Project Leader: Natalie R. Wilson Project Dates: Sept. 28, 2010 to May 17, 2011 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 760-608-2256 Address: 300 S. Richmond Ave, Ridgecrest, CA 93555
People always say that the number 13 is very unlucky, but I, Marchetti beg to differ. Hitch 13 was a wonderful hitch and a great way to end the season. In this entry I, Marchetti will give several reasons as to why. The first and quite possibly the most astonishing one is that our house finally received a brand new oven. So no longer did our crew travel to other place houses to prepare our food. Pretty crazy right? Shout out to SCA headquarters for making that possible along with the best harassers out there Natalie and Jordan.
After a smooth pre-hitch the Rands crew ventured out to the Mojave National Preserve for an environmental educational piece on desert landscapes and the processes that form the beautiful desert we work so hard to preserve. The Mojave National Preserve hosts the Kelso Dunes which possesses one of the tallest sand dunes in the world. The sand dune range rises up to 650 feet and above which the crew hiked up and jumped down. These dunes are marvelous mounds of sand in which words cannot describe how beautiful these structures are.
Once the Randsies explored the Mojave National Preserve, our super duper project leader surprised with a trip to a Greek food joint that provided us mouthwatering gyros and salads. After the delightful treat the crew cruised back to our last stint in the Rands. Since the crew wrapped up restoration last hitch we hiked around the Rands monitoring signs for the Bureau of Land Management. This in itself was another awesome treat due to the fact we hiked almost the exact same route on the last day which we hiked the first trip to the Rands Mountains. It certainly brought the crew in full circle of our wonderful experience in the desert.
On day 5 we headed out to Jawbone for All-Corps to work on a difficult incursion which required the whole DRC to place numerous check dams in order to control erosion. We slaved three hard days and the erosion on that hill will be controlled for years to come. During the All-Corps stint, Jawbone planned a Will Smith competition and, like usual, the Rands colonized, taking home yet another bag of candy and bragging rights.
With the reasons stated above the number 13 is not unlucky, rather just a myth that should be forgotten. Hitch 13 was nothing less than spectacular and a great way to end the work season with the greatest people that created some of longest, lasting memories.
ToCo Notes/ Narratives:
We no longer dominate, rather we colonize.
You can actually strain every muscle in your body lifting heavy objects to poop your pants.
Vertical Mulch: 20
Check Dams: 21
Meters Restored: 1080 square meters
Seed Pits: 16
Fence Repairs: 3
Person Hours: 457.2 hours
Day one started with pre-hitch and planning a crew backpacking trip for the upcoming break. On day two we took a trip to visit the Owens Peak crew to help them put in check dams on a massive hill climb.
Days three through five were spent on an incursion we had dubbed “the Half Moon”. We worked super hard, and by the time the Owens Peak crew came to help us restore on day six, we decided that their time would be better spent helping us with another incursion we lovingly dubbed “the Behemoth” a.k.a. “the incursion that never ends”. The Behemoth is an incursion we started to work on during hitch ten. When we started the incursion, we were under the impression that it was a very small hill climb, but when viewed from different vantage point, the small hill climb turned into an undulating 0.67 mile incursion. Needless to say, the Owens crew gave us a much needed hand, and helped us put a large dent in the Behemoth.
Day seven was spent finishing both “the Half Moon” and “the Behemoth” incursions. Steve Gomez came out to restore with us, and it was such a relief to be done with both of the incursions. We didn’t it know at the time, but day seven turned out to be our last day of restoration in the Rands.
On day eight we traveled up to visit Keith Axelson. His ranch was beautiful and we went on a wonderful adventure hike. Day nine was spent at the Kern River Spring Festival where we listened to music, babysat Carrie Wood’s tortoise Clack, held snakes, and talked to people about our work with the SCA.
Incursions Completed: 3
Linear Meters Restored: 1558
Area Restored (m2): 3067
Vertical Mulch: 257
Seed Pits: 191
Check Dams: 5
Berms (m): 5
People Hours: 676.55
The Rands Crew had their hands full with things to do this hitch, all very fun things, of course. It was an action-packed hitch, with only four full days of restoration and then four days of wildflower talks, wind farm tours, birthday celebrations, ATV training, and teaching small children the wonders of science and appreciating nature. We all started our normal pre-hitch day with packing and cooking but we got to enjoy the new chore of cleaning up the weed infestation in the front and back yard. Marchetti did a great job cleaning the front yard all day, and everyone else joined in at separate times. Thanks to the new task of yard work, the Rands Crew learned where the disposal site was located in Ridgecrest. After a long day of hard work from everyone, we rested up so we could leave for the Sand Canyon Environmental Education Program (SEEP) in the morning.
SEEP is a great program put on by a group of passionate educators on environmental issues and topics such as water quality, history, birds, plants, and art. It is specifically for young children to attend on a Friday afternoon to spend some time in a beautiful part of Sand Canyon as well as learn some great information about the surrounding area! The Rands Crew got to partner with presenters at the water quality and birds stations. Jut and Jack actually got to hold their very own art station. The kids did a fantastic job pulling pranks on Jut and Jack, and one girl even told Jack to get a haircut and called him a hippie. Kids say the darnest things.
