We killed A LOT of tamarisk this hitch. Rest in Peace, my little Tammy’s. After a very long drive out to Saline Valley, (the beautiful views over Death Valley made the late night arrival so worth it), we began our work the next day in the Inyo Mountains Wilderness. We really enjoyed working with so many people this hitch too! It isn’t very often that we get to do that. The volunteers from UCLA as well as Friends of the Inyo helped us knock out a huge infestation of tamarisk in Cougar Canyon. Days of hacking away at what would otherwise be a very lovely plant if it weren’t so evil for stealing water from other plants was very satisfying. The no-see-ums weren’t our favorite, but the weather was quite pleasant most of hitch. The burro mating season interrupted our sleep that first night quite a bit, but it was still pretty cool to be so close to them and so easily observe them. They were surprisingly not skiddish at all for us. Another highlight of this hitch was getting to spend it with Marty, from the Ridgecrest Field Office and to really feel part of an ongoing project that she has been having groups work on for years. Seeing the before pictures of what used to be a tamarisk monoculture and is now only requiring light retreatment is very uplifting. The majority of our work was a part of the canyon that was densely vegetated with willows that we struggled to work around to get at the tamarisk. We were glad to have some chainsaw handlers to help us with the biggest trees while we worked diligently with our loppers and handsaws for a complete tamarisk massacre.
After three days in Cougar, we took a day in Pat Keyes Canyon down the road to do some lighter tamarisk retreatment. The highlight of this day was definitely the waterfalls, about ten or so, that we climbed up and over and later repelled down, thanks to the free climbing and gear that Todd, from Friends of the Inyo, provided. My personal favorite was the wet mudslide one that everyone else seemed to be able to repel down like the others, whereas I took a more muddy approach by slipping and sliding down it as I was lowered, laughing too hard to do anything about it. Some of us had some pretty “creative” landings but none quite compared to the muddy mess I was after that one.
We returned to Cougar the following two days and can say that it has now been completely treated at least once, and more in some places, up to the second falls. Die tamarisk, die! This is a feat that Marty was very excited about and we are all happy to have been part of it. We got to hit up one more canyon, Piute Canyon, on our last day in Saline Valley to finish off a bit more tamarisk. Because of time and the threat of rain (can’t spray herbicide if it’s going to rain) we had to leave some tamarisk behind, but some lucky crew in the future will get to finish that off one day and see the beautiful Piute Canyon too! We had a long drive home ahead of us and broke up the drive with a visit to our Golden Valley friends to check out their lovely fields of gold before heading back to the one and only, Yucca Valley. Until next time, WC.