Program Dates: September 13, 2011 - May 19, 2012 Project Leader: Amelyne Major Email Address: email@example.com Phone Number: 760.780.8031 Address: 300 S Richmond Ave Ridgecrest, CA 93555
During the 2011-2012 season, the Jawbone crew completed a whopping 15,467 square meters of restoration across six polygons in Jawbone. The crew restored 54 incursion sites, planting 3389 vertical mulch bushes and building 61 erosion control structures over the season. As side projects, the crew also completed pre-restoration monitoring for the 2012-2013 season, worked on revegetation monitoring in the Rand Mountain Management Area, and completed two hard barrier projects. Restoration work in Jawbone can be both physically and mentally challenging due to the unpredictability and intensity of the weather as well as potential for monotony in the work, but the crew did a great job of managing these circumstances.
Some highlights of this season’s work include closing a route system within polygon JB13 and completing restoration on both sides of a massive hill climb on polygon JB19. Much of the six days working on one side of the hill climb were spent collecting rocks for the 24 erosion control structures. Though there would be other rocks collected and structures built, this was the largest and most demanding project of the season. One aspect of the work the crew particularly enjoyed was learning about the ecological benefits of restoration in the desert. Seeing work from years past with substantial regrowth was encouraging throughout the season.
On behalf of the Jawbone crew, I’d like to thank all the BLM Ridgecrest staff who contributed to our successful season. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge the immense amount of time, support, effort, and tasty treats Steve Gomez dedicated to the Jawbone and Rands crews this season. I’d also like to thank Craig Beck for overseeing the projects and being supportive of the needs of the crew. Many thanks to the Salt Wells Fire Station and Don Washington for S-212 Chainsaw training, and Eddie Duque for ATV Safety Training. I’d also like to Danny Tyree for his archaeological oversight and contributions throughout the season. Again, we are greatly appreciative of all that the BLM staff have done to make our season so wonderful.
Special thanks to the Kern River Preserve for having us out to work for a hitch when our fate was uncertain, and also to Inyo County Towing for rescuing us from the backcountry…twice!
Conservation Work Totals
Restoration Sites Restored 54
Sites Monitored 58
Line of Site Meters Restored 7992
Square Meters Restored 15467
Polygons Restored 6
Vertical Mulch (#) 3389
Seed Pits (#) 3327
Hard Barriers Installed (#) 2.2
Hard Barriers Installed (m) 20.1
Erosion Control (#) 61
This hitch was the grand finale of our epic Jawbone experience. The beginning of hitch 14 started with a farcical adventure into the Rand Mountain Management where we were using our GPS devices to monitor plants that the BLM had planted a few years ago. Unfortunately, almost all of the plants were no longer in existence and it was hard to even find the living ones.
After a day of frustration and confusion, we went to an undisclosed location in the Sierra Mountains to conduct an archaeological survey with two archaeologists from the BLM. There is an obsidian source not far away from where we were. Obsidian is a volcanic glass that, while very brittle, can be pounded to make an edge so sharp that even today it is used in a variety of surgical tools. There are thousands of years' worth of obsidian flakes scattered through the canyon where we were, along with a variety of different artifacts. We helped survey the area for these artifacts and recorded information about them.
On Day 4, we finally got out to Jawbone to prepare for the final All Corps event. The whole Desert Restoration Corps showed up to do work in Sage Canyon. Sage Canyon is one of the few places in Jawbone that has running water year-round. There is a grove of cotton wood trees there, a meadow with tall grasses and a few pinyon pines. Back at camp the DRC ate good food, played music and had dance parties. One especially popular item at the event was an organ brought by the Rands crew that was draped in christmas lights. After three days of work together, it was time for us to part ways with restoration work in the desert. All Corps marked the beginning of the end of our time in the DRC.
A caravan of 6 SCA branded trucks pulled away from the Boner House early one Monday morning in April; Northbound! To the mysterious land that lies beyond our familiar desert. As the hours and miles rolled by, the scenery flaunted its diversity in an almost shell-shocking display of snow dusted mountains, rolling green hills, farmlands, orchards and wildflowers. The city of Visalia has been described as “the heart of California’s agricultural San Joaquin Valley” and it was indeed for agriculture that the DRC crews had come.
For those who may not be aware-- the DRC supplies our crews with some organic produce each hitch, provided by the local C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture). Normally we would make the quick stop to pick up our crate of fresh green goodies in Ridgecrest, but what made this April adventure especially interesting and inspiring was that we got to spend the day exploring and lending a hand on a few of the farms where our CSA foods come from.
Our first introduction was to a family run farm and a wonderfully scented patch of chamomile flowers; we soon set to work cutting and banding beautiful little bouquets. After the bunches of chamomile were harvested and piled into crates, we walked along the rows of veggies and greens tasting the leaf of the sour Sorrel (aka: the “organic war-head”) and observing different organic growing techniques. We ate lunch in the sun surrounded by all kinds of springtime blooms, California poppies and fragrant orange trees. Our next stop was to the nectarine orchard where we spent a few minutes helping employees by 'thinning' the overloaded trees. We then continued on to grape vines and chicken houses, and finally got to the CSA packing line. Fashioned in latex gloves and hair nets, we distributed ourselves along the rolling pack line, where we added different produce into the CSA boxes, everything having been picked and processed right from the farms that morning, including our bunches of chamomile. At the end of the day, we were able to take home our own CSA box to enjoy for the rest of hitch.
