*Articles were written between the years 2003 and 2005.
ANOTHER JANUARY FIELD TRIP
by Brian Waters
Well, we did it again. Rock collecting in January again that is. On Saturday, 1/26, Cindy and I woke up early and packed our hard rock and digging tools, and the dogs, into the car and headed up to Walker Valley to go on a Mineral Council field trip sponsored by both the Puyallap and Marysville clubs.
After narrowly making it through a speed trap, we arrived at the Big Lake Store at 9:00 am as was advertised, but when we got there, there was only one other car in the parking lot. A couple more cars showed up while we waited, but nobody from the Mineral Council or either one of the sponsoring clubs was there. It seems that though it was stated that the Big Lake Store was the meeting place, most people met at the Big Rock Grocery a couple of miles away. It was a good thing that Cindy and I went to the Big Lake Store however because none of the people that went there knew how to get to the gate, and we did as we have been there a couple of times. So we were able to lead a small contingent up to the collecting site, which might not have made it otherwise.
Once we got to the site the gate was already open and we met up with the main group up at the gravel bed. Ed Lehman told the group where the various collecting sites were and he brought along lots of extra hard rock tools. Cindy and I, along with a small group of others decided to go up the road a little further to try and find some of the blue agate that can be found in the area. Ed had told us that the agate can be found all along the hillside between the gravel pit and some rock outcroppings further up the hill, but everybody decided to drive to the outcroppings due to the cold weather.
While we were hiking the quarter mile or so to the rock outcroppings from where the road has been blocked it started to snow on us again! This time wasn't as bad as last week though, as the ground was frozen and it never rained so it wasn't very muddy. The snow, which lasted about a half hour, was also hard and dry so nobody wound up getting real wet. The story is that people have pulled agates out of this area that weigh 500 pounds, and Ed told us that there is an area where the road graders have pushed aside huge piles of stones, mostly agate, to the side because they were too hard to put in the crusher to make gravel out of. But we never could find “the piles” which I think have been since covered over by logging waste, as we found lots of that and the area has been thinned within the last three years. Anyway, Cindy and I found a few good pieces of blue agate, that we actually dug right out of the road. We are going to cut a few slabs and find out how fractured the material is, hopefully not to much. Of the first group that went up there we were the last ones to leave the area. The wind was blowing pretty good and it was cold. I think we found the largest specimens that day.
We returned to the gravel pit and looked around, but mostly watched others as they dug out the black rock that hosts the geodes that can be found there. The crews that make the gravel had covered the area over, so it was quite a chore just getting the rock out of the ground which is then broken open with a sledge hammer in hopes of finding a geode. It's hard work, but a rockhound can be rewarded for this work by finding some really nice geodes, some of which have amethyst crystals in them. Myself, I cheated a little and broke open some of the rock that had been piled up by the road crews, and found a few small geodes, a couple of them which have some nice little crystal caverns.
We didn't stay too long due to the weather, but Ed also pointed out another area that is open to collection and is supposed to have some really nice blue agate as well. This is a few miles away from the gravel pit and the gate was closed at the road. Ed said that it would be about a two mile hike to the collecting site, which nobody wanted to attempt in that weather. It's nice to know though so that if we have a lazy Summer weekend and feel like going rock collecting for a day this is yet another option for us to check out something new.
All in all it was a good day. Cold, but not wet, and on the way home I barely made it through yet another speed trap. I thought this time that I was going to get a ticket as the trooper pulled out right after we went by, but I guess he got a different speeder. So the moral of the story is if you go rock collecting at Walker Valley leave your lead foot at home as there are many places along the way to set up speed traps!
Alexandra, WSRC Junior Member
I am doing this report on a mineral called Alexandrite.
In this report I will tell you a lot about
this mineral, like, where it came from, and what
it looks like. Also, why I like the mineral and
some of the ways it has been used it in the past
and how we use it now.
