Photos and text by Stuart Wilkins, 2011 – 2012 SCA Golden Valley Wilderness team of the Desert Restoration Corps (DRC.) The DRC works with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) throughout the California Desert District facilitating the processes of natural regrowth of thousands and thousands of acres of desert habitat. This is the group’s last hitch – backcountry work stint – of the season.
Hitch 14 was a lot of things for our crew; the last hitch of our season, another Allcorps, and a farewell to the areas of the Mojave we have come to know so well. The work load seemed lighter and the presence of the other crews for most of hitch made the atmosphere around camp buzz with energy. Our first two days had us out in Golden Valley and Grass Valley while the rest of hitch centered on preparation for Allcorps in the Jawbone area. Perfect weather combined with the comrardery that the entire DRC brings out when we are all together made for a most excellent last stint in the Desert.
Fittingly the first day had us driving to Grass Valley for some monitoring and fencing to say farewell to tasks we spent a majority of the season on. The second day had us split up into two groups, one went into Grass Valley and one went into Golden Valley to do some GPS surveying of plant populations in certain areas of the wilderness for California Fish and Game. Armed with our Trimbles and plenty of water, we set out on a stress free day hiking between different regions of the wilderness to find the plants that were listed in the areas. The day was perfect and gave us quality time to say goodbye to our beloved wilderness.
This led us to Allcorps in Jawbone, a mass DRC gathering in the beautiful Southern Sierra Nevada hosted by our dear friends from the Jawbone crew. The work project was largely restoration based with a few bollarding side projects in there as well. By this point in the season we were all highly skilled dead plant builders so those incursions did not stand a chance. We knocked them out with about half a day to spare and they looked incredible!
The Allcorps experience was fabulous. We were showered with gifts from the BLM and the SCA for our hard work all season long. Each day people brought us goodies like ice and fruit and gatorade which kept spirits up through the heat. The evening entertainment was also quite engaging. For starters there was the super moon which was approximately 14% larger than a regular full moon according to scientists. Then there were games and ice cream and even a very nice slideshow recapping the season through each crew’s photos. There was also a time for recognizing how outstanding the program has been to us and each individual was recognized for unique traits they brought to the crew dynamic.
Now it finally seems like the end. We knew this was coming but the feeling doesn’t actually hit you until there are no more Trimble points to take or t-posts to pound or creosotes to build. From here we go our separate ways, embark on new adventures, and change other people’s lives.
DRC: It has been phenomenal, we have grown in ways we never thought we would have. This is a very special group of people to have been a part of, and all of us were brought here to do a very special job. From the countless stars at night to the bitter cold winds, from the dirty faces to the fruit salad morning, from seeing every sunrise and sunset to going to bed before 6pm; We will miss it all, but all of us will be taking some of it with us too.
With the fondest of farewells we say goodbye Golden and Grass Valley, and goodbye DRC.