The final week of the program found the crew at Agua Fria - Riverbend site. It was timber work skills week for the crew. SCA Alum and work skills instructor, Tanya Henderson, taught the team the finer points of working with timber. Hopes were high as we set out to built a timber retaining wall to stop soil erosion. The juniper provided a tough obstacle as far as getting the wall built. In the end we joined together several logs and made large check steps as an alternative to the retaining wall. We also built a rock retianing wall and resotred the erosional area. It was ice to be back in a familiar place for our final work week. The crew is looking forward to graduation next week.
The end of hitch 11 has brought us one hitch closer to the end of this program. Both bringing a little sadness and a little excitement. Long gone are our nights of single digits, not seeing another person except our own crew for 12 days straight, and not seeing one insect or little critter poke it's head out during an entire hitch. This hitch we were greeted by all the other crews during our All-Corps event, some desert tortoises, a mini OHV event, a rave, and a pizza pool party. Which is why this blog may be a little late in it's posting, nap time was needed. Also, as a disclaimer, there may be many grammatical errors due to post nap grogginess.As hosts to this year All-Corps event, we had a lot of prep work to do to get ready for 30+ people working on a fence bordering the Grass Valley wilderness area. Which meant lots and lots of materials were needed: t-posts, bales of wires, bollards and more bollards. Luckily Jawbone and Kiavah were up to the challenge of helping us haul a ton of wires and a couple tons of t-posts out. Which meant we all got a lot of Ridgecrest radio time (Ridgecrest radio is the best radio) or sleeping time (you know you've perfected your jelly fish when the bumpy roads begin to lull you to sleep). All the while we got to advance our fence sighting techniques, the task in which we try to site a straight line armed with only a compass and binoculars among many tall creosote bushes. We went from trying to see through the creosotes, to attempting the sit on another's shoulders (that barely lasted a second..it was not in the JHA), to finally bringing out a ladder to see over the creosotes....which by far works the best.With Jawbone and Kiavah's help we were able to spend a day away from our All-Corps organizing to help one of the BLM archaeologists at Portuguese Canyon. We learned about obsidian tools, as well as their creation process. And we got to play archaeologists, finding and marking bifaces and milling features.And then there was All-Corps. As hosts we arrived at our campsite for the event a day early, in order to get ready for the other crews. Driving to our campsite was easy, as all we had to do was follow “Scrappertown Urinal Target” signs, which we later found out lead to an OHV gathering at the next campsite over. When we arrived at the dry lake bed we were camping at, we were greeted by the tail end of a rave. At 11 am there were still speakers piled in a messy pyramid style, blasting some continuous rave beats, which could be heard from the corner of the lake bed we claimed as ours. After trying to find another campsite, to no avail, we settled on calling the other crews to make sure they brought out extra earplugs and glow sticks. Which turned out to be unnecessary, as it was only a one night party and the group slowly dwindled as the day went on.We had our own little party once the other crews came out. Which involved Jurassic Park viewing on a trailer, catchphrase, multiple games of Settler's of Catan, tortoise viewing show at Will's tent, and a firework show put on by our neighbors Burning Ham. Plus over 2 miles of fence being completed in over 90 degree weather. The hitch ended with a pizza pool party at our BLM contact's parents' home. There couldn't have been a better way to end a hot hot hitch and say goodbye to Jawbone and Rands.
Welcome to hitch #11! Our final hitch before the end of the season and Chorefest. We were all very excited to victoriously end our season by meeting both our restoration and effectiveness monitoring quotas. We celebrated with a trip to Sand Canyon to hike around, hunt for, and identify wildflowers. During the hike, we found some obsidian arrowheads and stopped for lunch under a lone pine tree with ample shade. Silly Corinne got pine needles stuck in her pants, which was quite a sight. After our hike, the boys went to the water hole for a swim to cool off. The next day was spent in Portuguese Canyon assisting Ashley, the BLM archaeologist, in recording data about milling sites and obsidian artifacts that were used for tools by Native Americans. The big event, however, of this hitch was the final Allcorps hosted by the grassholes on their turf. With only two hitches left in the season, the grassholes were given a ginormous fencing project, a whopping 3.5 miles! The entire DRC was called upon to come to their rescue, like Rohan to Gondor. The days were long and hot, the sun tested our strength with temperatures in the mid to upper 90’s. Our BLM contact, Dana Jacobs, was kind enough to relieve us with everything from ice to Gatorade to keep us safe and comfortable. She even jumped in to give us some hands-on help with the fencing project. For the Jawbone crew, fencing was an entirely new experience but it was a welcome change to our usual restoration. Although we were new to the fencing game, we still managed to learn quickly and helped out as much as we could. You’re welcome, grassholes.By the end of the four days in the heat, we were sweaty and dusty from the dry lake bed. After getting back home and having a welcome shower, we all gathered at Dana’s house for a pizza and a pool party. She was kind enough to open her home to 30-some desert dirtbags. Thank you, Dana. It was a refreshing end to the work we did at Allcorps.XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO,Suradee Thongkiattikul and Corinne Dagmar Erickson
