After looking at the mammoth task of recovering one large log, I decided to look around and see if maybe we could find something smaller to satisfy our hunting urges in case the recovery was a bust.
I walked the same bank I'd walked a month before, and found something that had been uncovered since then. It ended up being a nice chunk with lots of big areas of opal inclusions. They were on every side, but this one had the best color. Hard to tell from the photo, but it's very rainbow-y.
In my wandering, I also found a neat little piece with two branch nodules sticking out. It's covered with a bit of algae, so it's going to need some cleaning, but the shape is really neat and the color is pretty rich. It's going to look wonderful once it's all fixed up.
After I found that, I came back and Joe was still surveying the log. At that point, I noticed another piece of wood sticking out just at the water line, and started digging by hand, wrecking my nails. Oh well. That's the price you pay.
I kept digging. And digging. And digging. And using big splashes of water to remove bank mud and wash sediment downstream. And kept digging. What started out as a 4" piece of wood peeking out from the sandy bank ended up being this:
My size 6 1/2 boot on a piece not yet fully uncovered
We wrapped that one with a tow strap, hooked it to the come-along, and wrapped another tow strap around a fallen tree on the opposite bank. Sad to say, no matter where we wrapped the strap, there never seemed to be the right amount to use the come-along properly. Even as we were stretching everything tight, this huge thing wasn't moving even a little. It was at that point we realized more digging was necessary and we hadn't even thought about how to move it closer to the point where it would go up the bank near our entrance point. So, with that large disappointment, we moved on to the log we originally came to retrieve.
Again, my size 6 1/2 boot on the log
With this one, we made quite a bit of headway in the beginning. We got it to an area where we could pull it up on the bank but then we got stuck. It was at that point that we realized we were going to have to wrap a tow strap around an I-beam of a bridge, but it was completely encased in hard mud and roots. We worked on chipping away at it for awhile, but to no avail.
Tow straps in place before moving the log
There is one log specimen that's been completely uncovered and we know we can move it. There's that big light grey chunk and we still don't know exactly how big it is and we haven't been able to move it. Then there's the third log we still haven't had the chance to completely uncover and it looks significantly larger than the first two. That's going to be a job in itself just to unearth it. We got it partially done one day, then it rained and was covered up with sediment again, so that's what happened with that one.
Unfortunately, on this day, we had to admit defeat. We simply didn't have the means to do what we'd set out to accomplish. This is due in part to a lack of sufficient anchoring points, a treacherously steep and soft, sandy bank, and exhaustion from heat, sun, and physical exertion.
One challenge we are facing, also, is that every time we make a trip up or down the bank, a little bit more sand is displaced. I fear that if we have to keep making treks, it's going to be impossible to get down there at all. Basically, this means we have to find a way to be successful on our next trip. We're running out of summer and running out of ideas. We've considered enlisting the help of two very strong friends to see what they can do to help us out. It may mean just wrapping the pieces with the tow straps and tugging it all the way up, probably with the help of a come-along in some spots. We have a couple of other ideas as well.
My father suggested we just abandon the mission. He suggested that we were going to hurt ourselves trying to do it and it just isn't worth the physical injury. He's right on that point. However, if the pyramids could be built, Stonehenge assembled, and the Easter Island heads erected, there has to be a way for us to do this, even if we have to use some sort of ancient technology.
I'm not willing to give up just yet. There's also a part of me that thinks we should contact the local museum, who has the means to extract these gigantic specimens for their displays. I don't know if they will; it may be too much of a hassle for them, they may not think it's important enough, or who knows what other reasons they might have for not having an interest.
Some of y'all, I'm sure, are wondering why we're putting so much effort into something like this. Maybe you're wondering why we can't just leave well enough alone and leave them in their natural environment. I guess those are valid questions. It just seems like a huge shame to have amazing specimens remain in a location where they can't be appreciated. There were a variety of trees in the area during that time period, and having some scientists examine them and maybe learn something from them can never be a bad thing. If nothing else, being in a museum could give lots of people enjoyment and give them insight into our area's prehistoric history. Plus, they're just super-cool to look at.
So, no, we're not giving up yet, but we're certainly going to have to bring our best game if we expect to be successful. This last trip can't completely be called a failure, because we learned a lot from it. We know we must look at this recovery effort in a different way if we want to get the job done.
Hopefully, in my next update, I'll be showing you photos of what the pieces look like after they've been extracted from the waterway and in the back of the pickup.