After a long and hot day out in the sun at SEEP, the Rands Crew decided to stay in house instead of going out in the field. We woke up early the next morning to attend the Wildflower talk put on by Christine at the Desert Tortoise Natural Area. We learned a lot about the different types of bushes in the area as well as legumes and small wildflowers that are popular desert tortoise food. While we were at the wildflower talk, we saw mating behavior being performed by a male tortoise on a female tortoise. This consisted of the male bobbing his head up and down while circling the female. He occasionally bit her as well as slammed into her twice. She was obviously not having it seeing as she kept shoving dirt in his face and walking away. If only it were that easy in human courtship.
On day four, we finally got to do some restoration! Since we agreed to start a three quarter of a mile long incursion last hitch, it was decided it would be a good idea to try and get some of that done. Also known as the “behemoth” incursion, this incursion has been seared in our brains as the incursion that never ends. Nonetheless, the Rands Crew went in with good spirits and started to do some awesome texture work which is always a learning experience. The crew worked together to figure out the best ways to achieve texture and blending colors. We also made a phenomenal looking berm at the front of the incursion which helps define the boundaries of the road. At the end of the day, Jordan saw a huge rattlesnake while out collecting vegetation, which is exciting and we're all happy she decided not to poke it. Natalie also introduced the crew to effectiveness monitoring on this hitch and took the first two people on that adventure. The concept of effectiveness monitoring is to review past restoration and see how it has held up and if restoration needs to be done again to help hold up the integrity of the landscape.
We also got to do some more awesome restoration work on day five. Jut, Jack, and Natalie all did some great decompaction work on a pretty decently sized hill climb and the rest of the crew were happy to go out and gather vegetation. Steve also visited us that day, which we all appreciated, especially the donuts. There was more effectiveness monitoring done and the crew enjoyed the warm weather which proved to be great conditions to sleep out in. After getting a sufficient amount of work done that day, the crew packed up the white tent and kitchen gear into the trailer in preparation of leaving the Rands for a few days to visit the Tehachapi Wind Farm and Golden Valley.
Tuesday morning the crew woke and got ready for the hour journey to Tehachapi! The environmental education for this hitch was an overall look into wind energy, including a visit to one of California's largest wind farms. The Tehachapi Wind Farm, owned by Terra-Gen, has approximately 4,000-5,000 wind turbines. We were given a presentation and a tour of the wind farm by Karla and Jim at Terra-Gen, who were very helpful and informative and more than pleased to answer all of our questions. They even showed us a Joshua Tree in which a family of Great Horn Owls are living and we all basked in their adorableness. They also gave us the chance to look into a wind turbine and view all the computers and systems contained in them. We learned a great deal from the tour, such as the mechanisms a turbine goes through to generate power, how they deal with re-vegetation of areas after construction, how much electricity can be held in substations, and the environmental impacts and solutions of wind turbines. At the end of the day, we drove to the Tehachapi Mountain Park where we all enjoyed the view of Pondarosa and conifer trees. On our way back out of the park, we ran into Heidi, a current SCA leader who is leading a crew on the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) as well as Jordan's past project leader!
When we got back into town, we found out that ATV training scheduled for the next day was moved back to Friday, so we decided to stay in the house anyway and drive back to the Rands in the morning. We arrived at the Rands around 8:00 AM to start our day of restoration. Being two people down that day due to illness and administration duties, the five at the incursion site got some mad work done. We put in a total of twelve bushes which gave us some great progress on the hill climb. After work, we headed straight to Golden Valley for a birthday celebration for Matt Falco. It was a great visit, especially since all the crews from Ridgecrest got to come and celebrate, and even more so since we got to put a bow on Sophia's head. We were all very excited for the opportunity to celebrate his birthday with him and had a great time with everyone. The All Corp invitations were also passed out, and much to our splendid surprise, it is Will Smith themed and hopefully the Rands Crew will have something awesome planned for it.
In the morning on the day after our night in Golden, we drove back to the Rands to have another day of restoration. We completed more effectiveness monitoring, did more decompaction, finished the hill climb we were previously working on and got some nice looking bushes up on another hill climb. Throughout the day, the crew was looking forward to the next day, which would be ATV training. When we got back to camp, we had a great group discussion and decided it would be best to drive back to the house since the trailer was already packed and three out of the seven Randsies weren't feeling quite up to par. We got back to Ridgecrest at a decent hour and were able to rest and relax before a day full of riding ATV's.
We got to celebrate the end of the hitch riding around on ATV's and learning rider techniques by Eddie at the BLM. It was an action-packed day full of making turns, donuts, riding over logs, and going on a joy ride, or trail ride if you want to be technical. Eddie and Steve were great leaders and even let the group go on two extra rides at the end of the day. Everyone had a great time, seeing as how it was almost everyone's first time on an ATV. Now that we've all had a taste of pushing the throttle, I think its easy to say everyone would definitely enjoy six personal Rand ATV's to drive around and work on restoration.
As always, we spent the last day of hitch doing typical post-hitch duties. We got to spend yet more time doing yard work in the morning, but definitely got the majority of the work done. Now we just have Chore-Fest 2011 to look forward to. All-in-all, it was a busy hitch that was filled with great opportunities and a variety of activities. All the Randsies are looking forward to a more restoration focused hitch, and our last full hitch in the Rands. The season is almost at a close, but we're still ready to get some serious work done.
Vertical Mulch: 42
Seed Pits: 40
Berm Constructed on R44
The disposal site is located off of Jack's Ranch Road, which you just take Ridgecrest Blvd. down and turn left on Jack's Ranch Road and follow the signs to the disposal site. Yard work should never be a solo person job because it can make people go crazy. With warmer days ahead, the heat can be a detriment seeing as how it brings forth bugs and causes food to go bad faster.
