Desert Life: From Humble Beginnings. Early Season Training


First 5 and Notoberfest

New people. New houses. New environment.

Long days and lots to learn.

Where did you come from? No, I mean where are you from?

How do you say [insert a word, pronunciation varying by region]?

It’s ten people meeting their team mates for the next ten months in a suburban-style home in Ridgecrest, CA. From the very moment of arrival there are tasks to be completed, namely the creation of the food that will sustain us for our first couple days out in the field.

See, the Desert Restoration Corps has a long history of using, to the greatest extent possible, food (fresh/local/organic, when we can) that’s healthy for the crews and the planet, which generally translates into making most of our food from scratch using bulk ingredients, and produce which we purchase from a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, a subscription based system by which we pay organic farmers for deliveries of fresh produce.) We need to portion out ingredients for our field based meals. We need to make bread, peanut butter, almond butter, salsa, GORP, seitan.

Have you ever made hummus before?

How much rice do we need for twelve people?


Did I mention we’re leaving in two days? We need to pack the trailer with our field gear, we need to learn what our field gear is and how to use it, and wait, hold on a minute: What is our job, again, anyway?

Before heading out into the field we spent a sizeable portion of time, between prepping food, and packing, discussing what the DRC is, why we are here, and what we will be doing out in the field. We also discussed SCA policies and Field Operating Standards, and continued becoming more acquainted with each other. We met the Jawbone/Rands team then headed out to Grass Valley Wilderness in the Red Mountain Subregion of the California Desert District managed by the Ridgecrest Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management, aka, “middle of nowhere.”

After a couple days learning about the communal tents, affectionately referred to as Green Monsters, learning how our camp kitchen is set up and how each piece works, learning a little bit more about each other, and some reflection time, we headed back to unpack, completely clean all of our gear, and organize it in our garages. Next up our day off.

Yeah, day off. We’re real serious.

After our day of personal nesting time, and Ridgecrest exploration (perhaps it wasn’t fair that we had Sunday off. On Sunday, Ridgecrest is even less poppin’ than usual) we loaded up to head into the field for the next part of training: 21 days of 4×4, restoration, and first responder training out in the field at Great Falls Basin, a dry waterfall and a wilderness study area on the west side of Panamint Valley.

At Notoberfest we learned about Risk Management, Peer Leadership, and backcountry medicine, which included Wilderness First Responded (WFR) certifications for us. Sprinkled into the WFR course were a few rest days which included trips to Trona Pinnacles, and a hike in Surprise Canyon.

Notoberfest concluded when the DRC split into three groups for a two day Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer course. Groups went to Owen’s Peak, Fremont Peak, and Walker Pass on the Pacific Crest Trail.

We’re looking forward to the next few hitches and getting on with the work, after all this training.