Our last day! Also known as Backfill Day. We arrived on site at the usual 8:45 with a slightly smaller crew. As it is the end of the semester, one member was unable to come out and one couldn't stay for the whole day. Fortunately, we had wrapped up a little early the previous week and had already begun the process of backfilling the "upstairs" excavation block.
Last week we had finished our levels, learned to profile, and placed plywood reinforcements against the walls. After layering everything with landscaping fabric we spent the afternoon carting buckets of dirt back to the pit. It was a bit disheartening to put back what we had so carefully removed over several months as well as frustratingly slow. Every bucket load seemed agonizingly slow but we had actually left the pit half full so that on our final day we split teams upstairs and downstairs. I started upstairs and when the block was nearly full moved downstairs to help out.
The lower profile wall (Unit 9) had collapsed several weeks earlier after heavy rains so we were taking extra care to reinforce it and preserve the strata. After constructing several large wooden buttresses to support the dirt we moved the back dirt from previous downstairs units and the collapse against the base of the support to help it maintain position. We then carefully added buckets of dirt between the profile wall and the wooden reinforcements to further protect the profile from the elements. We took our Sharpies and wrote our names on the wall before we draped black plastic sheeting over the whole thing.
All of this took us roughly half our usual allotted time out there. We had come prepared, however. I set up a George Foreman grill (recently procured from the Goodwill for a bargain price of $4.95) and we had a long lunch of hamburgers and grilled zucchini, potato salad, chips, and pulled pork barbecue. We cleaned up the site and put all the tools away for the last time and aside from a massive treeless plot of sandy soil, it looked very much the way it did when we first arrived on site in January.
I’ll definitely miss the team we had, even for my first project I feel we had an easy going chemistry that made the more difficult tasks simple. Though I’m not able to join, a volunteer crew is going out in another month to continue work on the downstairs. I’m guessing volunteers won’t be writing regular blog posts but it will still be nice to be able to check progress on this website.