THE REST OF HITCH - we had a chance to represent the Desert Restoration Corps and SCA in 2 Earth Day outreach events, one at the Cerro Coso Community College and also at the Ridgecrest Navy Base. Back out in Jawbone, baby bunnies, new growth, short sleeves and sleeping under the stars served as reminders that the cold winter days are but fond memories behind us as we transition into the heat of the Mojave summer. The sun (also the topic of my EE) was shining down at us with her fiery smile, as we finished up our last incursions of the season! As a fun reward to completing our work, we Boners packed up and headed to the Owens Peak Wilderness area where we enjoyed a short but lovely hike in Short Canyon!
And so we near the end of the 2012 field work season,
but this is not goodbye,
the final All-Corps will be held in Jawbone!
Azorius Herald is played and four lives are gained as the flying deck takes the lead. Unfortunately, a land is cycled and the lightning rifts damage the flying deck for six. What a magical night as the teams gather for Magic the Gathering. It was here on Hitch 12 that the six-crew members learned the rules of the deck. While they spent their nights casting enchantments, sorceries, and attacking with creatures, the crew wished to have such magical powers when it came to their trucks. Good old 9005 had a fatal error that could not be fixed by Jawbone, and mulligans were not an option. As Amelyne, our fearless leader, drove up to our worksite, the truck failed to start just and fell in the same manner as our old comrade, truck 9001. Already accustomed to the protocol for stalled trucks, four of us awaited the arrival of tow truck driver Warren as we finished polygon like champs.
Well, we finished the polygon to the best of our ability. I forgot to mention that we are not only skilled Magic players, but also expert archeologists. With our united powers, we found the lost city underneath Jawbone. It was no big deal for Jawbone to come across such a finding on a warm April afternoon. We found obsidian, chert and a milling stone. Confirmed by our BLM contact, Steve, we skipped some work sites and headed to polygon 9. With hard work and dedication we finished both polygons and started our third polygon of the hitch.
We can’t forget to mention our work in the Rands Management area. We were greeted by the fly NRK, as well as Glenn and Steve from the BLM. Glenn gave us a detailed natural history talk that opened our eyes to some of the historical activity in the area. He was oh so knowledgeable on the flora and fauna of the desert as well as the weather and geological features. As we entered the Rands we realized that the worksite made a great place for creosote training. We figured that in a few years there may be restoration races to build a creosote in the shortest amount of time. After an evening of fun, we left the Rands the next morning with full bellies and a greater appreciation for the mandolin.
So it sounds like the story of Hitch 12 ends here, but let me tell you that this tale continues. We waited for the Great and Magnificent Bart (one of Carly’s friends) to arrive in Jawbone territory and found his presence accompanied by that of the mystical Steve Gomez. As Steve provided us with the new work plans due to our zealous efforts as archeologists, we soon learned that the new rental truck taking the place of 9005 locked automatically. As the keys were unfortunately locked in our flashy red rental, we strategized. Our fearless leader took our only working truck to service as we looked after the rental. Fortunately new keys unlocked the car and we headed to work as a team of 8 people. Boy, were we happy to see that our whitewall survived the high wind speed of the previous afternoon and evening while we were at Rands. We worried as we soon realized that the tent zipper was breaking and were upset to find out that our magical powers only worked for card games. Deep down in our hearts we wished that we could use our seal of cleansing and get rid of the evil and enchanted zipper man/woman. Despite the challenges, I was proud of my crew as we gloriously finished a productive Hitch 12. We completed 2 polygons, started our third, and finished 5 incursions. In total we completed 662 meters squared of restoration, planted 159 vertical mulch, and put up 4 erosion control structures. A job well done!
Can you believe that it is already April 10th? I cannot. Oh, and never forget to respect that rocket box. The flies may get you down, but NEVER lose hope.
With a total of two snow storms, Hitch 11 marks the most snow we've seen 'round these parts since we first arrived in Krumville! We spent Day 2 in the field, working through one storm and Day 3 in the house due to another dump of snow.
Day 2 was arguably the most exciting of our two days in the field. As I struggled to keep on my feet while walking against the wind and snow, hands numb and burning, large bush in my hands threatening to be swept off by the wind, I wondered what an onlooker might think.... probably that we are all mad. Surely if we had been camping out all of our tents would have violently ruptured at the seams sending our belongings about the desert like confetti tossed out from an aircraft. In the late morning our dearest Carly fell ill, so we bid her a farewell as she left for home to recover. Luckily we were all able to go home at the end of our work day to a calm, quiet, windless shelter.
Our second day in the field was full of archaeological discoveries! After Josh found numerous obsidian chips on our first incursion of the day, we all got on our hands and knees examining the ground of our second incursion only to find more chips! The illustrious Steve Gomez ended up declaring the area an archaeological site and thus we skipped to the other side of the polygon.
After two exciting field days we headed into new territory. Though the Owens folks had been on our turf, we'd yet to invade theirs. We headed into Sand Canyon, in the Owens Peak Wilderness for the Sand Canyon Environmental Education Program (SEEP). We spent the day helping teach fourth-graders about Archaeology, Birds, Art, Aquatics, and more!
