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A Woody Weekend Rockhounding Central Oregon

A Woody Weekend Rockhounding Central Oregon

Labor Day weekend gave me an extra day of weekend to go out hunting.   I decided to go for wood.  A member of RHS1 posted that he was taking his son out for his 13th birthday into the area and named a few spots they were going to go.  I had recently been to both and was sad that the areas were so severely hunted out, so I offered to take them where they would be sure to find something.   We met Saturday morning and they followed me in on a journey down a road that makes me wonder how some things get called roads.  It’s one of the roughest 4WD paths I’ve been on in a long time.  It’s absolutely annoying after a few miles, but I guess that’s what keeps the rockhounding good.

Here’s some of what I took home.

hampton wood

The wood in that area is highly agatized.  Some is still pretty woody (top and side view):

Some pieces leave few hints, if any that they are actually wood.  This one took some cleaning up to see the banding that gave it away:

highly agatized wood

There’s a lot of yellow jasper out there, and yellow/clear or white jaspagate that I always suspected was wood from the patterns in it – this piece really cleared that up for me (top and side view):

This is my favorite piece from that day out.  The side view is a little bit blurry, but you can still see that the wood contour is still in tact (top and side view).

Favorite wood from Hampton

The next spot I visited was new to me.

Tyler’s crew and I split up the next day after we left the butte.  He wanted to go check out a popular area for green wood that I had no real desire to go back to.  My last time out it had been hunted so heavily it was disgusting.  I couldn’t decide where I did want to go to for a bit, but finally chose to check out a road I’d seen but never had been down before.  That’s when the real fun started for me.

Green wood, new spot

I drove the road for awhile and got out here and there to look around.  It was a beautiful day to just enjoy the sun and scenery, too.  I hadn’t found anything but some low grade green jasper after some time, so I decided to turn around and head out to an area I’d been to before.   That’s when I saw the piece of white rock on the side of the “road” that I hadn’t seen going in.  I stopped and examined it.  It wasn’t a keeper but it told me there was mineralization in the area so I grabbed my crowbar and pack and started to walk.   Very soon I was overwhelmed with excitement and ran back to the rig to grab the phone and find a spot to call Tyler and see if he was still around to get out there with me.  Unfortunately, he was already on the way back home for his son’s birthday dinner party.    So I dove back in on my own.

Some of the wood is very woody looking like these pretty little chunks:

Green wood, central oregon

small chunk of green wood

green chunk

Some is so highly agatized that you can barely tell it’s wood.  Without some pieces with hints of wood  some of it is impossible to identify as wood at all.  Here’s some with hints included:

agatized green wood

This is the top view of the one above.

green agatized wood 2

green agate wood 3

Some of this stuff is pretty colorful:

wood coloful

Some is hard to say if it’s actually wood derivative or not.  Sure is nice agate, at any rate, whether wood or not:


Guess there’s not much surprise in saying that I’ll be back there this weekend.  There’s one heck of a lot more ground to cover than I got a chance to play on, and I’m looking forward to getting more of this gorgeous stuff.

All in all a great weekend.

Life’s short – rock hard.

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RHS1 Member’s Favorite Finds of 2013

RHS1 Member’s Favorite Finds of 2013

2013 was a real mixed year for members of RHS1. Some just weren’t able to get out much. Some had the best year ever.  A few of our members who were on the go have some pics to share with you of their favorite finds for the year so just sit back and enjoy their success for a few minutes. I’ve got some great pics and stories for ya here.

I’m going to start off with member Keystonecops’  find from Memorial day weekend, which I posted about before. It turned out to be his personal favorite find this year. If you read that post, you’ll see I really teased the guys pretty hard……but facts being facts, those guys find some pretty marvelous stuff and this picture will testify to that fact:

Petrified Wood – Central Oregon,  Finder: RHS1 member Keystonecops

Petrified Wood

RHS1 member, Drocknut stumbled into our forum at around this time last year. She hunted several states this year, and I wish I knew the description of her car so I could warn you not to follow her real closely. Her car makes frequent stops in rocky territory. In retrospect, one of us could have made some good money putting together a pool bet on how many stops she’d make on her way between Arizona and Montana.  Drocknut told me that she’s got several favorites, some in storage at the moment, but one particular geode she found stands out as her pick for her favorite find of 2013.

Geode,  Dugway Geode Beds, Utah, Finder:  RHS1  member  Drocknut

Utah, Geode

My Niece, RHS1 member Hotrocks, came up to visit me at every chance she got over this last year. We had some very successful hunts (a few thank you’s to RHS1 member CCanfield for a few of them) throughout 2013. The hunt that produced her favorite find for the year, a plumy, mossy agate, was our trip to my favorite spot at the Prineville Reservoir, where she picked up this little gemstone – not the biggest of the trip, and the pic doesn’t do it justice, I don’t feel. It’s a bit more translucent in person – but that’s how it is with a lot of pictures. We deal with it. Jessie is a tad fickle, so once she gets the pile of all her 2013 rocks cut, she might just change her mind, but for now – this is it. It’s cut in half, and both sides are great, but very different from each other.  How she got that cut is a mystery to me.

