Like a well-oiled machine, our crew now falls into the routine of pre-, during and post-hitch. Hitch 8, however, threw us a few surprises. We finished up work in the Riverside Mountain Wilderness at an alarming speed…once we found the project sites, that is.
Our Trimble only has so many roads on it, and it did not have the one we needed to get to our hill climb. As we searched for the road over steep hills and sandy washes, we found ourselves perched on the top of a loose sandy slope. As we turned to aim down the hill, we felt the wheels spin and the truck sink. Michael got out to investigate and decided it was time for a group meeting. Turns out, our front wheels were almost buried with the front differential resting precariously on the sand and the rear L tire dangled almost a foot off the ground…hmmm. Luckily, we roll with a cache of just about any tool one might need and with a combo of digging and laying rocks and a little pushing we managed to send the truck, manned by Peter, sliding down the hill to safety =)
After that ordeal, we decided against continuing our search for the site, and instead went to a different site. This next site, however, brought to the surface many brewing questions worth sitting down and discussing. We deliberated over concerns about the efficacy of our work, how the BLM communicates with us, justifications the work we do, and more. It was an intense and beneficial discussion, but now it was time to get to work. That same day, we met two new BLM interns who passed us a massive post pounder and some new signs, which we needed for these last few sites.
Two days later, we were ready to say goodbye to Riverside and head to the Big Maria Mountain Wilderness. It was amazing to see the shift in vegetation over such a small distance; suddenly, left and right there are foxtail and barrel cacti along with numerous ocotillos, which when dead have a striking resemblance to a large squid.
After our move, we were all feeling low on energy and motivation. Rather than start our next epic restoration, Peter intervened and we spent the afternoon exploring the area, visiting the members of the Wildcorps crew and then chowing down on some delicious Rebel BBQ in Blythe!
True to our promise, after the brief respite, we got down and worked hard for the next three days putting in some impressive work. Among other things, we got to do some “trundling” (rock throwing for most of us), which felt like an amazing thing to get paid to do! Our projects in the Big Marias so far seem to be more challenging, in both technique and physical effort, than in Riverside, and that sweet feeling of curling up at the end of the day feeling truly physically tired returned for the first time since New Mexico.
However, while one could frequently catch reminiscent phrases about our days in NM floating on the wind, the balmy weather of Southern California charms us as we remember what it is to wear T-shirts by day and no long underwear by night. Our resident kangaroo rats offer daily entertainment and we will now keep our sox and hats safe at night after experiencing the nagging persistence of a certain kit fox thief!