Well to start off I will tell you why I chose this mineral over all the other ones. The first reason is because my full first name is Alexandrea and it is really close to Alexandrite. Also, because of how beautiful it is. It can do this amazing thing where it changes color. When it is sunlight it is a blue and green color, then when you put it under lights you find in your house it turns a raspberry red. Last but not least, it is one of the rarest and most expense gemstones that exist.
Russia was the first to find Alexandrite and they used it as a good luck charm. It was a favorite of George Kunz of Tiffany. So Tiffany’s made many pieces of jewelry featuring Alexandrite during the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. The beautiful gemstone Alexandrite was also the national stone of Tsaristis Russia.
So now I will tell about some of the ways we use it today. First it is used as a birth stone for the month of June. It is also a stone that represents 45 or 55 years of marriage. Most of all it is used for jewelry because of is beautiful color and the amazing way it can change colors in the light.
One field test you could do to find out if it really is Alexandrite, is to check the hardness. Alexandrite is 8.5 on the hardness scale so it beats topaz, but not corundum, which is a 9 on the hardness scale. Also, you can do a streak test. You rub it against a rock that is harder then it and look at the dust it leaves behind. If it is Alexandrite the dust will be white in color. The third field test is to examine any fractures it has. If it is Alexandrite they should be uneven and conchoidal in nature.
Now I will tell you a little on where to find this wonderful mineral. Like I said before it is a very rare mineral. The first place it was found is in emerald mines near the Tokoyaya River in Russia’s Ural Mountains in 1830. It was found on Alexander II of Russia’s birthday. However it’s popularity started to die down because it was a long time before they found anymore of that quality. But in 1987 the rush of Alexandrite came back because of a discovery in Hermatita, Minas Gerails, Brazil. It is one of the most important deposits of Alexandrite because it had the same color and purity as the stuff from Russia, which was a very rare find. Alexandrite has been found other places like India, Burma, Madagascar, and Zimbabwe, but none of them have had the same beautiful color as the ones found in Russia and Brazil.
Finally, I will tell you about what it looks like. First, its crystal grow is in an Orthorhombic form which means it has six sides, all rectangles, all different sizes, and all right angles to each other. There are other minerals with this same crystal formation like topaz, Epsom salt and much more. When you first see Alexandrite in the sun it is a greenish blue color but in the dark or bad lights it looks red. Also the crystals usually form a Pseudo-Hexagonal shape.
I hope you have learned some cool facts about Alexandrite and had fun reading this.
Cabbing with Lyle
by Alexandrea, WSRC Junior Member
Before I took this class, I thought it was going to be very difficult to make a cab, but Lyle taught me that it is not exactly hard, but just takes time. There were many steps required to make a cab. The hardest part was being patient and making sure all the scratches were removed between each of the sanding steps. During the class I had lots of fun.
Here are the basic steps I went through to create my cab:
1. First I selected a slab that I wanted to use for my cab. Before I went to class, I picked through my dad's assortment of Brazilian agate slabs.
2. Once class started, I marked the area of the slab for the cab using a template.
3. I cut out a piece of slab that I wanted for the cab using a diamond saw. The saw scared me at first, but once I tried it, it was much easier then I expected. One thing I thought was neat, were the sparks that were made by the saw cutting the rock.
4. I ground the edges of the cab until it fit into the template.
5. Then Lyle attached the cab to a dopping stick with dop wax.
6. Next I rounded the top of the cab.
7. Then I sanded with finer and finer grit until all the scratches were gone.
8. Next I polished the cab.
9. After that I put it into the freezer so the dop wax would come off easily.
10. Then I removed the dop and wax from cab and dopped the other side, so I could polish the bottom of the cab.
11. Next I polished the bottom of the cab and put it back into the freezer.
12. After that I removed the dop stick and wax from cab.
13. Lyle then put my cab in a pretty mounting.
14. Finally when I got home, I found a chain to put it on.
Now I have a beautiful necklace.
After I finished my cab and was waiting for my dad to finish his, my brother and I looked at Ella's trains. They were really amazing.
I want to thank Lyle for teaching me how to make a cab, letting me use his equipment and giving me a mounting for my cab.
I HAD LOTS OF FUN!!!
