Search and Rescue Report

July, 2007
4th Annual Western Oregon Campout
By Bill Sullivan

Despite forecasts calling for rain and cool temperatures during out outing, our intrepid crew members began arriving on the banks of the Nehalem River on Thursday the 19th. The evening was spent discussing the next morning's field trip to Keasey Formation localities, and the funky weather. Our weekend venue required wading shoes and gear for creek and river crossings and exploration. Oh yeah, don't forget your raingear!

Following a leisurely breakfast we piled into the rigs and headed to our first Keasey formation locality in search of the elusive bathybembix. These gastropods have beautiful iridescent preservation of the shells inner nacre and can range upwards of 50 to 60mm in size. Though frequently flattened by geologic processes, occasionally, fully volute specimens are located. After wading across the creek and clambering about the slopes our gang located some specimens for their happy finders. This locality has also yielded large specimens of well preserved dentalium (scaphopods) and nautiloid fragments in the past.

Returning to the rigs and a lunch break we headed 10 miles SW to another Keasey Frm. creek drainage to search for crab concretions. Via the fossil (coconut) wireless, we had also heard that fossil starfish had been found in this drainage. Over the bank we descended. Exploring down the drainage, light showers (and occasional immersion therapy in deeper pools) accompanied us on our quest. After finding a number of concretions in the lower end we went back upstream to scout out another segment of the creek. We climbed the bank out of the creek in the late afternoon and headed back to camp. Score: Starfish (1) Hunters (0) / Concretions(0) Hunters (We got em')

During dinner around the campfire that evening, we gloated over our good fortune with the rain and our fossil finds. We had barely been dampened, and we all found specimens. For dessert we decided to crack some concretion specimens to see what was inside. Now the fun begins! We have two schools of study for consideration? One school says: "smite the rock with a large hammer until it cleaves ", while the other school says: "let us bombard the rock with microwaves before immersion in ice water until it cleaves ". Now, either way, the specimen won't like it. But handling hot concretions and dodging flying fragments does provide a certain evening's entertainment.

The next morning after good hot coffee and breakfast, we headed to a quarry site near Jewell to search for concretions. For the first time we used an electric construction hammer to help remove matrix overburden. This tool does provide some good cardio work and everyone found specimens for the evening crack off. Late morning rain made helped us decide to move S up the Nehalem Valley. Please note: there is a small chance that the rain call was due to lack of volunteer operators to serve as ground between tool and generator.

After exploring a lower formation creek exposure without any finds we headed S to another locality noted for its crinoid specimens. River levels were a bit too high to access the lower criniod layer so we explored for concretions, echinoids and corals in the talus at the base of the bluff. I won't mention any names, but our Virginia member located 3 nice sea urchin (Salenia schencki) specimens plates. After a 2 hour look about, we headed upstream a mile to the small cow site to wade and search for crab concretions.

After a refreshing wade and some nice concretion finds we headed back to camp for fire, a change to dry gear and dinner. Following the barbeque and potluck pig-out we digressed to cracking and nuking concretions for entertainment and discussion. Some of us stayed up late discussing world events, fossils, mates, philosophy and more.

Rain was forecast for the wee morning hours, so a few of the crew tossed cots and bags into the garage and a couple of the members retreated to the sun room for shelter. The next morning most of us headed to the Gray's River in SW WA a drainage exposing Lincoln Creek wade and search for crab concretions. Over an inch of rain during the night had turned the river turbid so our search and rescue mission did not yield a large number of specimens. Most of the crew headed homeward that afternoon but a few returned to my place to depart on Monday. Around the fire that night we agreed the conditions had been excellent for collecting with cool temperatures little rain during the daylight hours.

Members took home experience, fossils and memories of great camaraderie.

NW Campout Members: Andrew Bland, Andrew Berkholtz, Tim Fisher, Steve Hetrick, Rick & Peg Johnson, Larry Purchase, Garrett Romaine, Michael Santino, Jim Sheirbeck, Bill Sullivan, and Bruce Thiel

Trip Pictures