You’d think having seven people live and work together in the wilderness in the most efficient way would be challenging, but try 14. Our Owens Peak crew took this hitch to go help the Golden Valley crew with 5 miles of fence to be built along the edge of the wilderness. This project created more challenges than previous hitches because the fence we were building was not up against the road. The first day of fencing we needed to find a way to get over a mile’s worth of fencing tools and materials a mile into the wilderness without the aid of vehicles. The strategy was to form a fire-line with all of the crew members spaced a couple hundred feet apart walking materials to one another. Come the afternoon when the building began, we struggled keeping all fourteen people busy with only the first quarter mile worth of supplies at the work site. As a solution, six members worked on a restoration project on a previously restored road behind the Golden Valley Wilderness sign. The group re-lined the turnabout with rocks and put in some vertical mulch to liven it up.
With each crew cooking their own meals, there was quite a bit of eyeballing going back and forth across the big communal tent. From overstuffed calzones or ratatouille to the trading of flatbread recipes and ingredients, the crews both ate well. On day two, the Owens crew went to the Kernville Audubon Society to learn about the local birds and hear about volunteer opportunities. The employees were very excited to have young visitors, and the crew was enthusiastic about going from the flat plains of Golden Valley to tree covered mountains. The crew returned to Golden Valley for the night only to depart again the next morning to teach the Rands crew how to fence. We helped them build three and a half H-braces in a day and got to show off our new chainsaw skills.
Come Wednesday we were back in Golden Valley again to do another fire-line for an entire day. Each of us ended up walking five miles while hauling a total of 2 tons of fencing materials! Each person carried over 540 t-posts that day and four 60-pound rolls of wire, along with bollards, tools, and other fencing supplies. We spent the rest of the hitch fencing, splitting into two groups to cover more ground. Golden and Owens were equally split between these groups to stimulate inter-crew bonding. The Golden crew also taught Owens about GPS navigation by taking each group on a day trip of orienteering to petroglyphs and Klinker Mountain. The last three days of hitch it was joked that we were “under the sea” as non-stop rain pelted the crews, but we pushed through it. By the end of hitch we had completed over a mile and a half of fence. With the fence sections at all different stages, there will be much more work to be done in the following hitch when the Owens Peak crew will return to Golden Valley. The crews were sad to say goodbye but all more than ready for Christmas break.