Way off in the distance is our first view of the Trona Pinnacles, a National Natural Monument in California off Highway 178 just southeast of China Lake Naval Weapons Center. Except for the clouds moving across the sky there is no sign of movement. All appeared calm and placid.
The geology of the pinnacles is fascinating. They are cathedral-like spires created underwater 10,000 to 100,000 years ago. They are known as tufa pinnacles and are divided into three groups -- northern, middle and southern, each representing a separate ice age period.
Before reaching the pinnacles we spied a map box on an information sign so we stopped to grab a map. As I opened the door, I and the door, were suddently and alarmingly tossed forward. The wind's power was so great it bent the door hinges and the litter in our doorstep trash container scattered hither and yon. I was left scurrying to grab trash all the while trying to force the door shut again. Getting back into Thistle turned into a trial. With all my force I could not open the regular door against the wind, so changed course and entered Thistle through the sliding door. The wind was fierce!
In selecting our campsite we tucked ourselves in behind a large pinnacle as best we could for wind protection, but still we were slammed with wind, our buffer pathetically ineffective. The wind was hard and noisy and rough, increasing as the evening progressed! Dust and sand kicked up in swirling whirlwinds as Thistle swayed and creaked and groaned.
Late into the night the wind howled with a force beyond belief, leaving us with nightmares of sailing a rough sea.
This morning all clouds are gone, the wind is gone and the day is a balmy and peaceful 70 degrees.
“He is richest who is content with the least, for contentment is the wealth of nature."