Hitch 9 began with the Owens Peak Crew traveling down to Yucca Valley to take part in Leave No Trace Training. After a night of hanging out with the elusive Wildcore Crew, Owens packed their things, and went to meet up with Darren for an introductory lesson in LNT. Each member of Owens was responsible for teaching their fellow crewmates about one LNT principle, so they began the day with learning how to make an interesting lesson plan. Then, they continued their training with Dawn teaching the first principle of LNT: plan and prepare. They checked equipment, maps, and the weather, to make sure that they were as prepared as possible for their trip. After lunch, they gathered all of their things, traveled to Joshua Tree National Park, and began their hike with Clayton in the lead. When he scoped out a good area of the trail to carry out his lesson, they all stopped to learn about the second principle of LNT: travel and camp on durable surfaces. After this enlightening lesson, they resumed hiking through the massive rock piles that make up the otherworldly park that is J Tree. Leana then taught them how to dispose of their waste properly by making them find trash that she had hid in the area. She demonstrated that humans have a relatively poor sense of smell by blindfolding Miriam and making her try to identify food scraps on the ground, bringing home the point that animals are much better at finding trash than we are. After this lesson, the crew and Darren hiked until they found a suitable place to make camp. They soon discovered that they had failed to adequately plan and prepare when they discovered that no one had packed a pot with which to heat up their dinner. But, Owens is not a crew to get bummed out easily, and they enjoyed their cold beans and rice with hardly a complaint. When the sun set, the temperature dropped like a hawk on a rabbit, and the crew settled in for the night at around 6:30 to escape the cold and sleep for an extravagant 12 hours.
Day 3 began brisk and sunny, and Brendan taught the crew to leave what you find, the fourth principle of LNT. The hike began again and after a while, Miriam stopped them to teach the importance of minimizing campfire impacts. As the crew neared the end of their hike, Emily taught them the importance of respecting wildlife, and made each crew member (and Darren) act out an animal. Finally, Luke taught them the importance of respecting other visitors, and they returned to their trucks. They spent the night at the Wildcore house, this time without the lively Wildcore crew to keep them company.
On Day 4, the crew traveled back home to Owens Peak, and set up camp. The remainder of Hitch 9 was incredibly warm, which both excited the crew and made them wonder what they would be in for come May. On day 5, they scouted out sites for two fence lines and worked on finishing up a strawbale project that was started in December. They also began to notice all of the tiny wildflowers that had started springing up on the hillside, and it brought them much much joy. Day 6 saw the crew back in 9 mile canyon, working on their fence line. It wasn’t the most lively day, and for Leana, Emily, and Miriam, it was downright agonizing, as they spent the entire day slowly chipping away at two holes so that they could build an H-brace. Day 7 went faster, as the crew continued to work on the fence. Day 8 brought them back home to Ridgecrest, to relax and hang out with the other crews.