I began the drive into the canyon from Bakersfield around 8pm. The sun was setting and by the time I reached the turn off for the backroad to get to the Remington Hot Springs it was already dark. I noticed there was a small "Road Closed" sign on the road, but not nearly as big as ones i'm used to, so I continued forward hoping I wouldn't have to turn around. After a few miles I saw why. A huge boulder had fallen from the cliffs above and blocked one side of the road. I was able to drive right by, but it made me think about how that could potentially happen at anytime even if the odds are low.
I was disappointed but wasn't convinced the hot springs had been flooded (after all one of the main places I wanted to visit on this trip was the hot springs!). On my way back to my car to grab my swimsuit to use the smaller remaining upper hot spring pool, I walked by a campsite near the bottom of the ravine and met 3 people; Shaggy, Kit, and Dejah. They invited me to warm up by their fire and offered me a peace pipe so we relaxed and chatted a bit. They were all from Bakersfield just over an hour away and were camping out for a month in the canyon.
Turns out the river is up 20ft due to the high precipitation levels, which is the first time in 25 years! (just my luck right?) We made small talk and eventually I thanked them and left to grab my things and return to the hot spring.
The next morning I awoke to the sun in my eyes and a mindset of determination to see the hot springs again just to confirm it was, in fact, submerged. As I was getting up I noticed Shaggy and Dejah walking up to my car. I rolled down my window and asked what I could do for them.
"Are you the guy we met last night and hung out with?" Dejah asked. I said yes and asked them what was up. "That other guy we were camping with left early this morning after stealing our phones, water, and weed."
This put me a little on guard butI told them i was really sorry to hear that, then immediately they asked "Have you had breakfast? are you hungry?". I said I hadn't eaten yet and they offered to make me breakfast. I hesitantly said maybe but then asked why they would offer to make me breakfast after that happened, it seemed a little suspicious. Then Shaggy spoke up and said "we could really use a friend". It was then I saw they were being genuine, so I agreed and got dressed and met them at their campsite. Turns out they had known Kit for a couple months and had just gotten married a few months prior themselves. Kit had apparently lived with them without paying and had been slowly trying to undermine their relationship. We discussed this over a fresh meal of sliced bologna and hotdogs boiled in Famous Dave's BBQ sauce...definitely a first.
I offered to give them a ride back to Bakersfield and they were incredibly grateful. We hauled their stuff back up to my car (which was more grueling than I expected, even caused my tendinitis to flair up!) and strapped it all atop my car since there wasn't much room inside. I picked up all the trash near the lower campsite and hot springs (as many people just leave things there) and placed that atop everything on my car.
We left the hot springs area by noon and made it back to Bakersfield in good time, only one thing fell off the roof on our way!. Turns out they enjoy some of the same Anime as I do as well as collecting knives. They told me about a knife shop downtown that I should check out called the Zombie Apocalypse store. I dropped them off and they thanked me saying I could have all their food as they wouldn't need it anymore (bologna, hotdogs, Nutella, peanut butter, ramen, and spaghetti.) I thanked them though wasn't sure what I would use it for.
I then stopped at the knife shop, noted the custom zombie heads they had on display (props at one point I believe), and picked up a simple M-tech blade since I hadn't brought anything more than a Leatherman with me.
I then began driving towards my friends at the Quail Springs Permaculture Farm. It was only a few hours and I had plenty to think about after a bit of an unexpected morning.
Getting to the hot springs at night was at times similar to my Sequoia driving just without the fog. The pitch black and twisting roads definitely require focus and after awhile gets a bit strenuous on the eyes and mind. I was relieved when i found the boulder since I was able to drive around it, otherwise I had been dreading an actual un-passable obstacle requiring another hour of driving just to get to my campsite.
Meeting a couple strangers and then helping them out was nice feeling as far as my altruism goes, but also a little nerve racking since the situation seemed to have happened almost too coincidentally. Nothing bad happened and I felt they were being genuine, but that is a risk of traveling and showing kindness, it can get taken advantage of. I just hope I continue to be blessed with people in my path that I can impact positively. Not sure what I will do with this extra food, especially since It's not things I would normally eat, but I'm heading to a farm, and i'm sure they'll have some use for it!
I did want to re-write some memories of the hot springs by visiting, but with it underwater I wasn't able to enjoy them at all. Now looking at it I see it as the universe giving me a little nudge to show I should focus on the new experiences and let the old ones be what they are and not attach negative or positive connotations to it.