Friday, May 28, 2010

Wind Wind Wind!!

(Titled with a nod to Psycho's sister, stationed overseas)

Day 45-May 28th
Destination: Golden Oak Springs
Miles: 17

Last night before going to bed, we looked out upon the nearly full moon rising over the horizon. It hung in the air briefly, before a cloud blocked out all its light. The thickness of the cloud looked like a black cloak draped across the sky, blocking all moonlight fully.

When we woke this morning, the wind was beating on the motel window, and rain was falling. Psycho suggested another zero, but Apricots knew the cost of town was draining, and that we needed to get back to the trail. So, Pat Burglar, Uncle Tom, Psycho, and Apricots went to breakfast at Kelcy's. After a full meal, we returned to the motel to pack up.

At eight thirty, our Tehachapi trail angel, Georgette, picked Apricots and Psycho up. The rain had stopped, but it was still cold, so we hit the trail with warm clothing. About two miles in, it looked as though the weather had passed, and we had nearly 2500 feet to gain over the next four miles. We stopped, and shed our long johns, pant legs, and warmer tops.

We were sorely mistaken. For every couple hundred feet of elevation we climbed, the wind speed picked up a few miles per hour. It was not long before we were being beat by constant gusts of wind over 50mph. At one point, Apricots huddled to the ground, screaming over the wind that it wasn't safe. Psycho leaned his full weight into the wind, while pushing off the ground with his trekking poles, trying to stay upright.

The air was still cold, so with the wind our entire bodies were numb with tingles. The wind would beat loose straps on our packs, causing them to whip violently, occasionally slapping them across our exposed skin; thighs, knuckles, and ear lobes. We had to keep going though, because we knew the wind would ease up, once we obtained an elevation where the vegetation was thicker.

The trail stayed on the windy side of the hill, occasionally teasing us as it neared small patches of trees. As we switch-backed up the hillside, we were assaulted with wind at face, and then at our back. Pushing strong enough to take us off the trail, the wind directed us where to plant our feet.

Around noon, we crested the hill, and were mostly taken away from the wind. You could still hear it whooshing through the trees, shaking needles and cones onto the trail. The sandy granite path had become a deep brown, darkened by decaying duff. The dark tread was highlighted by white stones, standing in stark contrast to their surrounds.

After a quick lunch and a short nap, we returned to the wind struck trail for another small climb. Fortunately, the vegetation was present enough to provide a decent break from the constant onslaught of wind. As we crested the hill, we had our first distant glimpse of the snow capped sierras. Only the closest and tallest peaks were visible, and it would have been easy to confuse the white mountain tops with distant clouds.

We made the final four mile decent to Golden Oak Springs, following the contours of the hillside, cutting into deep canyon like valleys. Late in the afternoon, we pulled into camp, where the wind still blows heavily. Hopefully, the sky stays clear, because several of the hikers here (including us) have decided to camp under the stars.
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1 comment:

  1. Wow...sounds like this round of hiking was a bit more harsh with the wind. You all are like pioneers facing whatever nature throws your way.

    Journey on with blessings of safety...