Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Too Much Rockhounding?

Maybe I've been traveling too much, putting on too many miles. Maybe I almost caught my brother-in-law's cold when we went to Lincoln City, Oregon, for the Fourth. But upon coming home, I was exhausted, and I soon fell into a fitful nap with some amazing images.

No, I didn't dream I was surrounded by fossilized T-Rex skulls. Instead, I imagined I was putting together a short expedition for a few folks and found myself as the lead organizer. Wanting to get some kind of vehicle that would have a strong low gear, I found myself borrowing an air-conditioned wheat harvester from Arnold Schwarzenegger. And seated next to me in the navigator's chair was Queen Elizabeth. I know it was her because she was wearing a nice little hat.

Thank god I woke up soon after shifting into second gear. I have no idea where that dream was headed.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Got a nice note from Jason, the operator of a good Idaho rockhounding site:


Check him out.

Travels in Idaho

Just got back from a whirlwind tour of the Idaho Panhandle area. Four of us started up at the Roosevelt Cedars grove, near the Canadian border out of Nordman/Priest Lake, and pretty much criss-crossed Idaho until we got as far south as Fabulous Florence. Amazing trip: 2600 miles, 60 GPS readings, as many as 31 sites to write up for my Rockhounding Idaho book.

As far as wildlife, we saw moose, bear, coyote, elk, deer, rabbits, squirrels...about what you'd expect. Maybe one eagle, lots of hawks, and a group of four turkey hens that looked very tasty. Oh, and my first wild turtle. It was a big red eared pond turtle, booking across the dirt road in front of me as I was angling toward a feldspar crystal area near Sagle.

Some things I learned:

1. Priest Lake is beautiful
2. Copper Falls is very nice
3. Moyie Falls is hard to photograph
4. Wallace is a neat little town
5. Pierce is also worth visiting, but Headquarters is a little empty
6. The Clearwater River is a ragin' torrent
7. Elk City is still charming
8. Red River Hot Springs is worth the drive
9. Dixie is dying; the saloon is closed

The last time we visited Dixie, there was a dartboard near the door with the smiling face of a young Bill Clinton, peppered with darts. I was looking forward to buying a round in there again, but no dice. We didn't have time to drive the loop or head for the Salmon from there.

Many of the rivers and creeks were near flood stage. Out on the St. Joe River, we tried to hit the Mammoth Springs Campsite, but ran into a bank of snow a mile from camp and had to turn around. That also meant Bathtub Mountain and Freezeout Ridge have to wait for another day.

The Emerald Creek garnet area has been tamed down to a place where you dig from a pile of garnet-bearing dirt the operators brought in, screen it, and wash it in a common trough. I remember when you could dig around in the creek yourself. I guess those days are gone.

I tried to make the trip on four-ply tires and ended up driving into camp, late at night, on two occasions with hissing tires. One of those was a Saturday night, so when it turned out to be unrepairable we had to buy a tire at Wal-Mart instead of Les Schwab.