Although we started hitch 10 down a Marchetti (who had a wedding to attend), Rands went about pre-hitch as usual. The usual now includes invading other teams’ kitchens to bake, as we are down an oven. Luckily, the PLs were willing to lend us theirs. Once prepared, we headed out for the field. We again camped in the same spot as last hitch – it has a great view of the Rands, the El Pasos, and the Sierras, and lots of wildflowers. A very cozy spot indeed.
We kicked off work by building a small stretch of fence in front of a wash. After finishing the fencing, we talked about what our goals are for the rest of the season (less than two months left!) and ended up scouting before settling on an incursion to start on. What we had thought were two small hill climbs turned out to be one end of a behemoth of an incursion. We spent the rest of the hitch working on this undulating trail that seems to get a lot of love from OHVers.
Some of the ups and downs of the hitch include: a few minor medical mishaps that meant folks were out of commission for a day or two; some days of beautiful, sunny weather, some days of rainy weather, and some days of rain; Marchetti being absent, and then coming back; a food order, which meant more cheese and chocolate chips, but no Natalie for a day; the emergence of gold field and other beautiful wildflowers; lots of wildlife, including a horned lizard that hung around our regular stretch spot.
A major high point of the hitch was having some guests out to the Rands. The Golden Valley team joined us on day 8 to knock out a big section of our behemoth incursion. With their help, we were able to decompact a long stretch, and put in over 50 vertical mulch. Their help was so appreciated, and their company welcome. But after a very-pasta-potluck dinner, Golden went home, and Rands regrouped for our last day in the field.
On day 9, we headed over to the El Paso Wilderness area to learn more about the Kawaiisu tribe who lived in the region and to find some petroglyphs for our environmental education lesson. Those whose bodies permitted headed out with GPS coordinates and a lunch into the mountains. We didn’t make it to the petroglyphs but did experience a beautiful corner of the El Pasos and got in a wonderful (and tiring) hike.
Although our first “regular” all-restoration hitch that we have had in a while turned out not to be so “regular,” we got a lot of work in, and despite a few ups and downs, had a good time. And stayed (mostly) dry through the rains.
Vertical Mulch: 111**
Person Hours: 416.8 hours
**The last incursion we worked on was not finished and will be completed on a following hitch.
ToCo Notes/ Narratives:
Lessons Learned: If you bring rock bags, you won’t need them, but if you forget them, you most certainly will be moving gravel that day. Also, not everyone has read the primary works of Foucault.
Our hitch began, like every other, with a list of tasks and duties to fulfill and complete-food packing, shopping for additional food items, preparing food for the field, and packing our personal items and trailer with all the necessary gear and equipment needed for 10 days out. Additionally, we replaced a valve stem on our Suburban, which had been causing us problems. Unlike a typical hitch however, once all of our duties and tasks were completed, we did not head directly into the Rand Mountains, but instead made our way south toward Yucca Valley, where we stayed at the Wildcorps House for the night. The next couple of days ahead of us were to be devoted to Leave No Trace (LNT) Training in Joshua Tree National Park.
Day two marked day one of LNT Training. We spent the better part of the day in a classroom setting, going over logistics and getting tips from our instructors, Jamie Weleber and Darren Gruetze, on how to give an engaging and effective lesson. Out LNT training, which covers seven different LNT principles, was divided among us, each with a topic to teach to the group. Day two consisted of further instruction on how to teach effectively and also gave each of us additional time to fine tune and work on our LNT presentations. The weather was warm and our spirits were high. After a presentation of the first LNT principle, Plan Ahead and Prepare, by our Project Leader Natalie Wilson, we finally made our way out and into Joshua Tree National Park, where we set up camp under the mid-afternoon sun. Shortly there-after Jordan Albright presented her LNT principle: Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces. The remaining daylight hours were ours to explore, rest, read, and spend as we wish.
Among the calling birds and the rising sun we stirred from our slumbers and began the final day of LNT Training. Sadly, it was our last day in Joshua Tree National Park. The entire day was spent covering the remaining LNT principles. The morning started with Jack Fahey’s principle: Dispose of Waste Properly. Leading into the next, Michael Marchetti gave his presentation on: Leaving What You Find. From this point we packed up camp and moved farther up the road to Rattle Snake Canyon, where Sarah Brown presented her topic: Minimize Campfire Impacts. Around the noon hour we had some down time and so we all used the opportunity to explore the surrounding area. A stream, to our surprise, flowed nearby and in it croaking frogs could be heard echoing their songs among the canyon walls.
The remaining hours of the day wrapped up the last LNT presentations: Respect Wildlife, presented by Sophia Good and finally, Be Considerate of Others, presented by Jut Canniff. Before calling it a day, we circled up and had a discussion about Wildland Ethics-What it means and how we as a group might define the term. By evening we were back in Yucca Valley, for one more night in the Wildcorps House.
Day four was mostly travel. Three hours north into the El Paso Mountains, we made a stop at the Burrow Schmidt Tunnel, where Jut Canniff presented Part I of his Environment Education piece, titled: Mining History in the Northern Mojave Region. Due to a late return back to Ridgecrest it was decided we would sleep in house and head back out into the Rand Mountains first thing the next morning.
Day five began with one crew member sick. Because Natalie needed to stay in town for 2 days, it was decided that the five of us would head out, giving Sophia time to rest. Our day got interesting from here. Before we arrived at our new camp site we found ourselves stuck in sand and had to use the High-lift Jack and some ingenuity to get ourselves out. Finally we made our way to a new campsite, set up camp, and spent the rest of the afternoon breaking ground on a new incursion site, off R83.
