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Finds From The 2016 McDermitt Meet-Up and more……

Finds From The 2016 McDermitt Meet-Up and more……

I just went out to the rock garden today and got some pics of some of my McDermitt finds from the meet this year.  While right there with a decent camera, I also got a few pics of finds from elsewhere around Nevada – and a few from a trip to Washington I took a year ago.

This year’s hunt was led once more by Tony Funk (member catmandewe), and he’s proven once again to be the ultimate in rock tour guides. I thank you, Tony for yet one more spectacular meetup!

So – without further discussion — here’s the rocks!

The pile of green in the center of this pic are Garry Green wood.  The one with the visible green ripple leaning on the wall in back is from the green jasper stop.  Sorry – I can’t remember what the heck the name of that jasper is.  It’s green. That much I can tell ya.  I got lucky when I was hauling those two big hunks of Garry green out of the canyon when a few members of the party drove by in Trucks and gave me a boost with them the rest of the way up the hill.  They were a lot heavier than they looked and it would have taken me all day to get them up on my own……….but I really wanted em.


Here’s a few close-ups of this beautifully banded wood.




While this next one is not the color you expect to see when you’re hunting Garry Green, it was my favorite find from that location.  I was surprised that there’s actually a lot of blue up there mingled with the green.


This next shot is a little blurry, but I just wanted to show the color of this agate so tried for a close up. OOPS.  It’s called purple cow and it’s not a real translucent agate, but it is purple. I also got a piece that is much the same shade of lavender as the lavender quartz I got last year, but a little more translucent. The piece in the pic below isn’t the most purple of the agates found by the group that day, but it’s an example of the color.  Despite it’s blur, I think it gives you the idea of what purple cow is.  Hopefully, someone else will have a more clear pic of  a little more lively colored piece of this stuff to offer.  



This next shot is from another wood location Tony took us back to.  This is a highly opalized wood – and I was delighted to find some actual tiffany fire in it.  At first I thought it was just flash from a fracture, but later inspection proved it was not fracture. While there was only about an inch long area of color in this one – I’m hoping, if I get back to that area again to find more of it. A lot of the color (on the right side) doesn’t show up the way the sun hit it – but you can see a little of it.  That blue area all the way to the right end contains color.  On the left, some of the beautiful banding in this piece is visible, too. As you can see, I haven’t mastered close up shots at all.



This last pic of wood from the McDermitt area I found at the mouth of a canyon that I very much wanted to get into.  There was a herd of range cows with some very young babies that had other ideas about me traipsing around their water hole, though.  I liked the colors, none the less,  and will go back to this area whenever I return to the McDermitt area in the future and try again. I have a feeling there’s some nice wood hiding down that canyon.


Okay – that’s my favorite of my McDermitt finds.  Now here’s a few miscellaneous pics of stuff I’ve wanted pics of for awhile now.

Above the rock pick are a few of my finds from my hunt in Central Washington a year and half ago.  I’ve got a few close ups of this wood just below this pic.



The top of this one isn’t going to slice, but I have a use for it anyway.  The rock about 4 inches from the top is pretty solid and I have plans for other uses for that once I get it sliced from the top. Gonna have to find someone with a big saw for this one. It’s a foot across and a little over that deep.


The next one is a little more solid, but I have other uses besides lapidary for this piece, as well.


As you can see, this Washington opalized wood is a multitude of earth tones.  All this wood made me fall in love with opalized wood.  Still love agatized wood, too – but this stuff is just really special in my book.


The next two pictures are also opalized wood – but,  are from Nevada.  These are from the hunt I went on with John (member Orygone) and his side kick, Patti when our 2015 meetup was canceled due to weather.  It wasn’t the best weather that day, either – but at least we were close enough to solid road that we were able to hunt despite the rain. The pictures don’t do a couple of these boldly banded pieces much justice.


While I didn’t see anything opalized in Washington that wasn’t earth-tone – there was a little more variety in Nevada.


This next rock I got in the same area on that hunt with John and Patti.  I’m not sure what it is – rhyolite, jasper, opal?  I sure do like it, though.


Next pic is some banded wood that Bob (coldwatergold) and I found not too far out of Dayton last spring when he came out to see a friend of his who lives there.  Some of this stuff has more color to it, but it is predominantly white with darker banding.


Okay – the last two pics are of rock from my local area out here in NV.  The first one is just an example of the jasper out here. There are other colors, too, here and there fairly local – but there’s tons of this red and tan stuff everywhere.


And this last pic is because we have several members who live out around here or visit sometimes and I get sooooo many questions about Lahotan blue lace agate.  This is the blue that is here. I guess some of it works into some really neat cabs, but the color of the blue is not that bright blue found elsewhere in the state.  It’s blue, but it’s a muted blue, and is not a highly translucent rock, either.


So – that’s all I got, today folks.  Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour.