Emily and Amelyne got to frolic in a stream with the children, Andy engaged students in ancient battle craft after leading them through a treacherous rocky hike, Nico and Josh taught students how to properly wander around and look for flying creatures, and finally Carly and I taught the Art class. In our class, we added to the art with push-ups and discussions on why Joshua Trees can only grow in "high attitudes." Working with kids was a much enjoyed break from restoration work and a fun new experience for some of us.
The next night Emily rushed Carly to the ER. Unfortunately, her insides were exploding. Emily came back home to grab her sleeping pad and bag saying she'd see us in the morning and slept on the hospital floor in the waiting room until Carly was out. The next day we got to WildCorps' humble abode. We were down south to go through our LNT trainer course led by the famous Jamie Weleber. We tramped down the beaten path with our homes strapped to our backs, fired up and ready to teach! We had all sorts of fun activities and skits ranging from being a sidewinder to human waste disposal demonstrations. We also encountered some wildlife including bighorn sheep and a decapitated lizard. Until next time!
Inclement weather days: 3
Wildlife sightings: 3
Carly falling ill: 2
Trips to Nomad Ventures: 4
Karina's hair color changes: 5
Archaeological sites discovered: 2
Number of times the word "boner" was used: 72
Emily's sleeping pads blown away thus far: 2
Incursions restored: 1
Gather ‘round gentlefolk and I’ll spin you a yarn about the night a winter wonderland deposited itself in Jawbone. Not only this, but the Boners were out in the field from day 1 to day 10, a first, on this our tenth hitch. As unlikely as these two oddities occurring may seem, the simple truth is that they did. So sit a spell, put your feet up, let me run my fingers through your hair, enjoy a firm good-job buttslap, and take it all in.
Hitch began without Amelyne and Emily, as the latter was recuperating from an arduous journey back from Yucca Valley. She was delivering our dear friend Montana to the Wildcorps house and as such needed an evening for grieving. We dispatched with four incursions our first couple days of work as we got back into a groove that was slightly disrupted with the previous house hitch. Darren came for a site visit as we tackled an exciting hill-climb that required the use of our old friend erosion control.
Here is where the tale begins to turn a little odd. The evening before Darren was set to leave brought some of those gale force winds that we hadn’t had in a while. The temperature dropped and we snuggled into sleeping bags to escape the cold. When we awoke there was snow everywhere. After breakfast it was suggested to wait for the snow to melt before embarking on our journey to work. The extra couple of hours spent waiting did not pass idly. I think Andy was giving serious consideration to a lemon flavored snowcone business, or something. That evening brought more excitement as Rands came to visit for the next day’s archaeology talk. While other crews’ visits brought about our naked shows of intimidation, we instead presented Rands with a dead cow, a gesture which was much appreciated I am sure.
The archaeology talk the following day was insightful as Ashley and Steve provided both crews with information about how the area has been used by people previous to us. The evening found us graced by the irrepressible Steve. After all these months he felt compelled to enjoy our company even further by sleeping over. Carly and Steve were taught the finer points of Euchre by Emily as games of all kinds were abound within the whitewall. Given the middle portion of this hitch, the end came as unspectacularly as the beginning. Holes were dug, veg was collected, you know, the good stuff.
For the hitch we completed 9 incursions, totaling 1340 meters squared, a solid work total that I would hang my hat on any day. We’re looking forward to next hitch’s LNT training and exploring in Joshua Tree. Until then, you’ll know where to find us, just beyond that double rainbow.
It is true, team Jawbone is now S-212 Chainsaw Certified. Thanks to the BLM firefighters at Salt Wells Fire Station near Ridgecrest, we can do a mean job cutting up bollards out in the field. We were also were lucky enough to be joined by the Rands crew for the certification process. The course itself was filled with quirky instructional video and invigorating Powerpoint presentations. While the lectures at times took considerable mental power to maintain focus, once we busted out the saws, the time flew by.
Certification took three days and made it impractical to stay out in the field, so we had our first house hitch! While I missed seeing the sunrises, it was nice to sleep in a bed and wake up at the astonishingly late time of 7:00am. We also took advantage of being in the house house by making breakfasts of pancakes, French toast and glazed orange scones.
Chainsaw certification happened in the middle of the week. The first two days of hitch were spent doing community outreach. We joined the Rands crew and members of the BLM to inform the public of the legal trails in the Rands Mountain Management area. We sat at various stations at entrances of the limited use areas of the park and handed out permits off highway vehicle (OHV) riders. SCA members were equipped with bright yellow vests that said we were BLM volunteers. They also had a logo on the chest to make us feel like we were super heroes. We quickly found out that OHV riders are very wary of the BLM. As soon as riders saw the yellow vests and BLM trucks, they avoided us like the plague. There were a few instances where riders would get mad at us for offering them free permits with free maps of the area but they were few and far between. It was a good experience to interact with the people that use the route system we work within, as well as interacting with employees of the BLM.
We did manage to fit in two days of restoration work out in Jawbone. It was more digging holes to put in vertical mulch (dead plants made to look like they are living to a passing OHV rider). Since we did not camp in Jawbone, we took an alternate route to and from work. This route took us through an open use area (OHV riders ride where ever they want) versus the limited use area that we normally work in (OHV riders can only ride on legal routes). The environmental impact on open use areas is astonishing. There were trails covering every conceivable space like a flood had surged through the area. It showed me the importance of limited use areas and our work with the SCA.