Days six through eight were more of the same. Natalie and Sophia returned to the join us on day seven, along with Steve Gomez from the BLM, and by the end of day eight, we had completed 4 incursions as a crew. Glenn Harris visited us in the morning on day eight to share his wealth of knowledge about the natural and human history of the area, joined by Steve Gomez as well, each employees of the BLM.
Our final day of work was spent monitoring 18 miles of fence line and exploring a fault line on the south side of the El Paso Mountains.
Hitch Nine was a great experience, full of surprises and adventure, work and play. The desert community is coming alive. The wildflowers are blooming, creatures are stirring from a long winters slumber, and the weather couldn’t be more pleasant (despite the two days of heavy, cooler wind we received). Spring has sprung and all of us are elated and happy to see the desert show us Her colors.
Incursions Completed: 4
Linear Meters Restored: 407
Area Restored (m2): 729 sq. m
Vertical Mulch: 45
Seed Pits: 38
We began our eighth hitch sans project leader due to a death in the family, but the crew leapt right into our pre-hitch routine regardless. Our first regular day back in the field in what seemed like some time got off to a smooth start, despite the kitchen tent trying to take flight when the wind decided to welcome us back to the Rands. The crew prevailed though, and before long we were cooking a delicious falafel dinner.
We got right to work the next day, finishing a hillclimb that we had been chipping away at over the course of the past two hitches. Then we set off to restore a whole new area of incursions in polygons 33 and 34. Steve Gomez, our BLM agency contact, joined us that afternoon to aid in our restoration. He also helped us to discover two desert tortoises and a large, strange wad of what airborn space goo that appeared to have crashed to earth and coalesced into a ball of hard rubbery plastic. After due investigation and hypothesizing as to its origin, we returned to work and completed what may be our most dense stretch of dead creosote bushes to date.
The next day had a hard time making its mind up as to whether it wanted to be rainy or sunny but we enjoyed it never-the-less. That evening Natalie returned to the field with us and was welcomed back with great exuberance. However, the jubilant mood was slightly subdued by the flu bug that made its way through half of the crew by the week’s end. Day after day, another member dropped off to get the sickness out of their system. Everyone recovered swiftly though and before long we were a complete crew again.
On Saturday of Presidents’ Day Weekend, we enjoyed another day of outreach, distributing RMMA permit maps to the public along the southern limits of the Rands. The Golden Valley crew joined us in our efforts that day and it was fun to share the sunny (albeit windy and chilly) day with them.
The rest of the three-day weekend we spent working on some cross-country incursions around RM33 and were constantly seeing large packs of OHVs, some of whom stopped by to say hello and ask what we were up to. A few of them even slowed down to admire our work as they drove up the incursion we were just finishing decompacting.
We had an exciting drive up to Government Peak for Jack’s environmental education presentation on the China Lake Navy base. The views were fantastic and we discovered a fun new game wherein Marchetti heaves a large rock over the side of the mountain and the rest of us try to peg it with smaller rocks. The fun never stops (until one’s arm gets sore, that is).
The wonderful weather we’d enjoyed all hitch stayed with us right up until our post hitch day. We returned to Ridgecrest on a sunny Thursday morning and wrapped up yet another successful stint in the Rands Mountains. We’re officially over the halfway point now and still going strong with lots of enthusiasm and momentum to carry us into March. We all look forward to what’s next.
Incursions Completed: 11
Linear Meters Restored: 888
Area Restored (m2): 1803
Vertical Mulch: 165
Seed Pits: 147
Person Hours: 577.5
Hitch Seven started off on a super Sunday which included the normal pre-hitch preparations, including pancakes, bakefest 2011, and a stop to the Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) to have a presentation about water quality and distribution in the Southwest areas of California! Lucinda Sue, who works with community outreach and conservation at the IWVWD, gave us a very enlightening presentation about ways we can better conserve water in the desert and some issues the community faces. The environmental education for the hitch was an overview of water quality, and this gave everyone a great introduction about conservation and water issues.
The next day we started our caravan to Blythe, California for the DRC's All-Corps where we were all very excited to get to work with the other five crews. After a six hour drive, we were very excited to set up camp with the other crews and get ready to get some serious work done! The next three days consisted of deliciously scrumptious potlucks where all the crews shared their food and some serious work on a hill climb with five incursions caused by OHV use. Throughout the three days of work at All-Corps, there was a lot of earth moving which involved carrying bags of rocks and sand up the hill to fill in the berm made from the incursion. And, of course, there was lots of fun to be had in the fire lines pretending to be dinosaurs. The Rands crew also learned some useful information about the success of the use of texture by bringing rocks onto the incursion to blend. On the second day of All-Corps, there were some very high winds that lasted till the night and created a challenge to work. All crews prevailed and successfully finished one out of the five hill climbs and got some serious work done on another two.
The theme of the All-Corps was ugly sweaters, and all throughout the four days we were in Blythe, we were donning our ugly sweaters with no shame. On the last night of All-Corps, all the crews got together for the usual potluck and for the First Annual All-Corps Ugly Sweater Dance-a-Thon Contest. Each crew was asked to select a member to compete in this contest. From Rands, Sarah wore her awesome rose sweater and busted out her traditional awesome dance moves and brought home victory to the Rand Mountains crew, as well as a bag of peanut M&Ms.
