14 December, 2003
Fair weather means fine explosions!
This morning we awoke to a day with some ground fog but the weather aloft was perfect. We were able to head out at 07:30 and spend 13 hours on site. We drilled, cut stone and blasted our way into the bone bed of the Cryolophosaurus. At the end of the day we were able to sling out over 600 pounds of fossil bearing rock under the belly of the 212 helicopter. The last load was a bit harrowing because we were loaded to the max and the helicopter lost the ground effect that it gets when hovering near the ground. The alarms sounded but the pilot was able to roll the aircraft off the side of the mountain and regain lift by lowering altitude and increasing ground speed, he had the situation in complete control. These problems would not be an issue if we were working at a lower altitude, but the formation is at 12,500 feet and the lift is compromised by the decrease in atmospheric density. That is the reason we can only take a couple of people and gear at a time to the site.
This journal is going to be short because we are expecting to have a repeat of the fine weather we experienced today and since we must make every minute count because we lost so much time to technical and weather problems we will be getting up early again tomorrow. A big plus that happened today is that we were able to get the bones that Peter Braddock found in the upper formation. Kevin Kruger worked like a madman cutting and chipping away, Nate Smith was at his side working tirelessly until the job was done. The rest of us worked on Cryolophosaurus's bones with Marty the blaster who set the final charge today. Tomorrow we will work exclusively on Cryo so we can get the maximum amount of bone out before we have to leave.
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