Standing in the sun on an endless beach of a waterless ocean, waves of chilly dry wind crash and then retreat, drowning me in the stillness, leaving me gasping with chapped lips. In this quiet you can hear everything, but not nothing; under the dome of blue that sketches overhead and meets the full 360 perimeter of earth, the dancing figures of Joshua trees silhouetted at its horizon. Creosotes, rubber-rabbit and black brush show off the beauty and diversity of desert plant-life. February has come! Somewhere out along a dusty road in Jawbone, keep your eyes peeled and you just might spot us; from a distance, we are just 7 little neon green dots scattered upon the scared face of a rolling hill. Moving along the incursion clad and outfitted in SCA uniform and PPE (the neon green being our safety vests) armed with pick-mattocks, shovels and veg we work with trained eyes and sturdy hands to erase the tracks of mankind. I note to myself: “well TOCO, you’re not in Hawaii anymore.” It has now been over a month since Jawbone welcomed Andy and me to their Crew. And I really couldn’t be any happier, this place has a mystical way of working itself into your heart, I am stoked and feel blessed to work in such an environment- I am proud to be a boner!
Hitch 8 started before the sun with French toast and fruit to celebrate the birthday of our beloved Emily Phillips! Pre-hitch preparations filled the house with mouth watering aromas of treats coming from the kitchen, and the garage-hand boners kept busy packing up and organizing for our upcoming escapades. The day progressed with the normal flow of errands and tasks (and a few learning-curve-balls tossed my way) as newly hatched TOCO, I was relieved when the trailer was finally shut and we gathered to the truck ready to set out. However, some unexpected excitement would strike on this 11th hour when our routine vehicle check and walk-around would expose that our back left trailer light was out! After some time of trouble shooting and finally a trip to the nearby repair shop, eventually we ended up unloading dinner food stuffs and taking the night in, ending the day with homemade pizza and birthday ice-cream.
UP, OUT & AWAY, early the next morning and straight to work feeling good to be back in our Jawbone homelands. Over the next day and a half we finished up our work and data for the last incursion of polygon JB19. Moving on to our next work sites (a beautiful area with groves of J-trees and towering rock piles and formations.) we knocked out the first two incursions in three days’ time. But not without a small hang-up to make this blog more interesting! On the morning of day 6 we headed out for the day, divided in our 2 trucks- with Amelyne, Nico and Andy taking a different route to take a look at upcoming worksites. The rest of us stretched and got to work, but soon the sound to running feet filled the still morning air and Andy came galloping down the road. “Hey guys, ummm…truck broke.” So we headed down the road to meet with our stranded members. After many failed attempts to revive the truck, Amelyne, Josh, and Nico took the running truck to town to get a rental and call for a tow, deserting the rest of us at the worksite for the day. At the end of the work day, we began to consider our option to forge our way back to camp on foot- however at that moment, Nico appeared and provided us the news that our truck was on its way. The rest of the hitch sailed by smoothly. At the end of day 9 we made our way back to good ‘ol Ridgecrest for showers and a night pit-stop before joining the rest of the crews in a 4 hour caravan trip through Death Valley to the bustling little town of Shoshone where we would make camp for the next 2 nights while we attended the Sierra Club Desert Committee Conference- an educational and inspiring event for us SCA youngsters. During our stay, we also had the opportunity to explore the China Ranch Date Farm and try their famous date shakes, as well as experience a night adventure to a nearby natural hot spring. Fun had by all!
Until next time,
Much love and Aloha
What a sight it was to see. A convoy of five of our SCA-branded Dodge work trucks, four pulling trailers, driving toward a designated rendezvous destination. They were filled to the brim with enough gear, tools, and food to supply our four weathered, valiant, and battle ready Ridgecrest Desert Restoration Corps crews for The Battle of All Corps. Ordinary members of society looked on in awe as we passed by civilization on our voyage. Our objective was simple: convene with our allies, Wild Corps, at our base camp near the Big Marias. Once there, Wild Corps informed of us of our plan of attack, which included fencing and restoration, our specialty. We had 30 plus warriors battling against the forces of illegal off road routes, also known as incursions. We were to complete an existing fence, and restore four massive hill climb incursions. We learned that our course of travel to the battlefield would be intense and push us to the very edge of sanity. The work was to be severe, the sun beating, and the wind thrashing.
After our debriefing, we split forces and each crew assembled camp. Afterward, the leaders of our corps executed a scouting trip to see the things we were up against while corps members participated in activities to distract the mind of what was coming the next day. The day was full of laughter, hugs, swimming, and fun, for it was the first gathering of the corps since training. That night, we feasted and shared stories of the last three months of adventures and triumphs.
The next three days challenged the corps. The desert threw almost everything it had at us. On the first day, the sand halted several of our work trucks before the work site and shredded one tire. The second day was full of intense restoration and the completion of a post and cable fence. The third day, we were battered by extreme winds and one long hill climb. We all joined forces to form The Rock Brigade, a fire line of more than thirty people moving rock from the gathering site to the restoration site. We prevailed and executed every detail of the plan with absolute precision. ‘Merica! The last day of All Corps, camp was broken and farewells were exchanged. We were to return to our normal work areas for the remaining duration of our hitch.
Jawbone greeted us with the most stunning and beautiful rainbows one could ask for, but not without windy, wet and cold weather to go along with them. However, the Boners pushed on. We completed two incursions along SC44 and moved to the last incursion of polygon JB19. After three days of work the crew returned home to re supply and prepare for the next hitch. 'Til next time!
