As the season winds to an end all of the corps members are busy making plans for their future in conservation in their free time and meanwhile, savoring each moment here in the desert with our fellow members. We have had such a great time watching the seasons change and the blooming of a plethora of bright spring flowers, and watching the creatures (including rattlesnakes) stir from beneath the soil.
This hitch, our wonderful leader suggested to us that we take some time to be educated on the local wildlife so we had the opportunity to visit the Maturengo museum for the annual flower show. There we saw stunning specimens of every kind of plant in this region. We were also able to visit the Desert Tortoise Natural Area where we met a very interesting biologist named Freya. She specialized in the desert tortoise and took us on a hike to find one. It was a hot day with a light breeze and each member had their eyes peeled while Freya enlightened us with facts about the desert tortoise. After only about a half hour we saw one! She said it was a male between the ages of 20 and 30, it was so neat to be able to see up close such rare and unique specie. The desert tortoise actually started walking towards us and stood to rest in the shade of Freya’s body. It stayed for a moment to see what the hullabaloo was about then went back to feasting on the green fiddlenecks. Watching these creatures move and eat was so amazing, like a creature from another planet. But it is here on this beautiful planet that we are lucky to experience life in such wonderful diversity.
The next few days we spent the last of our time in Golden Valley. When we arrived in the Valley we could see the field of golden Coreopsis were already begining to show signs of withering beneath the rays of the desert sun. We finally finished our 5 mile fence line protecting the new section of wilderness and the desert tortoise from OHV degradation. It was a bittersweet moment of triumph as we pounded in the last t-posts and secured the lines to H-braces. We all cheered then stood a moment to look at our accomplishment, even a little sad to see the end of our project, with the recognance that our time here is coming to an end. We then departed from our Valley we have known so well. I should say I believe we grew to be a part of the life in the valley, we grew to be a part of it as much as it grew apart of us. A valley of desert dreams, memories, magic and friends to last a lifetime.
Sadness does not last long here with the GVC, with all these exciting adventures and changes, it’s hard to contain the excitement! This hitch we were granted the privilege of traveling to The Joshua Tree National Park for Leave No Trace training, on Earth Day no less! Each team member was granted a specific LNT ethic to create a lesson and share with the rest of the group. Before our departure, we got to learn how a pro prepares his pack and were led into the parks interior by program directors Jamie Webler and Darren Grutze. We stopped hiking at a lovely place in the middle of the loop surrounded by pink beavertail cactus, Nolenas and sweet rock formations. We made Gado Gado on portable stoves atop a flat rock that seemed to be waiting for us. We feasted and laughed until it was time to sleep. We slept under the stars that night; it was such a beautiful night.
The next morning each person got to choose a place along our hike to give their presentation. After the lesson we were each critiqued by Jamie and Darren’s expertise in our teaching ability and given advice to better express ourselves regarding the LNT ethics. Now these are college students folks, and boy they studied hard to share what they have learned but we each played a role as teacher and student, our brains growing fat with all this new wisdom.
After each of us had our presentations we climbed into a large rock crevice for lunch and Jamie and Darren concluded the LNT trainers course with a discussion to entice creative philosophical thinking on ethics in society and what kind of leadership roles we would like to play in society after the program. LNT with the directors in Joshua Tree was the perfect way to conclude the hitch, each of us inspired by our beautiful natural surroundings and the wisdom and support of the staff and fellow members of the SCA.
~Angela Powell, DRC/Golden Valley Crew