Recently, Ken and I had the pleasure of being chosen to participate in Korea Daily's 2016 Kia Sorento Test Drive Event. They let us borrow a fully loaded car for a whole week! Of course, we took this car and RANNNNNN..........to Kernville!
While we usually go camping in Big Sur, my boss generously lent us his gorgeous cabin that he built himself, so we thought it would be a great opportunity to go check it out :)
Can you believe that my boss built this by himself? The power of an architect! Woohooo. Hopefully I can be as cool as him in the future. He decked out the cabin with a flushable toilet, cigarette lighter charging docks, a sink with running water (gasp!) and even an outdoor shower. We all felt super spoiled since our usual camping trips is literally in an open field (no water, no toilets, nada). And while I appreciate our sudden cave-man, survival mentality when we go off-grid, sometimes its nice to indulge ourselves in a little bit of luxury :) Unfortunately, there was a huge fire in the area a year ago, so a lot of the lush, green landscape burned up. It's all regrowing now, but the area still looks a little brown. I hope it grows back soon~
There's something really great about polygal, it reflects light in the most amazing way. Waking up at sunrise was SURREAL to see how the light just reflected off all the walls. I woke Ken up at 5 AM to share this beautiful moment with me. He looked up for all of 3 seconds before falling back asleep, haha. It was so great to have the cabin to just me and Ken for two days. My favorite moments where just chillin' in the cabin at sunrise & sunset. There's something very peaceful about just laying in bed and watching the gentle breeze blow the curtains in and out. The nights there were amazing. period. We timed it so that we would come during a new moon, so all the stars were beaming. Even though there were lights in the cabin, we chose to just keep all the lights off all night so we would have an uninterrupted view of the splendid milkyway.
And for those who are wondering, we always eat really well on camping trips. My boss has this giant griddle up there. SO AMAZING! Here is our menu for the weekend ->
This is a remote, local hike that isn't even listed on Google Map. I actually read about it from Modern Hiker, and wanted to check it out. We totally got lost trying to find it though and I was never so glad that we had the Kia. I led us to this dirt road that was pretty much just rocks everywhere. And there I was thinking, THIS MUST BE IT. HOW MUCH MORE REMOTE CAN YOU GET. Except it wasn't. And it was a dead end. Oops. Turns out we took the wrong off-road turn @_@'
It's approximately 11.4 mi. once you get onto to the Kernville Highway. If you're drive up, there should be a wooden sign on the Right hand side saying "Salmon Creek". If you pass this sign, you missed it. It isn't the road that's right before it. But the road right before THAT one. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE? ITS SO HARD TO EXPLAIN! There will be a little metal sign that says "SALMON" on it. That is the road you should go up. It's off road, so just be careful as always. Of course, in our Sorento, we gunned it. hehe.
Details from Modern Hiker:
Turn onto this road until it reaches a three-way junction. Take a sharp left to continue going uphill. You'll stay on this road for a short while, staying straight at the four-way intersection toward Salmon Creek (the sign reads RINCON TRAIL 33E23). The road cul-de-sacs at the California Aqueduct where it enters a tunnel in the side of the mountain. This route is NOT listed on Google Maps, although you can see the roads on satellite view.
Great for: Bouldering, rock climbing, free climbing, escaping the heat, & taking a shower under the waterfall
But really, it was 102 F degrees in Kernville when we went. The hike up was sooo hot, but when we finally got to the end and got into the water, it actually felt too cold! You start by walking up a path for the first 1 mile and you actually get a great view of the mountains. After that, you start getting towards the river (you can hear the gushing of water, just follow that sound!) and you can start climbing the rocks. Modern Hiker mentioned that there was an easier way if you followed a path along the river. Of course, we crave adventure, so we all took the harder route.
Make sure to wear your hiking/climbing shoes (grip is important)! We climbed so high, we were basically walking on top of the canyon with a view of the river about 100' lower than us on one side. Very cool. Eventually, after much climbing, you start going through a path where there is steep steep-face canyons on either side of you. This is a great place for rock climbing - there is actually some bracket/holds (what is this called?!) in the rock face already. Once you pass this, you are greeted with the view of this amazing waterfall:
The water was a little low at this time, so the waterfall wasn't amazingly huge, but it was still a nice view :) We all got in for a dip and MAN was that water freezing! We actually saw some tadpoles and mini fishes in there, too! Honestly, I think our group just really likes activities that involve waterfalls, climbing, and water. Especially if it takes a bit of work to get to the water.
