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Wonderful Wonderstone

Wonderful Wonderstone

With only a week left here in Nevada, I couldn’t picture leaving without a last trip to my favorite wonderstone sites.  Because, ya know, you can never have too many rocks to haul when you move.   So on one of the first sunny and actually warm days in months I headed out for a day on the rocks.  While my present camera isn’t the best, I did get some pics that will give you an idea of what’s out there.

Part of a good day out.

When I got to the publicized site, I was amazed to see the traffic.  The first time I ever went to the location mine was the only rig there.  And so it was all that year.  This time I just shook my head and passed by all those people at the main site and traveled out further where the rock is colorful, but not the pink and yellow of the one I would go back to later that afternoon.  I was out to get some of all of it.  And I did.

With just a few days left until I head out for Oregon, and a few strength limitations, I was cautious about picking up the boulders I wanted.  If I’d had a jackhammer with me, I could have taken half a hill of beautiful stone.  As things were – I picked up only one actually too big to carry stones. The rest were of varying sizes.  From 3 fist sized to a few just small stones with nice banding.

At my first stop the stones were pretty vivid.

The second site I visited had the pink and yellow stone that the place is known for.

And of course the boulder. I had fun getting this thing back to the rig. Trust me on that one. I’ve carried heavier, but this was a struggle. It’s pretty thick and I’m turning into a little bit of a whimp.  Still – this is the one I HAD to have.

Looking forward to showing a few of these rocks after they’re cut.

Fallon/Middlegate Nevada Trip Report

Fallon/Middlegate Nevada Trip Report

My trip started late –  it was 2:00 am on Thursday night when I got out of work and hit the road.  I wasn’t due to meet up with the others til 10:00 Friday night so figured I’d have time to sleep and stop and do some hunting on the way down.  Since I didn’t sleep as long as I expected, I ended up in the Peterson Mountain area around noon unexpectedly and decided to try to figure out where it was.  I stopped at Hallelujah Junction to ask which road led back to the Mt. There were no atlases or local maps, so I had to ask people who were coming and going.  Finally one gentleman gave me some directions.  I’m still not sure they were correct, but I did get back onto the peaks and did some hunting, even though I never saw anything that looked like the pics of Peterson that I’ve seen. So who knows where I was. I was just happy to be out and actually picking up a few crystals.

There were a few other people on the mountain hunting and some pits, so I was at least close to being where I wanted to.  At one point there was a very steep dirt “road” that I found a nice little smoky at the bottom of.  There were some pits up high and I figured that’s where the smoky came from so I decided to try the road.  I was about 10 feet from a landing I could have turned around at and something caught my eye on the side of the road and I slowed down – and that was it.  I was stuck on one of those roads that there’s nothing on one side of you, no way to pull off on the other side, and a rig that wanted to slide when the brake was on.

So I just gave a silent and very sincere thanks that the guys at RHS1 weren’t around to help me not live it down forever (there would have been pics, oh my God).  I backed down the mountain slowly lifting off the brake just a little then braking again and letting the jeep slide a foot, rinse and repeat.  The guys hunting a couple hundred feet over on the hill seemed to be entertaining themselves watching me back down and were probably placing bets with each other whether the stupid woman driver would go over the edge or not. It was a white knuckle back-up job and, with almost no sleep under me, my nerves twinged more than just slightly.

Finally down, I decided to go back and take a split in the road that took me to a ravine that led up to the pits and hunt there.  I knew backing down the hill left my nerves in rougher shape than I thought when a little rattler shook his tail at me and I turned around and yelled at him real hard about not being in the mood for his crap and he fled. I felt bad for that.  He was just letting me know he was there.  But the tantrum made me feel more solid again and I ended up finding some nice, but small, smoked quartz crystals and promised myself the next time I went past that area I’d be armed with the correct directions to Peterson.  Had I expected at all to be there, I’d have done that this time.

