We just got back from a few days of camping, which happened to be the official start of Spring. It really didn’t matter that it was spring, we would have been out anyway — but it makes a nice headline for the post.
Springtime in the desert usually means wind, and some years it means lots of colorful flowers. With little rainfall this year, there won’t be the fabulous spring flowers. However the wind is here.
Our desert, in Palm Springs, was formed by three mountain ranges. To the west are the the San Jacinto Mountains with Mount San Jacinto just shy of 11,000 feet, the San Bernardino Mountains to the north, with Mount San Gorgonio at over 11,000 feet, and to the east are the Little San Bernardino Mountains rising to a high point of almost 6,000 feet. Palm Springs has an elevation of less than 500 feet above sea level.
In the spring, as the desert floor heats up, warm air rises and is replaced by cooler air from the Pacific Ocean, which is funneled in the San Gorgonio Pass, a small gap between the San Jacinto and San Bernardino Mountains, causing severe dust storms.
The worst winds in our area tend to happen in the spring, but the wind blows year round, which has given birth to the awful windmill farms just north of our house. One would have to be crazy to hike or camp is this area of wind and sand, unless you wanted to test the wind wind resistance of a shelter or tarp such as the MLD Trailstar.
East of this wind belt are the Little San Bernardino Mountains, and on the other side are areas that don’t receive this kind of spring weather. But if you go too far north or south on the east side of these mountains, you will get wind. Now I am sure a skilled meteorologist could tell exactly where the best location for spring camping is, but I have to rely on the trial and error method. Luckily I have done this often enough, I know where to find great weather.
At the beginning of our trip we got some late afternoon clouds, which made for some great sunsets, but generally it was warm (mid 70’s during the day, and nighttime lows in the high 40’s). Almost no wind at all, and a little breeze would have been a nice touch.
Although no big spring flower bloom, there are colors to be found.
Of course we did some hiking too.
CAMPSITE WITH MANY VIEWS
Our ancient ancestors relied on fire for survival, so there is something that draws most people to a fire when camping. But I generally don’t care for them. Camp fires separate us from our environment, and I prefer to sit outside at night without a fire and enjoy the night sky instead. I haven’t built a camp fire on a backpacking trip since 1972, and it had been at least two years since Joyce and I had a campfire on a camping trip. But this past Saturday night just seemed right for a campfire. And we enjoyed it. Too bad we didn’t have any marshmallows to roast!