The week started off strong with nice weather and lots of surveying. With nice weather comes lots of visitors to the Army Corps parks and that, of course, means no rest while surveying. The sun left its mark on all of us, giving some nice tans and a few burns. Nobody was complaining about this beautiful southern weather. Even much of the local wildlife was out and about. Herons, ducks, geese, turkeys, cardinals and the occasional bluebird could be seen at some parks, along with deer, and rabbits. Eventually the heat and sun subsided and made way for some spring showers that will no doubt help to green up the vegetation. The rain also brought along some fantastic thunderstorms that lit up the night sky while constantly bombarding it with a strong rumble. Our two conservation days were successes. We were lucky enough to host the Atlanta crew again. Together we helped out the Nashville Food Project (http://www.thenashvillefoodproject.org/) again. Together the 6 of us turned over a bed and planted beans and cucumbers. It was an incredibly productive and enjoyable time for everyone. Also that day, Eva, Sophie and Mike participated in a festival that promotes ‘green living’. We partnered with a local business called Worms Way to help spread the word about composting and vermiculture, and how easy it is to apply it at anyone’s home. In exchange for this we got 1lb of worms to use to start our own worm bin at the Nashville house. On our second Conservation day, Sophie and Mike met up with Leah and Clatyon from the Atlanta crew at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to participate in a trash pickup day. There were many volunteers that helped out that day and prizes were given away for the most trash picked up by a team and also the weirdest item picked up. To our amazement the SCA team of 4 out-competed everyone, and won 4 free pizzas from a local pizzeria outside the park. It was an awesome day. The team camped at a secluded spot just across the North Carolina border. There the team met some botanists who were part of an ongoing study in its 7th year that measures forest structure and lichens. Mike was able to help out with their final day of data collection, which was a great way to network and gain some professional experience. It’s been a great two weeks and we are all preparing for the end of this spring season. Sophie is busy finding housing for her summer crew in Oxford, MS, while Mike heard from his first intern that will be staying in Nashville. There is a lot of work still to be done but we are all happy to be doing it!Written by Mike Vasquez
The last two weeks couldn’t have been more eventful for the Atlanta crew. Their endeavors took them to lakes and mountains, creeks and climbing gyms, parking lots and the sides of highways. On sunny days and rainy ones, through dark thunder and intense heat, they surveyed, surveyed, and surveyed some more and met many a character along the way. It’s been a whirlwind, and a fun one at that.Surveys were the primary activity of the first week of the hitch. Sitting on the roadside, fashionably clad in fluorescent yellow vests and the freshest SCA gear around, the Atlanta crew chatted up the lake-visiting public with smiles, good humor, and, you guessed it, utter class. Many projects were undertaken in the moments between work; Michael perfected both the paint can woodstove and pop can alcohol stove after putting the finishing touches on his modified compost tumbler (patents pending). Leah broke ground on the Hillbilly Hilton’s backyard trail, the aptly named Punky Brewster, which is surely soon to be one of the most prestigious hikes in the world of trails. Clayton wrote a lot of wimpy poetry about the birds, trees, and flowers of North Georgia, while designing birdhouses to compliment the Punky Brewster.But rocking N. Georgia like a hurricane wasn’t enough for the ATL folks. Seeing a chance to diversify their portfolios of raditute on their days off, the ATL hauled up to Nashville, Tennessee for a country music fueled conservation project adventure. For a day they split ways, Michael riding off into the sunrise on his motorcycle, destined for the infamous Dragon’s Tail, Leah and Clayton heading off straight for the land of the Grand Ole Opry. The crew reveled in the company of Nashville’s finest folks, Sophie, Mike, and Eva, and exchanged stories of wild and wonderful survey periods of the past few weeks. This was no mere leisure trip though, folks. There was business to be done and that business was a day working in one of the gardens of the incredible Nashville Food Project. The crews painted their thumbs green for the day and set to planting arugala, spinach, fennel, and most importantly the cucumber garden, which they helped, from clearing the ground to planting. It was unsurprisingly a real good time and everybody in the crew left feeling smarter, prettier, and inspired by the awesome work of the NFP. Check them out, folks! They are cool beyond my ability to explain. After a tearful departure from their esteemed colleagues up north, the ATL crew headed back for the bread and the butter they had left behind…more surveys! Michael and Clayton diversified their worldviews a bit by switching survey schedules, Michael heading for the western reaches of the state at Carter’s Lake and Allatoona, Clayton moving closer to the homefront at Lake Lanier. A sadness was noticeable in the fearless leader, Leah Cantor, as she realized her days of surveying were coming to a close here in Georgia. She made her last few survey days count, and engaged the public with wit and jubilance! Don’t worry Leah, you’ll be surveying again in Kansas soon enough!At the Hilton, a call was heard from the North. The Great Smoky Mountains were summoning. There was trash needing picking up, and we were the folks to do it. Only two of our three could go – Michael, ever mindful of the call of the survey, graciously volunteered to stay behind so that Clayton and Leah could sally forth. He spent his time bettering a community near and dear to his heart, the climbing one, creating a brochure of helpful tips and resources for climbing safely and mitigating detrimental environmental impact. Leah and Clayton, aided by their allies Sophie and Mike V., took on the litter-strewn roadways entering Great Smoky Mountain National Park as a part of their annual Earth Week festivities. With tenacity characteristic of SCA members when faced with mass amounts of garbage, the combined teams combed through the roadside like a vigorous dog groomer, and came out with 5 heaping bags of trash and a few odd items. To the delight of the trash hounds, the SCAers won awards for most trash collected and weirdest item (a restaurant pager found by Sophie). The spoils of victory? Pizza and ice cream! The crew gave thanks for their feast and shared their bounty with fellow campers and AT through hikers, which gave back its own rewards, new friends, and potential co-workers. It could not have been a more fruitful experience. Reunited again at the Hilton, the team closed out the hitch with a few slow, stormy days. Michael and Clayton, surveying, got well acquainted with the spring showers of Georgia, which although miserable to sit through, brought the beauty of the hills and lakes into full bloom. Leah worked tirelessly on setting things up right for her crew in Kansas. Sunday, the first day of the hitch, the rain broke, a sunny welcome into the newest and final phase of the initial ATL crew adventure. Thanks for reading, Herbert the Deer Head.