We spent this hitch doing restoration work and building hard barriers in several canyons in the Owens Peak Wilderness. It was awesome being able to see Owens Peak from different vantage points in each canyon (during our first hitch we only saw it from Indian Wells Canyon). We also got a chance to show off all of our hard work to Marty, our BLM contact, and to check on the condition of an old gold mine. During the last couple days of hitch we started work in the Kiavah Wilderness, monitoring fences and checking that no new incursions exist on Nelly's Nipple, a distinctive-looking peak. As much as we love the Owens Wilderness, it was nice to get a preview of where we will be working for the next six months.
Possibly the most memorable day of the hitch was when we climbed Owens Peak (except for Robin, who was sick and spending the day in town). Owens Peak is the highest mountain in the Southern Sierra; from the top we could see for miles. The hike was difficult--2850 feet of elevation gain in two miles--but definitely worth it! When we set out it was 37 degrees and Owens was blanketed in clouds, and the temperature only dropped as we gained elevation. After a while we started seeing frost on the trees and snowflakes piling in rock crevices. At one point we lost the trail, but soon found it and continued scrambling up the rocks toward the summit. Trees covered in snow framed our view of the desert and the clouds began to lift as we neared the summit. We reached the top of Owens after three hours of climbing and were rewarded with a view of the Sierra to the north and west, the Mojave to the south and east, and Clif Bar Shot Bloks in the summit registry box. It was definitely below freezing at the top, so we ate a quick lunch and most of a 100 piece bag of candy, wrote in the registry, and took some pictures before starting back down the mountain.
After our descent of Owens we met up with Max's parents, who brought us a delicious meal of soup, sourdough bread, cookies, and oranges. They knew that Max and some other crew members had been sick earlier in the week, and wanted to do something nice for all of us. It was a great dinner and they got to experience the Green Monster! During this hitch we learned that while we eat super well and usually are very healthy, we have no collective self-control when it comes to candy, sweets, and Tang!