Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Sands of Time

Remember that canoe trip I mentioned? That was a miserable failure. Bob gave us a rough idea of where the path was and we completely failed to find it, got ransacked by the most mosquitoes I have ever had to contend with, and almost got lost. Luckily, the sun acted as guide to tell us what direction to go.

To wash away the defeat, a trip to the river was necessary. The Yukon River carries so much silt that it hisses as it weaves by. Still it cannot have made me filthier than a day of digging and a considerable amount of time could be spent in the water as it was pleasantly warm.

I spent some time finishing our first unit--making it through 10cm of the sterile sands to ensure that they were indeed sterile (I found only one paper thin flake at the very top of this layer) before moving on to help Lisa and Thomas in the unit they had started adjacent to our original 2011-25 unit. This worked out quite nicely for me as digging the sands was easy and fun (I was fulfilling childhood dreams of digging to China) and the annoying work of cutting through the matted duff layer was finished by Lisa and Thomas before I joined them. Win-win-(win?).

The new unit was empty until about 10-15cm down when flakes and bones and a flake/bone feature and a giant chopper and many other things were found. Unfortunately, our time at the David Site was cut a bit short. Lisa was much more upset than me, as she had just found the largest, most complete bone thus far at the site (with spiral fracturing too) but only part of it as the other part was stuck in the wall and had to be left unexcavated.

A group of us also hiked to the top of the Calico Bluffs in one of our evenings. Difficult because of the sliding colluvium on the steep slope, but of course the struggle became worth it when the height provided a most spectacular sight.

So, we broke another camp, loaded Andy's boats one more (he was very thoughtful and drifted around the bluffs so we could see them from river level) and headed back to Eagle. As Pawel, Norm, and Niki rearranged our cargo for the trek to Dawson, Bob took us to do some shovel testing across the river.

Shovel testing is about as fun as it sounds. Digging a 60m diameter, 1 m deep hole is only fun for so long. The area we were in was a Swedish homesteader's field that he had fertilized with fish bones in the early 1900's so we found fish bones rather than stone tools though both were anticipated. Colin, who I was working with finally uniting team Chrisniuk, knew what king salmon vertebrae look like. I did not. I would have thrown the small piece from our screen to the ground thinking it was a weird looking piece of root, which seems very stupid in hindsight.

Once we were done our test pits, goodbyes were said to Bob, his wife Pam, his son Sam, his employee Christine, and his other employee that had been our teacher first, PhD Michelle.

And on to the same random campground we had stayed at on the way to Eagle (not so random now), some sleep, and forward to Dawson City. 

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