The GIPs of Dinosaur National Monument were covered in five days of sand and sweat, stuffing our faces with cheeseburgers and milkshakes in the back of a sauropod-clad Sinclair gas station. It was the first meal that Elliott Smith, Marie Jimenez and I had eaten since breakfast on the Green River, which hadn’t actually been that long ago, but felt like it after the hard work of helping the Weed Warriors of Dinosaur National Monument get three rafts and a heavy job’s worth of tamarisk-pulling equipment out of the water and back into storage.
Showering felt strangely wrong.
Showering felt strangely wrong. I got used to it again over the course of the week, along with being indoors and having phone service.
I had 79 emails. One of them was from my dad. He’d rediscovered a roll of photos from my last visit to Dinosaur National Monument, on a family road trip in 1997. My favorite featured the iconic Stegosaurus statue from outside the Quarry Visitors Center, now painted a stoic black and white. In 1997 it struck a more imposing figure in all primaries.
It was mostly archiving for the remainder of the week. I scanned half a book of administrative memos and exhibit plans from 1936-53, read up on Dinosaur National Monument’s geologic column, and took a short trip to the Colorado side of the park to drop off our dry bags (borrowed for the river) at the Resource Management building.
Saturday morning we headed for the Jones Hole trail. A fish hatchery greeted us at the trail head. Rows of long rectangular ponds splashed with trout under the noon sun.
From there, the trail loosely followed Jones Hole Creek as it wound through the Madison and Lodore formations to the Green River. We hiked it all the way down.
Right before the clear water of Jones Hole Creek spills into the wide, muddy Green, there is a nearly-still pool where trout swim and fishermen watch them eagerly. The pool is formed by a beaver dam that spans the creek. Telltale stumps, ending in chew-marked points, dot the narrow beach. Despite our days pulling invasive tamarisk the week before, we couldn’t help admiring one in bloom hanging over the dam.
On the hike back, we made a detour to Ely’s Waterfall, where a small stream has carved a path through limestone that leads to an 8 or 9 foot drop. It was easy to climb, and peaceful at the top. The near-freezing stream felt and looked impossibly pure in its miniature limestone canyon.
We made it back to the bunkhouse before dark and I spent the night writing.
grab some large rocks, jam the rocks into the prairie dog holes, jam them harder into the holes with a big iron rod, then kick dirt over the rock-filled holes
Trinity, the fourth and last GIP expected for the summer, arrived the next day while we were filling prairie dog holes. As entertaining as the burrowing rodents are, their habit of digging underneath houses has to be discouraged in order to keep said houses from collapsing. The process is more or less: grab some large rocks, jam the rocks into the prairie dog holes, jam them harder into the holes with a big iron rod, then kick dirt over the rock-filled holes to level them out. Ideally, the prairie dogs will dig their replacement holes increasingly farther away from the foundation of the bunkhouse as we keep doing this, and no one (primate or rodent) gets hurt. We’ll see what happens.
After Trinity chose a bed and unpacked, we showed her around the Quarry Visitors Center and the Exhibit Hall. It was her first time seeing the wall of bones at Carnegie Quarry. Then we hiked back to the housing area along the fossil discovery trail, and that was a first for the rest of us, too.
The week after, just wrapping up as I write this, held many more firsts.