#111 10 Days of Archaeology: Day 6

The days are certainly getting longer.  We started out with about seven miles of survey in easy to moderately-crapy terrain.  The weather was nice in the morning starting at about 65 degrees F.  By early afternoon it was in the low 90s.  I still didn’t think it was that bad, though.  The wind was pretty much constant all day and that kept the temps to a manageable level.

Out here you have to force yourself to drink water sometimes.  On hot, windy, days it’s especially important.  As you burn calories and your body consumes water you seem to sweat very little due to the quick evaporation of the sweat and the wind.  You are sweating, though.  I went through my first three liters of water by about 1:30.  We were about 500 meters from the truck and I figured I’d just refill my water at that point.  We were going to have lunch then anyway.  I actually had two more liters in my pack that I was going to pour in my reservoir but I got lazy.  Even though we didn’t find any sites along that 500 meters, and it only took about 25 minutes, I still felt extremely parched by the time we reached the trucks.  Luckily, I had an icy cold Gatorade waiting in the cooler.  Nice.

We have some really challenging terrain out here and your quality of life can really be affected by the decisions made by your crew leaders as to how you are going to proceed with the survey.  I’ve certainly worked for people that would just blindly do north/south or east/west transects regardless of terrain or the time of day.  Out here, I would never send someone up a steep slope to check out the mesa or ridge line if it were past about noon and over 90 degrees.  That’s the kind of thing you save for first thing in the morning.  Also, why go up a steep hill when you can contour around it?  There’s no need to be a hero and charge up the hill causing fatigue and a lack of concern for the archaeology among the crew.  I guarantee that when you are trudging up a hill for the third or fourth time the only thing you are concentrating on is putting one foot in front of the other and not falling.  Archaeology is secondary.

So, instead of not thinking, contour the hill.  For those that work in the mid-west and are topographically challenged, I’ll explain what contouring means :) .  Contouring is when you line up on the side of a hill and walk at a constant elevation rather than a certain direction or heading.  Contouring can be detrimental if the terrain isn’t suitable for it.  For example, contouring can be dangerous in loose rock or on a talus slope.  Actually, walking up or down a talus slope is dangerous too.  Essentially, if you can make your life easier, you should.  Your crew will be less fatigued and you’ll get more work out of them.  

One thing I can’t stand is the crew chief, or crew member, that is more mountain goat than human and likes to show off that fact to others.  There is no gain in leaving everyone behind while you bound up the hills with wild abandon.  Good for you.  You are a great hiker.  I’m proud.  It’s akin to twenty-year-olds in these mining towns driving lifted, loud, 4x4 Fords.  They’re compensating for something.  Get over yourself and be respectful of others.  How about hanging back and providing some words of encouragement?  Think about it.

After work I somehow mustered the energy to go on a twenty mile bike ride.  The strong tail wind certainly helped.  I might try to get a final ride in tomorrow after work.  I do have to pack, though.  I might be quite tired because I’m going to try to get up at 3:50 to watch the partial eclipse of the moon.  Crazy.  I’ll let you know how it went tomorrow.

Check back tomorrow for Day 7.

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in the field.