The wrath of January hit Jawbone as the snow accumulated on the ground and the six-crew members huddled together to keep warm. Or maybe it was 75 degrees, sunny, and calm as the crew experienced horrific armpit odor that could serve as a love potion in future pursuits. Fortunately, the weather gave Josh an opportunity to lessen his sunglass tan by sunning himself in his free time. The hitch started off with the original four and their fearless leader, finishing chevron after chevron with the occasional check dam. Together they collected rocks like it was their hobby. They played fun games of Tetris as they fit the rocks together for those even and flat check dams. Darn, did they look good!
The original four were accustomed to the bodily odors of their crew mates and their fearless leader, yet anticipated the arrival of the others. Day 5 finally arrived. As Nico and Josh smacked golf ball after golfball over 100 yards, Amelyne, Emily and Karina excitedly waited for Darren to arrive with Andy and Carly. The SCA vehicle finally pulled up SC120 and Carly and Andy greeted us with tasty treats and chocolates from Hawaii. What a nice surprise! They soon entered the realm of the white wall, and were welcomed by balloons and signs.
The full crew headed out to a nearby cottonwood grove, where they saw a water source. Astonished by this miraculous finding, some crew members dipped their heads into the small creek, wetting their hair and faces. They could not ask for a better shower. Later that afternoon, they devoured the seitan/tempeh Rubens for lunch and explored the glorious Robbers Roost. After an eventful day, the new, full crew ate a delicious dinner in the dark. Why in the dark, you may ask. With the lantern malfunctioning, our fearless leader returned to town to gather the materials for light. Without a functioning lantern, we used our headlamps in the most practical manner, on strobe light mode. We danced into the depths of the night to the rhythm of the strobe. Actually, we all passed around eight in the evening, which was late for our exhausted bodies. It was a great day as we united in number and became the seven Jawbon-ies.
Together we finished the third incursion of polygon JB19 with vigor. While the original four and their leader completed the first two incursions of the polygon, the full crew was able to collect rocks for 22 chevrons and 2 check dams for the third incursion. All together the crew completed 670.4 squared meters of vertical mulch restoration on three incursions and planted 239 items of mulch with 207 seed pits and 37 erosion control chevrons and check dams. After multiple days of gathering rocks, the crew was ecstatic with their accomplishments.
Beyond learning the tricks and trade of vertical mulch, Carly and Andy had the opportunity to meet The Steve Gomez. He showered them with gifts of navigation, as the crew learned to plot generic points and navigate to the coordinates using GPS technology. As some were distracted by the wildflowers budding in January, others found themselves intrigued by the sensitivity of the Trimble technology as they walked in circles. All in all, the crew was able to find the points and plot the distances. Success!
With the eagle as our protector and toned calves and buns from our massive hill climb of an incursion, the full crew returned home certain to remember their days in the rock gardens of the desert during the sweltering January temperatures.
Hitch six in the books.
Be kind and rewind,
I am Andy. This will be my first SCA experience. It could not be in a better place then the Mojave desert. For unknown reasons, I have been strongly drawn to the desert for the last year.
I am from the middle of Pennsylvania. I have lived here almost my entire life. I enjoy going on long bicycle trips, long runs and jumping off of things into water. For the past months I have been really fascinated by dreams. I am getting better at remembering my own and I like hearing other peoples dreams as well.
I am excited to travel to a new interesting place with interesting people that I have never met before.
It’s my love for the environment that really ties and holds all my interests and inspirations together; Mother Nature, being my greatest teacher and favorite of all artists. I’ve always been a bit of a wild child feel strongly connected to the outdoors and thus seek to spend as much time as possible working and recreating in nature. I have been blessed with opportunities from which I have gained experience working and living in the backcountry, including 2 summers with the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps and 5 months serving on the NY Adirondack Trail Team with the SCA in 2011. I feel trapped indoors, uncomfortable and even sick- I need to be outside, in the sun and under the stars- and I find that working in nature is my little nook of peace in the world.
I’ve never spent time in a desert before, and am filled with curiosity and excitement about what it has in store for us in the upcoming months!!
Random things that I’ve come to acknowledge about myself: I believe that some of the best interactions can exist with little or even no words exchanged. I’m a bit rebellious when it comes to systematical configuration. I enjoy the combination of sweet and salty tastes. I melt at anything ‘baby’. I love waking up in new places. Enjoy creating things by hand. Love getting dirty. Love the smells of fresh baked bread, ripe mango, the air after rain, and basil. Hugs, pretty much fuel my existence.
I am deeply grateful for this opportunity! Can’t wait to meet the crew and get to work!
From the Big Island of Hawaii
So began Hitch 5: our first hitch leaving to and from the field as scheduled!
We packed up our food and tools and began our hitch as usual, but alas, all was calm and quiet in Bonerland... too quiet. It had been 2 nights out in the field and nothing had gone awry, then suddenly our BLM contact Steve Gomez floated down as a messenger from the sky! "Behold!” said he, "I come bearing word of a winter storm arriving, 6-10 inches of snow in the El Pasos and 1-4 inches in the lowlands where ye dwell. If you want to escape you must do so tonight!" We decided it best to take his advice (after all he did fall from the sky), and retreated to our humble abode in Crumville.
