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Written By: HeySal on October 22, 2014 No Comment

A few weekends ago I ventured over to Clayton’s (member CCanfield) house to get some cuts of some of my Central Oregon wood  finds.  I have several specimens  that will be shipped when finished so will have more pics then, but thought I’d post the ones I have already. They aren’t polished yet  because I really am not sure what I will do with them.  Sell them?  Make things?  Display them as is?   Anything is possible.

The first one wasn’t cut.  It’s still in one massive piece.  I have a closeup of it now, though.

Remember the pic of this rock?

Blue petrified wood

This is what it looks like up close and personal:

Clayton really liked the pink crystals scattered along the one side so took a close up of those as well:

Next – I had found some multi-colored, jasperized wood as well.  Here are pics of different varieties from two different locations in the general area of my green/blue wood site.   While some of this stuff is pretty brittle, the lines in this piece are all healed fractures.  It’s tough with a piece that you like as well as I do this one to decide whether to cab it or just leave it in one piece.  This one is about 2″ by 3″ — one of the smaller pieces, but one of my favorites.

I love this next piece, too.  It’s about 8″ by 6″ and this cut is about 3″ thick.  Most of the fractures are shallow but one does go through almost to the other side.  It seemed to cut okay, though.  The bark is pretty obvious on the sides but I don’t have a pic of that:

colored jasperized wood

This one was from a closeby location that has a little different coloration than the above jaspers.  This particular specimen is 5″ by 2.5″ and about 2″ thick.  The fractures are also either healed or shallow.  This is basically limb cast. The bark is very jaspery and quite prominent all the way around the piece.   I talked on the forum about hauling a boulder back to the car – it’s this color of jasper wood and is around 13″ long, 9″ wide and thick.   It was severely heavy and took everything I had to get it into the rig…..and a little help at the last creekbed to get up that last hill.

This is the end cut of a piece I showed before – from just down the road from the other two sites.  It’s basically a broken round.  It’s 7″ by 4″ at the wide point, and around 3″ thick.  I wish I’d gotten the side cut, too, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it yet. The fracture is very light and might just be a scratch from the saw.

The next cuts I have coming from Clayton aren’t from the same  location.  They’ll be cuts from agates I got after our meetup last spring near the ID/OR border, and one or two from the Ochocos.

I want to give a special thanks to Clayton for cutting these for me, and for taking me on a hunt for wood in his own home area.  I still had one in the rig when I took some pals out the last time and they each picked it up and said “nice piece”.  I was glad when I had to tell them it wasn’t from where we were that I had some sites they could get good stuff from, Ha.

Until next time………

Life’s Short – Rock Hard.

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Written By: HeySal on June 5, 2014 No Comment

The 2014 meet-up was a great success. It was wonderful seeing everyone’s smiling faces.

Um, oops.  Here we go.

Of course, the joke gets a little lost when you consider how you actually find  the members where they’re out in the field. RHS1 members are real good at recognizing other members both coming and going.

Members started rolling into the Succor Creek campgrounds mid-week for Memorial day weekend. The  general region and campground hadn’t changed too much since I lived in the region almost a decade ago.

By the time I got there on Saturday, the others were already driving with full loads of rocks from Graveyard Point and a few other sites near the Oregon/Idaho border that they visited in the day or two before I arrived.

This year’s leader, Tony (member, catmandewe) was thoroughly familiar with the region and lead the crew to huge amounts of some of the areas best agates and jaspers.   The blue opal thundereggs dig seemed to be the generally favorite site, and was the first I got to join in.   The sun was hot, but the digging was easy and the prizes were beautiful.

After the relatively easy drive to the thundereggs, we set off on a little more rugged trip out to a few jasper sites, one, a pink jasper site which Tony set for claim while we were there. The region is some of the most beautiful desert I’ve ever seen, and it was hard to keep an eye out for ruts and rocks in the road with the panoramic beauty to absorb while driving.

During the day we collected pink, blue and brown, and multicolored jaspers.  While I picked up mostly jasper I could carry in my bag with ease, some were looking for sizes that would be suitable for bigger projects.  They found what they were looking for.  The region has no lack of jasper boulders.

