Pacific Crest Trail (2019) 26: Crazy Windy Trails

Tuesday, April 09, 2019 – 16.60 miles


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.


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.


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.


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


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. 


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


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.

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!


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.

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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