PCT 1 - 11/04 - 11/08 Hitch #12 This Gnar is Deep

Southern California: This Gnar is Deep
November 4-8, 2011
To close out our triumphant return to the town of Ridgecrest, California the team spent some quality time at the home of our beloved PCTA contact, Brendan Taylor. Brendan was nice enough to let us shower and crash at his apartment and we wasted no time filling up his shower with 10 days worth of dirt. After cleaning ourselves and getting a little rest we took some time to get caught up on our AmeriCorps logs and to do various other internet work. Several hours of productive internet time and a little miscellaneous errand running later and it was time for the team to put Ridgecrest behind us once and for all. The time had come to do some quality rock climbing. We left Ridgecrest on Halloween bound for the surreal landscapes of Joshua Tree National Park.
The crew arrived in Joshua Tree well after dark and quickly set up a makeshift camp. The next morning we awoke early, eager to spend a full day cragging at the park. We headed first into the town of Joshua Tree, to a local gear shop called Nomad Ventures. After retrieving a little beta from the fine folks at Nomad we were back to the park to spend the day climbing hard. After several full and beautiful days of climbing in Joshua Tree, it is safe to say that our crew learned a few things. We learned that Joshua Tree is a good place to go to get over your fear of lead climbing. This is not because Joshua Tree offers particularly easy climbs, it is because the leads at Jtree are so scary. We also learned that climbs rated back in the 50s, 60s, and 70s are much harder than modern ratings. And finally, we learned a lot about footwork and slab climbing. All in all it was an amazing trip and we are eager to return to Joshua Tree soon to continue pushing our climbing abilities.
Two and a half hours from Joshua Tree, located on the outskirts of LA, lies the San Bernardino National Forest. Nestled within these mountains is Silverwood Lake. Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area is to be location of the final hitches of our season on the PCT. This hitch at Silverwood incorporated a few new elements to our season. We worked for the first time with a group of PCT volunteers known as the Trail Gorillas and we got to operate power brush saws for the first time. The gnar in this part of California is extremely dense and after a few short hours of brush sawing we were quite happy to have the brush saws (think weedeaters on steroids) on hand. We are also thankful for the time and assistance of the Trail Gorillas.

This hitch also saw the return of rock construction. After several hitches without touching a single rock, it is safe to say that we were eager to get our hands back into construction. In addition to all of the brushing we completed the team also built two bomber water bars, a check step, and repaired the stone armoring on two drainages. Not too shabby for a five day hitch! We departed Silverwood Lake on Tuesday, November 8 bound for a little R & R in the mountain refuge of Idyllwild, CA.

Matthew Cottam