Charlie Team: Hitch 2: California, Nevada, and the Southwest.

For Hitch 2, Charlie Team was comprised of Anastasia Abramova and Joshua Andreska. The pair was excited to head out of Boise and cover expansive portion of the American West and Southwest. The three weeks spent in the field provided a range of both familiar and unfamiliar destinations.

The first stop on Charlie Team’s itinerary was Ruby Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern Nevada. On the way, the team had a memorable drive through a light rain shower at sunset which filled the desert air with a lingering scent of sage brush. Known to be one of the most remote National Wildlife Refuges, and located east of the Ruby Mountains in Nevada’s high desert, Ruby Lake proved to be a gorgeous wetland oasis. Things heated up quickly once Charlie Team headed south to finish their inventory of Nevada at Pahranagat NWR. Their route included a stretch of Highway 50, which is given the moniker “The Loneliest Road in America”.

The team’s first weekend was spent staying one night in Las Vegas’ Stratosphere Hotel before heading west across the Nevada/California border to visit Death Valley National Park. The mercury had risen to 115°F in the late afternoon and sadly, the group’s attempt to fry an egg in the blazing sun had failed. Next, Josh and Nastia eagerly traveled onward to Yosemite National Park. Charlie Team was able to occupy one of the last remaining campsites before venturing out on a late afternoon hike around Yosemite Creek. The following day was spent site-seeing around Yosemite, including stops at the giant sequoias inhabiting Mariposa Grove and the majestic Yosemite Valley. Once past Yosemite, there seemed no better way to wrap up the long weekend than spending some quality time exploring the beautiful city of San Francisco.

Week Two included survey sites throughout California including the San Pablo Bay, Salinas River, Pixley, and Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuges. The locations of these refuges spanned from the Bay Area to the southernmost region of California which allowed Charlie Team to take a cruise down the Pacific Coast on California State Highway 1. Big Sur was a memorable highlight which offered stunning views of the unique coastal landscape.
Not yet ready to leave the comforts of California, Josh and Nastia decided to spend the second weekend at Ocean Beach International Hostel near sunny San Diego. A weekend of surfing and beach bumming was just what they needed before gearing up and heading east for the final week.

Two stops in Arizona proved to be challenging but rewarding. Charlie team battled unfavorable desert conditions at Imperial NWR when steady morning rain caused flooding and delayed their departure to Cabeza Prieta NWR near the Arizona/Mexico border. However, the rain accentuated the vivid red, orange, and yellow sediments that comprise Imperial’s “Painted Desert Trail” which earned the trail the rank of Nastia’s and Josh’s favorite of the Hitch. The final three destinations were Las Vegas NWR, Muleshoe NWR, and Tishomingo National Fish Hatchery, located in northern New Mexico, Texas, and southern Oklahoma, respectively. It was a real neat experience for the team to see rare paddlefish being raised, and alligator snapping turtles hatching from their eggs at the Tishomingo hatchery. Overall, the hitch was an incredible experience through scenic regions of the country. Both Josh and Nastia found the hitch to be extremely rewarding.