Plumy agate, Prineville Reservoir, Central Oregon, Finder: RHS1 member  Hotrocks:

Central Oregon, Plumy-mossy Agate

RHS1 member, High Desert Hound, is pretty serious about his rock hounding. When asking him for a picture, he couldn’t decide on a favorite – but admitted being partial to thundereegs and geodes.  This year he was invited to the Black Rock Desert with the Reno Gem and Mineral Society.  It was an excitingly successful trip for him, so he’s giving  us a taste of his favorite hunt of 2013.

Reno Gem and Mineral Society Black Rock Desert Trip:

Rockhounding the NV Blackrock Desert

Raw Geodes/Teggs, Black Rock Desert, NV, Finder:  RHS1 member High Desert Hound:

The Geodes and Teggs in the rough

Here’s how his bounty from the trip looks after he got done with them.

Sliced Geodes/Thundereggs, Black Rock Desert, NV,  Finder: RHS1 member High Desert Hound:

Cut Geodes/Thundereggs from the Black Rock Desert, NV

RHS1 member, Nate, is our go-to guy if you want to know about hunting petrified wood, especially in Central Oregon.  From the looks of the pics he sent me, though, he seems to have a knack for it when he gets away from his more familiar stomping grounds, too.

Not sure whether the stone in the first pic is what he wanted to show off or if it’s the gem sitting beside it, his daughter, Kaisey.  I’ve been in the field with her, and she’s more than a pretty face.  She’s got her dad’s talent for finding the keepers.

Petrified Log, Central Oregon,  Finder: RHS1 member Nate:

Central Oregon, Petrified Log

Petrified Wood (Gary Green Jasper), McDermitt, OR, Finder: RHS1 member Nate:

McDermitt Gary Green Jasper Petrified Wood

The reasons our favorite finds are our favorites are many.  RHS1 member, Tylers had this to tell me about his contribution to our favorites:

I have to be honest, my son found this agate.  But it was found on a much needed family vacation.  He was so excited (elated might be a better word) about his find I think that it was the the best rock of the year for me and my clan.  Not because of the size or quality, because of the memories that are attached to it.

I have to say, Tyler – with those words in mind, it might just be a lot of people’s favorite find once they see Landon’s expression of pride in the pic below. It really is a nice stone, Landon:

Agate, location undisclosed, Finder: RHS1 member Tylers’ son, Landon:

Landons special agate

And Lastly, but I hope not least, are my favorite finds of 2013.  I had a pretty great year here in Central Oregon, both with friends and just on my own with my rock hound, Ricky.  I couldn’t decide between the agates from an outcrop I discovered on a random trip out or the thunderegg I dug up at a dig another member pointed me to so here’s a sample of both, with a thanks to both Clayton and Dean who cut them for me.

Green moss agate, Ochoco Mountains, Oregon,  Finder: RHS1 admin HeySal:

Green Moss Agate

Pink Moss Thunderegg, Ochoco Mountains, OR, Finder: RHS1 admin HeySal

Pink Moss Agate

I’d also like to take this opportunity to say Goodbye to my loyal loving rock hound pal who took his leave to the great hunting grounds in the sky in November.  He left on the last good day of the year after a short outing to a local pond.  Ricky was a rescue that was dying of cancer with only around a month or two left when we met.  I was able to kill the cancer and give the old guy and I a few last years together which we spent roaming the hills and countryside of three states, sometimes with the members of RHS1, who we had some very special good times with.  I knew when I met and healed him that we only had limited time, but the love wasn’t limited, and we made the most of that time.  Ricky was somewhere between 16 and 18 when he died.

Goodbye Ricky. I miss you, buddy.  See ya on the other side…but not just yet.

Pals forever

Rockhounding Graveyard Point and Owyhee Agate

Rockhounding Graveyard Point and Owyhee Agate

This is just a small tutorial for those of you needing a little help getting started and are visiting or live in these areas.

The ID/OR borders are rich with many forms of agate.  There’s also jasper, opal, petrified wood, queenstone and crystals, and today I’m just giving a picture tour about finding a few of these things  in these desert areas.

The first thing you need to know is the difference between quartzite, agate, and jasper.  Quartzite is often just called quartz. You can tell quartz because it has granuals. It looks like someone took sugar and pressed it together real tightly.  Agate often looks like quartz a bit, but you won’t see granuals. It looks like wax. It is also translucent, and sometimes even clear.  Opal is much the same as agate but looks a little glassier than agate. It also breaks easier than agate.

