Pacific Crest Trail (2019) 26: Crazy Windy Trails

Tuesday, April 09, 2019 – 16.60 miles

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The wind picked up yesterday evening and was terrible overnight, probably the worst I’ve had with this tent. Unable to sleep with all the flapping, I started walking at 6:30 AM. The temperature was already ominously warm. Even my water didn’t get cold overnight, promising a scorching desert day.

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Within four hours, I saw three snakes (one rattlesnake, one garter snake and one unidentified) and a new type of lizard. Two other hikers passed me after the second snake but were an ineffective snake deterrent. Maybe they scared away the rattlers.

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Upon checking the weather forecast, I saw that the storm I mentioned in yesterday’s entry is no longer predicted (so quick…). A wind warning was out for this afternoon and tomorrow morning, and the wind kept blowing strong as I descended the rest of the way into the valley.

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At the base of the climb was Snow Creek Fountain, which had good water from the aquaduct.

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Passing Snow Creek, a cute village that looked barely large enough to house an extended family, I continued through a drab area with power lines and wind turbines in the distance. Beautiful pink beavertail cacti blossoms and several different types of caterpillars were the consolation prize. 

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The trail reached the massive San Gorgonio River wash, which it follows to an underpass beneath I-10.

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Walking in the huge wash was a neat experience, but I was heading directly into the wind, which was blowing pieces of grit at a high enough velocity to sting my exposed skin. I had to walk looking straight down to avoid it getting in my eyes, or walk sideways while holding my hat over my face.

I didn’t stop to investigate the coolers beneath the interstate. The wind continued, sometimes helpfully at my back, more often just a bloody nuisance, as I passed a cluster of houses and entered a wind farm.

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Adorable desert tortoise

I met Ana from Bake’s group and another hiker whose name I can’t remember. I was hoping to find somewhere to camp close beyond the wind farm, maybe near the border of the San Gorgonio Wilderness. I found a wide wash with a decent amount of shelter there, but while ascending the wash in search of a campsite I smelled something unpleasant. It took me a second to place the scent as carrion. Thanks Australia for teaching me what dead flesh smells like. Venturing further, I discovered a dead cow and decided to not camp anywhere nearby in case predators were attracted to the corpse. Also, that smell stays in your nose forever.

I continued on. The country looked like it had been cleared for cattle, and a general lack of appreciation for that may have been reflected in the lack of established campsites. I wasn’t going to be picky but I needed something sheltered. I need sleep! I need my tent to not rip apart at the seams!

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I didn’t find a spot until I was already almost at Whitewater River. The site is getting an occasional gust of wind but I can live with that.

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Whitewater River from above

When I blew my nose, the mucus was dark with grit. Souvenirs from the San Gorgonio River.

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