Wild50 2014 Crew
Hitch 4 brought WildCorps to the Living Desert, a public botanical garden and zoo in Palm Desert, CA. The Living Desert is unique in that it is the only American zoo focused solely on the deserts of the world. Our crew was not there to look at the animals though – we had our work cut out for us on the Eisenhower Mountain trail, a popular wilderness trail behind the zoo that had suffered extensive damage from flash floods last year.
The bulk of our work involved building water bars, which are structures made out of rocks designed to divert water at controlled points on the trail. We also built retaining walls to support areas of trail that were washed out and filled in sections that had been eroded down to bare bedrock. The work was both physically and mentally engaging – we used our muscles to smash blocks of granite for crush but also exercised our minds to build water bars in just the right places!
In the evenings we camped amongst Pinyon Pine and Juniper trees 6,000 ft above the valley floor in the Santa Rosa Mountains. While the views at our high elevation campground were spectacular, we spent several nights hunkered down hoping that our tents wouldn’t blow away in the 50 mph winds and rain!
Towards the end of the hitch our crew joined some local volunteers for a Wild50 event in Palm Springs where we were trained to remove graffiti from rocks located on public lands. We learned how to use spray paint to blend graffiti into the landscape. It was impressive how this simple technique made such a large difference in restoring an area to what looks like its natural state.
Overall, hitch 4 was a great success. Our crew completed nearly 1.5 miles of trail maintenance, doing everything we could to protect the Eisenhower Trail from further erosion.
The whole crew would like give a huge thank you to Steve Harris, our BLM contact, whose support was invaluable in helping us to accomplish our goals. He also selflessly took us all out for Leslies birthday pizza lunch, which was incredibly kind of him. Thanks Steve!!
We also want to send our appreciation to the lovely people over at the Living Desert who keep it up and running. We couldn’t have completed the work without your help and support, and for that we want to send a big SCA thank you to Bert, Mel, Peter and the rest of their staff.
Stay tuned for our next hitch when our crew goes back to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve for a few days, and then wanders around Bighorn Mountain Wilderness doing Wilderness Monitoring!
-Crush Master Sledge (Matt), Ol’ Chapped Lips (Leslie), Pigpen (Jen), and Ol’ Trail Eyes (Leah)