A WINTER VISIT TO A SACRED PLACE
by Guyneitha Clausen (West Seattle Rock Club)
February 26, 2004
Under normal circumstances a winter trip to the United States Midwest is not one that my son, David and I would consider, but in reply to a family emergency, we flew to Minnesota on the first leg of a trip that ended in Nebraska.
Having previously visited Pipestone National Monument, in the southwestern corner of Minnesota, in the golden beauty of autumn, a winter visit was called for. "The story of this stone and the pipes made from it spans four centuries of Plains Indian life. Inseparable from the traditions that structured daily routine and honored the spirit world, pipes figured prominently in the ways of the village and in dealings between tribes." (Words quoted are from the official guide to Pipestone Monument by the National Park Service.)
"Across the Great Plains, the stories of the pipestone differ from Sioux to Crow, from Blackfoot to Pawnee. Variation is one indication of the geographical extent to which the red stone and pipes were used and traded. The reverence with which the stories are passed down through generations is testimony to their importance." Evidences of using pipestone date from 2,000 year old specimens that have been found in present day Mound City, Ohio. However, digging at this Minnesota quarry likely began in the 17th century.
Carvers prize this durable yet relatively soft stone, which ranges in color from mottled pink to brick red. By all accounts this location came to be the preferred source of pipestone among the Plains tribes. The Dakota Sioux controlled the quarries and distributed the stone only through trade by about the 1700s. The Yankton Sioux secured free and unrestricted access by an 1858 treaty. The American settlement threatened to consume the square-miles Indian claim and outsiders dug new pits and extracted the sacred stone. In 1928 the Yanktons, now settled on a reservation 150 miles away, sold their claim to the federal government and Pipestone National Monument was signed into existence in 1937, with quarrying limited to Indians. Many of the present day buildings in the city of Pipestone are constructed with the beautiful red pipestone.
We drove into the Monument grounds in the late afternoon, into a "Christmas Card" scene, a sweeping view of snow among the prairie grasses and in the shrubs and small trees lining the river and area by the Visitor's Center and quarry, even two deer grazing in the distance on the grounds. The Center offered many displays, a short historic slide show, and tables with pieces of rough pipestone equipped with hand tools to try working on the actual stone. No rough pipestone was for sale in the Gift Shop, but various carvings of animals and pipes made by master tribal carvers were on sale, along with books, videos etc. dealing with the area and the people. Most days Native Craft workers are there demonstrating their crafts using the stone of this quarry. (Rough material is available in a Rock Shop in a small town, on Highway 23 leading into Pipestone form I-90 going north. However, the shop was closed when we stopped.) There is a 3/4 mile self-guided circle trail from the center that loops through the quarry, passing sites of historic and scenic interest, following a printed guide available in the center. The small river that runs through the quarry area was on this day frozen, except for a mere trickle of water coming over the falls. With about two feet of snow on the ground, deeper drifts and temperatures in the 20s (not taking into account the wind chill, which was too cold to even think about), frozen rivers were the norm all through the Midlands.
The winter visit to Pipestone National Monument was quiet, only our group of three, the uniformed Park Rangers were welcoming, one of which had been working earlier at a station in the Olympics at Hoodsport, was happy to see visitors from the Seattle area. The Monument is open year round, 8 AM to 5 PM, except Christmas and New Year Days, every day of the week. This National Monument, a few miles north of the city of Pipestone, Minnesota, is well worth the trip, any time of the year.
A Saddle Mountain Plus
by Guyneitha Clausen, West Seattle Rock Club
A rockhound outing to Saddle Mountain, out of Mattawa, WA, is a plus in its' self, with the specimens of petrified and agatized wood that can be collected. There is another stop, that is both interesting and refreshing at Wanapum Dam, on the Columbia River, between Vantage and Mattawa. Wanapum Dam is owned and operated by the Public Utility District of Grant County, providing electric power for customers in Grant County and 12 other utilities serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana, which opened in the 1960s.
