Saturday July 28th
After two and a half days of driving we finally arrived at ground zero—the drab grey, stark bare badlands of the Mussentuchit Member (pronounced “musn’t touch it”) of the Cedar Mountain Formation. We exited the highway and began trekking along the jeep trail searching for a campsite near uncharted areas of outcrop. Forty-five minutes later we found our path blocked by a mostly dried up river channel. Unfortunately “mostly” dry out here isn’t often dry enough. The mud that remained was impassable, akin to driving on olive oil.
With that we turned back and tried a different route. Luckily we found a fantastic campsite a little while later.
We had just hopped out of the vehicles and begun unpacking our gear when the wind kicked up… and I mean kicked up. We scrambled to unpack our kitchen shelters but raising the tents in the wind was a struggle, even for six people. Barely had we gotten those up and staked when the rain started. Fearing several hours of rain, we ran around like ants raising our personal tents, some with more success than others.
Damp, stressed, and exhausted we clambered under the kitchen shelters to wait out the rain. We had planned a special dinner of fry bread tacos and I wasn’t ready to give up so I tried frying the dough in the rain. Bad idea. I whipped out a few fry breads and then the pan lit up in flames. After that we got smart and held up a plastic bin top over the pan to keep the rain out.
Inaugural field dinner in our bellies we decided to prospect the hill behind our camp. I figured it would be a while before I had some bone to show the students and volunteers, but I was wrong. We hit bone right at the bottom of the hillside. Tracing it up the hill we tried to determine the source. That is, until the thunder…