On October 5th, we kicked off DRC training in Great Falls Basin, CA, a beautiful canyon about an hour north of Ridgecrest. Our team met up with all the other teams -- Owens, Jawbone, Golden Valley, and Wildcorps. Jamie, Darren, and Jill came out to help us out at training, as well as Raven and Emily, our fabulous kitchen staff.
Once everyone got oriented with camp and the basics of DRC history, everyone got to pick an nature walk of sorts to kick off day two. Natalie led a plant walk, some of us yoga-ed with Shannon, some of us journaled with Scott, and some of us scrambled with Emily or Garth. We wrapped up the day with some discussion of Leave No Trace ethics, a guideline aiming to reduce our impact on the environment that we will follow while out in the field this season.
For the next few days, we dove into restoration work skills. After learning the care and keeping and use of the tools we’ll be working with, everyone split up into three groups to tackle some restoration in Great Falls Basin. We are all well versed in some aspect of restoration by now, whether that be chevrons, check dams, or gathering plant material for vertical mulching. Each of these are part of a toolbox of techniques to deter would-be off-roaders from driving down unmarked paths, to control erosion, and to foster revegetation of damaged areas.
After work skills, all teams came back together to talk about building a healthy community. For this segment, Steve Hester, the former program director of DRC, came down to provide some information. We covered the basics of what makes a strong community and what tends to lead to breakdown, what are some ways to bring up problems and healthy ways to talk about them, and also covered some basics of leadership. We also took a little time to do some four-wheel-drive training, learning how to handle some of the rough, sandy roads that we’ll be driving this season. We all made it through training alive and well, and managed not to get ourselves stuck!
On day 7, we took a much needed day of rest. Some folks kicked off the rest day by spending the previous night out on the ridge of the canyon and waking up in time for the sunrise (not that we didn’t see it every other morning with breakfast at 6:30). After breakfast Garth, the leader of Jawbone, took a group out to hike in Surprise Canyon. The rest of Rands hung out in Great Falls Basin for the afternoon. A little yoga, led by Shannon of Golden Valley, was to be had as well.
Day 8 marked the beginning of our Wilderness First Responder course. Darcy, Sean, and Roman of Aerie Wilderness Medicine, came down and stayed with us for the remainder of training to teach us the basics of wilderness medicine. We covered sooooo much in the course, including the basics of patient assessment, the signs and symptoms of various injuries and illnesses, how to best treat those, the ins and outs of CPR, and how to make decisions about caring for patients. We had to recognize and treat many ailments in our friends and teammates, including hypothermia, evisceration, constipation, broken limbs, blocked airways, blisters, and more. We had three mass casualty scenarios, including a night scenario with our leaders as victims, and two day time scenarios where we acted as victims and caretakers for one another. Half of the team acted out a scenario in which a team had gotten in a tornado and lightning storm. It made for a difficult scenario, as people had been scattered all over from the wind and lightening. The second scenario would make anyone think twice before assisting at a redneck family reunion gone explosive. The Donkeyshine Family Reunion took a turn for the worse when someone put a frozen turkey in the deep-frier and it exploded. “There were hushpuppies everywhere!” It made for a crazy mass casualty scene, but we got many laughs thanks to the wonderful acting of our teammates, including Sarah as BobbyAnn, Jut as C-Four, and Jack as Zeek , the patriarch of the Donkeyshines. After the mass casualty scenarios, we wrapped up the course, taking our final exam and getting our certification cards.
We wrapped up training with a bonfire and talent show. There was lots of music, some more somber and some silly, as well as some other talents. Jut and a few other people presented a rap that Jut had written about lightening for the WFR class, Jack read some Haiku he had written about his band, flying squirrels, and sneezing, and Jordan threw some knots and demonstrated an effective method for taking care of frostbite that she learned during WFR.
Now we are back in Ridgecrest, ready to begin our stint in the Rands, but not before some much needed rest. For now, some showers and grooming are in order, as well as some demolition derby and an all-corps potluck/birthday celebration/costume party.