Down All the Days By Jay Bates
The mist hung on the hills, wafting in a cold wind blowing down the Diablo Range. We four huddled around our screens and kept moving to hold the in-creeping cold at abeyance. We were screening for that mythical gemstone benitoite. We were washing the dirt off tailings at the Gem Mine in hopes of a facetable stone.
Some weeks before we had been there on a warm and sunny day, basking in the warmth and the aroma of the surrounding incense cedars. It seemed much easier then to find those little electric blue crystals. Now it seemed they had all disappeared. Still, we soldiered on, for we knew not when we may be able to return to this remote location or whether we could even return to the land of Happy Meals over the sodden dozed tracks laughingly called roads on the maps.
The wash water ran out, so Dave and I put his hitch on the back of my Jeep and trailed the water tank trailer down to the creek bottom to pump it full from an underground tank placed there to collect water during to oncoming threatening winter rains. Now in four wheel, I crept back up the pit tracks to the top pulling a ton and half of wash water. All for a tiny blue speck that resembled a bit of blue glass, you would not think twice about picking up on the street.
The opals were dug at the Royal Peacock Mine in the Virgin Valley. The vacation was planned after watching a show on the Travel Channel about where to find treasure in America. We didn’t pump ourselves up about really finding anything. It just looked like fun. I’m not the kind of person to want to go lay at a beach all day sipping fruity drinks, borrrring. Luckily my husband feels the same way. Plan on camping out at the campgrounds right there in the Valley, or plan on at least a 45 minute drive each day if you can get a room at the Denio Junction Hotel. There isn’t much else in the way of accomodations way out there. The Royal Peacock does have their own camp sites and they also have 3 furnished campers for rent (hint, call early, they go quickly!).
Our first day of digging proved us right in not expecting to hit an opal, except towards the very end of the day. I found a piece of potch that had some non-precious opal with it. That whetted the apetite. We moved to a different part of the bank the next morning and it wasn’t too long before we hit a ‘hot spot’. We staked our 5 feet (per person) on the bank and dug the same area for 4 more days. I consider us lucky as 85% or better of the people who came to dig did not find anything. They also were only digging for just one day. It takes a lot of hard work and moving a lot of dirt in hot windy weather (in August, anyway). It is a hit or miss situation. You could be just inches away from finding an opal, or feet away. We didn’t really get a chance to speak with Harry Wilson, one co-owner of the mine. He had a friend who was the guide to the dig and he had some good advice, don’t come expecting to leave paying for your vacation, those are the people who won’t find anything. We didn’t and had some terrific luck.
BLUE MOUNTAIN JASPER ROUGH.
“THE GOOSE,” WT. 1.3 LBS
THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST HAS ALWAYS BEEN RICH IN A DIVERSE SELECTION OF MINERALS, ROCKS, GEMSTONES, A ROCKHOUNDER’S HEAVEN!!! OREGON HAS ONE OF THE LARGEST JASPER AND AGATE DEPOSITS IN THE UNITED STATES.
THE OVERALL OBJECTIVE OF THIS PAGE IS TO PAY TRIBUTE TO THE PEOPLE WHO DISCOVERED THESE DEPOSITS, THE MINER’S WHO STILL MINE IT, AND TO PROVIDE INFORMATION FOR ROCKHOUNDERS ON THEIR ROCKHOUNDING ENDEAVORS.
THE OCHOCO MOUNTAIN RANGE IN CENTRAL OREGON IS RICH WITH JASPERS/AGATES/OPALS, JUST TO NAME A FEW…..
THERE EXIST IN THOSE MOUNTAINS A VAST VARIETY OF THUNDEREGGS, “OREGON’S STATE ROCK”…FROM AGATE EGGS TO OPAL EGGS THE OCHOCO’S HAVE IT ALL. I RECALL AS A ROCK-PUP GOING TO THE OCHOCOS WITH MY DAD, WE WOULD ALWAYS COME HOME WITH A NICE SELECTION OF EGGS, PETRIFIED WOOD, JASPERS. THE MOUNTAINS THERE ARE TEEMING WITH LAPIDARY ROCKS…
KOP AND CINDY KOPCINSKI
ON “ONE,” OF THEIR THUNDEREGG PILES
MYSELF WITH DAUGHTER MAKAYLA
AND CINDY AND KOP
THIS IS A BONAFIDE CHRONILOGICAL HISTORY OF BIGGS JASPERS AND SOME OF THE RESPECTED AND HONORABLE MINERS INVOLVED.
