Cottonwood Creek Bridge at mile 534 to Mile 558
(Sorry no pictures for the next handful of entries. They will be added when I have cell service, or the next time I'm in town.)
Before sleeping I told myself to sleep in and not to worry about
hiking in the heat. Five a.m. I woke up to a sunrise that turned the
clouds orange and pink. I felt like I hadn't slept, and after taking a
couple pictures of the splendid sky I hunkered down into my bag. I was
up twenty minutes later-sleep was apparently done with me. I was on
trail before 6:30 feeling like it was going to be a short hiking day.
The trail left behind the aqua duct and headed into the wind farm.
It was breezy, but nothing extreme. Most of the turbines remained still
as I walked the miles past them.
At 8 I stopped for breakfast under a juniper shrub. The one cloud in
the sky had parked itself over the sun at sun-up and hadn't let the sun
peak past it yet. Breakfast was short to avoid a chill.
But an hour later the wind had picked up some and I couldn't deny
that I was cold walking through the Mojave Desert. I guess I had waited
too long to put on hat and mittens-my fingers were clumsy with cold.
It didn't take long to become warm enough, but it was a little hard to
wrap my mind around the weather-this wasn't the desert I had heard
Seven miles from where I camped the map listed a canyon
and creek. About a mile before it I started hoping for a sheltered
spot for a long break-I was needing a nap and a hot meal. My hiker
hunger was showing itself and it wasn't pleased it had been denied
dinner the night before.
The creek had water, but no shelter from the wind. Nap time was canceled, but I managed to make a hot meal followed by some peach gummies for snack. I stayed for a cold windy hour before giving the break up as kind of miserable.
At least while hiking I was mostly warm so hike on I did only to stop
three miles later in a little bowl that didn't have much wind and was
almost warm. Nap time was back on. I didn't want to head into town
today like many f the other hikers, so I had time to relax. I dozed
off, but not for very long. It made a difference though-I wasn't
feeling like I was going to fall asleep on my feet anymore.
At first going up hill wasn't that windy, but on the third switchback
the wind went from blowing towards the mountain so it was just hitting
my side to blowing head on. Between the slick soled shoes and the
strong gust I slid back a step or two. It still wasn't that bad-it was
After a couple of miles up the ridge, around 2 p.m. the sun finally
managed to break away from the cloud and about forty minutes later I was
finally able to take off my cold weather clothing. Not long after that
I made it to the top of the ridge. Some one had cashed two packages of
bottled water for the hikers. I drank the half liter in seconds-I
hadn't realized how thirsty I was until I was halfway through the
bottle. I sat at the cashe for awhile thinking about doing just a handful of miles more. It was nice there-sun shining, wind not too bad.
I stayed for about an hour and hiked into a burn area. It seems like
there is a burn area at least every 100 miles. It was while going down
the other side of the ridge that the wind went from occasional gust to
nonstop howling wind.
This wind pulled, pushed, and shoved me around. It blew grit in my
face and tossed pebbles hard enough they stung my thighs through my
pants. The head wind stopped my forward progress and the tailwind
pushed me forward. And it wasn't gust, it was a constant force that was
I quickly grew tired of fighting back. My goal was to reach a broken
water tank-I hoped it would be sheltered. My progress was so slow. A
mean little voice kept asking if I was having fun on my little hike with
a face scrunched up against grit, clothing snapping in the wind, and
crazy wind blown hair? And I wasn't having fun. Not even a little. I
was tired, hungry, gritty, my face and hands felt raw from cold wind and
sand. I put on my mittens and my hat that has a face masks to protect
from the wind and the dirt it threw at me. I didn't like my short easy
day becoming anything but.
I found a burnt tree to hide behind from the wind and ate a quick
candy bar snack, and that really boosted my spirits. About a half hour
after that I was low enough to see trees on the desert floor. I knew
from my guide there was a stream near the road into town and those trees
had to be near the stream and they would give me shelter.
In true PCT style the trail wasn't about to take the quick way down.
Nope, instead it continued to hug the edge of the wind farm-most of the
turbines were still as I was blasted by the wind. The trees stayed
tantalizing close, but so far away. For a half hour I thought about bushwacking down, but that didn't feel like an option.
At sunset one last gust of wind blew me into a stump, smacking my
shin, and I was in the trees. I wasted no time setting up as it got
dark. Just before full dark I was joined by Alice an Steve who had seen
my light and did bushwack a bit to my camp. We talked bad about the wind while it continued to howl around us as we made dinner.