After a very exciting Allcorps hitch, it was back to the six of us in the Grass Valley Wilderness where we didn’t see another person for six straight days. We were lucky enough to revisit Golden Valley Wilderness and finished two decent sized restoration sites. We were able to drive our “favorite” bumpy rocky route to the Golden Valley southwestern corner to create a hard barrier with fence t-posts a mile into the wilderness. We were creating a chokepoint at a wash to prevent future riders from accessing the wilderness through the wash. This required us to hike in 85 t-posts. It put our forearms and back muscles to the test. Bemis wins the award for carrying the most t-posts for a total of seven!! We spent the rest of the hitch in Grass Valley where we completed five restoration sites, planted 100 bushes and made four berms. Cat is really proud of her 82.63 meter berm.
The highlight of the hitch was Cat surprising us with pizza party in the field. It is amazing how good pizza tastes at the end of the work day. Smiles all around. Gimme Pizza….P I Z Z A. Thank you Mary Kate and Ashley for getting that song stuck in our heads the entire hitch.
We had post hitch day a few days early because we are going to be teaching 6th grade girls on the Navy base about the desert tortoise to get them interested in science! We are excited for this opportunity and to have a live desert tortoise as a house pet for the weekend. Therefore, we are working hard today to get the cooking and cleaning done so we have more time to prepare! Erica is working hard kneading some garlic bread, Bemis is eating a cooking while making homemade bagels, Zoe and Jeff are running errands around Crumville, and Cat is with our new truck (still working on the name) getting an oil change.
Things we learned this hitch: desert centipedes are scary looking, the difference between millipedes and centipedes, bugs like me (including that desert centipede), the short game of monopoly really isn’t that short and green grass/flowers do exist in the desert.
Next hitch we will be welcoming our new crew member Adam and the Grass Valley fence is finally approved!!!!!
Peace, love, pizza Lizzzayyyyyyy
It was the first day of All-corps. WildCorps pulled up into the makeshift campground on Tecopa public lands and were greeted by a line of eight Dodge Ram 2500s. Slowly, a familiar pack of desert rats retreated from the cabs and welcomed our arrival with stares and awkward waves. The mildercorps had arrived the previous evening. “Uhh... welcome to your event,” the other crews said. They climbed back into their masculine ruminant vehicles and took off to enjoy the local desert offerings of the sand and mud (dunes and hot springs), leaving WildCorps XII in a cloud of dust, alone, to erect their green monster of a tent and do some real work in preparation of the days ahead.
A short drive from the campsite led us through a remarkable canyon to the China Ranch Date Farm. BLM contacts from Barstow and Brian Brown, proprietor of the farm and member of the Amargosa Conservancy, met with us to plan out the upcoming five days of trail work along the Amargosa River. We hiked out to an overlook where we could view the river. The wind picked up as our minds were blown by the beauty of Rainbow Mountain, the canyon, and the river. A quick Trimble talk was given by DRC guru Matt (The Knife) Duarte, and with that, WildCorps XII was prepared to co-lead pods of corps members with BLM partners.
The following days were a whirlwind of hard work and the chaos of group camp life. The hot days were spent working on various river trail projects, such as battling an infinite thicket of mesquite (the mesquite won), building bridges and rerouting and improving trails. The WildCorps crew enjoyed being bossy leaders and helping direct projects and take GPS data with our slightly temperamental Juno Trimbles. By night, WildCorps shined as culinary gods during the hectic themed potluck nights where we received rave reviews for our fried mini calzones and night of deep fried things (including deep-fried cabbage, pistachios, and avocado slices). The company and commotion of camp life was an enjoyable change from the usual quiet camp of our quad (now quint).
After saying goodbye to Rands and Jawbone, we moved camp to the town of Shoshone, population 10, to attend a two-day conference, The Sierra Club Desert Committee Meeting. We listened to many speakers and learned the hidden horrors of solar and wind farms in the desert. At the end on the day, WildCorps got to lighten the mood as we presented about the work we have been doing and our daily crew life.
