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Monashee Mountain Internment Camp - Day 3: Rocks, Rocks, Rocks

Written by: Nikki Simon

July 22nd 2021

Day 3 started with a little bit of excitement - you may or may not know this, dear reader, but Monashee Internment Camp was located just outside of Cherryville, and, currently, because of the wildfires, there is an evacuation alert a few kilometres up the highway from where we are for a fire burning 50km away. This being the case, Sarah spent the morning making phone calls and driving the highway making sure that we were safe to go to our site and that there were people who were aware of where we were located in case things started to get dicey.

Eventually, we got the all-clear and made our way to the site. Sarah had decided that we had uncovered enough of the floor, as impressive as it was, it didn't serve our goals at the site; thus, our task for Day 3 was to excavate a series of test pits in the area north of the floor unit. Here there were a series of metal objects that we had flagged on our first day, as well as one of the trenches marking the periphery. We hoped that there was a second building in this area as it would help us orient our site with scant few photographs remaining of the original.

Before we could even start our test pits, Sarah discovered the top half of the broken Wide Mouth Special we had found on day one! It appeared as though the jar had been broken and, sometime after, a tree grew up through and around the top half; unfortunately, because it had encased the bottom portion of the break, there was no way for us to remove it intact from the tree without cutting it down. You can't win 'em all!

After we finished extracting what we could from the tree, the excitement was over. Chantelle and Katy went back to their pit around the flag pole with Holly joining them as a sifter while the rest of us dispersed to set up our test pits.

Test Pit #1 (Nikki) - My pit consisted of a whole lot of rocks; some would say too many rocks. Including one of the whitewashed marker rocks, which I became fast friends with. In the very last bucket from my test pit was a single nail, and that was all. This was okay, though, as I was also in charge of recording what came out of the other pits.

Test Pit #2 (Colton) - Colton didn't have much more luck than I did; his pit primarily consisted of charcoal and large sections of burned wood. Still, Colton's pit provided one of the highlights of the day when it spat out an animal bone - this combined with the charcoal and burned wood led to us hoping that this was perhaps a cooking area. Unfortunately, the unit failed to provide anything more after this but a few nails.

Test Pit #3 (Rory) - Rory's unit had a little bit of everything, including, like mine, an obscene number of rocks. The first few at least were boundary rocks which were accompanied by the occasional nail. The next layer was a small piece of wood with tar paper which had us a little excited (floor?); unfortunately, like the bone, it turned out to be a false lead, and eventually, Rory's pit moved into a charcoal deposit.

Test Pit #4 (Keagan) - Taking second place to the sadness that was my pit, Keagan's initial pit provided two nails and a piece of wire.

Test Pit #5 (Sarah) - Sarah, who had her test pit set up in the trench, had the best luck of all of us; after a layer of tar cloth and nails, she managed to uncover a P.B. Princeton Brewing Company bottlecap, and a battery right toward the end of the day.

Test Pit #6 (Keagan) - Keagan's second pit rivalled her first with a thick metal wire and a section of charred wood. (I promise Day 4 is a better day for Keagan)

Test Pit #7 (Rory) - Rory's first unit was to the left of Colton's, as they both had large deposits of charcoal and burned wood, the decision was made for Rory to place their second unit in between their first and Colton's to see if there was a connection between the two. They didn't get very far in this unit before the end of the day, but what they did find was charcoal, seemingly confirming that the two were indeed connected.

Meanwhile, up the hill from us, Katy and Chantelle quickly gave up on their flagpole unit. The unit that had so lovingly provided corncob ceramics rapidly turned against them, supplying a veritable quarry of rocks. Still, the area had clearly housed a structure of some kind, and so a full-sized unit was opened about four feet away where Sarah had dug her test pit the day before. Unfortunately, by the end of the day, this unit had only succeeded in supplying Katy and Chantelle with a few shards of glass and, yup, you guessed it, even more rocks!

So, maybe Day 3 wasn't quite as exciting as our first two days had been, but, honestly, this is closer to the realities of excavation. Most days will be rocks and sticks - rocks and sticks that you'll probably confuse for something meaningful more than once. Still, finding nothing is just as important as finding something; it's a part of the puzzle that lets us know where it makes sense to dig to achieve our goals.

Feeling pretty satisfied with ourselves, we made our way back to our cabins to enjoy a dinner of Chicken Souvlaki, Greek Salad, and a long night of playing cards, chatting, and libation in anticipation of a later start to Day 4.


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