Until next time;

Life’s short –  Rock hard

Opalized Petrified Wood

Opalized Petrified Wood

In the last year, I’ve been fortunate enough to get to hunt a few areas just loaded with opalized wood.  While I love petrified wood in general, I’ve developed a special fondness for the opalized variety.

Opalized wood can be a little more cantankerous to work with, being a little brittle, but some pieces are still solid enough for lapidary, and even the brittle pieces that won’t hold together for sawing or cabbing are still quite beautiful for display or crafts.

This picture shows a piece of opalized wood from Central Washington. It is actually solid enough for a saw, but I have other plans for this one:


While much of the opalized wood I’ve found in Nevada resembles the Washington varieties, some is a little more vividly colored than I’ve found elsewhere.  This next pic is one of my current favorites from Nevada:


This particular piece will never hold up to a saw, but can be buffed up a little to take off a few areas of diatomaceous earth and will be used in my crafts instead of slabbed or cabbed. Other pieces I have from this area have more of the earth-tone colors of the rock in the first picture, and many are solid enough to undergo cutting.  My only problem with the area I was hunting in is that a few pieces that I really, really want to bring home are just too big for me to get out of the gulch, even though my jeep is strong enough to carry a several hundred pound piece of wood. I’m thinking by the time we get snowed out of the area, I might just have figured out how to get at least one of them into my rig and home.

While much of the wood from Washington retains it’s rings and the look of wood, I’ve found that some of the wood from Nevada has more intricate patterning, such as you can see in the picture below:


While this piece has a little bit of fracture on the surface, it will mostly hold up to a saw and these patterns are not magnified. They are quite visible when holding the rock so the solid areas will make wonderful slabs and cabochons.

While agatized wood is more solid and more lapidary friendly, the opalized woods just seem to have some color and character often lacking in agatized wood. I’ll be going after some more of this beautiful wood again this year and am hoping that a few RHS1 members will be in the area to share the trip out with.

Until later, remember:

Life’s short – Rock hard.

Rock and Gem Hunting and the Land We Love

Rock and Gem Hunting and the Land We Love

Today I have an issue I really want to address.  This is an email I received from a member of RHS1.  I am keeping his identity private – but this is the issue he hit me with.  I want you to read it and understand this.  Every one of you who ever goes out looking for that special rock – read it.   If you are an RHS1 member, I will be posting this link in the forum for discussion.

For those of you who can’t read an article without pictures – here’s the obligatory pretty rock pic for you:

Now onto important business.

Here is the letter I received today, in full minus the signature.

