Hitch two was kicked off by a delightful fieldtrip to the Bright Star Wilderness area southwest of our normal stomping grounds. Venturing with Marty and the rest of our BLM counterparts we dominated the new wilderness area without breaking a sweat. During this time we picked up valuable bits of information on fencing, the inner workings of the Ridgecrest field office, and the wonderful people it staffs.
The next day we set out to a new campsite, new work sites, and a new understanding of what the desert holds. During our first hitch we exclusively worked south of Indian Wells Canyon. Our second hitch brought us north of the canyon, which also brought us into a new type of ecosystem. Odd things began to appear within our dry, dry desert. There were trees, grasses, and water. Yes, water, and enough to fill a swimming hole. The faces of the crew were equivalent to those of children on a bus seeing an amusement park for the first time.
Day three was spent restoring an incursion with the thought of day four pounding against our heads.
Day four we awoke to clear skies, restless stomachs, and excited PB&Jers. This was the day we were looking forward to since Dawn “The Godfather” Scheckman dropped the news that we would be climbing Owens Peak during our second hitch. Gaining 2850 feet of elevation in two miles, the trek was intense. Setting out at about 8:30, we made good time arriving at the summit at around noon.
Days five through seven were back to work. We jumped right back into eating up the incursions, throwing down the V-mulch like Brendan Knipfing drinks milk. But wait… what do we see here? Is this Dawn “The Godfather” Scheckman in a cowgirl foursquare dress? Yes, yes it is. And O (Minnesotan O) my is it wonderful.
Day eight turned what we thought DRC work was on its head. Starting with a solid second breakfast in town with our new friend, truck driver, and all around hay expert John, we enjoyed the luxuries of bottomless cups of coffee, hash browns, and toilets. Yes, out of all the things in the world, a porcelain throne is always a good luxury (especially compared to the rocket box). After second breakfast we were introduced to a new tool, the hay hook (my new favorite) and jumped right onto our 256 bales. Moving them off with the grace of unicorns we stacked them on the side of the road for use throughout the season. The only thing more tedious about stacking them on the side of the road was covering them in thick black plastic to protect them from the rain.
Day nine was started like no other day we have had in the field thus far, with rain. Rain that started during the middle of the night while most of us slept outside. For those of us from who grew up outside the desert (all of us…) it was a drizzle, but it was enough to disturb our sleep and cause us to wake up confused. The rain was small news compared to the wind, the howling wind that can only be described as a freight train rolling through the canyon. John C. Van Dyke says it best,
“Yet the desert wind blow where they list. They follow certain channels or ‘draws’ through the mountain ranges; and the reason for their doing so is plain enough. During the day the intense heat of the desert, meeting with only a thin dry air above it, rises rapidly skyward leaving a vast vacuum below that must be filled with a colder air from without.”
We finished strong with riddle games, laughs and a lot of layers. Driving home late, most of us slept while our aching muscles tightened up. Finally, we pulled up to our humble abode on Hood Avenue, made dinner and snuggled into our comfy, plush military cots.
Day ten, we powered through our cleaning and organizing. By this point we have a rhythm down, and it flowed like the water from the cloud days before.
Until next time, Owens Peak.
-Luke ‘little foot’ Anderson