The "plus" side of making a stop at Wanapum Dam is the exceptional Heritage Cultural Center, that is located in the Visitor's Center, with Native American and early pioneer history of the mid-Columbia River. You will see an extensive collection of arrow heads and other artifacts. An actual "dug out" canoe, beaded clothing and baskets made by Native Americans, are on display. Early days on the river, made real, you actually "take the wheel" to "steer" a river boat along the Columbia. There is a small viewing area with Videos on various subjects of historical interest.
Aside from the Cultural offerings, visitors can enjoy the picnic area, with grass and trees, cold water to drink and clean rest room facilities. This is a true oasis in the Eastern Washington desert, and very refreshing after a hot day on the dry slopes of Saddle Mountain and the dusty drive back to pavement.
Next time you are in the neighborhood, visit this oasis. The Heritage Cultural Center is open daily, year round, and located 5 miles south of Interstate 90 and Vantage, WA, on Highway 243, at Wanapum Dam on the banks of the Columbia River. Add an extra "plus" to that trip to Saddle Mountain.
A Little off the Beaten Path
by Toby Cozens, West Seattle Rock Club
Well, it's not quite in the middle of no-where, but unless you're on your way through southwest Washington, you're not going to stumble over this little gem. A few months ago I was on my way to the Long Beach peninsula, so I took the advice of a grandson to stop and visit the carriage museum in Raymond. It is well worth the hour or so, to take in just how many kinds of carriages there were, and what for. They are beautifully restored and displayed. (Not that I want to give up my trusty little car for one.) Look for it at the south end of town, one block off the highway, next to a neat little park.
What has this to do with rock-hounding, you might wonder. Well, if it weren't for the fact that I have been rattling around the organization for all these years, I wouldn't have been surprised practically out of my skin when someone tapped me on the shoulder and said "Hi, Toby." It was Eleanor Powell, of the Grays Harbor club, doing volunteer duty in the gift shop (wonderful local arts and crafts). After recovering from the inital shock, I had a nice time chatting with her.
So thank you, grandson, for the suggestion, and I hope some of you will benefit from it likewise. You'll be glad you did.
ROCKHOUNDING TRAVELS WITH SUGAR AND DAISY
by Guyneitha Clausen, West Seattle Rock Club
An invitation to go rock hounding with my son David, most always includes not only me, but our two Boston Terriers, the first weekend in April, 2004 was no exception. We packed our luggage and were on our way North to Canada to visit the "Gem of a Show", presented by the British Columbia Lapidary Society in Abbotsford, B.C., on the CFV Fairgrounds.
This is an outstanding show with over 30 Canadian dealers, with crystals, gems, minerals, and supplies. Many unusual specimen displays and display cases designed by some 18 separate rock clubs from over British Columbia. A Book Sale sponsored by the Lapidary Society, a Children's Creative Workshop, Spin and Win, Grab Bags and food. Booths by The Geological Survey of Canada, the BC & Yukon Chamber of Mines, the BC Museum of Mining and much more. With lots of free fairground parking, this three day show is a hit, well worth a trip across the border. Show admission was $5.00 for adults, $2.00 for children over 6 and students, and children under 6 free with adult.
The weather was exceptional, bright sunshine, clear skies and fantastic views of the snow capped Canadian Cascades and Mt. Baker. We took advantage of a long weekend, staying at Harrison Hot Springs to enjoy the hot mineral pool spa and walks with Sugar and Daisy on the trails. Each of the three mornings we spent a couple hours browsing at the Abbotsford Show. One morning we visited with a fellow WSRC member, who had taken the special bus trip available from the Everett Rock Club for a day trip to the Show. (A good idea to think about another year, maybe a WSRC day trip.) The afternoons were spent exploring the Harrison Lake and Fraser Valley areas.
We find friendly rockhounds everywhere, at breakfast on the trip, our waitress revealed that she was one of "us" and gave some very good directions to gravel banks on the Fraser River where rockhounds are welcome to search for agates, jade and whatever. We already had investigated areas we knew on previous trips near Agassiz, but enjoy exploring new sights. It was a good time of year for "low" water in the Fraser River and much exposed gravel.
