Occupying just 55 thousand square miles, but remaining the driest desert in the US, the Mojave would dominate our next fortnight of hiking. Known as the ‘high desert’ it is dominated by the San Bernadino, San Gabriel and Tehachapi mountains. Inevitably water was scarce and there some big distances to cover without supply, so packs were exceptionally heavy as we carried sometimes as much as six litres as well as up to seven days worth of food.
Despite the lack of available water we were ever conscious of its presence as we passed aqueducts taking water from the central california mountains down into the drought-stricken districts of L.A.
This was a tough section with little variation in the surrounding landscape. Most of the flora and fauna was tough too. Most plants were either spikes or poisonous. This little gopher must have been a tough miner too!
Other hikers we met chose to night-hike a 25 mile section of flat desert due to the extreme day-time temperatures. More by luck than judgement we’d timed our arrival at this section with the full moon. However in the event we had a somewhat overcast day which would have meant a very cold night so we set out across that section in the morning and were chased across the desert by storm clouds.
One thing we didn’t expect to see was the wind farms. In hindsight it is an obvious place to generate power. The rising air from the desert during the hot day draws cooler air down from the mountains, so afternoon and evening winds especially can be strong. It was hard to imagine the amount of power being generated in this area as the wind turbines here number thousands.
We pulled into Tehachapi after a long stretch for a resupply and rest. Only one day though as we were keen to complete southern California and the Sierra’s seem almost in reach now.