Friday, 7/30

The land and trails were completely dry this morning. I heard on the local radio station that the area only received 4/100’s of an inch of water all day yesterday. There’s an expression around here that when it rains it often rains so little that “If you walk sideways no drops will hit you since they only fall about every 8 inches!” Yesterday’s rain didn’t amount to much, for sure.

We elected to go out and prospect some today. We walked an area on the ranch I affectionately call “Wood Alley” because of all the petrified and agatitized wood specimens I seem to find eroding out in this fairly distinct & defined area. Each time (each year) I go back to this area I see more & different pieces of wood show themselves at the surface. Very cool and hard for my addictive side to resist adding a couple of new pieces to my pack while walking through. Ej found a neat small piece that is unmistakably wood and clearly solid rock. It’s both. There’s no wood left but the wood grains and patterns and knotholes clearly were replaced by minerals that not show a perfect replica of the piece of wood it used to be. Here’s a photo of a piece I carried back to the truck today-

We also spent a good amount of time working precipitously on the very highly sloped side of a butte about 100 feet up above the flat ground below. It was a little awkward, to say the least. We made some footholds with our picks then eventually some small areas we could squeeze our bottoms into so we could work on a weathered bit of bone sticking out. I wasn’t sure it would amount to anything but wanted to explore back into the hillside to find out. The half an hour or 45 minute project to determine if anything worth exploring were there turned into an all our effort to dig back about 3 feet horizontally into the hill and removing the rock & hard, hard clay above the piece. For each amount we dug back we had to stop and remove all above; ended up removing the hill above to a depth of about 3 feet. Every inch back is several more inches above that have to be removed so you’re not trying to expose the fossil like it’s in a cave. I’m not sure, but it looks like a piece/fragment of the frill (the huge bone “shield” behind the head) from a triceratops. Very neat. One goal I’ve whispered to my self for this season is to find a substantial amount of a triceratops; maybe this is it?!? Here are a couple photos of the specimen and a shot to try to show where the site is in comparison the the level ground below –

We think we’ve exposed the full piece (first of many?) and wrapped the top of it in foil then weighed it down with rock to protect it overnight. We left this big piece of bone for another day to carry water and plaster and burlap and other tools up to this site to put the fossil in a plaster field jacket for safe removal. We called it a day and went back to camp to clean up, rest and then head over time the neighboring small town of Marmath, NDakota for a nice meal at their one (gourmet and very nice) restaurant in town. PastTime. The temperature has cooled down and looks like it will be a comfortable night to sleep tonight.

Ej up on the butte digging on a piece of triceratops (maybe?) frill.

Frill is the big boney shield behind a triceratops’ head that protects its neck & head.