The 12 days of Hitchmas!

Greetings from the Kiavah Krew! Our 4th hitch was just as ducky as the last, filled with snow, cookies, holiday cheer, and a few unexpected surprises to boot… We started out our first day of hitch doing a multi-corp project alongside the Jawbone and Grass Valley crews. We were told it would be a “cabin clean-up”, but our sneaky, albeit cheerful archaeologist- Ashley, pulled one over on us. After a short presentation on the historic significance of the site, we spent the remainder of the day day cleaning up the debris of the cabin that had actually burned down in March. Regardless, it was a fun day to collaborate with the Ridgecrest BLM office in the El Paso Mountain Wilderness. After the cabin clean-up, we headed back to our favorite Mojave Wilderness- Kiavah! Loaded with everyone’s favorite holiday cookies, (we used 8 sticks of butter in pre-hitch cooking) we spent the majority of the hitch restoring OHV incursions in Horse Canyon. The main dirt road that connects highway 395 to the Kiavah Wilderness is known fondly to us as LA 2, and is also the main route of the L.A. aqueduct. Throughout the hitch we capitalized on Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power’s graded road debris. The plants sacrificed in the name of smooth driving were collected to use as vertical mulch for our restoration sites! On Monday the 17th during a particularly jovial run to the LA 2, Aurora, Sam, and Max felt sudden turbulence on the starboard side of our Heavy Duty Dodge Ram 2500. We immediately skidded to a halt to investigate, only to find a brand new Leatherman open and askew a few feet behind. The Leatherman punctured a rather large hole in our custom desert tires. Surprisingly, the accident left the Leatherman intact and unharmed, but our tire as flat as the four grain flapjacks we ate for breakfast that morning. We fixed the tire in a jiffy and continued with a great day of conservation. That evening, the Jawbone crew came to visit for dinner and we shared our wares; enjoying some homemade s’mores and gourmet popcorn thanks to an awesome package from Sam’s parents! The next day, Tuesday the 18th brought an even more exciting surprise for many of us who miss that east coast weather. It was particularly exhilarating for Wisconsin Molly who loves weather phenomena more than all of us combined. SNOW!!! It snows in the desert, who knew? After a stormy day, with menacing clouds blowing over the Eastern Sierras, the sky opened up and large white flakes began to fall! It is truly something to see the desert landscape, Joshua trees and all, blanketed in that white fluffy stuff. :) We ended our hitch with ATV training from Ranger Jason Woods. I think everyone on the Kiavah crew got some insight into the psyche of why people ride OHV’s so much in the desert- BECAUSE IT IS SO MUCH FUN! Ranger Jason spent all day teaching us safe quad riding. Now if only they were more responsible about staying on designated routes. As the holidays and our winter break are fast approaching, Kiavah crew is currently busy in the kitchen cooking up a thunderstorm. Tonight we are heading to our BLM contact Marty’s house for a holiday party and a white elephant with the Grass Valley crew! Will is “taste testing” the cookies, Molly is roasting fennel, Mal is wrapping white elephant presents, Max is putting the license plate on the trailer, Sam is making squash soup, Charlie is cleaning the kitchen, and I am writing the blog! We are anxiously preparing to return home to our families for the holidays and the new year, but not before celebrating and saying goodbye to the desert. See you soon and happy holidays! -Kivah Krew