Some of us don’t feel well today, just a general malaise. Coughing is getting worse for some, that is tiring.
Breakfast is quietly taken, not much appetite. There are a hearty few, as always.
The skies are darker than yesterday. Our tents and trailers are covered in the fine dust and ash.
Jeanne is complaining about not being able to keep the kitchen free of ash. She is a stickler for cleanliness and for that we are grateful. No one wants to be over-come with camp ‘runs’!
Today we go to 11,000 feet. Our highest trek yet.
Heads down we trudge our way to the top. Rocks roll underfoot and we stumble along. A few promising rock shelters are investigated. Nothing is noted.
The plotted survey map shows us to an open rocky area, a basin, that looks very promising.
Visibility is awful. We cannot see the next mountain. To the south, we see a dark blanket covering the forests, but no fires - strange.
The moraine and old glacial edge are identifiable on the map, as is a small lake. For most of us, this is our first look at a moraine and its attendant lake.
If the Sundance Paleo Indian model is correct we should find many artifacts of early man. We are excited.
On archaeological survey, we walk about 5-10 meters apart in a horizontal line and call out to each other when something is noticed.
Today the calls start right away. “Lithic!” “Chip stone!” “Proj point!” “Ground stone.” My, Oh My! We have hit the jackpot. Now to try to figure out what we have. Mapping and setting the site boundaries takes precedent. There is much scampering about and much light chatter. We settle down to the work at hand.
We know the moraine lake water is cold but we check it any way! At lakeside lunch, we talk about the moon and its landscape probably looking like this.
Moon? There has been no moon! We have been too tired and have gone to bed so early each night, we have not noticed nor have we looked up to the heavens.
We are camped in a light pollution free area; the heavens should twinkle for us. How strange we have not looked.
We decide we will stay awake later and check this out tonight.
There is a general feeling of unease amongst us. Chatter is not up to our usual. We know we are tired, that this altitude has slowed us down.
It has been a grueling 10 hour, 10 mile, 11,000 foot altitude, day for us. We are tired, happy with our finds and we are dirty!
Showers are needed. The branch holds, but again our solar water is barely tepid. Some grumble and gritch. We ask to have some water heated over the propane burners. Jeanne snaps at the request.
Jeanne is not happy at all. Ash is everywhere. She doesn’t feel well. She is coughing. In addition, this is our poorest meal to date.
We try to make Jeanne happy to no avail. She is talking of quitting. “Leaving right now,” she says. Lordy! That means we will have to cook! We talk her into staying at least for the night. We tell her, “We will do breakfast.” She agrees to sleep in. Straws are drawn as to who will be on duty. No one is happy.
Visibility in camp is worse than when we left. At 11,000 feet, we had not noticed the change as we were in a protected basin. And we were busy looking down at the ground, as trained archaeologists do! The dark blanket covering the forest to the south we had seen seemed far away.
We do stay up later to see the stars and the moon. There are none.
Where the bright white moon should be is an orange-ish, blurry blob. There are no stars. We are concerned.
There is much talk about the fire. Is it closing in on us? Maybe the Rangers have been trying to get to us and have been unable to do so. The PI did say visibility was bad for her but those Rangers are trained to go where none of us dare. Where are they? Have they forgotten we are here?
We are glad we are camped lakeside, as we know we can get into the water if the fire comes into camp.
We discuss leaving but then realize night visibility is too poor for us to go.
We wonder about the outside news.
Someone tries their car radio — static.
The car door slams!
to be continued