Hitch 11: Storms, Elementary School Kids, Desert Rat Culture, & More Fencing

Hitch 11 brought with it the laughter of over-stimulated children, the exploration of desert rat artifacts, the heat of the impending desert summer, and abundant personal hair growth, all amidst some of the more challenging work the crew has done thus far.

The hitch began with a bleak looking storm that kept more than one Ridgecrest crew holed up in their wind-proof homes. Though the Owen’s Peak crew was all looking forward to the effects snow and rainfall might have on the southern Sierra’s stunning wildflower showing, they were also happy to avoid the high speed winds the storm would surely bring. Nonetheless, the crew got a taste of the weather during their SEEP (Sand Canyon Environmental Education Program) volunteer event. Bravely facing down the thick, gray clouds obstructing the mountain that is the crew’s namesake, the crew helped facilitate varied lesson plans for local elementary school students, including an examination of the Sand Canyon stream’s health, bird-watching, local archaeology, local flora and art. Brendan Knipfing and Luke Anderson really shone with their hands-on instruction of art, which culminated in the formation of a rag-tag renegade children’s army that sought to seek out and destroy all lesser members of the crew.

After another night inside four walls the crew departed for the El Paso Mountains Wilderness, where they were sent by the all-powerful Marty Dickes to monitor the 2009-2010 crews’ ground-breaking restoration efforts. Though battling with two state-of-the-art Trimbles in the finger-numbing cold was truly riveting, the crew was pleased to find respite in the exploration of Bickle Camp, the Mojave’s only remaining Depression-era gold mining camp. Tucked away at the end of a network of boulder-ridden dirt roads, the crew surveyed Walt Bickle’s old homestead, including a trailer on-site that had been lived in by no other than Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz! Clayton Buffer, with a tattoo of Lucille Ball’s face that spans his entire back, was especially touched by the interior of the rat-infested trailer. After prying a reluctant Mr. Buffer from the trailer’s doorway, screaming all the while “Let me stay here with her!”, the crew went on to walk the length of the William “Burro” Schmidt tunnel, a half-mile long prospecting tunnel dug entirely by the hand of “Burro” Schmidt over a duration of 38 years! The crew was excited by the mystery of the dark cave, but none as much as Miriam Maier, who repeatedly lunged at the ankles of her fellow crewmates, and soon had to be restrained by the formidable Emily Kauffman, who “wasn’t going to take any more of that.”

The rest of the hitch passed fairly uneventfully, though the crew displayed its ever-increasing fencing prowess on two separate projects, in Sand and No Name Canyons. Braving the onset of blistering heat, the crew refused to be stopped by steep slopes, rocky soils, and run-away spools of wire. Though the crew’s fencing rhythm is the subject of consistent and impressive refinement, the most momentous achievement this hitch was that of Luke Anderson’s glorious ponytail. The self-professed “Swedish Seductress” repeatedly wowed the rest of his crew with his improbably straight, blonde ponytail, darting from the back of his head like a medieval Scandinavian fishing spear. The resemblance was, in fact, so striking that Brendan Knipfing, the crew’s valiant protector, staged a number of ambushes on the Seductress’ dome with his crude, yet effective, bow and arrow.

The crew is now safe once more in Ridgecrest and looking forward to more fencing projects, AllCorps and this season’s epic end-of-the-year pizza party at Leana Weissberg’s parents’ place near Laguna Beach. More to come!

-Leana