The Tent Summer: Life in a Conservation Corps

I know it’s been a while since I last posted.  The blog was neglected over the summer due to a lack of internet access, but now I think it’s time I redeemed myself.

The summer of 2013 was far and away the best summer of my life.  I was a member of the Ely Roving Trail Crew through the Nevada Conservation Corps (an Americorps program), and the ten (later eleven) of us worked from 7 AM to 5:30 PM for eight day periods called “hitches.”  We worked six of these hitches, each followed by a six-day break.  We built something like 10 miles of trail over the course of the summer, and we are all extremely proud!  We cooked our meals together, slept outside, and were as close as family (and sometimes just as dysfunctional).

During our breaks, my crewmates and I traveled all over the Southwest.  I spent time in California, Nevada (of course), Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana, and every day was an adventure.

My crew on the final day of our final hitch:

DSC_0582

Since we were working primarily on BLM land and in Wilderness areas, we shared our space (sometimes a little too closely) with many kinds of wildlife, including deer, elk, antelope, wild horses, lizards, scorpions, and snakes.

DSC_0091

During the summer, Oliver drove out to see me and we took a trip to Great Basin National Park, a beautiful alpine paradise in the middle of the Great Basin Desert.  It is also the only FREE national park, no entry fee required.  We climbed Mt. Wheeler, with a peak of 13,063 feet!

Here we are at the top:

DSC_0234

And it was totally worth the 3,000 foot climb up.  Here is a photo of the view to the East, featuring neighboring Jeff Davis Peak:

DSC_0236

Not only did I reach the highest elevation I have ever been to, but there were many other firsts this summer as well.  One night in July our crew evacuated our work site due to a wildfire.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, but wildfires make the sun glow bright red and the whole sky orange.

DSC_0268

A few members of my crew also saw the salt flats of Utah, a unique and unearthly landscape:

DSC_0302

We hiked nearly twenty-one miles during an overnight trip in the Grand Tetons, which is not only bear country but also experiences daily thunderstorms (as we learned on our trip).  I didn’t bring my camera while backpacking (too heavy), but here are those beautiful mountains from afar:

DSC_0315

A few of us went to Lake Tahoe during one of our breaks, and it was so beautiful that I went back twice more during the summer.  The water is DAMN cold, but don’t think that stopped us!

DSC_0091

All in all, the summer of 2013 was an experience I will cherish for a lifetime.  For anyone reading this who is considering working with the Nevada Conservation Corps, or any other Conservation Corps, take a chance!  You will get dirty and sore and tired, but that just means you’ll get stronger and more rugged! I am proud to wear the Americorps logo and to share my stories with others.

DSC_0051

I may have called this post “The Tent Summer,” but more nights than not, I slept under the stars.  That may be what I miss most about NCC life, aside from my crewmates.  There is nothing better than falling asleep in a cozy sleeping bag after a long, hard day of work.

DSC_0079

DSC_0084

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read about my experience!  It was truly incredible, and I am glad to be able to share it.

Until next time,

Heather

Advertisements

4 responses to “The Tent Summer: Life in a Conservation Corps

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s