Today I woke up with an idea for adventure -- climb Mt. San Antonio (aka Mt. Baldy), the 10,064' mountain that towers over about 10 million people, and see the Santa Ana winds in all their glory at the same time. The Santa Ana winds come a few times a year and blow from Nevada down through southern California, they'll last a few days and winds gusts can be 40-50 mph in places. We had a wind event start yesterday, scheduled to end tomorrow, and while I don't even notice them where I live (thanks, mountains) I knew they'd be strong up on top of the mountains.
I've always had a strange attraction towards horrendous weather. Of course, part of me wishes for endless days of "sunny and 72", but there's something satisfying about standing on the shore of Lake Superior during a winter blizzard, or biking in a thunderstorm, that commands a deep respect for the power of nature.
The mountains have been snow covered for about a month now, so I strapped my snowshoes to my pack and headed out. The Baldy trailhead is a 20-minute drive from my apartment, and starts at 4,000' elevation. I made it to about 9,200' before the winds were too strong and my snowshoes weren't cutting it for the icy slopes, so I turned around.
The winds literally knocked me over 3 or 4 times, and their low humidity chapped my skin. At some point in the video below I think I said "feels like burning". Sorry for the poor audio quality.
Mt. Baldy + Santa Ana Winds from Jeff D. on Vimeo.
Pretty cool to have a snowshoe adventure in southern California, even cooler that 20 minutes after reaching my car, I was back to 65 degree temps and was able to squeeze in a short mountain bike ride.