BIGGS PICTURE JASPER AND THE DISCOVERY THEREOF PLAYED A VITAL ROLE IN THE EVOLUTION OF THE LAPIDARY FIELD. MANY A LAPIDARIST WOULD NOT BE INVOLVED WITH THIS FINE HOBBY IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR THEIR AWE STRUCK INSPIRATION IN SEEING A POLISHED SLAB OR CAB OF BIGGS PICTURE JASPER…NO OTHER JASPER CREATED SUCH A “GOLD RUSH OF EXCITMENT,” AS DID THE BIGGS JASPER DISCOVERY OF 1964. IT IS ENGRAINED IN MY MIND LIKE IT WAS LAST SUMMER…
This is Coon Hollow camp ground and a short trip to a couple of mines, one had a road that was really rough as you will see. Just off Wiley’s Well Road, see the video taking you on the road to all the mines.
Run report for the Rock Hound pre-run 9-22-06 thru 9-25-06 From Dick-
Ron and I arrived early the morning of the 23rd around 12:30 am. We were met by Dave. He helped us set up camp and told us of his story about getting lost on Thursday night and then about the bees swarming around there camp on Friday the 22nd,I thought the bee thing was just a one time occurrence, but no the next morning as soon as the sun came up the bees were back, so we checked the camp grounds other sites and found them to be also infested with bees. So I drove down to Coon Hollow to check it out and found no bees, so we all packed up and moved.
Around 11:30 we headed out for the McCoy Mountains, we found the trail in with out much trouble and also found the Limonite cube collecting area without much trouble; we spent about an hour or so picking up the little cubes of Limonite. Then on back to camp and dinner and a nice campfire. The next day, Sunday, Dave and his family backed up the gear then we all headed out for the Palen Mts. in search of Quartz Crystals, we found the road to the Iron Queen Mine it was washed out a short distance from the mine so we started looking around and Dave found a really nice Crystal with a bunch of green stuff inside of it, I found a small clear crystal, and Rachel also found a small crystal. We then went in search of another mine but did not find it, by then it was time for Dave and his family to head back to San Diego and Ron and I went back to camp. We had lunch then went off to find a couple more mines; one was the Roosevelt mine which was no trouble to find, it was or is a gold mine, then we tried to get to this other mine we could see from the Bradshaw trail, we got within a quarter mile before the road washed out and we had to back down this really steep, badly rutted, trail.
This was a good trip, and now we know where to find the Limonite Cubes and Quartz Crystals for the November trip. The short movie is of the Coon Hollow Camp Ground and the road in as well as the Bradshaw trail and the steep road up to the one mine, photos of the trip that I took are at-
Three topo maps used roosevelt mine/limonite cubes/crystals
The Hauser Geode Beds
By Delmer G. Ross
Professor of History, La Sierra University
The dull thud of picks, the crunch-swish of shovels, the tink-plink of rock hammers, and the occasional delighted, “I found a nice one!” all help to mark the location of the Hauser Geode Beds on an early spring weekend. Hundreds of holes dug into light-greenish colored volcanic ash under a nearly cloudless blue sky confirm it. Sometimes dozens of rockhounds may be found digging for geodes at this desolate appearing region of northeastern Imperial County, in southern California.
The geode beds are named for Joel F. Hauser, who discovered them with the help of his very observant father in the early 1930s. Twenty-five years earlier, the elder Hauser, George, had been a partner in Hauser & Giddings, a Colorado Desert freight line operating mainly between the Southern Pacific Railroad at Glamis, and the Palo Verde Valley town of Blythe. As he slowly drove heavy, freight-laden wagons across the desert, he followed two basic routes.
The preferred route led through Palo Verde Canyon. It was the shorter, more direct route. It was also subject to flooding and washouts, especially during the usual late summer monsoons.
The alternate route, used mainly when flooding in the canyon closed the canyon road, led from the little community of Palo Verde, near the Colorado River, west to the southern stretch of the Mule Mountains. After crossing over a low pass in the Mules located only a mile or so east of the present-day Coon Hollow Campground, it continued west, through what today is known as Ashley Flats, to another low pass some eight road miles away, near today’s Potato Patch. Then, turning southward for a mile or two, then southeastward, it eventually rejoined the main Blythe-Glamis road.