We explored the quirky town of Shoshone during our free time. Our campsite was a surprising glamping experience for the DRC. Our ammenities included flush toilets, hot showers, a swimming pool heated by a hot spring, and a cozy library room filled with juicy novels. We made friends with the locals and some members were interviewed by Susan, the owner of the town, for a local paper.
This hitch was also our introduction with our new leader Sterling. We had a great time with him and we are looking forward to getting to know him better on our future hitches.
The Mojave has been in the midst of a grand flux these last months. The winter’s determined silence has been finally broken by bird song and the thumpings and rustlings of those amongst the shrubs. The lizards were perhaps the first to join the birds in spring celebrations, pattering from their subterranean abodes to luxuriate in the sunshine and all seventy of the degrees. Jack rabbits have returned to quiver beneath the white bursage, poised to explode from invisibility at full tilt at the approach of clumsy steps. Even the darkling beetles have surfaced to continue their endless wanderings, butts ever pointed skyward. There is new grass beneath the hop sage, and a subtle green has settled onto the plain.
All of this nature business sets quite a stage for our daily restoration. After six sweet days in Jawbone we had come to the very end of our work schedule, such efficiency! We hiked Bird Springs Pass in celebration, getting our first glimpse of the Pacific Crest Trail that runs from Canada to Mexico. Grandiose thoughts and dreams inspired by that historic route were shattered by a two day enslavement in the Rands Mountains. In a final desperate act of rebellion we fled to the Panamint Valley at dawn of the third day. Looking out for our winged friends, the Inyo California Towhee, we hiked the wind-torn Southern slopes capping mining pipes that are enticing but deadly nesting places for native birds. Matt then led us to a retired onyx mind for some rock hounding, what a blast!
Our display of solidarity made quite an impression on our oppressors and on our third and final day in the Rands area we actually had the privilege of working in conjunction with the dastardly crew. On the subject of evil men, Jawbone watched Polansky’s Chinatown and delved into the world of Western water politics this rainy Friday. All’s well that ends well.
This week we journeyed to Granite Mountain in the Prescott National Forest where we had the luxury of having our gear packed in on horses and mules! We had a two mile hike in from the trail head to our camp site. On our first day we surveyed the area that we would be working in, and hiked almost to the very top of Granite Mountain where we were greeted with an amazing view of the forest. For the next two days we spent our time working on individual and group projects such as making steps,drains, all of which entailed moving gigantic rocks! We were instructed by the legendary Sam Commarto. We had accomplished much in the short amount of time that we had been there, but sadly our time was cut short due to inclement weather conditions. So Thursday night we were packed out and made our way back home to Phoenix. We ended the week doing some spring cleaning and gearing up for out halfway point- spring break! Stay tuned for wild land firefighting escapades in the coming weeks!
Thursday, February 21st
SCA Massachusetts AmeriCorps members and staff rallied against the wind and cold to join Quincy residents in beautifying and maintaining a frequently used oceanfront park near Boston last Thursday.
The project, organized and coordinated by corps members and staff, was part of SCA Massachusett's Boston service week. With the help of Alexandra Echandi and Kevin Hollenbeck of the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), SCA worked with over 50 dedicated volunteers to pick up garbage and clear trails at Squantum Point Park.
In the morning, the seventeen corps members divided up and led hard-working Boy Scout troops in a guided cleanup as well as a Leave No Trace Workshop. They introduced and enacted, while working, Leave No Trace principles to help Scouts earn a Leave No Trace merit badge. Others donned hardhats and joined generous Quincy high school students to assist with lopping and widening trail areas.
In the afternoon, many enthusiastic college students from an Eastern Nazarene College Ecology class and a local garden club member furthered progress on lopping and trash cleanup. In spite of the inclement weather, it was a productive and fun afternoon. All told, 14 bags of trash and 6 bags of recyclables were removed from the park and over 1 mile of trail was brushed, in addition to several historical displays.
For more pictures, open the pdf below!