The next day the storm warning was still in effect, but did a little "extreme winter storm warning" stop us? Nay! We decided to head out anyway and lo and behold, it was a pleasant, warm, sunny day! So we continued working. Emily and I vegged together for a while discussing what all young women contemplate while wandering around in the middle of the desert, the satire in Katherina's closing speech in The Taming of the Shrew... or maybe it was just boys. Anywho, at one point Emily stopped because she'd heard something strange, 'twas a baby coyote sending out a distress call to its pack! With eyes searching for creatures unseen we howled along with intentions simply to communicate, to state our presence and welcome their break in the still, silent air. Soon after hearing a response, we howled again, as if conversing with our fellow desert dwellers on some mystical level unknown to either side.
Our next day was one we'd all been looking forward to. Hold on Baby, it's ATV TRAINING!! We arrived at the BLM office bright and early and soon headed off to the Spangler Hills open area for our training. There, we were graciously given a free safety course by Eddie and Karen, both certified ASI safety Institute instructors (we thank you both kindly). We learned quick swerves, stops, 2WD and 4WD, riding over obstacles, up hills, and much much more! At the end we got to go on a trail ride which was loads of fun. We also got to see a few coyotes, a kit fox, and some jets!
The next day we were back off to Bonerland for a few more days of restoration, or so we thought. After an entire morning of my eye irritating me and soon being unable to open my eyes at all we finally decided to call up Amelyne about getting me to the hospital. The doctor numbed my eyeball which gave me great relief, but then he put a fluorescent dye in it to check for scrapes which counteracted said relief and felt like my eyeball was being branded. He turned the lights off and shined a black light in my eye which according to Nico made my eye glow yellow (pretty nifty). After all these exciting experiments on my eyeball, it turned out I had conjunctivitis. After a good fight I've finally lost the battle of contacts in the field. Unfortunately, I had to spend the next few days at the house doing absolutely nothing considering I couldn't open my eyes, while the rest of the crew went back out to the field.
While I was bedridden, the crew finished up our first polygon and began our next one! Thankfully, I was able to return the field for the last day. We did some work on our next polygon, had dinner, packed up and gave our farewells to the desert until next year. That is, of course, until we got home and I realized that I left my backpack at camp.
Well, there's another hitch in the books folks. We'll see you again in January with 2 new members!
Meters restored: 2900 meters sq
Incursions completed: 5
Polygons completed: 1
Death toll: 2 (our sincerest apologies Mr. Jack Rabbit and Sir Sidewinder, may you both rest in peace)
Karina's bad luck: 2
Emily face-planting: 2
Cough. Hack. Sneeze. Fart. Wheeze. Snot.
So rang forth the sounds of your intrepid Jawbone crew during this glorious fourth hitch. Down to four members, we decided it would be the most opportune time to become ill. No one was spared. Disease ran rampant through the camp; even our most wonderful overlord began to suffer from cold-like symptoms during the last days. Nevertheless, we knew in our deepest of hearts that incursions simply don’t fix themselves.
Before we were able to trek our way into Jawbone, we had the opportunity to engage in a bit of Thanksgiving outreach as the crew teamed with the Rands crew to hand out permits in the Rand Mountain Management Area. The sound of OHV engines filled the air in what can only be described as a mythical lost symphony. After reaching out with our outreach, we were free to venture to our home away from home and get back to what we do best.
What we do best is mulch until we drop and plant the most realistic bushes in the world. I don’t want to brag or anything, but we are pretty darn good at what we do. The added challenge for this hitch was the introduction of erosion control into our daily vernacular. Josh and I were charged with the task of building two chevrons into the side of a hill climb to prevent our bushes from washing away down the hill in the event of rain. Despite having only four people, we managed to complete six incursions and restore over 1100 meters squared. The added bonus was that on the morning of day seven, with Amelyne and Josh both in town and Karina having trouble with her fallopian tubes, it was just Emily and I wandering the desert with confused looks. If you have ever tried to do a stretch circle with two people, you will understand our state of mind.
Lighter notes of the hitch included a visit from Danny of BLM fame to checkup on the piece of obsidian that was found. It turns out that Danny was able to find about twelve other artifacts in addition to the obsidian which is enough to designate it a site. If I can toot my own horn for a bit, I would like to mention that I found the obsidian and will have my name placed in the site records as the discoverer. In addition to showing us all the found artifacts, Danny regaled us with tales of bears on Owens Peak.
Speaking of Owens Peak, they were in a bit of a pickle after some wind or maybe demons turned their green monster into the best flag north of Argentina. It turns out that flags don’t make the best of spaces to cook meals in, so they packed their belongings and hike all the way to Jawbone. In reality they may have not hiked, but I think the story is more entertaining if you pretend that’s the way it was. Anyways, we welcomed the Owens crew into Jawbone in the late afternoon of day seven. They were greeted with the naked, painted bodies of five Jawboners engaging in a ritualistic show of intimidation. We wanted them to know that they weren’t in Owens Peak anymore. Just kidding, sort of.
The following day, we Boners finally saw what it was like to work as a full crew and to be honest the magnificence of it was almost too much to bear. We were able to split into pods and work on two separate incursions in addition to finishing the previous area we had been working on. Meals, laughs, jokes and farts were shared as we crammed twelve people into our white wall. Don’t believe what the people say about the Owens crew, they’re an alright sort of folk.
