This morning we are left with two muddy ATVs and a bunch of dripping gear.
This afternoon we were hit by a massive thunderstorm. I was happily scampering about on the edge of a road cut when Bucky came pealing down the road shouting that the sky was falling (literally) and we better get off the mountain. We loaded the gear, I jumped on the back and we took off. Within seconds the skies opened and we were pelted with sheets of rain, high winds, and 10 minutes later… pea sized hail. unbelievable. Bucky did a stellar job, especially because we were loaded up with three people now that we are short one ATV. I took a backseat on this one, being the lightest to sit over the axle. This worked out well because I was able to take an awesome video of the lunatic ride down the mountain in the storm.
I will upload the video later but here are some photos.
Made it across the river.
The scariest part–the hill that where our crewmember flipped his ATV last week. The hill is made of Mancos Shale, a rock that was deposited when a shallow seaway covered this area around 90 million years ago. When this stuff gets wet, it can be very slick.
This is one of the reasons we were racing down the mountain, to get across this hill before it became impassable. In the end we all made it ok. This morning we head back up the mountain to put plaster caps on the bones we found. Collecting them will have to wait until next year!
We were into some pretty heavy riding today. One of our crew lost control of his ATV and rolled it down a very large hill and into the river. He was pinned under for at least one roll, but the good news is that he escaped with minor injuries–mostly bruising–no breaks. Tomorrow we have to figure out how to salvage the ATV (if possible). Stay tuned.
The field team reports that it has been wicked cold on the plateau in southern Utah for the first part of their trip. I thought they were just exaggerating until I received this photo yesterday.
I guess it really is 20 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Believe it or not, these guys have been sleeping outside in this, no tents. Now that’s dedication!
At least it hasn’t all been bad. Aside from the stunning views they have been afforded so far, Bucky and the team had a close encounter, with some elusive bighorn sheep. Bighorn sheep populations were once a mainstay for Utah natives, but populations declined dramatically mid-century, and by the 60’s it was though that the species was extinct in Utah. The culprit was thought to be diseases carried by domestic sheep. Later biologists located the sheep in some of the most “inaccessible, most hostile country in Utah” according to the Deseret News.
Yeah, we know how they feel.
Bucky and the team are out looking for dinosaurs and other ancient animals as we speak. Cell phone reception is pretty spotty in the area they are currently prospecting. Footholds are pretty spotty too, it would seem.
Ask any paleontologist how many times they have gotten themselves stuck, clinging for their life on some rock or scraggy near vertical hillside covered in gravel and they will just laugh. Usually a day doesn’t go by when I gaze up to the top of a cliff, sigh, and say to myself… ugh, I have to go up there? It’s all part of the job!
Well, it’s that time.
End of Expedition time.
Since we started with a “before” shot. We figured we’d post the “after” shot.
Here’s the crew after three weeks without a shower. Ugh.
Calling the route to the Crystal Geyser Quarry a “road” is a bit like calling a pint of ice cream a “snack”.
The last big hurdle we hit when driving to the campsite is a canyon floored with a sandstone staircase.
It’s a bit of a nasty climb for our suburbans so one evening we decided to fight back.
A few sledges a bad attitude and we were on it.