A search for a spot of lunch one day, led us to Bridal Falls (on the Trans-Canada highway #1, Exit 135 Eastbound). Located at the foot of Mount Cheam, 400 foot high Bridal Falls, (the 6 highest in Canada) is the perfect place for views. Even more it is a real discovery spot for any one who loves rocks and minerals. Stop for lunch at the Rancher's Restaurant for a delicious meal and tour their unbelievable collection of museum quality geological treasures. Bridal Falls Park, close by, is great for an easy trail walk to the base of the falls. The times we stopped, we were also treated to Hang Gliders riding the air currents from the top of the mountain to the green fields at the base.
It was with reluctance that we took one more dip in the hot mineral pool. We loaded the Bostons and luggage back into the car, and head back to the U.S. Border, and Seattle, the end of another rockhound trip with Sugar, Daisy, David and Me.
ON THE ROCK HOUND TRAIL AGAIN
by Guyneitha Clausen, West Seattle Rock Club
It was early May and David, Charlie, Daisy and I were driving the Lewis and Clark Trail crossing the famous "Blue Bridge" over the Columbia River from Kennewick to Pasco, Washington. This trip was a combined woodcarving seminar with some rock hound searching and exploring of the country side, our destination: Ice Harbor Dam. (Drive East on Highway 16W our of Pasco and follow the road signs.) Developed and constructed by the Army Corp of Engineers, Ice Harbor Dam, on the Snake River (and on the Lewis and Clark Trail is historical. "Controversy, conflict and compromise explains the history of the Lower Snake River Development of which Ice Harbor Dam is a part." (quote from Army Corp of Engineers) "From open river near the end of World War II Congress authorized the Army Corp of Engineers to construct four dams along Snake River. The Walla Walla District was established (from the Portland Office) in November 1, 1948, completing the inland passage to Lewiston, Idaho."
The Snake River had always been a lifeline. Ten thousand years ago, to prehistoric people who built homes along the river providing plentiful food and water. The first modern supply ship piloted to Lewiston on the river in 1861, becoming a lifeline of another sort. Along the river grain went to Portland. The economic benefits included the first gold, and wheat to a world market, fish ways and locks for river travel, and electricity. The natural river features included riffles and pools where fish developed. Not to forget the early traders, explorers and merchants who traveled the waters.
Normally the public is able to drive across the top of the Ice Harbor Dam, but due to the national security measures following 9/11, this is no longer allowed and the Visitor's Center was not open on the weekend we were there, but is open on a limited basis during the week. However, because of the spring runoff and higher water, much water was spilling over the dam spillways, making a spectacular sight and clouds of cool mist on a warm day. We were able to park our car on the bank of the Snake River down river from the dam spillway and take a walk along the river. Both the Columbia and Snake River gravel banks are productive rock hounding places to find agates and jasper. This is a good bird watching area with an osprey nest and occupants, pelicans fishing, various gulls, swallows and other small birds.
Exploring a viewing area high above the dam, we came upon an impressive memorial park, with a focal piece, a 10 foot by 6 foot red basalt rock with petroglyphs. The Memorial plaque read: "Indians once came to the river rapids to fish for salmon. Here they met friends, traded, played games, danced and sang. After drying their fish they moved back to their villages. But some were not destined to return home, they lie in burial grounds along the river. Now they rest undisturbed beneath the waters of Lake Sacajawea (the lake made by Ice Harbor Dam). This great boulder carved with petroglyphs by earlier Indians was taken from near the river bank and here commemorates the flooded burial sites. By this act we bind together the generations." Army Corp of Engineers "To the ancestors of Indians now known as: Colville, Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, Yakama. They lie near where the two rivers meet" - 1965. We felt the sacredness of this place.
