Seventeen days, one basin, 30ish twenty-somethings, swinging tools, Leave No Trace, community dialogue, wild burros, and a steady stream of pnemothoraces. Septoberfest crept by through extremes of heat and cold. Then suddenly it was over. As we pulled off the 4×4 trail and onto Trona Road, the Owens Peak Crew clamored for their cell phones and begged their PL to turn on the radio. The tinny sounds of static and KE$HA pulsed through the Suburban. Their PL glanced through the rearview mirror with a knowing look on her face, ‘they are not used to this life of no cell reception, showers, and a rigid daily routine.’ End of hitch chores were completed with record speed. The house sparkled and propane tanks sat full in the garage. Through all of this, it seemed clear the crew was thinking forward in time to the break and Yosemite. Yet Septoberfest has undeniably made a tremendous impact on everyone. Due to the presence of the entire Desert Restoration Corps in Great Falls Basin, the crew had a moment to leave the petri dish of its seven members. As a consequence, cross-crew friendships have been made and will undoubtedly be carried forward throughout the season. Emily’s nourishing and wholesome food energized us and kept us going through long days and evenings. Roman and James taught us a new way of thinking and gave us complex tools to work with in the event of backcountry emergencies. Darren facilitated two community days that exploded boundaries and opened up the door for proactive and compassionate confrontation. The crews worked long hours on restoration projects, felt what it will be like to work with heavy tools, and experienced the simple joys of being outdoors morning, noon, and night. Sure there were intense moments through it all, but so much was gained and will continue to be gained through this process. Sitting back and reflecting on the past 17 days, the OPW project leader cannot help but feel satisfied with how awesome her crew is and how wonderful the greater DRC community will be this season.
October 9, 2011 •