Hitch 8 saw the Owens Peak crew on the road again. Fresh off our travels to Blythe, CA and All-Corps, the crew packed up again and rambled on down to Joshua Tree National Park for a lesson in Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics. After the long drive and an introduction on teaching methods, all of us were happy to have one more night under the shelter of a roof before heading out on a backpacking trip the next morning. While on the backpacking trip, each member was charged with one of the seven Leave No Trace Principles to teach to the other crew members, using the various teaching methods we learned earlier.
The backpacking trip had its highs and lows, of course. Everyone was ecstatic at the chance to get a free trip to see the beauty that lies within Joshua Tree National Park, but they were not so pleased with the fact that SCA protocols required them to carry six liters of water per day, which sent our pack weight through the roof for an overnight. The first night brought smiles to all of our faces, because in addition to the beautiful weather the crew collective mouths were watering over overflowing pots of gado gado, the crew’s favorite peanut butter and pasta concoction. However, the next morning did not greet us so warmly. We were battered all day from cooler temperatures and high winds strong enough to chase us from the park, but not before a couple hours of scrambling among the Joshua tree forest Hidden Valley.
After the crew’s time in Joshua Tree, the members spent some time on community and had a long travel day ahead of them as we made our way back to Ridgecrest. The crew made use of this day to recall forgotten card games, relax, and relish in the gourmet of roller-grill hot dogs before going back to work. However, it seemed like the weather that chased us out of the Joshua Tree National Park chased us all the way to Ridgecrest. Area forecasts warned of bone-chilling temperatures high winds and the possibility of thunder-snow, so the crew decided to spend a couple more nights in the warmth of their house in Ridgecrest and join the daily commute. But, after a day driving to work on our fence-line and a Sunday spent passing out permits for the Randsburg OHV area, the crew was chomping at the bit to spend some time among the newly powdered mountains east of Ridgecrest.
The cold temperatures were not able to chill the spirits of the Owens Peak crew as they finally arrived back at their home on the east slope of the Sierras. The cool breeze could not drive down the spirits inside the green monster as story time returned along with the playful pluck of a mandolin, and the ruthless clamor of games of Banana-grams.
The crew’s spirits were lifted higher when they started work on their dormant fence-line and were surprised with the early signs of the changing seasons. The vibrant reds, yellows, and purples of young desert wildflowers began popping from the soil beneath our feet, bringing hopes of warmer temperatures. Along with the wildflowers, another sign of spring surprised us with its presence; a hummingbird had crashed the party in order to feast on the freshly flowering plants. The hummingbird left in a hurry, but it left a smile on the faces of the Owens Peak crew as we dream of the pleasant weather of spring and the pleasant times to come.