Day 13 - mesa wind farm to whitewater canyon
April 9 | Miles 207.7 - 218.0
I barely slept at all last night between the above-70° temperature and otherworldly wind. I can’t believe my tent made it through the barrage of small tornadoes. Several times the gusts were so violent that I reached out to steady my trekking poles because I genuinely thought they would snap.
At least I got a good sunrise out of the deal.
The morning began with a heavy sandblasting as I slogged across the soft desert floor alongside the train tracks and eventually toward the I-10 underpass, where trail magic awaited.
CopperTone–a trail angel in his 70s who’s hiked the trail, served in the military, gotten his pilot’s license, and lived in Hawaii, Japan, Minnesota, and Southern California–has a sweet set up there where he parks his trailer during hiker season. He had arranged a full pit group of camp chairs in a circle, surrounding them with stashes of granola bars, single-serve frosting packets, instant potatoes, oatmeal, protein shakes, and more. I hear he also makes root beer floats. He is an Evangelical Christian missionary who outwardly gives it up to God and does not tolerate foul language at his oasis. He has his house rules printed and taped to the concrete and he is NOT afraid to lay down the law (lol, I saw it happen).
I chatted with him and another hiker from a big group (12+ people!?!) who was waiting on his friends–they’d all hitched into Cabazon to pick up mail. We spent a good hour and a half there and by the time I got up to go the heat of the day was in full force. CopperTone was a very cool dude though, super easy to talk to and I’m glad I spent the time. He also taught me that the crazy asparagus-looking plant that’s blooming everywhere in the desert right now is Yucca. These hours spent are what this trip is really all about.
Moving on, the trail climbed out from the underpass and through a blustery field of flowers.
I jammed down trail at a leisurely pace with my music going and strolled into the nucleus of Mesa Wind Farm.
Near the main building stood a thatched-roof oasis with free WiFi and a cooler full of ice water and grapefruit. There I met some more chill hikers from the huge group. We guzzled water and shot the shit. Incidentally, I had picked a pink Patagonia puffy jacket up off the trail the previous day and it turns out it belonged to someone who was with them! I got to do my good deed for the morning.
After another full hour of shady rest, they got up to leave, inviting me to camp with them. I, meanwhile, was still glued to the cooler in a tired stupor, deliriously hungover from the sleepless night of the living wind. Another hour and many more hikers passed and I finally had to scrape myself up off the dirt and goooo.
A small, steep climb awaited. It led me into what seemed like a new world after crossing the dusty barren plain–The San Gorgonio Wilderness.
Too exhausted to do more than 11 miles, I set up my tent on the rim of Whitewater Canyon as it began to drizzle lightly. Rain or no rain, I just want to go to sleep.