Friday, day six of the hitch, found us waking up having to leave and having to move on without our fearless leader. While it was an adventure of a day, full of driving and gas stations that didn't have diesel, we finally made it to Shoshone Friday night for the Desert Committee Meeting which is run by the Sierra Club California and the Nevada Desert Committee. The meeting consisted of issues being discussed about wilderness areas, energy projects, and supporting WildCorps during their presentation. They represented what the DRC in the SCA does for California deserts across the south. We all thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and have been inspired to learn more and make ourselves aware of the issues concerning the desert.
While we were in Shoshone, we got to visit some hot springs on day seven. The environmental education for hitch seven was water quality and distribution in the American West, so it was very fitting to give a presentation while people relaxed in the hot springs. Right after we got out of the hot springs, we visited a well-known date ranch where we got to sip on date shakes and enjoy the scenery of someplace new. This was a great treat for the crew, especially with the high amounts of driving taking place throughout the hitch. Day eight found us leaving back for the house after another great day of presentations at the Desert Committee Meetings. We were glad to be back in Ridgecrest and ready to get working back in the Rands.
Day nine of hitch found us finishing vertical mulch on the hill climb in the north part of the Rands in which we started on Hitch Six and will have to be finished on next hitch with seed pits. We finished off hitch seven with new knowledge about energy projects in the desert, the protection of the wilderness areas in the desert, and as we were leaving to go back home, we saw our first desert tortoise in the middle of the road! We GPSed the tortoise and had to wait for it to cross the road, overall a great experience for the crew. It was the perfect way to end hitch seven.
All-Corps (all 6 crews):
Linear Meters Restored: 540
Vertical Mulch: 34
Post and Cable Fence, meters: 113
Vertical Mulch: 103**
Person Hours: 542.5
**Hill Climb worked on during day nine will have seed pits installed next hitch and will be stored in data then.
ToCo Notes/ Narratives:
Lessons Learned: Sometimes directions will lead you to scary places, you don't necessarily have to follow them. And setting up the white tent is a hassle, but if it's windy it's definitely a beneficial thing to have.
Day one of hitch six was spent doing community outreach. The Rands Crew handed out a total of 235 permits. The evening was spent listening to jazz, reading, writing, coloring, drawing, and eating amazing lasagna.
More community outreach was scheduled for day two, but due to a lack of OHV-ers on day one, the Rands Crew decided our time would be best spent by getting back to our roots with some good old restoration. The team headed out to the Northside of the Rand Mountains where we successfully completed four incursions.
On day three, the team traveled to Golden Valley, were we bestowed our much-sought-after restoration knowledge. We taught the Golden Valley team how to collect vertical mulch, dig holes for Creosote bushes, and even let them in on the secret Rand’s Creosote weaving technique. In return for our knowledge, Golden Valley invited us to hang out at their camp for a few hours were they fed us some very delicious veggie chili.
The environmental education for hitch six focused on the ethnobotany of plants native to the Rand Mountain Management Area. A power-point presentation about seven native plants was given. Then, some of the remedies, such as drinking Mormon tea to purify the blood, were tried.
Days four through six were spent with the Jawbone Crew in chainsaw training. During the first two days we learned all about the mechanics of the chainsaw, how to clean the chainsaw, how to sharpen the chain, and, most importantly, chainsaw safety and the required personal protective equipment (PPE). On the third day, we donned our PPE, and adventured out to the horse and burrow yard to put everything we learned to the test. Each crew member got to buck one ballard, and put two face-cuts and back-cuts in another. At the end of the day, we all received our S-212 Power Saw certification.
Day seven was spent back out in the field doing fence monitoring. We successfully repaired two fence cuts, one small downed section of fence, and monitored an un-marked section of road.
The team finished off hitch six with some more restoration during days eight and nine. We successfully completed three incursions, and opened a fourth that will be completed during hitch seven or eight.
Number of permits distributed: 235
Incursions completed: 7
Fence monitored: 20 miles
Fence repairs: 3
Linear meters restored: 223
Area restored: 443 m2
Number of vertical mulch bushes: 84
Number of seed pits: 90
Number of check dams: 5
People hours: 513.5
Make sure to have extra bar nuts, because they are easily lost.
You just can’t think of absolutely everything.
Mother nature was determined to keep us in town for an extra day or two at the beginning of this hitch. Ridgecrest got several inches of snow on January first and second. Although it was a winter wonderland outside for those of us who made it home on the second, it was a nightmare to travel in. We decided to delay going out for a night because of the weather and the fact that one of our teammates was stuck somewhere between here in LA due to road closures. But by noon of pre-hitch, Rands was all back together again. We kicked off the hitch with a little environmental education, this time learning the science and techniques of bread-baking by making some loaves and rolls together.
Again delayed by weather (this time fog), we delayed setting out for the Rands Mountains early on day 2. Instead, Natalie gave us a lesson in vehicle recovery, which hopefully we will never need to do. Finally, we set out as the fog lifted.
This hitch offered a bit more variety of work due to the weather and a few surprises thrown our way. After restoring a long, flat incursion for a day, the team hoped to move on to a corner cut and a hill climb. However, a flat tire and lots of snow on the ground, making it difficult to see what needed to be done, forced us to reconsider. Instead, Natalie and Sophia went into town to change the tire out, and the rest of the team drove to the closed areas of the Rands to monitor and repair fence cuts. Later in the afternoon, after a route inventory and finishing up some data, everyone was back to good ole restoration.
