We left Lone Pine June 21st around 9am and set out for Bishop to clean the coolers, buy propane, purchase food, and speak with BLM agency contacts about our work for the upcoming 10 days. Later that night we arrived in Virginia Creek and set up camp at a front country campsite managed by the BLM. We split up to tackle setting up the kitchen tent, organizing the trailer, and getting the tools prepared for the hitch. We ended the night exhausted but excited for what the BLM had in store for us.
Wednesday, June 22nd we were joined by Casey and Jeff from the BLM. They showed us some of our future work sites and explained the projects we would be involved in over the next week. We drove into the Bodie Hills and carried treated wood along fence lines to the old ‘H’ braces to be replaced. After battling the wind, sun, elevation, and a run-in with a rattle snake, we headed back to camp and were graced by the appearance of 10 antelope grazing on the mountain side. While preparing dinner in the Big Green Monster (our kitchen tent), Rachel ran in wide eyed and enlivened. She had been writing a letter to home outside by the river and looked up to see a mountain lion watching her 50 feet away. We all headed to bed a bit apprehensively.
The next 3 days encompassed what surely was close to every aspect of fencing imaginable; removal of old barbed wire, coiling, digging holes for new ‘H’ braces, chain sawing treated wood, removing old metal posts, putting in new metal posts, removing wire hooks, measuring and attaching clamps, and stringing new wire. By Saturday we had strung wire around a 105 square foot fenced in area, removed1103.25 meters of fence, pulled 92 metal posts, lopped along fence lines, put clamps on posts, and coiled and removed wire on another site. After adding a few new tears to our pants and wearing out our gloves so their original color became all but distinguishable, we walked away with a bit of a cowboy swagger.
Sunday brought a reprieve from barbed wire. We began working on stream bank stabilization in Kirkland Meadow; a beautiful meadow of wildflowers and gasses not a mile from camp. We reinforced the check dams, built up the stream embankments to prevent access water loss, and cleaned up the banks of the stream. By the end of the day we had restored 682.59 meters of the stream bank.
Monday reunited us with our old friend, barbed wire, but also brought some new faces. We were joined by a Youth Conservation Corps on both Monday and Tuesday for our work replacing 756.93 meters of wire and removing 62 metal posts. We were also joined by Martin and Casey with the BLM. The project seemed to go quickly and smoothly now that we had a firm grasp of fence work and the extra help.
Wednesday the 29th was our last work day on hitch 2. We returned to the site where we had removed the 92 posts and removed 1103.25 meters of barbed wire and began to put up new barbed wire. Clouds were rolling in and it had rained through the night and into the morning. We were bundled up working in the mist of the mountains. The wind picked up and the temperature dropped. No sooner had Kelsey voiced her concern for snow were we blinded by huge flakes. We strung the wire as quickly as we could and ended our day early as a result of running out of wire to string after a few chilly hours. We spent the remaining hours at the Mono Lake Visitor Center learning about the formation of the lake, the fragile ecosystem it encompasses, and the Kutzadika people who once lived there.
Thursday was met with sunshine and a determination to clean up camp as quickly as possible. We not only took down camp but began setting up for next hitch at our new location a few miles down the road.
We had a great time working with Jeff, Martin, and Casey as well as learning the ins and outs of fencing work. We are looking forward to working with the BLM on our next hitch. But for now, we are all in need of the upcoming break. Yosemite hoooooo!!!!
1860.18 meters of fence removed
756.93 meters of wire replaced
682.59 meters of stream bank restored
155 posts removed