While enjoying the expansive view of the river, dam, lake, and farming countryside, movement on the river caught our eyes. A Foss tug boat moving two barges was making its' way up the river, positioning its' self to enter the locks at the dam, the tug and its' tow were lifted to the lake level and then labored on their way up the lake, all in a little over half an hour. The two barges' cargo; one with logs and the other with sawdust. It was time for us to explore further east, along Lake Sacajawea, on SR 124. We passed Cottonwood tree farms, asparagus fields, orchards and vineyards on the way to Fishhook Park, a camping and boat launching site. Fishhook Park is on the original spot in the early free flowing Snake River called "Fishhook Rapids" as mentioned in the journals of Lewis and Clark as they neared the confluence of the great Columbia River and the Snake River on October 16, 1805. (USGS website, The Volcanoes of Lewis & Clark, October 1805 to June 1806).
We recommend a drive across the "Blue Bridge" [RCD recommmends the cable bridge] and the Columbia River to Ice Harbor Dam, going back into history on the land and water highways for ancient peoples as well as down through the years to today.
HOT TRIP TO SADDLE MOUNTAIN
by Dave Clausen, Field Trip Committee
Can you see it now, Dave standing in the dirt mound above a big hole full of all kinds of petrified wood -- it's better than a road cut!
I'm standing with my 2 cousin's Casey & Nolan both eyeing the hole too! They jump into the hole with a pick and a shovel and start digging -- the dirt is flying as you can imagine a 10 & 11 year old digging like true rockhounds! It's great for me, I can just pick up the pieces that land at the edge of the hole. I'm getting a real workout?! I need some cool clear water cause it's 102 degrees and no SHADE! We all get really neat pieces of wood.
We are heading home, Mom in the lead, to get to the coolest place possible, which is the Ginkgo Petrified Forest picnic area with shade, lawn sprinklers running [nice to run through] and cool drinks. All looking over the view of the Columbia River ... what could be better?
If you haven't been to the ginkgo area it's a real treat to see! I highly recommend it! Keep rocking!
Yours truly Road-cut Dave
UTAH ROCKS! - Part 1
by Michael Wall, WSRC Editor
Bright and early Sunday morning, on June 13th, the Wall family (Mike, Brooks, Alex & Zach) drug themselves out of bed, and into the pickup, and started down the road. Utah was the destination. We had two and 1/2 weeks to get there, see it ALL, and get back home again.
With a few small stops on the way, we made it all the way to Ogden, Utah, on the first day. We were really pleased to get that far on day one, but after spending 12+ hours in the car, we were ALL ready to call it quits for the day.
On day two we started to lessen the amount of driving and start taking in the sights. The day before, at the hotel, we had found out about a place just a few miles north that sounded interesting - "Dinosaur Park". What kids don't love dinosaurs, and adults too for that matter? So after we packed the car for the day, we backtracked a few miles north, and in just a few minutes we were at the park.
The park ws composed of basically 2 parts; an indoor museum and 5 acres of life size dinosaurs.
We went through the museum first. It was well worth the entrance fee just by itself. Lots of great fossils and fossil replicas.
Plus, there was lots of interesting and intriguing facts. For instance, did you know that when a new site is found with bones eroding from the ground they often will bring in a device (called a "buried fossil locator") that detects gamma radiation. Since most fossilized bones concentrate uranium during the fossilization process, the fossilized bones tend to emit higher radiation levels that the rock and soil around them. This instrument was developed by Ray and Carol Jones and first used at the Carol/RJ Dinosaur Quary in Emery County Utah.
After we went through the museum, we stepped outside into the blazing hot sun (it must have been in the high 80s that day). You must remember, this was our first day in Utah (at least our first day outside of the car - no a/c). We learned later what "hot" really is - but that is much later in the story.
Both kids and adults had a great time wondering through the park, seeing the dinosaurs, feeding the live fish and birds, with only a few close calls.
After about half the day at the park, we made a few short stops for essentials (including a couple mineral specimens at the local rock shop) and headed south toward Moab. We ended up stopping in Price, Utah for the night (about half the way to Moab).
The next day was when things really started to get interesting. You guessed it, our first rockhounding trip in Utah, but unfortunately I am out of time and space.
... to be continued next issue ...
UTAH ROCKS! - Part 2
by Michael Wall, WSRC Editor
We left off last time on day three of the Wall's trip to Utah. This day included our first rockhounding outing of the trip - Last Chance Agate.