That’s hitch four in the books. I’ll call it a success and if anyone wants to disagree, it’s pistols at dawn.
10-4 good buddy, 10-4
In our minds, hitch started a day early when one of our teammates, the notorious Josh Jones, and four other Desert Restoration Crew members were decidedly lost somewhere in Death Valley National Park. Their trip had started out more or less normal until...they got lost. After being helicoptered out of their secret hiding spot on a mountain side, they started their drive home to Ridgecrest. We greeted Josh with encouraging signs (as much as our humor would allow), a candy bar, and a confusing mess of hugs. We could now start hitch!
Our first couple days were pretty typical for us Jawboners: collecting extreme amounts of vegetation, pick mattocking, and rockbarring the goodness gracious heck out of the first really compacted soil we’ve encountered. Basically, we turned out incursions left and right like no one’s business.
Tae Bo and general karate-esque moves were incorporated into our morning stretch routines and continued at random times throughout work or evening time. I might say we generally spent our evenings nestled around a fire with hot cocoa telling lyrical tales of yore, but that would be a lie. Realistically, we sat in a tent for a few hours at night, two people cooking us delicious dinners while the others tried to stay awake for as long as they could. People usually started to retire to their tents around 6:30 while the truly strong of head and heart made it to at least 9 o’clock.
On day six of hitch we had the opportunity to go to the Friends of Jawbone (more commonly referred to as FOJ) meeting. This meeting is a place where all those who work and have interest in the Jawbone area come to discuss the status of the area, any events and changes and the overall well being of the Jawbone area. People represent all different types of offices and activities in this meeting. These people include those from the BLM, the Desert Tortoise Natural Area, the Pacific Crest Trail, mining camps, governmental offices, police stations and general restoration laborers such as ourselves, among others. We heard about topics ranging from potential solar panels being installed in the area, updates on the Pacific Crest Trail, grant issues and upcoming events like Thanksgiving weekend (when a whole slew of people come out on their motor bikes and quads to recreate in the area). We then chowed down on some delicious Thanksgiving dinner-style lunch and had a hard time getting back to work as our stomachs were trying to digest the delectable meal. Needless to say, it was a good day.
Day 7 found us in eager anticipation as we knew that Steve, our BLM contact was coming to join us for the day and teach us about desert plant identification. Steve did not disappoint. Not only did he bring us muffins, but he taught us many very interesting things about the plants in our area of work. Karina was particularly interested in the medicinal uses of these plants and was sure to ask about those every time. Some interesting facts we learned include: the oldest living creosote (ring) is 12,000 years old! Also, ephedra contains a stimulant similar to caffeine, which, as Nico can tell you, seems to be addictive…
No hitch is ever complete without its day or two of extreme weather. On day 8 we returned back to our campsite after a windy day at work to discover Josh and Nico’s tent had been ripped apart. We geared up for an even windier night while Josh challenged the wind and Mother Nature over and over again “Is that all you’ve got?! Come on! Bring it on!” At about 1 o’clock in the morning the wind started to die down and all was well again in the world.
All in all, we managed to complete 6 incursions (1846 meters squared restored) and disguised the beginning of another incursion that was likely to do some damage to the other ones we worked on this hitch in light of the mass of riders that will inevitably ride the roads (and off the roads, unfortunately) of Jawbone this coming Thanksgiving weekend. A job well done, Jawbone. A job well done.
Jawbone, at last!
On our second hitch we finally made it to Jawbone, but not before a stop at the BLM Field Office in Ridgecrest for an orientation session. The BLM folks filled our heads with very interesting facts of the area we will be working in, desert dos and don’ts, and what to and what not to take from the desert. We also feasted on pizza the BLM employees so thoughtfully provided. After we ate and gave our thanks, we were on our way to prepare for our first real taste of Jawbone and learn what it really takes to restore an incursion.
After all preparations were in order, we set out. We set up camp at a familiar site that we became acquainted with during our first five days of the DRC. The site offers spectacular views of sunrises over the El Paso Mountains, and a great hole in a rock wall that provides much enjoyment trying to throw a rock in. The crew is excited that we will be able to enjoy this site for a few hitches to come. When we were not throwing rocks in holes or looking at beautiful sunrises, we did what we do best, restore incursions. We completed 6 incursions totaling 2385 sq meters and 403 vertical mulch and seed pits. In the process, we learned that there is no such thing as too much veg, linearity needs to be avoided, and color is key. For our first restoration, we all felt great about the work we accomplished.
Other life lessons this hitch: we learned that beans always need to be soaked and certain medications can cause you to be vulnerable to sun rays and will lead to sun-burned lips, which require makeshift head wraps of gauze to support a pad that will serve as lip protection from the sun.
This hitch also had a night full of informative and interesting information on stars at the Star Party we attended at Red Rock State Park. There we met Ted, who not only had a wealth of knowledge about astrophysics, but also had a killer telescope that we looked through while he talked of stars and planets and galaxies. Really cool stuff! Oh yeah, on the way back to camp we were fortunate enough to lend a helping hand to a few gentlemen who happened to get their truck stuck on LA2. Apparently, they were trying to pull a U-turn in the road to find a bird they claimed to have hit, and went a little too far off the side of the road. This wasn’t anything our Dodge 2500 Super Duty Turbo Diesel work truck couldn’t handle! We pulled them back on the road and went to back to camp, laughing and commenting on their level of sobriety.
