More Setting the Scene: Looking for Fossils and Collecting Data in the Paleo “Candy Store”

In the Field 2014


Photo Jul 18, 2 10 23 PM oneFrom here we drop down over the ridge. This is the extreme part. Over the ridge is what I am guessing is an 120ish degree slope that is a mixture of gravel and rocks, sprinkled with boulders that, in this wet weather, is sticky and slippery and slide“ie”. It is mostly made up of what is called scree. I have to drop down over the ridge or I miss the action. I do not want to miss the action.

Once we get down the initial drop, we make our way across one section toward another lower ridge and into a second section.

Photo Jul 15, 1 24 18 PM two Photo Jul 15, 1 24 27 PM three

The slope angles throughout this area in which we are hiking/climbing vary, and the terrain is still a combo of scree and bigger rocks and boulders. There are spots that level out to more manageable, less precarious 130-150 degrees, and like I mentioned before, some boulders have a flat edge good for a place to sit or a good foothold. This drop takes us, what I guess is, another 1000-2000 feet back down as we wander around the slope looking, finding and documenting dinosaur tracks. This is our destination and we spend several hours here. It is here in the midst of all these rocks that Tony, Yoshi find their treasure. Tony refers to it as a paleo candy store.

Photo Jul 18, 3 35 17 PM four Photo Jul 15, 2 42 58 PM five Photo Jul 15, 1 59 13 PM eight
Photo Jul 15, 1 58 36 PM nine Photo Jul 15, 1 41 32 PM seven Photo Jul 15, 1 31 56 PM six

When we are done for the day, (Tony makes that call) we reverse the hike starting with the climb back up the scree-filled rock face. I think going down might be easier but up or down it is slick and I have a few bruises to show for my prowess (or lack thereof). It is in this area last year that Yoshi fell and broke a rib. So it is not an area to toy with.

All in all an average day in the field from the start of the hike to the end of the hike is about 8-10 hours long. Once you add the roundtrip drive between the apartment in park headquarters to the trailhead we are out for about 10-12 hours. These guys, Tony, Yoshi and Paul, are a tight team of dedicated, passionate, paleontology, geology machines and they mean business. I am honored to be allowed to go along. I hope you enjoyed the trip too.

Posted from Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, United States.