We finished up the hitch working on three incursions over two days, and had some company to help us. Steve, our BLM contact, helped out for an afternoon, and Darren, the DRC program manager, came out and worked and camped with us for a few days. The work went quickly, the weather was fantastic, and despite all the bumps in the road at the start of hitch, it ended wonderfully. To finish up in the field, we added onto a massive rock wall at the top of an incursion from hitch 2, did a little raking, had some tea and toast (and a little more information about bread for environmental ed), and went for a hike into the closed area of the Rands Mountains.
Incursions completed: 7
Fence monitored: 14 miles
Fence repairs: 3
Linear meters restored: 604
Area restored: 1158 m2
Number of vertical mulch bushes: 60
Number of seed pits: 59
People hours: 486
After a fun five day weekend full of baking Christmas cookies and shopping for gifts to get into the holiday spirit (kind of hard in the desert with no snow) hitch number four fell upon the Rands crew. On December 11th, 2010 the hitch officially began and we set into our basic routine of pre-hitch activities to insure we include all of the needs and wants during our ten day work period. Little did the crew members know that in fact we would venture back to the house a day and a half earlier than expected due to a solstice party with all the crews minus wild corps. In fact this little treat was intended to come as a surprise, but as the BrocoMarchetti discovered, project leader Natalie Wilson does not know how to keep a secret and eventually her pipe burst under immense pressure due to profuse questioning by the other crew members. It is all good though, she’s a pretty rad project leader.
Even though Natalie told the secret, she did hit the Rands with a big surprise! Instead of restoring incursions everyday she bewildered us with a new task at hand, build a fence. In fact this was not the only surprise, our friends who work at Owens Peak decided to come help us learn how to build fences, and oh how we learned. We discovered how to use new tools such as the comealong which tightens wire, a chisel to create effective bollards and some of us even used the auger which digs vertical holes in matters of seconds.
Owens Peak were such great teachers they made fencing look easy as making easy-mac, yet we were deceived by their skills. In fact building fences was much harder than perceived, something we learned the next day. Many mistakes were made that day such as stringing too many wires before fastening them to posts, and discovered that manning a comealong was much more confusing than we thought. Flipperjackers and switchymajiggs possess cute names, but are really annoying terms to explain how to operate such a tool, and they sometimes just do not work. In fact one of our wires snapped! This day could be summed up as frustrating but, hey we learned from our mistakes and powered through the next day on our other quarter mile of fence.
The next days followed with lots of restoration and anticipation of getting off early. Even with the taste of Christmas vacation approaching, the crew worked hard on restoring difficult incursions. This work ethic carried through even with the inclement weather on the last three days of restoration. Constant rain damped spirits, but did not affect the grade of work the Rands crew so proudly holds itself too. In times like these the little things make a huge difference such as being excited to finally be in a cloud for the first time, mud fights and planting the largest creosote branches in the tiniest hole.
As the half day rolled through BrocoMarchetti gave his environmental education piece on smart growth and how living in cities can actually help the environment by negating suburban growth. With this fun-filled lecture, the crew actually got to design their own mini-city. Their metropolis involved using their fingers to draw roads, straw to place transit systems, and different rocks to construct their infrastructure. All in all their creation turned out great, just like hitch number 4.
Incursions Completed: 4
Fence Constructed: ½ mile
Linear Meters Restored: 382m
Area Restored: 1127 square meters
Vertical Mulch #: 59
Seed Pits: 57
People Hours: 462
“When you make a mistake do not look back at it long. Take the reason of the thing into your mind and then look forward. Mistakes are lessons of wisdom. The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.” ~ Hugh White
The first two days of Hitch were spent volunteering our time with the BLM doing outreach, where we worked with the JawBone Crew also, and split into smaller groups throughout the Rands, handing out permits for the busy Thanksgiving Holiday weekend. It was an interesting and exciting experience for all of us and nice to put a face to the people who ride and recreate in the Rands. On day three, we were back at our previous campsite in the Rands, eager and ready for the next six days of restoration. On day four, restoration in the Rands started and continued in polygon RM67, where we started and finished Incursion 11; a large hill climb with a bending curve near the top. From there we made our way back toward camp and worked near there for the remainder of the Hitch, working on several past restored incursions. The work consited mostly of collecting and planting vertical mulch, especially at the corners of each polygon, and raking. It certainly was a change of pace from what we were all used to. The ground was flat and it was a short hike from camp to the work site each day.
The EE presentation was focused around the theme of art with the stated question: How can we foster a deeper awareness and respect for both ourselves and the natural landscape around us?: Using the desert as a medium for creative expression and exploration. Over the course of Hitch it was encouraged that everyone gather junk and trash that they find in the desert, with the intent of putting it all together for a final art project the last night. The theme of the art project was: What inspires/concerns you about the desert and what do your thoughts center around while working in the Rands. One afternoon also, the medium of chalk was introduced, and everyone drew pictures on flat sheets of shale under the theme of: What inspires/concerns you in the desert?
Steve Gomez visited and helped us gather creosote veg for a couple hours in the afternoon.
On two seperate nights we gathered ourselves around a warm fire and sat in contemplation/boisterous conversation, as induced by the fresh fruit and chocolate fondue we ate the last night of Hitch.
Incursions Completed: 5
Linear Meters Restored: 694
Area Restored (m2): 2684
Vertical Mulch: 140
Seed Pits: 98
Check Dams: 2
People Hours: 264
ToCo Notes / Narrative:
-Taking the White tent down the last night out in the field is a brilliant idea!
