The beginning of the week found the team taking the first test of the semester at Phoenix College. All studied hard and most felt they did well. A park ranger from Lower Sonoran Nat'l Monument came in and spoke for career development class. We then traveled on to the White Canyon Wilderness south east from Phoenix to use our newly acquired GPS skills. Armed with Trimbles and Garmins we mapped out 2 trails and drove on some pretty gnarly 'roads'. The following day we headed north from Phoenix back to the Copper mountain loop to do a day of trail building picking up where we left off a few weeks ago. This particular part of the trail was scattered with rocks so progress was slow. The final day of the week we went to the Horseshoe Ranch in Agua Fria Nat'l Monument to partake in an inter-agency workshop on range land monitoring. The crew found it really interesting what goes into managing the Agua Fria lands. As we were leaving the ranch one of the vehicle got a flat tire. The team was able to finish the tire changing 'class' that they were unable to finish a few weeks ago. All in all a long week all over Arizona!
New hit song for the week: A tribute to Rebecca Black's "Friday"
Hitch 7 started out not with a bang, but instead, an extra night sleeping in our beds (which is equivalent to a cot for an SCA member). After the pre-hitch day ended, we spent that night in town so we could pick our CSA (no relation) farm box. The next morning we finished the last leftover tasks from pre-hitch day, packed up, picked up the CSA order and headed out to our campsite. During the four hour drive, we took a few wrong turns. Unfortunately, one of those wrong turns could not be corrected by a simple ‘spotter otter’. The path was too narrow and dangerous for the truck with the trailer to back up and turn around. After a failed attempt at going straight back, we knew that there was only one solution – to get girdled. We unhitched the trailer, pulled the truck around to the other side of said trailer and then got our girdling pants on (which happened to be exactly the same as our work pants we were already wearing). We deadlifted the trailer and pivoted it on the left tire. Once the trailer was back on the truck we set out to finally meet up with our fellow crews. Even after a difficult day with several tiring tasks, we still found time to socialize with the other crews.
The first full day with the other crews was spent relaxing, conversing and enjoying two amazing places. After a morning of chewing the fat, we came out of camp “rolling deep” as the kids would say in a convoy of eight SCA trucks. The first stop of the day was comparable to the aunt who always gave you socks at Christmas. At least that is what I was expecting, until I saw the dunes in person. Then I realized that Aunt Mary hit the lotto and bought me a flat screen. The dunes were absolutely gorgeous. Their size alone was mesmerizing to a mere 5’6 man like me. Thinking back to that day, it may not have been the size or beauty of the dunes but the strong feeling of community. We all felt like one giant family on the beach (minus the water and crabs of course). Later in the day, we washed the sand off in the local luxurious hot springs.
The first day of trail work on the China Ranch Date Farm was most definitely a refreshing experience for everyone. We mixed the crews together into different groups, enjoyed the leadership of a lovely BLM member and got to work in a truly astonishing atmosphere. My group spent the first day clearing a path for a new trail so a 200+ year old house could be preserved. Our BLM leader Rose told us the history of the house, which sparked a connection with the work that day. We also did some maintenance work with some other trails, but the work near the amazing artifact of a home was my favorite part of the day.
As the next few days passed by, we constructed rock stairs, built bridges, touched up old trails, carved out a new trail, and redirected the water flow of a creek. On our last day of work, the owner of the Ranch treated every SCA member to a free date shake and the BLM member presented their sugar-covered thank you as well with cake and candy. The free date shake was delicious (and it was the 5th one that I had the pleasure of consuming since my time on the ranch). During the last night at our campsite, we were presented with the option of going back to the hot springs or gong to a local heated pool. I chose the pool, but both groups had a wonderful time relaxing that final night. The next day was spent taking a serene drive through Death Valley. We saw Badwater, the lowest point in the continental United States, during the drive. While we were not able to hike through or camp in Death Valley, driving through it still unveiled much of its majesty.
With four days left in our hitch, we faced the daunting task of outreach. Outreach wasn’t discouraging due to some fear of speaking to the public or anything along those lines. It was the sitting. Siting in a chair for a multitude of hours is more tiring than an entire day of restoration work. However we made it through those two butt-cramping days and in the process handed out 269 permits and spoke to 378 members of the OHV community.
The second-to-last day of this hitch was my favorite. We drove out to Sage Canyon, where I did my Environmental Education presentation about meditation. After changing into a very comfortable gi I spoke about the history, benefits and techniques of meditation. I then led my crew in meditation and asked everyone to address something that has been bothering them. Luckily the meditation went well as everyone felt at peace. Bridget couldn’t help but smile for a short period after the session. The next few hours were spent relaxing and further developing one’s sense of self awareness. We finished off the day with our post hitch meeting.
