Project Dates: September 28, 2010-May 17, 2011 Project Leader: Emily Frankel Email: email@example.com Phone: 760-780-8039 Address: 57087 Yucca Trail, Yucca Valley, CA 92284
Water Sources Monitored: 23
Miles Hiked: 108.45
You know that typical image of a parched desert wanderer stumbling miles through the rocks and sand, only to come over a ridge to a glorious oasis of palm trees, birds, and all-you-can-drink water bubbling from the ground? Yeah, we thought that was just a Hollywood image, too, until we found Mopah Spring. It was our longest hike of the hitch - a total of 19 miles over pretty rough (but absolutely stunning) terrain in the Turtle Mountains. If our experience with water monitoring so far was any indication, we were expecting to find little - if any - water. Often we hike miles to a GPSed point, to find that the spring we're looking for is reduced to little more than a trickle, has been sucked up by invasive Tamarisk, or is nowhere to be found at all. Imagine our surprise when we crest a ridge and look down to see that very oasis we knew so well from the movies. One of the more exciting moments of the year!
But I'm getting ahead of myself. WildCorps, for once, RETURNED to the same site two hitches in a row! We were back in Needles, working in the Old Woman and Turtle Mountain wilderness areas for our last water source monitoring hitch (ever). It was so cool to explore the wildernesses of Needles more in-depth after being so wowed last hitch. Our first few days were spent camping on the eastern side of the Old Womans, giving us the backside view of the mountains we hiked last hitch. The Old Womans are so named for a monolith (a rock structure comprised of one continuous rock) that bears the likeness of an old woman - we had a great view of it this hitch from every angle. The Old Woman Mountains are a goldmine for remnants of abandoned cabins and mining camps - many of the routes we hiked led us miles into the wilderness, where to our amazement we found standing houses, wells, mine shafts, and tons upon tons of rusting cans.
While the Old Womans were absolutely stunning, I must say that to me, they don't even compare to the Turtles, where we spent the second half of our hitch. Breathtaking mountain ranges, with peaks that are so distinctive they've evoked names like "Mexican Hat" and "Castle Rock". Hiking in the Turtles, we rarely went 10 minutes without turning to each other and giving one of those "I can't believe this is my job" looks.
On top of the gorgeous geology, the desert is slowly waking up from its winter doze, and boy can you tell. We saw two (TWO!) desert tortoises this hitch, a huge improvement on the grand total of none that we've seen in the past 6 months. The cacti is blooming in blazing pinks and magentas, and bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are buzzing in the air. Add the OASIS to that and I can't imagine asking for a better way to spend our last water source hitch!