Kirkwood and Mother Nature

One of the things we were trying to avoid as we planned our trip to southern California (SoCal), was Highway 5.  Heading from the Bay Area to Los Angeles on the 5 is hell, in my opinion.  It’s a super busy, beat up road, main truck route, and all of the other vehicles fly through there at 100+ mph, no joke!  It is unpleasant at best and terrifying at worst, so I was opposed to the idea of taking our travel trailer down this road.

My former boss from GU Energy Labs and dear friend Michael had offered for us to visit in Kirkwood, where his wife Catherine and he frequent often.  It is a ski resort in the winter situated at around 7800 feet in elevation, but also a beautiful place to enjoy year-round.  It seemed like the perfect opportunity to go during the shoulder season before the snow and freezing temperatures set in, and then continue our journey to the other side of the Sierra Nevada mountains and head south on Highway 395.  

We knew there was a slim chance we could run into inclement weather in early October, but mother nature had other plans!  On Friday, the day we planned to head into Kirkwood, the area received 1-2 inches of snow, so we booked a last minute stay at a campground below 3000 feet in elevation and drove up to Kirkwood on Saturday instead when the snow had melted.  Catherine and Michael’s house has a large driveway, so we parked our rig, said our hellos and got settled.  

Later that day, we all walked into the center of town together to join a celebration at the local Kirkwood Community Association Center (KCA Club) for the local volunteer fire department, who collaborated with the wildfire fighters to prevent the Caldor Fire from breaching the northwestern ridge and dropping into the bowl in which Kirkwood is geographically situated.  The KCA hosted a fundraiser earlier this summer, but this celebration not only raised more funds for the fire department, but also showed appreciation for their heroism.

View of the snow capped northwestern ridge of Kirkwood at the KCA Club firefighter celebration

Catherine and Michael were amazing hosts as well!  Catherine cooked two delicious meals for us.  First, she made a pork shoulder with roasted tomatoes, white beans, and rice.  The next night we had what she called “roasties”, which included roasted chicken, root vegetables, and cauliflower, and was also delectable. 😋 Michael made us his signature cocktails, including Manhattans and extra limey margaritas.  Because of the continued fire danger, most of the other trails surrounding the area were closed, but they took us on a few walks through the Kirkwood meadow as well as in the their neighborhood to meet “Big Bear No Pants.” 😂

The Monday we had planned to leave there was a 40% chance of light snow…maybe an inch.  Well, mother nature foiled us again!  We received about 4-5 inches of snow and the area went from looking like this:  

Southern ridge of Kirkwood before the snow

To this:  

Southern ridge of Kirkwood after the snow

Fortunately, we had planned to boondock (dry camp) over the next four days on BLM land, AND Catherine and Michael were so flexible and generous as to leave us their keys so we could stay until the roads were safer for travel.  There were a lot of accidents that day, so being able to stay another day took a load of stress off our plates.  Instead, we shoveled the driveway to encourage the snow and ice to melt more quickly, and spent a cozy night in our trailer despite the temperatures dipping down to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. 🥶 

On Tuesday the weather cooperated, and we were on our way to lower elevation. THANK YOU, Catherine and Michael, for a wonderful stay.  We are so grateful and appreciative of the time we spent with you. 💗

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