All eight of us completed the 37th annual Windmill-Wildflower Hike Saturday 20 May.
It was forecast to be hot, and indeed it was. By the time we reached the end of he trail on Cameron Canyon Road it was 85 F (30 C). That may not seem hot by southern California standards, but when you’re exposed to full sun at 4,600 feet (1,400 m) elevation that’s hot.
And the wind in the famed Tehachapi Pass failed us. Normally there’s a refreshing if not desiccating wind to keep you cool. Not this past Saturday. Few of the thousands of wind turbines in view from the summit of Cameron Ridge were turning.
We recognized some 56 plants flowering on the seven-mile through hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. The expected superbloom failed to appear as the past two weeks of above normal temperatures had wilted most of the plants we would normally find in bloom. Nevertheless, we were treated to an extensive display of desert Mariposa lily (Calochortus kennedyi), the best in the nearly four decades of the hike. And we saw–and smelled–one of the best displays of grape-soda lupine (Lupine excubitus) we’ve seen in decades.
As has become common now, we were overtaken several times by fast moving through hikers on the PCT. We always make way. We don’t want to slow them down from making their twenty plus miles per day. But often we engaged them with questions of where they were from and where they were headed. We met a couple of newlyweds from London and a group from Boston. All were headed for Kennedy Meadows—and its cafe—some fifty miles away.
The annual Windmill-Wildflower hike is a through hike using a car shuttle to return hikers to their starting point. This year’s group was fast moving, giving little time to botanize. It was just as well. In places invasive mustard was nearly chest high and the sock piercing cheat grass had already gone to seed and was thick off the trail. Despite this, there were patches along the summit section with swaths of purple bird’s eye gilia (Gilia tricolor), white pincushion (Chaenectis sp), cream-colored, brown eyed primrose (Chylismia claviformis), and bright yellow Mojave suncup (Camissonia campestris).
Despite the heat, it was a good day to be on the trail.