32nd Windmill-Wildflower Hike Planned for Tehachapi 20 May 2017

By Paul Gipe

The Kern-Kaweah Chapter of the Sierra Club will lead a hike among the wind turbines on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at 9:00 am on Saturday May 20, 2017 near Tehachapi, California.

The Sierra Club’s local chapter sponsors the hike to spotlight a little-known section of the trail as well as the thousands of wind turbines in the Tehachapi Pass. The event marks the 32nd year of the annual spring hike.

Tehachapi’s Windmill-Wildflower Hike is one of the longest-running such events anywhere in the world. Nearly a thousand people, from children to octogenarians, have taken the six-mile walk across Cameron Ridge since the event was first launched.

The hike leaves the PCT trailhead kiosk northeast of the junction of Cameron Canyon Road and Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road promptly at 9:00 am. The PCT Cameron Ridge segment kiosk is on the south side of Cameron Canyon Road, 100 to 200 feet northeast of its junction with Tehachapi-Willow Springs Road.

Spring weather at 5,000 feet in the Tehachapi Mountains is unpredictable. The temperature can vary from near-freezing to sweltering. And it can be extremely windy. Hikers are advised to dress appropriately. Bring a hat, jacket, sunscreen, and at least one quart of water per person. Long pants and hiking boots are advised. Hikers should also pack a lunch and be prepared for any kind of weather.

The six-mile hike is rated “moderate” by seasoned hikers, but it has steep uphill and downhill segments. Please note that this is a real hike and not “a gentle stroll through the park”. Those with heart conditions and reduced lung capacity are advised not to participate. Parents with children must assure that the children can walk the entire distance. Though there are frequent rest stops, including lunch, there are no way stations where people can be picked up by car. This is a through hike with a car shuttle at the end.

The total duration of the hike is about five hours, including lunch among the wind turbines. There will be a car shuttle to return hikers to the starting point.

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 thousands of wind turbines.

The hike passes modern wind turbines and some that have been in operation for more than 30 years. Altogether, the wind turbines in the Tehachapi Pass are estimated to generate more than 8 billion kilowatt-hours (8 TWh) per year, about 3% of the state’s consumption.

Depending upon conditions, the PCT’s Cameron Ridge segment can also provide dramatic displays of spring wildflowers, including grape-soda lupine (Lupinus excubitus), Kennedy’s Mariposa lily (Calochortus kennedyi), sun cups (Camissonia sp.), and gilia (Gilia sp.).

The Sierra Club is a national environmental group that supports the responsible development of renewable resources, including wind energy. The hike will be led by Tony Swan, a local Sierra Club member. Swan has led the hike for most of the past three decades.

Paul Gipe, an internationally recognized authority on renewable energy, will be available to answer questions about the wind turbines and about wind energy. Gipe organized the first hike in 1986.

A carpool will leave from Bakersfield at 7:30 am. For more information on carpooling from Bakersfield, call Tony Swan at 661-203-3036 or Paul Gipe 661-325-9590.

For more information on past hikes, visit Windmill-Wildflower Hike.