- Despite a very cold start to day one in the Rands, the weather overall was very pleasent-bonus!
Work continued on polygon RM67. First we finished the final phase in a hilly incursion that we started the previous hitch. We then moved along up R77 to a big hill climb. In the mid-afternoon, the Wildcorps crew paid us a visit and helped us to build vertical mulch and erosion control check dams. They stayed for dinner before moving on to the southern Sierras to begin their own hitch. The hill climb was finished to everyone's satisfaction and we began work on another incursion that split into two hillclimbs.
The next day, Jordan Albright returned from a wedding in Virginia. With our crew complete again and some help from our BLM contact, Steve Gomez, we were able to finish the dual hillclimb in no time.
We then started work on a major incursion. Originating from a few different entrypoints along R20, the incursion rolled over a small hill in the foreground before splitting off into a few different routes up a large, steep hillclimb in the distance. This three headed hydra was visible from many points along Mojave Randsburg Rd. and was thus a high priority to restore.
Though we soon realized that this incursion would be far more difficult to restore than we had anticipated, we worked hard on it and finally finished at the end of our last day in the field. Spirits were high throughout the work despite the intrusion of a dirtbike tearing up the incursion right in front of our eyes as we ate lunch. We rallied, however, and finished with much gusto.
The EE presentation for this hitch was on Geocaching. After a brief lecture on the history and applications of this GPS treasure hunting game, the crew went on a hunt of their own and discovered some GPS points that directed them to the grand prize of tasty agua frescas from the taco truck in Ridgecrest.
Incursions Completed: 4
Linear Meters Restored: 1198
Area Restored: 2310
Vertical Mulch: 236
Seed Pits: 104
Rock Wall: 3
Check Dams: 7
People Hours: 564.75
ToCo Notes / Narrative:
"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success."
--Alexander Graham Bell
Restoration in the Rands started in polygon RM67. This polygon was left unfinished last year and encompasses a few small peaks in the Rands as well as a private quarry. Our first incursion as the Rands VII was a narrow hill climb. Our second incursion was a jeep wide parallel. We then started a hill descent that consisted of 3 visually separate segments. We did not finish the last segment of that incursion, though we feel okay with that because the closer two segments were done well and the final segment is distant from the legal route and not heavily traveled. The numbers for that last incursion are not included.
The EE presentation was on Orienteering and map reading. We went over map features, focusing on USGS 7.5 quads, compass features, and practical application on an orienteering course.
Carrie Woods visited and we got to geek out on a variety of Ericameria and Acamptopappus species.
Steve Gomez visited and gathered awesome amounts of veg.
We also had a neighbor at camp, a BLM contracted machine operator named Tim, who was very friendly.
Incursions Completed: 3
Linear Meters Restored: 250
Area Restored (m2): 411
Vertical Mulch: 198
Seed Pits: 156
Berms (#, length): 2, 20m
Rock Drain: 1
People Hours: 512
ToCo Notes / Narrative:
Don’t use the grill side of the griddle for nature burger or grilled cheese.
On October 5th, we kicked off DRC training in Great Falls Basin, CA, a beautiful canyon about an hour north of Ridgecrest. Our team met up with all the other teams -- Owens, Jawbone, Golden Valley, and Wildcorps. Jamie, Darren, and Jill came out to help us out at training, as well as Raven and Emily, our fabulous kitchen staff.
Once everyone got oriented with camp and the basics of DRC history, everyone got to pick an nature walk of sorts to kick off day two. Natalie led a plant walk, some of us yoga-ed with Shannon, some of us journaled with Scott, and some of us scrambled with Emily or Garth. We wrapped up the day with some discussion of Leave No Trace ethics, a guideline aiming to reduce our impact on the environment that we will follow while out in the field this season.
For the next few days, we dove into restoration work skills. After learning the care and keeping and use of the tools we’ll be working with, everyone split up into three groups to tackle some restoration in Great Falls Basin. We are all well versed in some aspect of restoration by now, whether that be chevrons, check dams, or gathering plant material for vertical mulching. Each of these are part of a toolbox of techniques to deter would-be off-roaders from driving down unmarked paths, to control erosion, and to foster revegetation of damaged areas.
After work skills, all teams came back together to talk about building a healthy community. For this segment, Steve Hester, the former program director of DRC, came down to provide some information. We covered the basics of what makes a strong community and what tends to lead to breakdown, what are some ways to bring up problems and healthy ways to talk about them, and also covered some basics of leadership. We also took a little time to do some four-wheel-drive training, learning how to handle some of the rough, sandy roads that we’ll be driving this season. We all made it through training alive and well, and managed not to get ourselves stuck!
On day 7, we took a much needed day of rest. Some folks kicked off the rest day by spending the previous night out on the ridge of the canyon and waking up in time for the sunrise (not that we didn’t see it every other morning with breakfast at 6:30). After breakfast Garth, the leader of Jawbone, took a group out to hike in Surprise Canyon. The rest of Rands hung out in Great Falls Basin for the afternoon. A little yoga, led by Shannon of Golden Valley, was to be had as well.
