We began our eighth hitch sans project leader due to a death in the family, but the crew leapt right into our pre-hitch routine regardless. Our first regular day back in the field in what seemed like some time got off to a smooth start, despite the kitchen tent trying to take flight when the wind decided to welcome us back to the Rands. The crew prevailed though, and before long we were cooking a delicious falafel dinner.
We got right to work the next day, finishing a hillclimb that we had been chipping away at over the course of the past two hitches. Then we set off to restore a whole new area of incursions in polygons 33 and 34. Steve Gomez, our BLM agency contact, joined us that afternoon to aid in our restoration. He also helped us to discover two desert tortoises and a large, strange wad of what airborn space goo that appeared to have crashed to earth and coalesced into a ball of hard rubbery plastic. After due investigation and hypothesizing as to its origin, we returned to work and completed what may be our most dense stretch of dead creosote bushes to date.
The next day had a hard time making its mind up as to whether it wanted to be rainy or sunny but we enjoyed it never-the-less. That evening Natalie returned to the field with us and was welcomed back with great exuberance. However, the jubilant mood was slightly subdued by the flu bug that made its way through half of the crew by the week’s end. Day after day, another member dropped off to get the sickness out of their system. Everyone recovered swiftly though and before long we were a complete crew again.
On Saturday of Presidents’ Day Weekend, we enjoyed another day of outreach, distributing RMMA permit maps to the public along the southern limits of the Rands. The Golden Valley crew joined us in our efforts that day and it was fun to share the sunny (albeit windy and chilly) day with them.
The rest of the three-day weekend we spent working on some cross-country incursions around RM33 and were constantly seeing large packs of OHVs, some of whom stopped by to say hello and ask what we were up to. A few of them even slowed down to admire our work as they drove up the incursion we were just finishing decompacting.
We had an exciting drive up to Government Peak for Jack’s environmental education presentation on the China Lake Navy base. The views were fantastic and we discovered a fun new game wherein Marchetti heaves a large rock over the side of the mountain and the rest of us try to peg it with smaller rocks. The fun never stops (until one’s arm gets sore, that is).
The wonderful weather we’d enjoyed all hitch stayed with us right up until our post hitch day. We returned to Ridgecrest on a sunny Thursday morning and wrapped up yet another successful stint in the Rands Mountains. We’re officially over the halfway point now and still going strong with lots of enthusiasm and momentum to carry us into March. We all look forward to what’s next.
Incursions Completed: 11
Linear Meters Restored: 888
Area Restored (m2): 1803
Vertical Mulch: 165
Seed Pits: 147
Person Hours: 577.5