I'm posting from a lovely little coffee shop in downtown Flagstaff, where most of my team is spending our AmeriCorps NCCC spring break. And let me tell you, it feels nice to do some relaxing in civilization.
We returned Tuesday, a day early, from our AMAZING experience in the Paria Canyon. Only 5 of us went, including my team leader, and it was both weird and nice to have a smaller group working on the project. While in the canyon, our job was to continue working to eradicate tamarisk along the Paria River's benches. Tamarisk is an invasive plant species that is not only very hard to get rid of, but it also takes all the water and such from native plants such as the willow, and pushes them out of the riparian ecosystem. Removing tamarisk will allow plants like the willow to flourish.
Our group hiked into the canyon the day after my birthday (on which we slept under the stars at the trailhead). It was a long hike (12 miles!) with heavy packs (or so we thought) but we made it to the Big Spring campsite before dark, setting up camp and collapsing until the next morning. The coolest thing about Big Spring was the namesake, a natural spring from which we got all our drinking water, no filtering needed! I'd say it's one of the coolest things I've experienced in NCCC so far. Some other cool things: quicksand (lots of it), hiking in the water every day (even though it was cold in the morning!), the stars, learning how to backpack and camp, surpassing the sponsor's goals for us, and making it back out alive (despite having to carry more stuff out because we didn't have horse packers).
I can't believe how beautiful of a place I get to work in every day, but I am happy to be spending some time in the real world. I'm staying in a local hostel (everyone is so helpful!) and my teammates and I are committed to eating as much delicious food as we can while we're here.
We will be returning to the House Rock Valley on the 9th to start our next hitch on the 10th. Team team will be camping on the Paria Plateau for 7 days doing road closures. Then at some point we'll move to another ranch home to finish out the project. In other news, I've got my TL interview with Denver on the 27th, so wish me luck!
I'm excited to keep working on this project, but also to find out where I'll be going for my last 10 weeks of service from May-July, back with my original team. We should find out in a few weeks.
That's all from me for now. Keep tumbling on!