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May 15, 2006
Paul Gipe

Windmill-Wildflower Hike: an Annual Spring Tradition


Background

The Kern-Kaweah chapter of the Sierra Club has led a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through a forest of wind turbines in the Tehachapi Pass since 1986. The Sierra Club sponsors the hike to draw attention to a little-known section of the PCT near Tehachapi, California.

On May 13, 2006, some 26 hikers made the 21st annual pilgrimage across Cameron Ridge in bright sunshine and a stiff west wind.

Through the late 1980s and the early 1990s the hike was jointly sponsored by the Kern Wind Energy Association.

Beginning of 2006 Windmill-Wildflower hike on the PCT in the Tehachapi Pass.

Heavy rains in the spring of 2005 resulted in a bumper crop of wildflowers, including California poppies (Escholzia Californica), baby blue-eyes (Nemophila menziesii), and the aptly named grape-soda lupine (Lupinus excubitus).

Hikers often enjoy spectacular displays of wildflowers, including some that are endemic to the Tehachapi Pass--and thousands of wind turbines. One flower that is characteristic of this area is grape-soda lupine. The pleasant fragrance and the bright purple color of this lupine is one of the highlights of the annual event.

More than 700 people, from children to octogenarians, have taken the six-mile walk across Cameron Ridge in the heart of the Tehachapi Wind Resource Area.

The Windmill-Wildflower hike was organized by Paul Gipe and Tony Swan. Tony has lead every hike since the event began.

The Pacific Crest Trail stretches from Mexico to Canada following the crest of the Sierra Nevada for much of its length. The route over Cameron Ridge offers sweeping vistas of the Mojave Desert, the Garlock Fault, and some 3,500 wind turbines.

Windswept hikers take a break and take in the view from atop Cameron Ridge.

The Sierra Club is a national environmental group that supports the responsible development of renewable resources, including wind energy.

The PCT section that crosses Cameron Ridge is open to the public, but hikers are advised to stay on the trail.

Details

The hike typically takes place on the first or second Saturday of May. Check with the hike leaders for details or see the spring issue of the Kern-Kaweah chapter newsletter at kernkaweah.sierraclub.org

The hike leaves the trailhead at the junction of Cameron Road and Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road promptly at 9:00 am. Spring weather at 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) in the Tehachapi Mountains is unpredictable. The temperature can vary from near freezing to sweltering.

Hikers are advised to dress appropriately, bring at least one quart of water per person (two quarts per person recommended), and pack a lunch.

A car pool leaves from Bakersfield at 7:30 am. For more information on car pooling call Tony Swan at 661 363 5106 or Paul Gipe at 661 325 9590.

Photos

Hiking

Tony Swan with grape-soda lupine in foreground. Switchbacks on the descent from Cameron Ridge. Hikers crossing Cameron Ridge on PCT 2005 Hikers crossing Cameron Ridge on PCT 2005  Hikers crossing Cameron Ridge on PCT 2005 On the descent. Grape-soda lupine in foreground.  On the descent from Cameron Ridge Switchbacks on the descent from Cameron Ridge. Crossing the Boy Scout bridge on the descent.

Flowers

Grape-soda lupine is a perennial with a woody trunk.  Layia and Lupinusexcubitus Gilia paryii(?). Suncups (Camissonia) and popcorn (Plagiobothrys)  flower


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