The halfway hitch, or Hitch #6, was different from day one. We found ourselves back at our old SC88 campsite, which was familiar from both First Five and Septoberfest. Ensconced with us at the rocky site was the Kiavah Crew, who also had work in the area. We enjoyed their rambunctious company throughout hitch; sharing cookie recipes, playing Hide-and-Seek and Cards Against Humanity, and shamelessly borrowing numerous kitchen necessities. To cement our friendship we also helped each other with work! One day, Kiavah aided us in completing restoration on two obscenely long hill climbs, and a few days later we learnt how to do hard barriers and set up bollards with them.
Weather was a significant factor in these 12 days. The climate gods, indecisive as ever, threw first a few frigid nights at us. Nothing we couldn’t handle, as a crew situated in such a volatile place as Jawbone. This was followed by two days of rain, which on the last night froze into snow. All of that was seemingly forgotten, as the next days were remembered only for the vicious, bitter winds that tore through fleeces and turned vegging trips into full-on chilly battles with dead branches. And, in the last two days, the gods mocked our traumatised, confused selves with bright, cloudless skies and temperatures almost hitting 70.
We all struggled to cope, but our beloved truck 9005 was having the most serious issues. After work one day, one of its tyres decided to deflate for no apparent reason. Battling the wind and cold, four Jawbone members bravely put their tyre-changing abilities to the test. It was successful, but poor 9005’s problems were far from over. A few days later, we were excited to spend a day volunteering at the Audubon Society Preserve and then visit some hot springs. We sat in the trucks at an early hour, defying the cold weather with our enthusiasm, when 9005 decided it did not feel like starting. After an attempt at jump-starting it, the problem was revealed to be more complex. Our self-sacrificing PL Andy bravely stayed with our truck, while the six members piled into 9001 for our day of fun.
At the Audubon Preserve, we got to experience live restoration, which was something of a revelation to such vertical mulch experts. We also implemented irrigation, which was definitely new material for us. Our work, already interesting, and in such a beautiful area (trees!) was only improved by the two boxes of snacks provided. After a pleasant time and many promises of returning, we headed out to the elusive hot springs supposedly in the area. Most of us had never visited any sort of hot springs, so it was with excitement and apprehension that we examined the rough map and somewhat bizarre directions, following winding roads and searching for landmarks like a power plant and a telephone pole you could drive around. Eventually, we parked in a lot with a fabulously painted school bus, and walked down to the springs. Situated directly next to a river, the springs themselves were quite enjoyable, although it is true that any immersion in water seems nice for desert-dwellers like us. The experience was made somewhat bizarre by the abundance of naked hippies present, one of whom we aptly called demented Santa. He decided to lecture us about our current volunteer positions, and eventually attempted to goad us into an argument about whether or not there are more roads now than 30 years ago. It was a day to remember.
We ended our hitch with good weather and better spirits. A headlight strobe rave broke out after our lantern was temperamental, and was followed by a highly amusing session of star tipping. A campfire with Kiavah made our hitch complete, and we left feeling dirty, exhausted, ready for break, and satisfied with our work. Or in other words, like the best sort of dirtbags there are.