Thurs, 7/7 1st Day Out

Rained last night so the wet ground just got wetter. Heard a forecast for chance of thunderstorms this afternoon around 2-3pm so I relaxed around camp, did a few set up chores (napped!) and packed a sandwich and headed into town. Tried lunch lakeside on a bench at Lake Baker but some little swarming gnats or something had other ideas. Gobbled my sandwich and stopped in the local coffee shop. Got my chai and did some email catch up and relaxed and read a little. Turns out it did not rain and stayed slightly cloudy with classic Montana blue skies behind the white puffs.

Lake Baker lunch spot right in town

Since it didn’t rain I headed back to camp to grab my gear and give the ranch trails a try. Very, very difficult, if not impassable, trails are wet. I drove the truck out very carefully on known pathways and made it to a nearby exposed badland area. The low spots were serious and not fun but I made it okay. I walked about and searched (prospected) for any sign of fossils poking out. Just by happenstance I came upon a small knob hill I’d not ever walked before and started finding a variety of micro fossils (miscellaneous small items only found by crouching low or getting on hands and knees). Found some cool small items such as crocodile scutes (like fish scales but under the skin of ancient crocs), some tiny little vertebrae, a few fractured pieces of triceratops teeth, dermal (skull) bone from lizard-like animals and a small theropod claw (my favorite piece for the day). Here’s a photo of the finds – can you ID items from my description?

Misc “micro” fossils found today

Here’s a classic Steve shot of a local flowering plant. This area is normally desert-like but with all the recent rains the grass is really growing. And I’m drawn to the flowering plants that still make it even in the heat and typical dry environment. A cactus in bloom caught my eye. The flower is cool and the thorns a reminder to watch your hands and bum when crouching down to examine something; almost always a thorny something is awaiting you.

Check out the serious spikes on this cactus.

I started out in the field fairly late and ended up heading back to camp around 8pm. The trouble with that is, 8pm is special photo time with the evening light making things really glow. Here are a few shots from the area I was hunting in as I got ready to leave.

Typical butte sticking up from the grassland below.
Area where the micro fossils were found
From my truck on the way back to camp; fantastic green grasses and special clouds forming on the horizon.