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Month: July 2014

Trip Report – Exploring Central Oregon

Trip Report – Exploring Central Oregon

Having someone hand you info about a rock site is nice – but it doesn’t happen that often.  As more and more land gets shut down, people are becoming more and more cagey about giving info to just anyone about any of their favorite locations.  All too often, when word gets out on a great site, you can count on either someone going in and commercially harvesting or just a lot of low lifes getting in there and throwing trash, digging holes they don’t fill, and generally causing enough damage that the land gets closed down.

Those with those special sites also get sick of people with the “we’re going to the mall” mentality about rock and gem hunting.  It’s not like that.  You don’t just go to a spot, “shop”, and then expect it to be restocked for you later.  There’s a very important keyword in the phrase “rock and gem hunting” — and that word is “hunting”.

When you’re first starting out, you might need a little help to identify what you’re seeing, but once you know what the stones look like, the trick is to stop asking for site locations and start to go hunting for some of your own.  Sites not in the books that just anyone with 10 bucks to spring on a guide are going to know about.   It takes longer and you strike out sometimes, but once you hit a good spot – you’ve hit paradise.  It’s a feeling that you are never going to get following the guidebooks.

So, needless to say, sometimes I just head out to see what I can dig up on my own volition.  I try to mix a location that I am familiar with along with the exploration so even if I don’t find anything new and exciting, I don’t go home skunked.  And so it was with this hunt.

I first went to an area near Paulina that is fairly well known and has been a meetup place for a few of us on RHS1.   I was a little disappointed getting in to my favorite spot there and finding the surface all but completely cleaned out.  Like I said above – that happens when sites get too well known.   So, after an afternoon of hunting and turning up relatively little, I packed on to areas a little further Southeast that I had always wanted to explore but never had gotten the chance.   I did have a nice little chunk of limb cast that will slice well that’s quite similar to one I posted not too many entries back on the Gazette:

Limb Cast Petrified Wood This one didn’t clean up all that well but well enough for me to see the green mossy inclusions that got it dropped into the “slice” bucket.

By the time I got out of the area I had only enough time to pick out where to spend the night and headed out the next morning.  Before too long I found a road into an area I wanted to explore.  It was a pain in the butt, to be nice about it.  Very rocky, but not steep so it wasn’t a challenge – just a major headache.

Before too far, and after making a few lucky choices in which road branches to take, I found a dry stream bed running beside the rig.   I slowed to a crawl and scanned the stream bed.  After just about 50 feet or so I saw a red and yellow flash and knew I had spotted agate so stopped to get the prize.  It wasn’t until I got home and washed this one up that I realized I had found a nice chunk of limbcast:

Central Oregon Petrified limbcast

This find, of course, had me pulled off the road and into hunting mode.  The creek rendered a few other beauties, and the surrounding area was jam packed full of agates and wood.

This little green and orange beauty was a delight – I’m hoping on my next trip there that I can find much similar but larger:

Green Petrified Wood – Central Oregon

The other side is less green, but still beautiful:

Reverse side green petrified wood

There was plenty of yellow/clear/white agate, jasper, and jaspagate.  Some of it is quite mossy, some has a more banded pattern, but the pictures don’t show it too well.  As you can see, though, there were a few other earth-tone stones in the mix.

Yellow Jaspagate

The wood was mostly normal but nice petrified wood – solid enough to cut and some very colorful while other pieces fairly muted, but good banding,  All of it was highly agatized:

Petrified wood Central Oregon

And there was green all over, too.  Some I just mistook for agate until I got it home and washed it up and found wood banding in spots.  Unfortunately the sun was giving out by the time we got this pic taken, but I think it still is good enough to get the general idea from:

green wood

I didn’t get as much exploring in as I wanted.  I got enough to bring home a few prizes, but the weekend had turned into one of the hottest of the year, and I started to get a little disoriented after two days of  it,  so decided it was time to head home with a promise to myself that I would be back once the hundred degrees finally dropped back into the 80’s – and the satisfaction of finding an awesome location all on my own that will be fun to share with a few friends.    I can hardly wait to actually do some intense hunting in this area instead of just the light browsing the heat reduced me to.