By Stephen Hennek
Field school can be a very rough place at times. Last night was no exception; gale force winds came and went through the night as we enjoyed a few burning embers around the fire. At one point the wind blew hard enough to take down the tent that we used to store our food. In our struggle to save it, nylon chairs were singed after being blown into the fire and cups of various liquids were hurled across the campsite. After a rough night of sleep for many of us, we were rewarded by waking up to a beautiful day. After a quick breakfast we had a meeting to share our thoughts on our first few days of field school as well as our focuses for future aspirations for research questions we will address this summer. Dusty talked about the prehistory of the area and how it has mostly been recorded as an area where the indigenous inhabitants exploited the benefits of the resident elk population. So far this has been a hard concept to swallow because most of the site we have surveyed contained subsistent materials, such as hopper stones imprinted with cupules and hand stones. Few lithic scatters have been found, which does not coincide with the recorded history of the area. Dusty concluded the meeting by gifting us our first Marshaltown trowels (a pivotal moment for any aspiring archaeologist).
Day three was spent once again at site CA-SCL-504 finishing up our site maps as well as learning to describe ground stone artifacts, and filling out primary record forms and archeological site records. We spent our lunch enjoying the warm sun, a cool creek, and a few PB&J sandwiches. After lunch we headed to the sites we will be excavating in the weeks to come. Although Annamarie’s driving abilities gave us a few scares we somehow made it to our destination in one piece. Kolin entertained us with his mountain goat finesse as he climbed rock outcroppings and pointed out rattlesnakes that we should probably avoid; whether or not he did is a different matter. After a long day of hiking and playing in the dirt a few of us enjoyed a dip in the local watering hole. The water snakes were not present this time around but Kolin was able to use his toe as bait for the resident fish. Tomorrow will complete out first week of field school, thanks to Dusty and the rest of the crew chiefs, our lives are well on their way to be left in ruins.