Hey Sal, I didn’t want to post this on the forum, actually I debated posting it on the forum but I don’t want to seem like a constant downer negative ned on there. So I thought I’d mention this issue.
I spend a lot of weekends roaming the hills west of Succor Creek, in the 3 fingers, Leslie Gulch, and Macintyre Springs area because I love it so much, not only for rockhounding, but also for just hiking, photography, biking, and just an escape.  So this weekend was no exception, I wasn’t really going for any big rockhounding trip so much as just to explore some other areas and possibly find some new sites to check out in the future.
Last spring, I discovered the blue opal deposit off McIntyre Springs road for the first time, after hunting for it unsuccessfully over several previous trips. It was one of my best collecting finds. I took home a few really nice pieces from there.  From reading the posts, I know you and a few other members had done well there a couple weeks earlier.
When I stopped there this time, I discovered a sign: “Federal Mining Claim- removal of minerals will result in fine, imprisonment, etc” basically everything short of the death penalty, for the “Crime” of removing any rocks- rest assured that no such signage was there last spring, and what was once a happy pastime (albeit as well kept? secret) is now a crime- and no longer a well kept secret. I’m guessing this happened over the summer.
This is the kind of thing which saddens me- areas being closed not through onerous government bureaucrats, over hunting, or careless people trashing them, but rather one person being greedy and deciding to shut everyone else out.  I always use good rockhound ethics when I go hunt in the field- take no more than you need, leave something for other people, leave the site better than you find it, respect private property, etc. So I didn’t get anything this time,  and it appears this site is now on the “closed and former hunting sites” for everyone.  I don’t know who filed the claim, whether it was a RHS1 member or some outsider trying to cash in on our hobby, but either way the blue opal site is closed- no more for us peons.  Basically, things like this are why, more and more, I find myself adamantly in agreement with you and the website’s policy of keeping areas secret, so this kind of thing doesn’t happen to more of our favorite sites.  I’m pretty sure none of us blabbed about the location of the blue opal deposit (I certainly didn’t) but it does make me sad that someone found it nonetheless, and basically took it from the rest of us.
I do really enjoy participating on the site, and the only reason I thought I’d email you was not to sound so negative on the forums. (and I apologize for sounding negative here, too.) On the off chance it was an RHS member who filed the claim then hopefully there are no hard feelings, although hopefully he will still allow other members to collect there with permission.
I did have an otherwise good day out there yesterday though.  Found a couple small but beautiful pieces of neatly patterned brown/tan picture jasper from elsewhere in the area, and enjoyed some spectacular scenery.  Sorry for the long post.
First of all, I have to inform you that the area you are talking about has been claimed land since I first lived out in that region.  We were permitted on it via the generosity of the owner/claimant.    People, and even corporations, in the past were generous in allowing rockhounds onto their land to hunt.   Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to behave like anything but cannibals when they are allowed off the sidewalks.
When land is generally known to produce now, which much is thanks to the people who made their own living from making guidebooks, and others who carelessly post directions or coordinates on websites, it gets hit hard by hunting enthusiasts.  Not only do they wipe out anything laying on the surface, they dig holes and leave without covering them back up, they throw trash, set fires, breach posted private property boundaries, root trees.  You name it.  When a site becomes popularly known, people will destroy it with very little thought about respect for the land.
I blame this attitude of “if I can find a great rock I’ll get rich instantly” vein of hunting we’re now seeing on that show Cash and Treasures, where you will see the host going different places then telling all about how much her find was worth.  People might not notice, for one, that she doesn’t find some of those things – claim owners find them and trade her for all the junk she finds, then make her a bauble from it that has a good price tag on it commercially.   People actually think it’s that easy to strike it rich in the field – the exact mentality that destroyed more lives than you could count during the gold rush era.  Anything for a buck.
People with this kind of mentality will completely destroy an area to get at what they want.  The side effect of this craze is that anyone who owns land will shut it down.   Anyone messing with the ecology of a BLM  area will get the area shut down by government.
You can’t go digging holes in streams or toss dirt from a hole in them without getting land shut down.
Anything that could cause the alteration of water flow and nutrient content is strictly forbidden.
Rooting trees is another common destruction.  You can’t dig all the rock out from under live trees.  It’ kills them. Period.  If you dig under a tree at all, you better be willing to put all that dirt back in the hole when you’re done, or that land is going to get shut down while there’s still forestry on it.
You can’t toss garbage at a site and not get it shut down.  Do you know that some of that garbage is very dangerous to wildlife.   If it piles high enough it’s just a general toxic health hazard.   Even in small doses that probably won’t threaten life by being there — it’s pathetic.  It’s ugly, it’s not what people go to see.  It’s a statement that the selfish, lazy, thoughtless pig that was just there has an attitude about our natural lands that should be an embarrassment to every one of us in this country.
Then you have the really hardcore opportunists that will actually take commercial equipment to a site and completely wipe it out.  Nuff said already on this issue.
As far as land being claimed – if you find land worth claiming, it’s work and money to find it, claim it, and work it.  You deserve that claim.  Just because someone else can’t work it without your permission, it doesn’t make you evil for having that claim.  Claiming can actually have great benefits – especially now during the federal land grab era.  Clubs can claim land that would be otherwise shut down and keep it open to the public or those in their clubs so that someone still has access to it.   Clubs can also sometimes contract stewardship of some areas and keep them open by maintaining the damage that rabid hunters are doing.
Some people get a little pissy with me about being so stringent about posting directions to rock sites.  I won’t allow it on my forums.  Those forums are public and anyone can cruise that information, then go and clean a spot out or completely destroy it and get it shut down.
A good case in point is the particular area that the letter was addressing.   I know that was claimed territory at one time and am not sure who owned the claim or if it had dropped back to federal/state land status, but we were allowed to openly hunt the area for a long, long time.  It seems that people must have started causing some sort of problems up there.  It’s closed now.
Grassy Mountain?  It’s gone corporate.  The last time I was up there, there were signs that designated who had the ownership, or at least the stewardship of the land – I didn’t read it that well to know which, but it was not posted “keep out” ….yet.  It will be very soon so if that area was on your bucket list, you might as well scratch it off.
Lolo Pass?  I just found out from a member the other day that the whole East side of the mountain has been shut down to hunting.   I have no idea what the situation is – whether it’s claimed, privately owned, or public land under shutdown (they call it GOV land now, at any rate – “public” is no longer a term applied to land in the US).    BLM no longer “manages” land, it “owns” it, according to new maps and signs.
These are just a few of the really great hunting areas that have recently been closed to the public. It’s not going to get any better from here on in.
If you are one of those people dropping by RHS1 just to see where you can find to go and loot – you’re out of luck.  If you are a member in good standing with other conscientious members, you will find you have the ability to send private messages back and forth or even rent a private forum if you have a meet or business you want to be able to discuss in private and a board is the easiest way for you to do it.  If you are just cruising looking for that coordinate to just one more site for you to drop trash at, root a tree, or dig the streams up and get the land shut down though………please move along.  We do not, and will not cater to you here.  You can call me any name you want for that.  I’ll wear it.