2023 Desert Pilgrimage: Day 4 Panamint Springs to Three Rivers

Monday, February 20, 2023 

Panamint Springs to Three Rivers 

Different Direction, Different Sights, Same Mistakes

Departing Panamint Springs and Death Valley for Three Rivers, our first and final night’s destination, we retraced our route back to Ridgecrest where a veggie omelet at a packed Denny’s took waaaay too long to arrive at our table.  A single server with a Presidents’ Day crowd was the issue.  After thanking the wearied waitress who apologized several times, we left, appetites sated. 

Deciding we likely had enough fuel to get back to Lake Isabella and wanting to make up time, Christopher Columbus here zigged when I should have zagged leaving Ridgecrest heading south on US-395.  After about 30 miles or so I realized we were headed to Victorville and not Walker Pass.  Embarrassed and now distracted by a flashing low fuel indicator, we turned tail and headed 30 or so miles back to Ridecrest to correct my directional error and fuel up.  It was at the gas station that Pete reminded me that we, rather I, made the very same navigational error when we departed Ridgecrest on our last Death Valley pilgrimage.  Hmmm.  Lightning strikes twice, again… 

Morro Rock

This time we hoped to make up the mileage faster than when we funorkled our way two days ago to Panamint Springs late, only to find a full campground.  Three Rivers didn’t have the Death Valley attraction this time of year, especially as the weather was changing and winter storms were headed our way so I wasn’t worried about any no-vacancy.  

We decided to skip Kernville as the Gunsmoke and Petticoats revelers were still in full revelry.  Heading back over Alta Sierra from Wofford Heights we skipped stopping at the crowded Saddle Sore Saloon in Glenville.   

Meadowfoam and fiddlenecks along Yokohl Rd

Once down on Yokohl Rd, the hillsides presented emerging blankets of spring color with patches of meadowfoam, fiddlenecks, lupine, and poppies leading the bloom.  The increasingly menacing skies foretold the oncoming late winter storm with apocalyptic warnings of gusting winds, rain, and snow that compelled our hasty departure from the mountains.  Even at that we saw a couple of intrepid bicyclists who were uphill bound for a Washington’s birthday cycling challenge.  

We had planned to stay at the Sequoia Campground and Lodge just as you enter Three Rivers on Sierra Dr, however, the entrance was blocked with a sign indicating Campground Closed.  It looked abandoned.  In checking their FB page, the last post was from 2021.  Perhaps it was the summer fires smoking out the tourists, Covid, or the recent heavy winter rains that appeared to have flooded the campsites since there did appear to be lots of flotsam strewn about.  

After setting up camp it was back to the Totem for a delicious meatloaf sandwich dinner and a bundle of wood for a campfire.  Calling it an early evening, we retreated to our tents after fighting to get somewhat wet firewood to burn to our elevated Smokey Bear, smokeless campfire standards.  


We awakened the next morning to a saturated campsite unlike the frosty morning three days prior.  After drying the gear as best we could it was time to get on the road back home.  First stop, Orange Cove for brunch.

Coming up: 2023 Desert Pilgrimage, Homeward Bound Tuesday, February 21, 2023 

Author: Sisyphus and Associates

As of 6/2022 I will have taken 68 revolutions around the sun or 24,820 rotations on the big blue marble. Time to share a slice of all the physics, biology, and stewardship I’m guilty of...

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