After a month of training the Jawbone Crew finally got our first solo taste of the desert. We drove out to the Fremont / Cramer Junction area and camped out on a dry lake bed just South East of Cuddie Back Lake.
The first three hitches we are not working in our designated Jawbone Butterbredtt Limited use area. Our services have been acquired by The Transition Habitat Conservancy (THC). They are buying land to protect “transition zones and wildlife corridors”. We are helping them buy camouflaging any illegal route an Off Highway vehicle user could use to enter their property.
The Fremont/Cramer Junction sounds like a place where cowboys meet to duel each other at high noon. It also feels like it. The road signs are not well labeled and the maps don’t always meet reality, on the weekends there is much more OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) use then in Jawbone and there are abandoned mines everywhere.
There was a tiny tracker jeep that drove by our camp real slow one afternoon. It had two very old men in the car. One waved back at me with a very different facial expression than a friendly wave is supposed to come with. They drove to our rocket box. Our rocket box is an ammo box with a waste disposal unit in it as well as a toilet seat on top of it. It is out outhouse. We place it out of our site for the sake of privacy. So when the old men drove up there we could not see them and had no idea what they were doing. I was especially confused after I heard there Tracker door slam. I did not give it much thought again until Matt and I went to pack everything up, Matt discovered that the old men had stolen all of our toilet paper!
The weekends are the only times we see OHV people, hunters and old men that steal toilet paper. During the week, the desert is the only thing that surrounds our seven person crew for miles. During one of our first days out in the field we got to go explore where an incursion (illegal road that we are going to restore) went. It took us on a 2 mile adventure through some beautiful sand dunes and geological marvels.
We dug many many holes to plant vertical mulch in. Vertical Mulch are bouquets of dead bushes made to look as realistic as possible. The desert is a place of extremes because of that the living plants don’t look full of life. That helps make our dead plants look like they are alive. This is done because whenever signs are put up that say “DO NOT GO HERE”, it blasts some OHV riders with an insatiable curiosity to figure out what they are barred access from. We camouflage the trails so they will not even know there was a trail there. Then we try to make the incursion as conducive with new plants growth as possible.
Desert time muddled with my head. I can’t tell if hitch was long, short or we took a time warp somewhere. I do know that hitch was very exciting. We saw 3 tarantula, kit foxes, a captive desert tortoise; I began to see dawn from the west as the purples and blues flow down Fremont peak; we got to eat good food and hang around with good company.