There are lots of unpredictable things that arise in fieldwork… For example, you never know how much bone is hiding or not hiding in the hillside until you spend a week digging a big hole to find out. You never really know what you’ve collected until it has been painstakingly prepared out of the rock back in the lab, a process that can take years. And, you never know how crew dynamics are going to go when you are living with a dozen people in a camp for a month. But the most dynamic aspect to fieldwork is undoubtedly the weather, which can sweep over you in an instant and change everything.
We can see nearly a hundred miles in some directions from where we are perched atop the western slope of the San Raphael Swell. So often you can watch the weather roll in and wonder if it is going to hit you or some other poor fellow nearby.
So far we watch a nighttime lightening storm pummel the town of Price, Utah, many, many miles away. Spectacular to see from the dry safety of our camp, lightening struck every few seconds.
Yesterday we had persistent small rain clouds causing havoc at our northern sites. I was excavating at Fortunate Son when they suddenly struck. It’s always a gamble… sit at the site and wait out the rain for 10 minutes? collect your things and hide under a rock? decisions, decisions. I sat through a couple of downpours but the air started to get colder so I found a sandstone boulder leaning to the northwest to hunch under. All was fine at first as the rain was coming straight down and I had a sliver of dry ground. Then, the wind kicked up and the rain blew in horizontally rendering my rock shelter a bit silly. Even better, not a few seconds later the rain turned to hail stones, which blasted me against my rock, as if I was in a pellet gun fight with Mother Nature.
Not five minutes later and the show was over. Mother Nature, you win again.