Owens Peak. The southernmost emblem peak of the Sierra Nevada. Everyday it has loomed majestic above us, our benevolent overlord in the unforgiving wilderness that bears its name. We too are becoming wild like the mountains. We have grown accustomed to windy nights. We are bright eyed and keen when we walk through the canyons. The stars or the full moon illuminate our faces as we lay looking heavenward at night, the darkness surrounding them lulling us into peaceful sleep after the land has worked us weary. Our time out here has come to an end, yet these impressions are etched deeply into our skulls. We will see them when our eyes close.
We have worked to protect the wilderness from ourselves. We have left indelible marks on the land and in turn the land has left its marks on us. Some of these are visible, tangible. Others, seen only by a different set of eyes.
After a few days well spent in the OPW we ﬁnished our work early. As a reward for our hard work we went to visit the one and only Keith Axelson, bird man of Kelso Valley.
The crew, to say the least, was enchanted.
Then we went to All Corps. We vanquished looming hill climbs and we dodged the bullets of a cartel-related shoot out on 178. In actuality, we were nowhere near the non-fatal shooting of an unmarked policeman on that winding highway. Yet my imagination ran rampant with theories on how to escape the beautiful canyon in which we labored to disguise a cluster of unsightly hill climbs bordering the Kiawah Wilderness and the Jawbone ACEC.
All Corps provided us with fun ﬁlled entertainment: Game night, a dance party, an iron chef cook off involving sweet potatoes, pears, onions, and tofu, and unforgettably the UNIVERSAL HEARTBEAT.
And so we bid farewell to our fellow delusional comrades, stewards of the desert, in search of divergent futures.
So long, it has been a blast.