Friday, January 3, 2020

Day 30: The Republic Zero--fossil hunting!

August 14:  Today would be my first zero day in nearly two weeks--and I was glad to have it! I needed a break! The trail has been tough.

During that time, Gypsy had sent me an email asking if I'd be interested in hiking with him through the Pasayten Wilderness--a vast, remote location coming up on the trail. He had sent the email a week earlier, but to an email address that I only check when I'm online with my laptop so I hadn't received it until now. I was thrilled at the opportunity to have company on my hike and emailed him back yes--please join me! I wasn't sure exactly when I'd reach that area, but I told him that I was in Republic and gave a rough ETA of when I'd be in Oroville--the last trail town before I would enter the wilderness area. I hoped it would work out.

In the meantime, I had Amanda to keep me company in Republic and we spent the morning... hiking. Yes, on my day off, I went hiking. But it was a short walk on the Ferry County Rail Trail without a heavy pack. We did it first thing in the morning because temperatures were supposed to grow uncomfortably warm by the late afternoon--especially at the relatively low elevation of Republic.

Amanda also brought my fancy camera back which I immediately put to use snapping photos of turtles on a log. They were gorgeous photos! Or rather, they could have been gorgeous photos. I forgot to put a memory card in the camera and--as it turned out--not a single one of those photos was actually recorded. Agh! I had taken the memory card out of the camera before I mailed it--just in case the camera got lost or stolen in the mail; the camera could be replaced but the photos were priceless! So I popped out the SD card and carried it with me the whole time, not trusting it to the US post office. And... I forgot I had done that when I got the camera back and started snapping photos without the SD card in it. Oops!

After realizing my mistake, I put the SD card back in and continued snapping photos, but the turtles had jumped into the water by then. I got some turtle photos later when a couple of them climbed back up on the logs, but they weren't nearly as nice the photos I thought I had gotten earlier when the turtles were closer. I was disappointed!

This turtle wasn't as near or impressive as the photos I didn't get!

There was also a bald eagle flying around the lake so I snapped a few shots of him, but I wasn't as quick with my camera as I'd have preferred because I only got my camera out and ready after the bird had flown some distance away from us. But at least with the zoom lens, I could still get a photo!

Bald eagle!

Afterward, we headed back into town and went to the Stonerose fossil site. This area, 50 million years ago, was part of a large lake system and layers of sediment built up in the lakebed. Over time, they turned into sedimentary rocks--shale and sandstone. The shale splits apart like pages in a book where one can find insects, leaves, fish and flowers that sank into the water to become fossils.

And the public--like us!--are allowed to hunt the fossils! There are some rules, though. We have to show our finds to the employees at the interpretive center to identify our finds and, if it's something especially interesting, they can keep it. But otherwise, we can keep up to three of our finds each day for ourselves. If we find more than three, they'll keep it to provide to schools or museums or such for educational purposes.

But in a nutshell, we can look for fossils--and keep some of our discoveries!

So we paid the necessary fee and they provided the chisels for us to hunt for fossils. The dig site is a short walk away, so we walked over. A few people were already there digging at various locations, and Amanda and I joined the hunt.

Time to dig for fossils!

The work was hot and sweaty. It was about noon and the sun beat mercilessly on the exposed rock face. We picked away at the rocks for a half hour or so, not finding anything or finding small dots in the rock that we weren't sure if it was a fossil or a defect in the rock. I found it a little discouraging, but then Amanda finally found a definitive, definitely-a-fossil in the rock.

And eventually, I found one as well. My find was a small one, maybe the size of a fingernail, but it was clearly a fossil. Trying to get it out of the cliff face without breaking it was the hard part!

My first fossil fine of the day. If I hadn't chipped the corner of this slab, I might have missed it entirely! It was kind of humbling to the be the first person to ever see this 50 million year old fossil! For 50 million years, this fossil lay in the rock waiting for my arrival!

We ended up spending an hour or two digging around the rocks. I quit after finding two fossils--I might have continued until I found three but it was just so miserably hot out. Amanda kept going at it, though, and I relaxed under a covered table and bench reading my Kindle until Amanda got tired of the fossil hunt as well. She was certainly enthralled by the hunt!

She ended the day with five or six fossils or so and said she would have kept going except that I was clearly done with it. I didn't see the sense in finding more than 3 fossils, though--the interpretive center would just keep the extras anyhow! I guess Amanda wanted more fossils to choose from to keep. She'd pick her favorite three to keep. She said she might go back and do some more fossil hunting when I was back on the trail hiking.

Amanda, hard at work uncovering 50-million-year-old fossils.

Afterwards, we headed to the Knotty Pine for lunch where I ordered the Western Burger with a side salad.

And the rest of the afternoon and evening I spent working on Straw Hat's website. They had quite a bit of work they wanted me to do, some of which was time sensitive, so I sat down with my laptop and got a lot of work done.

And that was it. A nice day, all-in-all! =)

Lunch at the Knotty Pine
This was kind of funny and somewhat sad at the same time. Allegedly 74% of the people in eastern Washington want to secede from Washington state to form the new state of "Liberty". (I'd take the 74% number with a huge grain of salt--I'd definitely fact check it before believing it! The flyer, obviously, has a lot of biases.) But whoever graffitied it by writing "Rollerblading sodomite pedophiles" on Western Washington and "godly people" on the eastern side aren't helping their cause. I'm pretty sure that most of the sodomite pedophiles have been driven into Eastern Washington where they can live without neighborhood vigilantes protesting around their homes and the only law that people need is a gun on their hip. (Before slamming me for that, it totally a joke!) Although I do think splitting up states into smaller areas is not going to going to solve problems.
My second fossil find of the day.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So, which fossils did you and Amanda go home with?