We began our sixth and final hitch by moving out of the Mammoth employing housing on Tuesday the 16th with a course set for Crowley Lake Campground in Long Valley. Upon arrival at the camp, we discovered that it was placed just across from Crowley Lake, with a beautiful view of its waters and the mountains in the distance. The camp, however, offered no shade or water, and after a long day of working in the sun, shade is very much appreciated. Fortunately, our agency contact Richard Williams was very helpful and set us up at Holiday Campground. We were pleasantly surprised to find that our new home was not only heavily wooded, but closed to public use, making us the only campers in the entire campground. Once we had picked out our campsite we unloaded the trailer and groceries for the hitch and set-up camp. We ended our pre-hitch day by watching the moon rise over the mountains and falling asleep under the glorious stars.
On our first work day, Wednesday, we followed Rich through the town of Crowley up to popular ATV and Motorcycle location. Our first task was to close a large and steep incursion on a south-facing slope. The trail, once a two track, had evolved into a hiking trail due to the deep layer of sand that covered the length of it. We used vertical and horizontal mulching techniques primarily, utilizing the dead vegetation in the surrounding area as well as some live Bitter Brush and Rabbit Brush. A telephone pole we found amongst the brush was also used to barricade the down-hill entrance of the incursion. The project took two and a half days to complete, and the second part of Wednesday was spent inventorying our camp to prepare for the end of our season. The only users we met during our work on this incursion were a couple of women walking the trail with their dogs. It seemed as though we were the only animals out there for the entirety of the project, apart from the lizards scampering from bush to bush. We were, however, fortunate enough to spy a flock of large, white pelicans one morning. They circled our worksite for some time and then flew of across the horizon.
After completing the first incursion on Friday morning, we worked on a smaller one up the road from the first. Vertical and Horizontal mulching techniques were usedon the project as well. The specimens taken from the surrounding environment were primarily dead, but inter-mixed were ten live plants. We encountered only one user on our second incursion closure, a friendly man on and ATV. It took us two hours to close the road and install a barrier, at which point we posted signs on both the first and second incursions to notify users that the sites were undergoing restoration and to use alternative routes. We left the worksite by 2:00 for the Bishop BLM office, where we were provided the facilities to take showers and begin our end-of-season portfolio before we went to the potluck at Bernadette’s house.
The entirety of Saturday was spent at the Mammoth library working on our end-of-season portfolio. On Sunday we began our third and final project of the hitch and season: repairing the frost-heaved and uneven pathway to Wild Willy’s hot spring. In order to level the path and remove trip hazards, we pulled up the railroad ties and cross boards from the original path, dug them down further into the ground – securing them with rebar stakes – and filled in the cracks with the extra soil. Once the rail road ties were fully sunk, the path was raked and excess soil was placed on the sides of the pathway and compacted to provide extra support. We got as far as we could on the pathway in the two half days and one full day that we had to work on it. The two half days were taken to attend to end-of season preparations back at camp. The first and second days we were working saw the most tourist traffic, approximately ten the first day and anywhere between ten and twenty the second. On the third day there were only seven visitors. Leaving the site Tuesday afternoon was sad indeed, as it was our last day of work together and our last day of work in the majestic Sierra.
150 feet of pathway restored at Wild Willy’s hot spring
271.9 meters of road restored