If I had to describe the desert I would say she’s a stormy broad, beautiful but temperamental. My team found this out first hand this past hitch on the first day. My name is Charlie, and along with Nick, Wade, Brian, Gabriel and our project leader Leigh, we experienced a dust storm, snow, and hail all in our first 24 hours in Winnemucca, NV.
We weren’t in Winnemucca for the weather though, after a quick meeting on June 5, we started our work in Water Canyon just outside of Winnemucca. Our tasks were many, during the three days stayed there we brushed out 6520 feet of trail through the canyon, put up new speed limit signs on along the canyon’s dirt road, replaced a barricade that had been vandalized and installed bases for new signs along the canyon road. Suffice to say our days were long and sleep was always welcome. However the fact that Water Canyon’s beauty grew almost every minute we were there made for a good trade off.
On June 8 we packed up our trailer and spent the day traveling to five different historic sites and traversed at least 250 miles leaving markers warning travelers to leave anything they find. In the process we found a ghost town, had an impromptu desert dance party and learned to wrap our own head scarves, Wade was a particular fan. After our marathon work day ( up at 5 am and in bed by midnight) we spent our Saturday morning dodging fish hooks and helping at a kids fishing derby held by the Bureau of Land Management. After a fun filled morning of announcing the winners of raffle drawing we headed out toward the center of the known universe, Gerlach, home of the Burning Man festival and the last town before our hitch site in High Rock Canyon within the Black Rock Desert.
We were joined by our BLM contact Zach, who turned out to like hacky sack and bad jokes just as much as we did, he fit in perfectly. Zach and Wade really hit it off and had some lively debates about coiling rope. Again, our project in High Rock Canyon required the team to versatile. Our first day at Steven’s Camp we installed a deer hang so hunters wouldn’t clean their prizes on the porch of the bunk house. We all had a good look at the bunk house, and while it certainly was nice, we couldn’t resist sleeping out under the stars on top of nearby ridge. Our next two days we traveled up Little High Rock Canyon, brushing out section of emigrant trail that is used mostly by off road vehicle and some brave folks with 4-wheel drive. It’s amazing to think that this trail, that cost us exactly one tire, was once traveled by people in wagons.
On the far side of Little High Rock Canyon is Soldier Meadows where, surprisingly enough, soldiers once camped. We spent part of our day cleaning campsites and installing a metal barricade to keep ATV riders from going down a foot path. The day was hot and there was no shade for miles, but our work was rewarded by Soldier Meadows’ nicest spot: it’s natural hot springs.
Our next day we helped Zach chop up and move out a car left to rot near soldier meadows. While it displaced a very comfortable pack rat, it was all for the greater good. With the car in pieces we set out across the playa of the Black Rock Desert, done with our work a whole two days early. As we drove through the dust of the salt flat our team looked forward to showers and nine days off.
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