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Monashee Mountain Internment Camp - Day 12: Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

Written by: Nikki Simon

August 1st, 2021

Day 12. This was it. This was the ultimate day. The last day that we would, potentially, ever see Monashee or each other again. A little dramatic maybe, but hey, Simon Fraser University is a big place!

It was a bittersweet day all around. We went up to our site as per usual; a good majority of the cleaning up and filling had been done the day before, so there wasn't much left to do. Dan and I, of course, had 7 test pits to map out still, which we got through quickly. Colton and Keegan kept working along steadily at the 1-meter pit that had been opened at the base of Rory's monumental planks on the Flag Pole Road. Everyone else worked at trying to uncover more of the pipe, as Chantelle and I had done the day before. Like Chantelle and I, they tried to begin the process with shovels to make things a little easier. Also, like Chantelle and I, they immediately hit something that they really didn't want to break with shovels had to move to using trowels again. What they found a few more pieces of the corn ceramic from all the ways back on day 3 or 4! And, just a little while later, a section of cut long bone where the marks from the blades could still be seen on the surface. A little bit on an unusual find based on what we'd been seeing. Still, if they had been doing any type of butchery up at Monashee, that type of bone was a good indication of it!

Finally, like Chantelle and I, they realized that they weren't going to make any real progress. The pipe was just too far down, and there weren't enough hours in the day, particularly the last day. So, the final decision was put to Sarah. Should they continue trying to excavate the pipe, should they attempt to sink another small, 70cm deep hole somewhere down the line again, or should we just let it go? Sarah decided to just let it go.

Now, I'm not sure if I mentioned it previously (curse this goldfish brain), but Chantelle and Katy, having to outdo everyone in all things, had actually amassed an even more enormous pile of rocks from this unit than we had over at the Pit of Despair. As you can imagine, it was a heartwrenching and bittersweet moment having to pile all of those rocks back into their unit on top of that pipe. But that's what we did; we finished filling in the last few finished units on-site and gathered up the remainder of our tools at our base area.

Before we carried all of the supplies out of the forest again, we went for one last short hike together. Sarah wanted us all to attempt bushwacking to the north of the site, just to see if we could walk directly from this south end of the camp to the north end we had uncovered a few days prior. That turned out to be a big nope! I mean, yeah, of course, we probably could have. TECHNICALLY you can bushwack through anywhere if you try hard enough. But, in our case, when we started hitting the stinging nettles, we decided to give the attempt a hard pass until a later time.

And so, we gathered up all the supplies and bags, just like on the first day forming a busy little line of worker ants, only this time leaving the forest behind. Like the boss she is, Sarah managed to artfully Tetris the supplies into her handly mom van. We then gathered together for a final group photo, and, finally, we unceremoniously left Monashee behind us, watching it disappear into the haze of smoke.

After this, we went back to the cabin and slowly dispersed one by one in amongst hugs, promises to keep in touch and, maybe, come back next year. Colton, Holly, and Keagan were the first to leave in the early afternoon so they could get back to Vancouver that night. The rest of us spent the afternoon cleaning up the cabins, organizing our kits, relaxing, and enjoying one last glorious Chicken Tortellini dinner from Franks General Store (and a little bit of wine!). After dinner, Chantelle left to make her way to Vernon, and Dan and his lovely wife said goodbye until next year. Sarah stayed to chat with Rory, Katy and me for a bit, but eventually, she too left, and it was just the three of us rattling around our big cabin for one more night. We went to bed (relatively) early, not looking forward to the morning and the long drive ahead.

Goodbye Monashee, we'll miss you and will always cherish our memories with you here.

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Hey all, it's Nikki!

When I decided to write this series, it was purely because I wanted to give other archaeology students an idea of what it was like working on an actual site. It's not uncommon for many archaeology students in North America to not get the opportunity to work on a dig until after they have graduated. I wanted to provide a tiny glimpse into the experience; being thrust into a close working relationship with a random group of people, the basics of how a site operates, and the reality that you won't always necessarily find something amazing! (But that everything you find is important and not finding anything at all is just as important!)

I'm not exactly much of a writer, and I certainly never expected the blog to get as much traffic and support based on my past record! That being said, the lovely neighbourhood camp cat Reis and I just wanted to thank everyone SO much for following along with all of us on this journey! I truly hope that you've enjoyed the series and that you'll continue to follow this space and learn all about some fantastic people, places and research along the way!

Thank you!

-Nikki Simon


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