I hit Reno at Rush hour.  I’ll never do that again. Serious.  If I get there at that time of day, I’ll park and wait until the roads clear.  I’ve never seen drivers  so wildly aggressive anywhere – and I’ve driven all over the states and Europe. That night I spent at my friend’s in Silver Springs and Jess and Jay who arrived after dark, a little nose broken that they missed the crystal hunting but excited about the weekend.

Feeling a little more lively after a good night of sound sleep, we headed out in the morning with our first stop being for Lahontan agates. The area that we hunted had plenty of light blue agates, lots of red and blue, and just truck loads of browns, oranges, etc.  It’s hard to be discretionary about what to keep and what to leave in a field like that where you are just walking over agates everywhere, but we were good about being fussy this time. We wanted room in the rig for other things.

Here’s one of the more colorful pieces we picked up there:

Lake Lahontan Agate
Lake Lahontan Agate

Next we were off to get Wonderstone. We drove around that area for awhile looking for the mystical blue agate but only spent a little time since we had a special area for blue we were headed to the next day.  After seeing only chips of blue we decided to hang that up and headed over to the hills.  We found a few excellent locations and got a lot of beautiful wonderstones. The picture really doesn’t do this sample much justice, but, you get the idea:


Here’s a close up of one:

We got a good variety of color - this one more to the red.

I have to include a note here about the excellent food that Jay cooked for the trip.  The homemade salami and the Gumbo were absolutely incredible.   It’s the first time I’ve sampled his cooking skills and I was extremely impressed.

We spent the night in that area then proceeded on the next day to a road South of Highway 50 and closer to Middlegate. Our aim for this hunt was agates  and jasper.

We were looking for blue agate.

We didn’t refuse anything just because it wasn’t  blue, though. My favorite find of the day was a yellow jaspagate.


Of course – being Easter, we did do a little egg hunting.  Jess had the best find of the day:

Blue Geode

We had plenty of the locals come out and watch us hunt:

NV desert wildlife

Our last stop of the trip was to pick up some of that nice colorful jasper on the way back from the agate location. We had to make this stop especially for jasper for me to take to the RHS1 2014 meet-up next month so nobody can carp at me about never picking up jasper like some of the guys there love to do.

Here’s a sample of the jasper I picked up for you, guys.  You can take your pick of them at the meet:

Jasper Navada Style

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty good trip out.  We filled up the back of a pickup and a jeep:

With the sun getting low and everyone having to work the next day we headed out a little reluctantly, and more than a little sunburned.   I still had room in the back for another day at Wonderstone!

Oh yes – and here it is 2014, so I guess I’ll end this report with the obligatory “selfie”.

Life’s Short – Rock hard.

Rockhounding North Central Nevada

Rockhounding North Central Nevada

As much as I enjoyed rock hunting in NV, it’s not really a user friendly place for much else, so I’m hitting the road again next week. .  I didn’t realize I picked up so much great stuff out here until I went to pack and found out how much of it I’m going to pack with me. You should see how much I’m leaving behind.  Silver Springs has turned out to be a phenomenal base for the avid rockhound, even if it is an employment black hole.

Anyway – I just thought you fine folk would like a little picture tour of what can be picked up out here not far from the Silver Springs area.

Mason Pass sits just to the west of a pleasant little town called Yerrington.  If you like blue minerals, this is a trip you have to take.  Crysacolla, azurite, turquoise, and malachite (yeah, I know. Malachite is green) all can be found in varied quantities in the Mason Pass area.  Here’s a few of my finds from there.  Gorgeous stuff, all of which  is usually found as seam material. The rocks have plenty of seams throughout though, so when you find blue, you can break the boulders up into smaller samples and still have beautiful specimens.  I got several angles on these for ya.

Here’s a view from a different angle for ya.

Petrified Wood:

Petrified wood is prevalent in many areas of Nevada in various color combinations and in varying amounts.  Here’s a few pieces I picked up right near home where it is a rare find. There are some areas just a little bit NW of where I lived that it is much the same in quality, but is much more common a find.  Getting back to it can be a pain in the butt, though. The trails are sandy and rocky, and sometimes you just have to park and walk in.  Needless to say – you will  probably want to go further to the South or East to hunt for Nevada wood than the Silver Springs area.  In some locations wood becomes much more similar to the colorful woods of Arizona.  My region wasn’t one of those locations.

