Black River Fossils Lee Creek Collecting Trip Spring 2009
I descended the ramp with a huge grin. All our guys could hunt! 8 Black River Fossils members met up to flex our collecting muscles, but up until about an hour before, I wasn't even sure we would be allowed access. Saturday was Black River Fossils' day to hunt the PCS mine, and fate had once again given us optimum collecting conditions. When you get your date, you never know what's going to happen. Some dates get cancelled. Others go in, but without the rain necessary to expose the fossils we crave. For us the rain had been falling for days, even the night before, and it was certainly enough to erase the footprints of those who had gone before us. The drive from SC was miserable with severe thunderstorms pounding us the whole way. A tornado touched down on I-95 just moments after we passed by, so we were already lucky before we even got to our hotel!
Finally in the mine, collectors faster than me sped past, but I soon met up with them again as they settled into a spot they deemed worthy of a closer look. I kept walking because I wanted to see how far I could go. It's one thing to stand at the top of the ramp and see the stakes near the drag lines. It's another thing to visit those stakes, and that was my mission. As I reached the base of the last hill I realized it was almost pure Pungo. It stretched at least fifty yards long and half as wide. Mixed in was the occasional Yorktown patch so I decided to spend my morning there. At 9:10 I spied a megalodon tooth. After a photo, I carefully picked up the tooth as I begged "Please be whole!" Not a problem. I packaged the tooth for its piggy back ride and continued to collect. My next great find was a whale tooth near the top of the Pungo pile. While I was up there I watched the draglines for a few minutes. It was the closest I had ever been to the gigantic mining machines and it was easy to lose myself watching them and wondering how many incredible fossils they were scooping up each time? Back to work. I climbed down the hill, criss crossed it looking for more big teeth. I got a few makos, but for the most part it was pretty barren. It needs more rain to wash away the fine sediments. No doubt more nice teeth will be exposed on this mound for a long time to come.
It wasn't too long before my exploration led me to piles already hunted by someone else the same day. There you have to look really close to find anything. You never know when the foot prints were made by someone who was paying attention, or not. For the most part, I was behind excellent collectors! Every once in a while I found new area and would come away with a few more teeth. When the day was half over, I switched my strategy from covering ground looking for big stuff to getting close and looking for the rare stuff that can turn a good day into a great one. I really want a sympheseal cow shark tooth, so I concentrated my efforts on some older, more weathered Pungo. I never found any cow shark teeth, but I did find a bramble shark tooth which stamped a big seal of success on my day.
On the way back to the bus, I decided to fill up my sand bag with Pungo to micro screen at home. Carrying around an empty sand bag is easy. It is much more difficult to maintain a grip on it when its full. It took me 45 minutes to climb over 3 hills and up the ramp. I had to switch hands every 20 steps because my hands started hunting. Then every 100 steps or so I had to put the bag down and take a breather. Who knew bags of wet Pungo were so heavy?
Dark clounds were gathering quickly, seemingly validating the severe thunderstorm predictions. I finally made it back to the bus and I turned in my badge as the bottom fell out. The rain continued for our entire drive back home. My fingers were crossed for Sunday's group, because if they were allowed in they should have as good of luck as us. Speaking of luck, my compadres did pretty well, to. Da f0ssZ scored 3 megalodon teeth, and how about that t$?! He managed to find 22 associated whale teeth. When he showed them to me in his pack, they looked like bunches of bananas! Way to represent guys!
Thanks to PCS for allowing us to collect and to Curtis for all the time he spends putting the trips together. Thanks also to the guides who show up every collecting day regardless of conditions to make sure we're all safe and educated.