Trail of 100 Giants
We generally tend to like remote things that not everyone can go (we're exclusive like that, yo). But people recommended us to go, so we decided to check it out. Okay, I really felt like Ken and I were total tourists at this place. They even had a brochure! But none-the-less, it was pretty cool. The trees are soooo big & tall. There was this one 300' tree that fell back in 2011, and we started climbing it. It's giant! It was also nice to drive in an area with tons of trees surrounding us. Kernville had more of a desert landscape with occasional trees. Here, they were everywhere.
"The Perfect Getaway Vehicle"
Which I shall now lovingly refer to as our handsome travelling companion! What an awesome car. We always take my Toyota RAV4 on trips and we sometimes struggle with it when we go off-roading (my mom didn't think I needed 4WD when we bought the car since I didn't really like nature -- how things have changed!). This baby handled road conditions smooth like butter! I still love Mr. Bates (my car), but dang, I do have to say that having the Kia has totally spoiled me. My family never believed in 'luxury' cars, we always got the base model for cars. So seeing a moon roof AND heated seats made me internally squeal with glee. As you can see, I am easily pleased, haha.
I have to pass this section to Ken to write up since if it was up to me, you know this whole paragraph would be about heated seats. Indeed, there were many "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" when we all explored the car. I can definitely see why its called "The Perfect Getaway Vehicle". Okay, okay.. enough from me .. you probably want to hear from Ken now:
The 2016 Kia Sorento SXL V6 with AWD. With all the bells and whistles, our SUV turned out to be more than enough to handle the tasks of highway and off-road driving. With a beige leather interior and panoramic moonroof, we were spoiled with the utmost luxury for this particular model. Freeway driving was quiet, with very little outside noise spilling into the cabin. The suspension was firm and communicative of the various imperfections of the road, and although steering feel was slightly numb, it was able to handle the twisty roads along the Kern River confidently. At one point, a car from oncoming traffic swerved into our single lane in a blind corner, but we were able to dodge the car, keeping control and thankfully not diving into the river. It was a scary moment that made me appreciate the car's handling. In addition, driving along dirt roads with the Sorento was a breeze, as the low end torque and All-Wheel-Drive really helped maintain grip along steep sections or loose gravel. I was most impressed with the Bird's-Eye-View of the car that was displayed on the control panel, as it really helped maneuvering tight area, whether it be U-Turning on a narrow dirt road or simply pulling out of a tight parking spot. Some of my friends were convinced that this would be a car that they might purchase in the future. Overall, our friends and I had a great experience with the car and as Kia mentions in its commercials with LeBron (albeit a different model), it really is #fitforaking. We'd like to give a special thank you to Korea Daily for allowing us to utilize the Sorento for a week for our camping excursion! Check out their Instagram & Facebook page for various adventures with the Kia Sorento!
21 City, 29 Highway
Pros: Spacious, AWD V6, quiet and luxurious interior, lots of USB ports and AC outlets, Sport Mode showed more precise handling and feedback.
Cons: Moonroof didn't close one night, steering slightly numb, 3rd row of seats tiny.
Check It Out HERE
Other places to check out in Kernville:
11101 Kernville Rd, Kernville CA 93238
These lovely people were so amazing and super helpful in guiding us. The river level is quite low this year, so we were planning to go tubing. If you happen to go on a high-water year, you should definitely go River Rafting! We saw the river gushing while we were driving around, it looks like so much fun~ As for tubing, it's 38$/person and they provide you with tubes, paddle, and wetsuit. You'll have to bring your own shoes though. They drop you off at the top of the river, and it takes approx. 2 hours to float down. They also provide free shuttles to the top all day long!
134515 Sierra Highway, Kernville, CA 93238
SoCAL rafting is pretty much on the same block as the brewery. We were planning to go tubing in the morning, and then hit this place up for alcohol + lunch :P Then go back to tubing! Apparently, its quite a famous brewery. We had numerous locals recommending it to us.
HC 1 Sierra Highway Kernville, CA 93238
760 -376 -2430
Another recommendation from the boss. We tried to go for steak, but it didn't open till 4 PM, so we opted for the burgers. A little expensive (7.50$) for a burger and the wait time was brutal (1 hour with 6 people ahead of us). But it was quite a good burger :) I just wish it was faster. We'll have to check out the steakhouse next time.
Last but not least, big, big thanks to Korea Daily for giving us the opportunity to test drive the Kia for a week. You guys are the best!