On 01 July, 2019, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired this image of Cameron Ridge where the PCT (purple) crosses Tehachapi Pass. The pass divides the Tehachapi Mountains (south) and the Sierra Nevada (north), and forms a narrow connection between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert.
From a distance, the rows of windmills lined up in the desert seem to be silently performing their wind-to-energy duties. Encounter them up-close, however, and you can hear their striking ‘whoosh-whoosh' sound. Hikers can have such a close encounter along a 6.5-mile (10-kilometer) section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Southern California's Kern County.
This segment across Cameron Ridge is just a short stretch of the 2,650-mile (4,265-kilometer) trail across the western United States from Mexico to Canada. But you still need to hike smart and be prepared. The weather can be extreme and, as the wind turbines indicate, typically very windy.
Note the abundance of wind turbines, connected by both straight and sinuous access roads. The turbine sites were not selected haphazardly; they are positioned to take advantage of the reliable winds, which come off the Pacific Ocean and ultimately get funneled at high speed through a mountain pass toward the southeast. According to a report for the California Energy Commission, the wind speeds through the pass are among the highest in the USA, with an annual average of 20 miles (32 kilometers) per hour.
View the full resolution image.
Credit: Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey.