday morning, the consensus was to go check out Sequoia National Park. So, up we went bright and semi-early that morning after enjoying our coffee provided by Black Cat Motorcycles and Coffee, and probably the best breakfast burrito I’ve had in a long time, catered by Ewings On the Kern. Ewings is a local restaurant that first opened in 1956, and whose stunning view of the Kern River is unsurpassed.

The ride through the park was beautiful, and as peaceful as rolling through the mountains ten bikes deep can be. The roads were winding and nestled deep within the forest. Waterfalls hugged the sides of ridges at various turnouts, and squirrels scattered across the street and up to their gargantuan trees.

We had lunch and gassed up once we hit Camp Nelson, and then took in a short hike through the Trail of 100 Giants. The 1.3-mile paved trail in Long Meadow Grove is lined with some of the most impressive groupings of sequoias in the whole park. The eldest is estimated to be up to fifteen-hundred years old. While the trees themselves appear sturdy and unmovable, you should be cautious when approaching it for a photo. You never know when one might shake a branch loose and try to take you out.

The Final Fire

We arrived back at camp just before the sun bowed out for the day, and just in time to grab our complimentary smores kits organized for all the Kernville Kampout attendees. Tents and bikes splayed out across the land as far as the eye could see. Some wrangled their bikes into the distinguished event area for the bike show judging. Others queued up for their drinks. I gathered our kits and went back to our group’s spot, geared up for gooey marshmallow and chocolate goodness.

To my pleasant surprise, author of American Road Runner and creator of the podcast by the same name, Bob Marshall had come by our campsite to visit. We talked shop for a bit and then headed back to the main event area to check out the bikes.

The evening ended with an amazing performance by The Rhyolite Sound. Their fusion of Rockabilly, Blues, and Rock ‘n’ Roll created the perfect soundtrack for our weekend in Kernville. Their music is the ideal mix of Outlaw heart, blended with just the right amounts of Honky Tonk and Country tones.

It was so amazing to see our community come together like this, and I truly cannot wait for next year’s Kampout!