Search and Rescue Report
8/18/2006 to 8/20/2006
|Several times each year we venture into this canyon and rescue various fossils from the Lincoln Creek Formation. It is by far one of the toughest trips we take and are usually limited to day trips. Once and awhile we make it a multi day adventure and this was one of those trips. In order to get to the fossil bearing exposures one must first hike, or more accurately, bushwhack their way down through 300 yards of small scrub brush to the creek. Once there the fun really begins. With loaded up backpacks it's a 2+ hour creek hike to the location we camp. Since most know of the effort needed for this trip only Bill, Andy, and myself signed up for it. I departed Friday evening around 4pm and hooked up with Bill and Andy. I packed light for this trip in anticipation of bringing back fossils. I've put in my time sitting on logs and rocks trying to get comfortable so I did bring a camp chair along as a luxury item.
The first leg of the trip was the 300 yard bushwhack to the creek. You'd think it would be fairly easy as it's down hill but by the time I got to the creek I thought I was going to pass out from exhaustion. In order to keep weight down I brought along some sandals for around camp and wore my wading shoes. They're a real necessity for hiking creeks but let me tell you they're like waxed up skis on snow when trying to walk on dry fir needles, which made the 300 yards a difficult one.
The next obstacle on our journey was a monster log jam and with narrow canyon walls there's no way around it. It's about 100 feet over the log jam and in some cases you're 20' off the ground trying to balance while crossing. Backpacks make it that much tougher and luckily we all made it.
Since it was getting late we picked up the pace in order to get to camp before nightfall. We navigated a few waterfalls and primed ourselves for the last real challenge... the big waterfalls. We know this falls as Steve Falls as Steve can't seem to get down it without falling into the pool at the bottom. It's only navigable in late summer when the water level is down. We brought along a rope to assist and after lowering the backpacks we were on our way again.
We reached camp at dusk and were surprised to see that beavers had dropped 2 large cottonwood trees right into the pool in front of camp. Bill's wanted to dive the pool in search of concretions and brought along a dive mask and fins but the trees sitting right on top that wasn't going to happen on this trip.
Camp was soon setup and dinner cooking. Man it sure was nice to have a chair to sit in and well worth the effort to pack in.
Saturday morning we had a few cups of coffee then headed out. We decided to collect downstream from camp and soon came upon a huge landslide that must have occurred the last winter. It went up the hillside at least 200 feet and was as wide. I hiked about half way up and found several concretions that I loaded in my pack. After making my way across it we continued down stream where more concretions where found as float in the creek. After a few hours or so of collecting we headed back to camp. I rounded up about 20 concretions that I popped open in camp. I found few poorly preserved Ranina crabs, and a gastropod, but most of the concretion I picked up from the slide were blanks.
After a quick lunch we collected up stream from camp. The concretions that are found are what we call reworked concretions and the size can be as large as a basketball and even bigger. I'm sure some weigh over 80 lbs and Andy brought along a sledge hammer to help crack them. Once they're opened one will usually find a smaller concretion in the center and this is where the fossil will be found.
Andy and Bill did well upstream finding a few nice Ranina crab specimens. Since I wasn't as lucky I decided to head back down stream and investigate the slide a little more.
This time I made it up to the top of the slide and was rewarded by finding a very nice solen (razor clam) that included both valves. It wasn't concreted but rather embedded in the matrix and with a little work I had it out safely. Even though it wasn't a crab it was a real prize for me. Not often are they found complete and as in good condition as this was. I spend another few hours on the slide and popped open a few dozen concretions but didn't come away with much.
There wasn't much energy around camp Sunday morning and I'm sure it was the reluctance of packing up and thinking ahead to the hike out. I was hiking out light and only had about 10 additional pounds of rock to carry. Andy, on the other hand, had a backpack full of rock, which must have weighed 75 lbs. On top of that he had a small gunny sack full of more rock that he planned on carrying in his arms.
We made our way back slowly and stopped at several locations to rest and peck around for fossils. One site that I was interested in produced a nice M. triangulum crab in the past. I collected a few small concretions and each one contained a very small M. triangulum crab. They where some of the smallest of the species I've found and one wasn't much more that 3/8ths of and inch across the carapace.
After 3 hours of hiking we were ready for the last climb out of the creek… back up the hill. We took it slow and after an hour of climbing we were back at the vehicles. It was a real tough trip but it's one of my favorites.
|©2004 NARG - North America Research Group