Hitch Nine: Sunshine, Shining Bright

Memories of howling, hissing winds, frigid nights, and evenings without daylight are but a cracked film reel in our mind’s eye. The images collected over the past ten days conjure only the warm spectrum of sevenfold color seen at sunrise and sunset. Spring has sprung in the Mojave Desert marking a shift not only in our exposure to the sun, but also in our season of restoration; we are entering the home stretch. With but three full hitches remaining, the Rands crew strapped on their worn work boots and headed back to the field. Inspired by calm nights that asked us to listen to the soft musings of swaying creosote limbs we embraced the rising temperatures and hit our stride doing what we do best: camouflage restoration. Vertical mulch flourished along incursions like tulips stroked into a watercolor painting. Our breaths-although sometimes labored as we re-acclimated to the aridity and heat of the warming desert-seemed to release fresh air into the Rand Mountain Management Area. Hailing from the Northeast, much of the crew had previously shroud spring not in symbols of perennial growth and rejuvenation but rather in recollections of salt-stained stretches of road and trees still sagging beneath snow. Here, in California, however the equinox excited the senses; bustling bugs (sometimes sadly stationed in our humble tent homes), flowering Joshua trees, and sprouting stands of native plants provided subtle inspiration and helped us to focus our efforts on the dynamic desert that we occasionally find droning. Blues-infused guitar tabs with a BLM botany intern, a relaxed visit from our beloved contact, Dana, and an educational field trip to the otherworldly tufa towers at the Trona Pinnacles kept our spirits lifted as the hitch progressed. Longer days of light and carefree demeanors, however could not keep conversations constantly buoyant. Despite our best efforts to remain present, we are not akin to the hearty creosote bush; we cannot simply wait for the next desert rain. Our best defense against the drought is to pick up our roots and find a home that can better support our thirst. We have all found ourselves with our minds focused on which cardinal direction our feet will be pointed on that final day of this desert experience. For one of our own, that day has come early. We wish Ryan the best of luck as he turns east to Ohio to complete bat fatality surveys as a biological science technician. Thank you for your work and the laughs! By: Bridget Tevnan