After the experiences of hitch 2, we feel ready for some more of Jawbone and the harsh, windy weather the winter months will hopefully bring.
We have a job! The BLM has approved our grant and we are so excited to learn that we get to spend another seven months working and playing in the Mojave. This hitch, while we were waiting to hear from the Regulators, we had the wonderful opportunity to spend ten days working at the Kern River Preserve, which is managed by the National Audubon Society. Over the ten days, we modified and removed a heckuvalotta fence (One heckuvalotta is equal to 4939 m: 965 m removed and 3974 m modified).
Besides our fence work, we also removed one buncha invasive ragweed from the Preserve property. The Audubon folks were excellent hosts, and invited some other guests for us: one bobcat, two bears, ten horrible ants, many deer, cattle, and a bazillion mosquitoes. Though we were completely unprepared for the mosquitoes (what are bugs?! No bugs in the desert!), the abundance and variety of wildlife was quite a treat. Another treat was getting to spend a day with the Preserve Naturalist, Alison, touring Sequoia National Park, bear watching, and getting to hear a bit about the history of the Kern River Valley.
Of course, there were a few hiccups – what would Hitch be without them? Sometime around Day 4, our seitan turned to a nasty-lookin’, vomit-smellin’ disaster, and we also had some pesto pasta with fingernails-also-known-as–edamame-shells. Oops! None of this bothered us much though, and despite Emily’s near-death experience with kidney disease and/or an allergy to trees, we had a wonderful hitch. We are proud to announce that we will finally be out in the ‘Bone next hitch and boy, are we pumped about it!
The Jawboners have landed! We spent the first five days of our season getting to know each other, our area, our stuff, and playing lots of games involving animals. After a day of taking in lots of important information and getting to know our vehicles, we set off for two nights in beautiful Jawbone. We may never like any campsite more than this one, which had a hole that provided endless hours of entertainment for the crew, now expert rock-tossers.
Our time in the field was chock-full of excitement, from rats and snakes around camp to forming a community contract and seeing a coyote. We even climbed a mountain! We took the scenic route up Scodie Peak, the highest peak in the mountain range that runs through Jawbone. On the way, the crew bravely overcame rattlesnakes, bee stings, beavertail cactus, and a false summit to make it to the 7,294-foot peak.
Back in town and thoroughly oriented, there was preparation for training (Septoberfest) to be done and pizza to be eaten! The four Ridgecrest-based crews met up on the last night of First Five for a pizza party and ultimate Frisbee. We are all excited for the season to come!
This September-October (Septober), five crews gathered in Great Falls Basin for seventeen days of Restoration corps member training. Great Falls, fondly known as GFB, is the site of a natural waterfall in rainier seasons and is surrounded by majestic mountains and rock outcroppings. Natural shade from the rocks provided welcome respite from the unrelenting sun that was present most of the seventeen days. Over the seventeen days, crew members from the five crews (Jawbone, Rands, Owens Peak, Golden Valley, and WildCorps) lounged, ate, hackeysacked, hiked, sang, and learned soso much!
During the first six days, members got to know each other and the DRC well. They received training in the Leave No Trace principles, restoration theory and tool use, and participated in a community workshop. Over the course of two days, members and staff teamed up to restore three hill-climb incursions, acquainting members with the sort of work they will be doing this season. Finishing our work was incredibly satisfying and exciting, and we are filled with anticipatory energy for the coming season.
After a day of rest and some hiking and visiting our local movie/truck commercial set (Trona Pinnacles National Monument), the crews began their Wilderness First Responder course. The nine-day course prepared members for dealing with everything from femur fractures to spider bites, and gave them lots of screaming practice as actors in scenarios. Members provided treatment as care providers in many scenarios, including one situation at night with real live rattlesnakes and 2 mass casualty incidents with lots of fake blood and only a couple fake arrests.
Seventeen days may not seem like long, but we accomplished an awful lot and had a ton of fun. Fond memories of Emily’s delicious cooking, sports and games, body art, jam sessions, late night laughter, and beautiful stars will stay with us. Though we’re glad to leave the Port-a-Potties and 17-day body odor behind, we’ll miss our second home, the Basin. Despite how sad we are to be separated from our extended family, we’re all looking forward to our first hitch and getting out to Jawbone again!
This is a draft schedule for the 2011-2012 corps season. Keep in mind that hitches may move around by a day or two. However, the winter break dates should remain solid.
|Schedule (Subject to change)|
|Pictures of Jawbone|
|Map of Jawbone|
|Amelyne Major - Project Leader|
|Jawbone 2011-2012 Final Report|
|Hitch 14: Coda|
|Hitch 13: Here Comes the Sun|
|Hitch 12: The Gathering|
|Hitch 11: Oh, what a lovely breeze!|
|Hitch 10: The Consequences of Giving Dead Cows as Gifts|
|Hitch 9: Chainsaw Madness|
|Hitch 8: The Erasers|
|Hitch 7: AllCorps Sandstravaganza|
|Hitch 6: Rock On!|
|Hitch 5: The Curse of Jawbone Lives On|
|Hitch 4: Observations on Breakfast Cereals and Fruit Bats|
|Hitch 3: We're not in Kansas anymore|
|Hitch 2: Home Again|
|Hitch 1: Cattle and Bobcats and Bears, Oh My!|
|First Five (Member Orientation)|
|Septoberfest (Member Training)|