Hitch 1: BLM Orientation, Restoration, and Tortoises

The first hitch of the Owens Peak Crew; as fantastic a tale as ever was told within the city limits of the pristine metropolis that is Ridgecrest, CA. The self-proclaimed PB&J’s assembled and prepared at their headquarters on Hood Ave after having enjoyed a long weekend of travels far and wide around the Golden State. Guided by their fearless leader, Dawn “The Godfather” Scheckman, the crew spent their first day learning the ins and outs of their soon-to-be home, the Owens Peak Wilderness Area, at the Ridgecrest Field office of the Bureau of Land Management, a sort of super hero training school for wouldbe conservationists. Alongside the Owens Crew were their faithful allies, the Golden Valley Crew. Both crews were schooled in the arts of safety, archaelogy, biodiversity, the importance of conservation and many other incredibly helpful subjects integral to living and working in the desert. Already, the Owens Crew was beginning to sense the adventures to come in the next 9 days. After an eventful few hours of preparation and packing, the Owens Crew headed out to begin their work. Waking up in the mornings each day at 6:00 AM (give or take 30 minutes) the crew was greeted by the sunrise as they ate warm breakfast and sipped hot coffee. Arriving at the worksite, they took time to stretch their muscles, do yoga in the dirt road, and prepare themselves for a long, hot day of difficult work. Work this hitch meant covering up incursions, illegal routes branching off of established roads within the wilderness area. The crew required heavily on its super ability to work as a team, establishing tasks, jobs to be done, and most importantly communicating so efficiently the untrained eye might suspect telepathy between them. At lunch they huddled together in what little shade was offered by their trucks, ate, laughed and were content. Some days were easier than others for the crew. One road was particularly tricky. It’s soil was hard and tightly compacted, and it’s length meant it would require both a tremendous amount of holes be dug and an equally daunting amount of vertical mulch be collected to fill these holes. It proved to be tough work as the crew picked, dug, and planted away for several days. It’s difficulty, however, proved to be its charm for the crew, who quickly grew fond of the challenges it presented. Seeing it transformed at the completion of their work, the Owens Peak Crew felt both happy with their work but also at home in the wilderness. They were also ready for dinner. This was true of everyday after work for the crew. Dinner is the most sacred of all rituals in the Owens Peak Wilderness Area. The crew feasted each night on delicious vegetarian meals, from hearty Pasta Primavera, to tangy Brooklyn Pad Thai. The menu at the Green Monster was a veritable masterpiece of cuisine which most visitors to the desert are hard-pressed to find. Watching the sunset and filling their bellies, the crew talked, played music, danced and joked each night waiting for the moon to rise, or until they fell asleep under the stars. The crew is looking forward to continuing to work and explore the wilderness. Many more challenges await and they are ready and rearing to get back in the field. Stay tuned. -Clayton