By now, I was getting tired and some people had already headed back to camp. With no
other dogs around and few people, I let Sesame Pooch off the leash and she raced over the
crusty rhyolite hills with glee. If only I could have stolen some of her energy! The biggest
diggings area was across a deep wash and we had to move laterally to find an easier path
down through the wash and then back up to the diggings. The white ashy dirt had been
well churned and many pieces of agate encrusted rhyolite littered the ground. Some agate
had nice colorations and fortification patterns and I spent some time surface hunting
before heading over the hill and across a large plain to investigate some ashy looking
areas further away.
In my travels, I found several whitish areas and also found some geodes that were actually
bubbly and round looking instead of just being large cavities in rhyolite. Inside, they had
somewhat thin lines of clear agate. On my way back, I crossed paths with other hounders
at a large ashy area and we discovered some thin veins of crusty common opal. Some
parts were colored a nice red but the material was so crusty that it would not come out in
decent sized pieces. I was tempted to say that the opal in that vein had not spent enough
time in the oven. It seemed undercooked and not fully formed into useable opal. Soon,
the sun grew heavy in the sky and our packs grew heavy on our backs, and it was time to
head back to camp.
What is it about dense, heavy spheres found deep in the forest that compells me to carry them through the heat and bugs and throw them in piles?
Yup, you can post it. I'll probably post the second
half of the story tomorrow night.
-Sesame Pooch and Eva
Wiley’s Well Geodes 2006
Surprisingly smooth flowing traffic marked my Thanksgiving escape from the city towards
the Wiley’s Well, CA district geode hunting area. Apparently, all accidents were either
cleared before I arrived or happened right behind me, but I promise I wasn’t responsible
for any of them. Honest! I arrived at the freeway exit at about 2PM and took about 30
minutes to drive the 12.5 miles down the long desert road to camp. There, I spent a lot of
timing talking with others and then finally got around to pitching my tent before dark.
That night at the campfire, looking up, we saw numerous meteors streaking across the
dark clear sky as the tail end of the annual Leonid meteor shower put on a display for us.
The next morning, I awoke at dawn to the sound of rustling camp noises and prepared
myself to be ready by 8AM for our first trip to pebble terrace. Hitching a ride with another
rockhounder, we traveled only a short distance before our first mishap of the trip. An
antique jeep had sudden transmission trouble and would go no further. Its occupants
were quickly loaded into the only vehicle that still had room and that was ours! Now we
had two people in front, three in the middle seats, 2 sitting in the pickup bed, and two
dogs stuffed into the crannies! Good thing we were all friends!
This VERY interesting rockhound story was written by Don Kasper (thanks for letting me post it for all my readers!). He tells me he doesn’t belong to any rock clubs but does associate with the Culver City rock club now and then. Again thanks to Don for the post and looking to hearing more of his rockhounding trips in the future!
Colorado River and Western Arizona Outing Notes:
Had the opportunity to meet up with Tony and Friends with the Needles
rock club last weekend. I thought I would document some of the photos
Tony took and maybe add a few cents on identifications of what we
found. We spent some effort to assemble collections in the photos
list for others to compare to our identifications. First I would
offer a few definitions that I use when I rockhound in the Mojave.
They would be:
Opalite: Opalized volcanic tuff. Opalite can come in a variety of
colors and can be associated with common opal and agate. Common
colors are whites, tans, and browns. Often has a wet appearance when
freshly fractured. Can be dendritic, if so, it’s a fine, hard
dendritic pattern occurring within the rock that can take a polish.
This material is very hard, forming prominent ridges and outcrops in
the Mojave Desert. This is not colored common opal, which is much
softer, fractures readily, and forms rolling hills upon weathering.
Pastelite: Pastel colored Chert occurring in volcanic tuff and in
decomposed volcanic tuff and ash, that is, in Bentonite clay. This is
a highly expansive clay that looks like popcorn when dry, being
readily crushed when you walk on it. Common colors of Pastelite are
whites, tans, greys, browns, and blacks. The prized colors are blues
and violets. Can be solid, banded, and brecciated in appearance. Can
be concentrically banded to look like Wonderstone.