The days between May 26th and May 30th, 2014 beheld one of the greatest restoration-sport spectacles that the Mojave Desert has seen in recent years. The 2014 End Season AllCorps Olympic Games began the evening of the 26th with the ceremonial lighting of the headlamp-torch and playing of the Olympic anthem on pennywhistle and a post-ceremony musical accompaniment by the various musical representatives of the Desert Restoration Corps. Prior to this celebration, the Jawbone-Rands crew displayed great feats of restorathletic prowess in preparation for the games proper.
The first day of training at the restorathlete camp showcased all of the crew’s talents, including cleaning 3 cubic meters of trash from the campsite, setting up the newly repaired green monster tents, restoring 2 incursions and marveling at the anticipating ovine (sheep) spectators crowding the landscape surrounding the restoration arenas. In spite of rain overnight at the campground, the crew’s second day of preparation was equally diverse and productive. By dividing and conquering, the crew prepared the installation of bollards in several areas in need of further restoration methods, monitored the effectiveness of previous incursions and monitored new work areas for the next year’s quorum of restorathletes to tackle and on which to hone their skills. The following two days entailed the construction of the bollards, leading towards a completion of 27 meters of hard barriers, additional effectiveness monitoring and the final preparations to the restorathlete camp. In preparation for the upcoming sharp-shooting event, one of the athletes constructed an atl-atl, a Native American tool for launching arrows and other projectiles by hand. The other crews arrived from all corners of the globe the following day, and were treated to the news of the sighting of a female desert tortoise close to the work areas! The crews then split following lunch and took field trips to visit local landmarks such as Randsburg, Red Rock Canyon State Park and Last Chance Canyon. And thus began the opening ceremony and the games themselves, with teams USA, Ireland, Italy, Mexico and Japan celebrating music and national cuisines.
On the first morning of the AllCorps Games, a relay race was held to invigorate the athletes and prepare them for a day of restoration work amongst the 11 incursions. After a rigorous dash of 3-legged running, chugging a ½ liter of water, digging a cathole and running like a Tyrannosaurus, team USA took home the gold. All athletes, however, worked through the heat of the day and the presence of rattlesnakes and accomplished a great deal of work. The evening’s sharpshooting competition featured impressive shots from slingshots and a bow, but the gold-winning shot was made by team Ireland with a 30-foot bull’s eye with the atl-atl. Simply amazing! The following day began with an international round of hacky-sac, by which the second of 2 groups took home the gold with 12 consecutive hits amongst a group of 12 athletes. The 11 incursions set for restoration were successfully completed by the end of the day, to the great joy of all present! When returning from the restoration arenas, a second desert tortoise was spotted while resting in the shade; what luck! New guests and visiting athletes arrived at camp later that evening and took part in the bowling-bocce ball tourney to follow. In a 6-team flourish of travelling down washes and looping around camp, a joint pair of an Irish and Italian athlete took home the gold with a whopping score of 3 points. The final day of work began with a heart-pounding game of tank commander, in which team USA took the gold once again after demolishing the other players with precise commands and cut-throat strategy. Collectively, over 30 restorathletes and guests contributed to the restoration of a denuded area near a campsite, the area of which encompassed over 2,000 square meters. Later that evening, the entire camp of restorathletes gathered for a slideshow encompassing the memories and triumphs of the Desert Restoration Corps over the past 8 months. On the final morning of the games the camp was taken down, the essential post-work chores were accomplished and all members gathered along a creek of the Kern River for an afternoon of lounging in the sun and swimming in alpine pools.
While team USA may have lead with the most gold medals, the commitment and hard work given by every athlete is worthy of gold. Collectively the 2013-2014 Desert Restoration Corps won big at the AllCorps Olympic Games and restored nearly 4,000 meters squared in just 3 days of work. While the crews’ time in the desert is coming to a close, the next challenges wait just around the corner for all in Bishop, Klamath National Forest, Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Stanislaus National Forest. Tune in next time for the next greatest restoration-sport spectacle!