It seems as if we can go nowhere but up as a crew at this point. Sure, we have hit the occasional snafu, but that is expected. And the fact that we can surmount those problems just shows how strong we have become as a crew. The actor Michael J. Fox once said “Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” And nowhere does that hold more true than in the family that I call my crew.
-By David Patrick Selllari
The Wolf Pack gathered in the pre dawn light to set out for the Prescott Nat'l Forest to the north for our chainsaw training. A quick stop to say hello at the BLM and we were on our way. We arrived in Prescott at the Fire Center with storm clouds and cold air blowing. A major snow storm was predicted to come through the area. Instead of camping like our original plan our agency contacts arranged for us to stay in a lodge on the edge of town. Everyone was grateful for all the modern amenities such as electricity, heat, toilets, and beds! The next morning we awoke to a light snow covering the ground. For many of these native Phoenicians, this was their first time seeing snow falling or having their first snowball fight. Playing and working in the snow was fun but very different for some. After completing our classroom work for S-212 and some work trade for our wonderful lodging we were ready to get out and use the saws. For nearly all this was their first time ever holding a saw. Some said it was scary but really exciting after getting use to the saws.
New hit songs from the week: "99% Muscle, 1% Feelings"
This week started off with the team getting their personality reports from Phoenix College. These reports also matched each member with several jobs that would be suitable for their personality types. Several on the crew took turns being leader for the day and implementing their leadership styles. The Wolf Pack built 300 feet of trail at the Audubon Center leading over to Rio Salado. Wildlife was abundant even in town. Some sightings included lizards, quail, scorpions, rabbits, roadrunner, egrets and many more. We thought the trail would be easy to do only 300 ft over 4 days but we were wrong. The area was once a landfill for the city of Phoenix so as we cut into the hillside to make our trail we found ourselves removing tires, concrete, re-bar, and other trash. This proved more difficult than actually building the trail.
The new song that arose from this week of town trail building: "Creosote After The Rain
Till next time...Wolf Pack out!
This hitch started out with the Grass Valley, Kiavah and Jawbone crews meeting in one of the local parks in Ridgecrest. From there we caravanned to the location were All-Corps was being held in the Ibex Wilderness Area. We made a few stops along the way to see what kind of cool things there are to find. Once at the Ibex wilderness, each crew set up their camp and sleeping areas. It was a small community made up of White Walls, Green Monsters and tents.
The next day was a very relaxed, corps members were able to socialize with one another, while waiting for Wild Corps to arrive. We were able to spend the day checking out, hiking up and down, playing in the sand over at Dumont Dunes. After we had our fun and fill at the Dunes, the group was able to get refreshed at the Tecopa Hot Springs where we were able to enjoy some hot water and got to mingle with one another.
Once we started to get into the work rhythm, All-Corps was held over at the China Ranch Date Farm outside of Tecopa, California. This was led by members of Wild-Corps as well as BLM officials and the owner of China Ranch; Tim, Rose, David and Brian. Most of the work at China Ranch consisted of trail building and trail maintenance. These were fun filled days, where we did all of our work filled with joy. We had the opportunity to blaze and build new trails through Mesquite forests, widen trails by trimming the shrubs back, clearing trails of dirt and rocks due to the force of erosion, as well as build bridges over creeks, creating staircases along the sides of rocky hills, creating rock retaining walls, as well as marking the trails by lining them with rocks. It was good hard work; at the end of the day we were all able to relax at camp, socialize with friends, play games and eat a good variety of food since each night was a potluck with a different dinner theme.
Once All-Corps was over, Grass Valley, Kiavah and Wild-Corps packed up camp in the Ibex Wilderness and caravanned five miles down the street to the City of Shoshone. This was a real treat for us, since we spend a good amount of our time living in the wilderness without running water and no electricity. Camping in Shoshone, not only were we within walking distance of the conference center, but we also had flush toilets, showers, electricity, library, a store within walking distance, a swimming pool heated by a local hot spring and some good hiking areas that brought us to petroglyphs as well as other early man sites. So you can say, we got spoiled and pampered during our time in the City of Shoshone.
The Shoshone Conference was hosted by the Sierra Club, members from different Chapters and other environmental organizations, as well as BLM and NPS officials from California and Nevada. Members and officials came together to discuss environmental issues concerning the desert. There were many presentations followed by Q and A sessions, the members of Wild-Corps had the opportunity to give a presentation on the type of work that they do and all the members of DRC were present really enjoyed it.
Once the conference was over, Grass and Kiavah packed up camp and started heading back to Ridgecrest and took the opportunity to check out Death Valley since it was along the way. We checked out Badwater Basin (the lowest point on the continent), Artist Drive, Salt Creek Trail where we saw a few pupfish, desert wildflowers, saw some standing water along the valley floor and the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. We were able to spend the day seeing and enjoying the hottest, driest and the largest National Park in the Lower Forty Eight on a nice comfortable day. It was truly an amazing way to end a great hitch.