It was Tuesday morning, we got up fairly early and headed south toward Moab. Our first stop was only minutes away, at the College of Eastern Utah Prehistoric Museum.
It was another great little museum. This one was even free, with donations excepted. One side of the museum had all sorts of great rocks and fossils, including a Columbian Mammoth show below.
After thoroughly enjoying ourselves at the museum, we hit the road again. About half way to Moab we came to the I70 junction. I broached the subject of maybe going a little out of our way to stop at one of the rock excursions I had noted in my "Rockhounding in Utah" book. "It's just a little way west of here", I said. "and is just barely out of our way, maybe an hour". After a small amount of coaxing I got the answer I was looking for - "Yes".
So we headed east on I70. After about 45 minutes or so we started to gain some altitude and headed up through a beautiful canyon with gorgeous giant red cliffs on both sides. A beautiful drive. When we reached the plateau we stopped at a rest stop and took a few pictures. Also, like any good rockhound, I scoured the ground for any signs of interesting rocks. We found a few chips of jasper laying around. All were very small, but where there are small pieces there are usually bigger pieces close by. Back in the car and way we went.
After about two hours (don't tell my wife - I don't think she noticed since the scenery was magnificent) we finally reached the turn-off. After another short drive (about 10 miles or so) we were there. Now, in my "Rockhounding in Utah" book, it contains a comment about there being "agate everywhere". Yeah, yeah, I had heard stories like that before. But when we stepped out of the car, guess what we saw? Yes, it was true, there was agate everywhere! A rockhound's dream come true.
Both kids and adults had a great time wondering through the park, seeing the dinosaurs, feeding the live fish and birds, with only a few close calls.
We all started scurrying around gathering pieces that caught our eye (a lot of them were small, but plenty were of reasonable size). As we went, we started to become more and more selective, trying to find ones with better color. I then started to wondered over toward a couple of mounds to the left of our pickup. One of the mounds was virtually all agate (with a little dirt thrown in for good measure). There before my eyes was a giant hunk of agate protruding from the ground. What was above the ground was huge and who knew how much was hidden from my view. There was no way I was going to get that in my pickup. The top of the agate was interesting with some light pastel colors in a milky agate - it had some decent color. But I wanted to know what was out of my view, underneath the ground. I had to find out. Without much time for consideration, I decided I would just dig it out, and roll it over - just so I could get a glimpse.
Off to work I went, with a vengeance. After about an hour and half I had uncovered the rock, and after another 15 minutes, I finally got it rolled over, so I could see the rest of the rock. The bottom had a little more color with some bright reds and yellows. Now, what was I to do? I had went to all that work. It seemed a shame to leave it laying there. But there was absolutely no way I would ever be able to lift that rock - I could barely roll it. Then a thought occured to me ... I could roll it! If I could just get the rock up to pickup level, I could roll it in the back. Just a few yards away from the rock was a good sized mound (a very small hill) comprised mostly of dirt.
So, I built a gradual ramp up the dirt hill, with a little bit of digging and leveling. Once I got up to about pickup level, I stepped back to admire my work. This just might work!
I then rolled the rock up the ramp. This was by far the most strenuous part of the whole endeavor. Once I got it up the ramp, I backed the pickup up to the hill. Oh No! It was still not high enough. I was pretty much beat by then. My muscles ached from the usage they had gotten so far, and I wasn't sure I could keep rolling it up an extended dirt ramp. But, my other option was to lower the pickup. I moved the pickup forward, grabbed the shovel and started to dig out trenches for the back tires to go into.
Eventually after a couple tries it worked. The pickup bed was even with the rock! With what strength I had remaining, I rolled the boulder into the back of the pickup. There it stayed for the rest of our trip.
By the end of this outing I learned why they call the place "Last Chance Agate" ... You definitely want to go there last, or you won't have any room for anything else.
Later, after we got home I rolled it out of the pickup and into the corner of the yard where my wife indicated she would accept it's presence.
West Seattle Petroglyphs
Mike Wall, Editor
PO Box 16145
Seattle, WA 98116