Day 1 of the PB&J’s fifth hitch began just like any other: the crew mobilized to our beloved wilderness, wide-eyed and well-rested from a pilgrimage to San Francisco. There, we put the finishing touches on one of hitch 4’s pet projects, characterized as “dope” by the native Ohioan, Clayton “Like A Rock” Buffer, who was “hella nerd psyched” on our restoration creosotes. They were, in fact, so effective at obscuring the incursion that the crew nearly drove right past it! We then moved on to our favorite and most distinguishing task of all: straw bales! We dined at the site of our ever-diminishing pile of erosion control implements, mentally preparing ourselves for the task ahead. After some giggling, napping, exploration of various trash piles in the vicinity, and, of course, snacking, we loaded up our (t)rusty blue trailer and drove out to Short Canyon. The daunting 275-foot hill that lay ahead of us was, at first sight, intimidating. But in its face, the PB&J’s earned their title as the DRC’s “most indefatigable crew,” mustering their strength and channeling their inner power pennes to propel themselves up the hill with their hay bale backpacks. Because the crew worked out of our house this hitch, the end of the day brought not only a respite for our tired backs, but also the promise of a shower to clean errant hay out of our pants.
Days 2 through 4 were spent at the BLM Salt Wells Firehouse in scenic Ridgecrest, CA. The crew got to join their fair-weather-allies, the Golden Valley crew, for 3 days of chainsaw training. The training included a number of educational videos with world-renowned chainsaw superstar Doug “The Dirt” Dent, as well as hands-on training from our instructors, Jamie “Rip-it-up” Kramer, Craig “Dip Lip” Matthews, and John “The Cat Lover” Macy. We practiced our skills on left-over bollards, learning how to buck, slash and make pie cuts in the poles to bring them down. Everyone really excelled in their ability to line up their cuts and angle them correctly, most of all Leana “Step Off” Weissberg, who was even made an honorary firefighter! Though the crew won’t have too much chainsaw work to do in the coming season, we were all very pleased to be certified in the use of a deadly weapon.
Day 5 was spent, once again, in the Owens Peak Wilderness. There, the crew very carefully planted a number of Joshua trees and successfully closed up “the incursion that led to nothing.”
Day 6 brought more excitement to the crew, as we headed out toward Red Mountain for ATV training. Our world-class instructors, Eddie “Cheez Me” Dubuque and Karen “You Just Got Cheezed” Walter, trained us in the dark arts of riding ATVs in a large rectangle. The crew perfected some advanced techniques, like U-turns, clearing downed obstacles, blurping the throttle, and swerving out of the way of our daredevil instructors. After our instruction and some free cake from Karen, we took a joy ride in the trails behind our training area. Though there were a few close calls, each crew member had a blast on our ride and we began to understand why OHV users take so much pleasure in this type of recreation.
Days 7 and 8 were spent working on our pet hay bale project, though sadly without the presence of the radiant Miriam “Whodunnit?!” Maier, who threw out her back during ATV training without so much as a soul to blame. The crew persevered, placing hay bales along the entire hill and beginning our process of trench digging.
Days 9 and 10 were spent around the house, being sure that it looks spic-and-span before we all leave to see our biological families for the next 10 days. In a few hours, we’ll head off to the DRC’s solstice party, where we’ll share food and exchange gifts made of trash. Though we’ll all miss each other very much, as well as you, our very very very small but faithful readership, we’re all looking forward to the comforts of home (mattresses)! We wish you all a very happy everything for ever and ever.