Day 8 marked the beginning of our Wilderness First Responder course. Darcy, Sean, and Roman of Aerie Wilderness Medicine, came down and stayed with us for the remainder of training to teach us the basics of wilderness medicine. We covered sooooo much in the course, including the basics of patient assessment, the signs and symptoms of various injuries and illnesses, how to best treat those, the ins and outs of CPR, and how to make decisions about caring for patients. We had to recognize and treat many ailments in our friends and teammates, including hypothermia, evisceration, constipation, broken limbs, blocked airways, blisters, and more. We had three mass casualty scenarios, including a night scenario with our leaders as victims, and two day time scenarios where we acted as victims and caretakers for one another. Half of the team acted out a scenario in which a team had gotten in a tornado and lightning storm. It made for a difficult scenario, as people had been scattered all over from the wind and lightening. The second scenario would make anyone think twice before assisting at a redneck family reunion gone explosive. The Donkeyshine Family Reunion took a turn for the worse when someone put a frozen turkey in the deep-frier and it exploded. “There were hushpuppies everywhere!” It made for a crazy mass casualty scene, but we got many laughs thanks to the wonderful acting of our teammates, including Sarah as BobbyAnn, Jut as C-Four, and Jack as Zeek , the patriarch of the Donkeyshines. After the mass casualty scenarios, we wrapped up the course, taking our final exam and getting our certification cards.
We wrapped up training with a bonfire and talent show. There was lots of music, some more somber and some silly, as well as some other talents. Jut and a few other people presented a rap that Jut had written about lightening for the WFR class, Jack read some Haiku he had written about his band, flying squirrels, and sneezing, and Jordan threw some knots and demonstrated an effective method for taking care of frostbite that she learned during WFR.
Now we are back in Ridgecrest, ready to begin our stint in the Rands, but not before some much needed rest. For now, some showers and grooming are in order, as well as some demolition derby and an all-corps potluck/birthday celebration/costume party.
The crew started as 4 people on the same prop plane out of LA, flying low over the desert to the tiny airport in Inyokern. A fifth joined up soon after and the final one came late in the evening. As folks got to know each other, dinner was prepared, rooms were negotiated, and yogurt was made.
The first night was jerk seitan with onions and peppers over rice.
The second day was a modified pre-hitch as vehicles were checked, trailer was packed, and power point presentations were plowed through. Everyone was a trooper, learning how to drive safe and smart, how to identify and respond to sexual harassment, and how to take 5 for safety.
That night was sweet potato burritos.
After dinner and dishes we headed out to the Rands to sleep under the stars. The journey was filled with spooky headlight-lit Joshua trees, poop mistaken for tarantulas, a crushed canteen and desert stars.
The morning was filled with “Well, here we are, in the desert.” We had a quick breakfast and started on a hike in the Western Rands ACEC. There was plant geekery (supplied by me), hill climbs, past restoration, and Ed Waldheim (courtesy of Ed Waldheim). The afternoon was a good discussion about community, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. We also set up camp. The wind asserted its presence with a brief gust that blew over our easy up. Dinner was carrot cashew curry. That night, there were a few sprinkles that chased most of the crew into the newly pitched green tents. A few troopers braved the rain on our much reduced tarp.
The next day started with a short period of alone time in the desert. Some conservation ethics and travel back into town. There we first marveled over the huge amount of food in our garage. Food got divided, vehicles were checked, water tanks were filled, and errands were run. Dinner was gado gado.
The last day of orientation we finished up our remaining tasks. This included a neighbor meet and greet, vehicle information, and preparation for the Pizza Party in the Park! We brought cookies and Arnold Palmers. We took a driving tour of Ridgecrest right before the Pizza Party. All the crews got together in a park. There was socializing, chaos ball name game, and meeting some local b-ballers. Finally we packed up and went home. Orientation officially over!
This is a DRAFT schedule. Subject to change. Winter break (12/21 and 1/2) is solid so feel free to plan around that. All other breaks may move 1-2 days either way so take that into consideration when making plans.
Sophia is a graduate from the University of Pittsburgh. She graduated with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Anthropology and also has a minor in Applied Statistics. This is her second SCA season, but her first time in living in California. She is looking forward to experiencing the new environment, meeting and working with some awesome people, and learning all she can about the native plant species.
I’ve been involved with the SCA since 1999, when I participated in my first High School Crew in Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas. I consider that year the ‘Big Bang’ of my existence. One might say my life has been defined and guided by that initial happenstance. As I approach my 10,593rd day of existence on this planet, I’ve come to a precipice of realizations. There are two things I draw the most satisfaction from: The first is travel, especially to new places. I have discovered that no matter where you are, there is something to be learned, revealed, and drawn from the beauty all about us; be it the place, the people, or both. The second is just plain hard work. After several SCA crews, and my time at Sterling College in northern Vermont, this bell rings the loudest. I’m honored and stoked for another chance to be a part of the SCA experience again, and look forward to more adventures on the western horizon!
My name is Mike Marchetti, everyone calls me by my last name and that is what I like to be called…to many Mikes and Michaels out there. Anyways I was born in Boston lived in New Hampshire for 10 years, moved to Texas for one and have lived in Maryland ever since. I went to school at Ohio University and graduated this past June with a degree in Geography. Living in rural Ohio and taking some environmental classes got me into witnessing the beauty of nature and wanting to understand more of it. Most of my friends describe me as a little bit crazy, but always fun.
|Schedule - DRAFT|
|Natalie R. Wilson - Project Leader|
|Hitch 12 - The Story of the Half Moon and the Behemoth|
|Hitch 4 - Go-Go-Go-Go|
|Hitch 3 - Go-Go-Go|
|Hitch 2 - Rands is Go-Go|
|Hitch 1 - Rands Is Go|
|Training (aka OctoberFest)|
|Orientation (aka First Five)|