Day one of Hitch 2 began with a delicious menu from our first Toco, and the motivation to bang out some pre-hitch duties, along with some giggles, naturally. Some members of the crew had already baked food in advance (bread, tortillas, veggie chili, cookies), so the tasks in the kitchen were minimal, thanks to the lovely Rands chefs. We were also able to stop by Home Depot to pick up lumber to install shelves in our trailer; hello organization! After getting to the field and setting up camp, we found time for some good ‘ol Rummy, never a dull moment in a crew Rummy game! Pre-Hitch day went off without hitch (no pun intended), although we did forget the hot sauce, to which many members of the crew were devastated. Although without Frank’s Hot Sauce, we still managed to enjoy a delicious hot meal after a long day.
Day two started by diving right into a long incursion, all of us excited to begin work again. Our first incursion included rock hard soil, a zombie lizard we named Randal, and 49 bushes. This was maybe one of our most physically and mentally draining incursions we’ve faced so far, but we still managed to kick butt and find times to goof around to keep everyone in light spirits. Every incursion after that seemed like a piece of cake compared to the first one, though there was one that we spent much longer on. During the longer incursions, we adopted a game called Virtual Hide-and-Seek, thanks to one of our crew members. Someone was found in the Derek Zoolander Center For Kids Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too, and even in the tire of one of our trucks.
Along with restoration, we also found time to spend an afternoon monitoring and recording abandoned mines in the Rand area we were in. There were quite a few, but we did a systematic sweep of part of the area and recorded about half a dozen.
During the midst of our restoration, one of our crew members had to be brought back to camp because he wasn’t feeling well. After a day in the quaran-tent, some rest, and delicious sweet potato soup, he was feeling back to normal and able to join us the next day for work. Although another one of our members wasn’t as lucky. He had to be brought to the hospital in the middle of the night with the stomach flu and spent the next day and night at the crew house with our project leader, Patrick. During their absence, the rest of the crew worked really hard and finished two incursions, despite there only being five of us. Our crew member who had fallen ill was given medicine and got well quickly and was able to join us the day after, although we think it was our lunch-time conference call that did the trick. With no other illnesses in the crew, we all finished the work plan, and some, in good spirits and good health.
During our last work day, our BLM contact Dana came out to help out with some restoration work in the beautiful Rand. She greeted us that morning bearing muffins, tangerines, and granola bars… WE LOVE YOU DANA! It was a fun day, filled with interesting conversations, a delicious lunch, and the enjoyment of our first visitor. Her presence was a great way to close out the last day of restoration, but the hitch wasn’t over yet…
On the very last day of hitch we spent a few hours with the other crews and the BLM for plant identification! We learned how to better identify the plants in the area for our data collection, while also being reunited again for the first time since the BBQ, also with the BLM. The day was cut short when it started to drizzle, a beautiful anomaly in the Mojave Desert. Overall, the hitch was very productive and satisfying. As we always say on the Rands… Keep calm and restore the desert.
By Alyssa Beck