Hitch Leader: David Nestor
After a short break between the town of Bishop that sits just to the east of the Sierra Mountains and Surprise Valley, Wild Corps members found themselves ready for work again. After two hitches of road closures Wild Corps is now well versed in the subtle techniques to use when erasing roads. These skills served them well because the Wilderness Study Areas in the Surprise Valley were ripe with closures waiting to happen. After meeting the BLM contact and making plans for the following days Wild Corps members prepared themselves and their equipment for the next hitch.
The first site to feel the wrath of this road closing tornado was an area called Buffalo Hills. The beautiful sun sets and rocky outcroppings that made up the background of this area were a perfect fit for the team. They set out closing five roads, placing five signs at the head of each and doing a total of 1,609 linear feet of road restoration. While here Wild Corps members were lucky enough to see wild horses, prong horned antelope, and a massive golden eagle. After finishing these sites the appetite of this crew was not satiated, they wanted more roads to close and so, moved camp to the next location.
Sheldon Contiguous Wilderness Study Area was the next chosen area for road decommissioning. Here the crew labored under the hot clear sky while admiring the stunning desert landscape that surrounded them. Here 12 roads fell victim to the crew and none survived, all were erased from the serene sage brush ecosystem after 2,513 linear feet of desert restoration. Sheldon Contiguous proved hot during the day and cold during the night until the last day. The crews last day at this location was a beautiful one because after four and a half months without seeing a drop of rain the desert skies opened up and dropped cool rain across the great basin brush.
After making it back to the BLM bunks for the night the crew woke up the next day ready for a muddy attempt up to the Wall Canyon Area. Some of those in Wild Corps showed great 4x4 driving skills this day. Megan and Chris piloted their trucks carefully up the steep road until it was decided that it was unsafe and turning around was the best choice. The way down proved even more difficult to navigate. The alkaline soils turned out to be as slippery as ice once rain had been on them and it took the crew three and a half hours to carefully creep their way down to main road. The next day a BLM Fuels Crew drove up with Wild Corps and powered the vehicles up in to the project site where the crew was able to close two more roads and do another 300 feet of restoration.
After a hitch of 20 road closures, wild animals, 4,331 feet of restoration, rain, and some of the most interesting driving some on the crew have ever been a part of, the Wild Corps now cleans and stows their gear for a short time. A nice five day break awaits the crew and soon all will be back to continue the much needed work here in Surprise Valley.