You can get agates off the ground or find stone outcrops with agate in them in these areas.  What you are looking for is going to be very different from what you get when you cut the agate into slabs.  The outside is usually rather plain, other than you will be able to see little telltale spots of inclusions sometimes.  Occasionally you will find one that actually looks the same on the outside as it does on the inside, but not usually.   The picture below shows what you find in the field:

This is what you actually will find.

Now up close you will see more of the waxy look – and in a few spots you can see through the surface far enough to see there are inclusions. But all in all, these are not “wow” rocks when you see them other than if you pick up one that is a good size. And – once you know the potential for what’s inside of that agate it won’t take too long to accustom your eyes to them in the field.  And – here’s where the fun comes in. Both of these  “oh hum” rocks were sliced – and here’s the result:

Owyhee agate slab
Doesn't look like the same rock, does it?

Here’s the other rock cut in half. If it were slabbed, it would have some gorgeous potential for a cab along the plume.

Owyhee agate 2
Second rock cut in half

The picture doesn’t do this one justice but you can see a plume across the top and some plummy areas at the bottom – how big does a nice area have to be to make a splendid cabochon?  The picture also makes it look like the middle is indented  – it’s not. It’s cut flat across.  The agate in the center is quite clear and you can see fairly deep into this stone.

There are agates, of course, that are worth more than others.  At Graveyard Point you can find agates with a plume that is almost mossy instead of plummy, even though it’s still referred to as plume.  If you find a nice one of these that has a pink or purplish color – you have a valuable stone.   I can’t be sure if the color of this specimen from Graveyard Point will show up in your browser, but these are the colors that you can get – and want from graveyard point.

Graveyard Plume agate
GY plume is more mossy than Owyhee plume

The pink is rare out there.  Most of the agate is the white, browns, and yellows of the Owyhee agates.  That’s why pink pieces are prizes.

Sometimes you can find tube agate at Graveyard Point. These agates are great for either cabinet specimens or cabs.  The one in the picture below is tube agate that is not embedded in other agate,  when the tubes are embedded in a clear agate they can make awesome cabochons.  This one is a cabinet specimen.

Graveyard Point Tube Agate
It's real easy to identify Graveyard Point Tube agate

As you can see in the picture, when you find a piece of tube agate like this, you aren’t going to need much help in identifying it. I don’t think I’ve seen anything that looks anything like tube agate.

There are spots that you can find fossil leaves in the Owyhees, too. They are fragile as the matrix rocks break easily.  The rock is light brown to yellow, and looks like regular mudstone. It breaks into 1/2 to 1″ thicknesses.  If you see an outcrop of this stone, you will usually find a pile of broken chunks under the outcrop.  Finding the fossils is as easy as sorting through the broken pieces. They are usually rectangular in shape.

Owyhee mountain fossils
Where you find one there will be a lot more.

Another thing you will find in the Graveyard Point and Owyhee reservoir area is petrified wood. Some of the wood is agatized as in the pictures below and some looks almost like wood instead of stone.  The piece below is about  7″   X 10″.  It’s holding my rockhound books upright on my bookshelf.  The views are from the end of the piece and from the outer edge of the half round.

Petrified wood
The outside of a half round.

Even though this piece is completely agatized, you can still tell that it was once wood when you see it.  Many of the petrified wood specimens of that area do not leave any doubt they are…or were wood.  You will usually be pretty sure of what you have even if it’s your first time out hunting when you find petrified wood.

Here is the end view of this piece.

Owhyee Petrified Wood 2
You can still see some of the rings even without grinding or polishing.

The rings don’t show up as well in the photo as they do when you are looking at the actual rock, but you get the idea.

The agatized wood in one specimen I got is black and not as quality – but the bark is spectacularly petrified.

Petrified Wood
The bark on this one is spectacular!

Finds like this one make hunting in the Owyhees a lot of fun.

There’s two other rare finds in the Owyhees that you might just run across when you are out there sometime.

You could find Jessie and I out there!

OH yeah – if you find US out there you just gotta know – we’re gonna be dirty!

And we’re gonna be grinning ear to ear — even Rickie!

Rickie my rockhound best pal.

I sure hope that this has helped some of you who are getting ready to go wander around the Owyhee desert areas.  Don’t forget to check out the RHS1 photo gallery for more pictures of what our members are finding and where they are finding it!  Thanks for reading.

Please remember – our open areas are under constant threat of closure. Please help keep these areas clean and healthy. Fill in all of your holes when you dig and if you pack it in – pack it out.  Help keep these wonderful playgrounds open for everyone to enjoy.

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