Saturday night back at camp, members unloaded the rock they had brought with them and we had a rock swap.  Everyone was more than generous with the caches they brought out for the others to choose from.

By Sunday the crew was getting a little worn from their days of hunting, and a few headed home, while others headed back to get some more of those beautiful blue opals.  I got to head into town to get a tire changed out.   I wasn’t the only tire casualty on the trip.

I got back in time to join a few of the die-hard members out at the opal diggs, but wandered off to regions south of the park where I used to love to hunt.  Unfortunately,  the areas have been listed in books and were pretty well picked over when I got there.   Some of the back roads were steep enough and rutted enough I thought better about trying out on my own, so with sunlight waning, I returned to camp and talked with a few old friends and a few new ones at the fireside.  A lot of the members had already left, and those remaining were well worn and very happy.   Everyone left with as much rock as their rigs would carry.

My thanks go to the members, mirage, drocknut, boxofrocks, coldwatergold, Tom, orygone, and bsky4463 (I hope I got everyone)  for posting their  pictures so you could enjoy our meet-up vicariously.  A special thanks to Tony (catmandewe), owner of www.IdahoRockShop.com for setting up such an awesome tour for us this year.   It’s going to be a hard one to top next year!

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Written By: HeySal on April 23, 2014 No Comment

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.

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Written By: HeySal on February 7, 2012 2 Comments

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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Written By: HeySal on November 1, 2010 One Comment

Finding a great agate or piece of jasper is a thrill for any rockhound, but being able to identify exactly what it is that has been found is quite a headache for the beginner. These headaches can be relieved very easily though with just a little bit of knowledge about the different quartz group stones.

Agate and jasper are actually chalcedony, which in turn is cryptocrystalline quartz. All are SIO2. When you pick up a stone you can rule out that it is a piece of regular massive quartz quite quickly just by looking to see if you can see the grains of the stone. If you can see grains, you do not have an agate or jasper. Most likely, what you have then is massive quartz or some other type of stone. Many new rockhounds will mistake massive quartz for a piece of agate, so don’t feel bad if you do. It’s a very frequent mistake.

Jasper and agate will appear to be made of wax. If the rock is just plain clear to white translucent with no markings or patterns, it is considered chalcedony. If it is opaque, that is, if you cannot see into or through it, it is jasper. Jasper is most frequently earth tones or red but you can find jasper in just about any color or color combination and it can contain some very lively patterns. One well known form of jasper is called “picture” jasper, and just as the name suggests, the lines and markings look just like a scenic picture of mountains and valleys or forests and so on. Geometric patterns are also common in jasper stones.

If a stone is an agate, it will be translucent as is chalcedony, but an agate will have patterns. Most commonly, agates have bands, and are appropriately called banded agate. Sometimes the bands are also translucent, sometimes some are opaque. There are many agates named to describe how they look, such as plume, orbicular, or flower and many that are named for the place they are found, such as Dryhead or Lake Superior. For instance, moss agate is a clear to semi-clear agate that looks like moss was embedded in the stone. No two agates are alike and many fantastically patterned stones will not have specific type or place names.

There are also stones which you will find that have both jasper and agate in them. Both the opaque and translucent parts of these stones will appear waxy. These are often referred to as jasp-agate. Once you become familiar with the look of both jasper and agate, you will be able to recognize jasp-agate with no problems. One other stone that can be confused with agate or jasper is opal.

Opal will have flashes of color if it is precious opal. It can be also be common opal which is plain translucent or opaque and a just about any color or a mix of colors. Opal generally looks more glassy than waxy, and it is much more brittle and breakable than agate or jasper.

If you still aren’t sure when you find a rock if it is jasper, agate, or opal, you should take it with you and ask someone about it. Your local rock shop or club or even a jeweler’s shop can identify it for you. You will have few problems identifying these stones after the first or second time. Once you learn to identify these basic stones, you will be surprised how many different types of gemstones you will start noticing on your hunts.

© Sally Taylor, RHS1

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