Friday, July 7

Had a good day today that started by going into town for groceries, gas, and ice. And I did stop in my favorite coffee shop in Baker and had my usual chai latte; I know, broken record. Drove back to camp and did a couple or repairs, loaded up the truck with plaster, burlap, filled some 5-gallon buckets with water, etc. Also visited with some of my best friends while on the ranch – the cattle.

My friends while on the ranch!

Headed out to the dig we just got started at the end of last year’s dig season. l drove the trail used last year but after stopping at water & scouting it out on foot decided to not go this way. A ranch hand mentioned to me it has been wet recently and my path looked impassable for my vehicle. So I backtracked, came back through camp and went a longer, but hopefully drier route. It worked and was slow but I got there. Wanted to try to come up on the north side of the butte, instead of the south side we approached it from in 2022. In doing so I hoped we could drive very close if not right on top of the dig. What a pleasure it is to be able to drive very close to your dig site.

Hell Creek Formation exposures off in the distance
Looks fairly lush; often the grasses are turning brown and drying out by now.

Look at the pictures below and you’ll see I made it. Drove past the butte and got out to walk about to get my bearings and found I’d driven past my spot by a short bit. Turned around and decided to try to climb up a 20’ (?) or so climb on a pretty step hillside. Took 4-wheel drive in low setting and a couple of tries but I made it! Really a pleasure to not have to cart all our gear over hill and dale to get to the dig.

Truck right on top of dig site; can get no better than this.

Sure hope this dig turns out to be a significant specimen – you never know until it starts showing more and more bones. We will see. First I needed to set up the basic grid pattern markers for mapping needs then start the process of removing all the rock and dirt we buried the bones under last year. I re-trenched around the exterior of the dig area to give any rain water a place to go away from the fossils still in the ground. Then started carefully removing the overburden we piled on top of the plaster casted bones, on top of a tarp from last year. Plenty of green things growing here and there were there were none when we left last year. It was an all afternoon affair and we had success – most of the rock and dirt has now been removed, the tarp pulled up and lots of wet, thick, heavy mud removed!

Here’s what the site looks like now at the end of the day of working to get the dig ready to start a new season. A lot of work and now the fun can start again as we map then probe and dig outward looking for the next bone(s)!

Winter cast of burlap soaked in plaster now re-exposed to the light of day after a year of being hidden under dirt.
Doesn’t look like much but a good amount of effort expended in re-digging the ditches around the bones to funnel any rain water away and removing all the dirt & rock we piled on top of the bones last year.