Hitch 11 took WildCorps back to the Needles Field Office to work in the remote Old Woman Mountains Wilderness. We continued our recent streak of wilderness core monitoring, this time with a focus on human-made structures. The Old Womans once hosted numerous mining claims, and still feature active cattle grazing allotments. BLM was looking for updates and new information on what exactly is out there in this vast wilderness so they naturally called on the heartiest group of explorers they know.
To accomplish our task of surveying large stretches of desert flatlands, we heavily employed Walkie-Talkies for the first time and spread out. This allowed for much super official code lingo, daydreaming, and almost getting lost. Needless to say, we did find plenty of stuff! There were a lot of rusted-out cars, mine shafts, and dilapidated cabins. And of course, cows! We had a variety of common bovine encounters such as “Hey look a cow! Two cows, three cows, six, oh my god it’s a stampede!” and “Hey look a cow! Let me get closer…oh she looks angry and has horns, should probably turn around now.” Cows can run faster than I had imagined. As an added bonus, we occasionally saw horses majestically galloping across the landscape and got to hang out with a couple at one of the corrals.
We were also reminded this hitch that it does occasionally precipitate in the desert. During pre-hitch, we enjoyed a short but intense hail storm from inside the friendly confines of our Yucca Valley abode. We were greeted with more rain, hail, and even some snowflakes during our first couple days in the field. At different points in the hitch, threatening storm clouds cast the desert in an unusually dramatic light. All in all, another rollicking time with the WildCorps crew that took us all over a beautiful Mojave landscape full of Mojave yucca, barrel cacti, and stunningly historical trash. Next up: Leave No Trace training in our scenic backyard, Joshua Tree National Park!