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[pct-l] Desert winds

William Speers wrote:
>>In preparing for my PCT hike, I'm reading a book on the California deserts.
It says that in April and May there are strong consistent winds blowing from
the west with considerable force that carry snow and rain, and Santa Ana
winds blowing from the north and east that are hot and dry.  Does anyone on
this line have any thoughts with regard to the existence of such winds and
the effect they would have on a hiker along the southern PCT?  <<

During the thru-hiking seasons of '95 and '96 I experienced both wind
patterns.  Just prior to the start of my hike on 5/8/96, the Santa Ana winds
raised the temperatures well into the 100s.  The benefit was the complete
melting of the snow on San Jacinto and Baden-Powell.  Once the winds
subsided, it was not quite as hot, but still pretty hot.  For thru-hikers
starting their journeys this spring, the Santa Anas will be very welcome!
Around 5/14/96 I was hiking on the desert divide with westerly winds blowing
cool fog over the divide.  Just to the east it was clear and much warmer.
About a week later, it snowed in the San Bernardinos while I was resupplying
in Big Bear City.  The hot weather returned after the storm, as it usually
does.  My point is that a hiker ought to be prepared for both extreems:
blistering hot, and even a light snowstorm.  In '96 some of the thru-hikers
who packed extreemly light were taken by surprise and hurried into
Wrightwood.  The guidebook warns hikers of this possibility in this area,
and snow occasionally falls on thru-hikers in So. Cal.!

William also mentioned the winds in San Gorgonio pass.  In both '95 and '96
the area had the extreem winds. I'm glad I did not camp there!  The pass is
one of those areas most hikers just get behind them, looking forward to
better environs ahead.  Luckily, the blowing sand was not much of a problem.
In '96 I camped on the trail just above the Snow Creek area, on the southern
edge of the pass, where wind was not a factor.  If you want to camp near the
pass, Don Middleton lives in one of the homes in the "subdivision" just
north of I-10, and he often lets hikers stay in a cabin he has on his
property.  Once through the San Gorgonio Pass area, northbound hikers are
rewarded with the connifer forests above Mission Creek!  Quite a contrast!

The strongest wind I ever felt on the PCT?  Just north of Tehachapi Pass I
almost got knocked to the ground by wind gusts that exceeded 50 or 60 mph.
They didn't put those wind turbines there for nothing!

roger carpenter

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