A Good Place for a Wind Farm
May 17, 2017
Fuller Ridge to Mile 212 (Mesa Wind Farm)
Pacific Crest Trail Thru-Hike: Day 13
Woke up on Fuller Ridge to a crisp, beautiful morning in Alex's tent. Slept in until 6am because of such a long day yesterday. Denise is okay, confirmed via text message. The inhaler is hidden among pinecones that say I Love You Mom (Mother's Day was 4 days ago). We descended 7,000 feet today off Fuller Ridge with winds so strong that I was using my trekking poles and leaning all my body weight against them to push against the wind and keep myself from blowing off the ridge. Every step was a little wavery as the wind blew my legs and torso every which way. Finally arriving on the desert floor, all of my trail friends had found a small wind break and water spout to rest. Since I hike slower than everyone else and didn't want to fall behind again, I took a short rest and set out again to get a head start, straight into the wind. On the desert floor, the wind offered a welcome respite from what would otherwise be dead, unbearable heat.
There's a good chance I'll run out of food on the way into Big Bear. I need to start rationing (or not worry about it and cross the I've-run-out-of-food bridge when I come to it, as it's still very possible that i'll end up having the perfect amount).
We're in the desert now. I walked with Emma for a bit today, the Girl Whose Feet Grew Three Sizes. We passed Tyler (USA), Ben (France) and Justin (New Zealand). I really like them because they are so giggly. I realized I had met them on my frustrated ascent to the summit of Mt. San Jacinto and had been very rude. I apologized, offering my exhaustion as an explanation for my rudeness, and told them an abridged version of what happened on the Jacinto descent. When I said that a French guy named Ben had let Denise use his inhaler, I realized my oversight—I was telling the story about the French guy who lent Denise his inhaler to the French guy who lent Denise his inhaler. I didn't even realize it when he had introduced himself. I told him that Denise was okay, and Justin kept saying what a tough woman Denise is (true). They are an amiable group and I hope our paces work out so that we see each other again and more often.
I walked for a moment with Papa Oats, and he expounded on his outdoor gear sewing knowledge. He's from Grand Rapids, Michigan and owns a (primarily hammock-making) ultralight backpacking company called Catamount.
The wind has not died down, it's so strong that I have anchored each one of my tent stakes under rocks so massive that they really ought to be referred to as boulders. Tomorrow for breakfast I'm having biscuits dipped in olive oil (calories!), Justin's peanut butter cups, and trail mix. I have about 2L of water to get me the 6 miles to the next water supply, an off-trail campground. My feet are throbbing and my hip was doing that thing where the muscle flips over the bone with every step, so I stopped early today. Early, because I really wanted to hit 30 miles but am only going to make it 27.
Trail magic under a highway bridge gave me supplemental calories for my running-low food supply with beer and two snack-size bags of Cheez-its. I would have gotten more trail magic if I had stopped to see Coppertone, but I felt a bit wary wandering off the trail alone to an unmarked abandoned-looking camper that *might* have been trail magic (I didn't know the name Coppertone to be a famous trail angel), so I kept walking. Alex, Sam, Colten, and Cake stopped, and their curiosity was rewarded with apple pie, ice cream and root beer floats.
I'm camping on my own again tonight, and getting an early night's rest for an early start in the morning. I can see the turbines of the Mesa Wind Farm just over the hill and, as my tent walls struggle to resist the violent gusts, think this flat spot on the desert floor makes a much better wind farm than a campsite.