The smaller chunk in front is what the wood in my general vicinity usually looks like:

Here’s a better picture of the big piece in back. I’m not sure if you can see the rings, but you can in person. This piece is a bit more unusual. It’s mostly black and agaty, but the agate seems to tend toward opal in spots.  The color is also blue in a few spots rather than black.  I can hardly wait to get a slice off of this piece!

Agates.  What you can find a lot of in my neck of the woods is agates.  I can honestly say it hasn’t sucked living where I have agates within a walking distance of me.  They are all over the place in pockets on the north side of 50 once you get past highway 95 in the Springs.   You almost have to be trying not to find agates not to find them out here.

Here’s just a general view of some of the different colors of agate that’s out in this area.

That big agate at the back is actually a dark royal or navy blue. I’ve never seen one near the color of this one. Most of the darker agate here is grey.  This is another one I’m extremely anxious to get a slab and a few cabs from. As you can see these stones are pretty rich in color.  They are more translucent than a picture allows me to show you, but you get the idea, I’m sure, if you’ve ever hunted agate before.

Here’s a closer shot of a blue crazy lace and a carnelian. The banding on the lace doesn’t show in this picture, but it is beautiful in person.  Perhaps when I get some of this cabbed I can find a higher resolution camera so you can see more of the details.

blue and carnellian agate

This agate shows how multi-colored a lot of the agates are and gives a little more detail than the other pics I got of my agates.

Well the agate shots didn’t show as much detail as I had hoped, so I’m just going to skip over the rest of them and get to another rock that comes in all sorts of variations out here – jasper.

The most famous of the jaspers in Nevada is called Wonderstone. Some of this jasper is a matte stone, other is quite waxy.  It is just gorgeous either way.  There are a couple of hills out West of Fallon between Grimes Point archaeological site and Middlegate.  One is called Wonderstone mountain and the other is Yellow Hill.  There is another by the old camp of Wonderstone.  I’ve heard of others, but never saw them.  Here’s a few pictures of some of this incredible stone.

Most of the Wonderstone is pink, maroon, and yellow as you will see in the pics – but this particular prize shows how diverse the colors can be.

Here’s a pic of more conventional and common Wonderstone specimens.

Wonderful Wonderstone

Here’s a close up of the large stone on the bottom:

eye shaped markings in wonderstone

While Wonderstone is the most widely known of the Nevada jaspers, there are jaspers of all colors out here.

The green jaspers in the pic above come from the area just SW of Fernley.

This next jasper and the pic under it came from another hill composed completely of jasper.  You can tell the hill  is pure jasper even from a distance. It is red.  The guy holding the jasper in the first pic here is a friend of mine, Aaron Aveiro, who took almost all of the pics here.  (Thanks Aaron).   He liked the piece he is holding up because of the vugs of dark drusy that form a face in the rock.  These are just small samples of the gorgeous agate from that hill.  If you are hearty enough and have the right equipment, you could pull specimens the size of my jeep off of that hill.

I don’t remember exactly where I picked up some of the jaspers. You can find a mix of these jaspers when hunting in the agate fields, or you just go to a hill made out of the stuff.  I’ve never seen anything quite like it.  A lot of the jaspers have  agate in them, too. Sometimes just seams, but some actually qualify to justly be called jaspagate.  When I get some of these beauties worked into cabs I’ll get some more detailed pictures of them.

Well that’s one longshot from being an all inclusive list of what you can find in Nevada – in fact it’s just a tiny start.  There are fire opals, black opal, garnets, topaz, quartz crystals, and a whole list of other gemstones throughout the state.   When, some day in the future you come back here to the Gazette, don’t be one bit surprised if you find that a group of us went out and got a whole new line up of pics of other mineral finds from out here.  I might be moving – but have an open invitation to visit this summer, so I’ll probably drag part of the RHS1 gang with me.  I don’t think I’ll have to twist many arms to get them to come, either.

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