Field Trip and Dedocation
Don & Ofelia Warthen
Field Trips - North
This was a great trip and it takes a lot of superlatives to describe it. Beautiful spring weather. Friendly, helpful people. Delicious potluck dinners. Interesting campfires. Diverse and abundant collecting. It, also, takes a lot of adjectives to describe the recent CFMS field trip to the Wiley Well District. Big. Fun. Productive. Rewarding. Just to name a few.
Big. There were already 10 rigs at the campsite when Betty and I arrived on Sunday morning. We set up our trailer and laid out an open area for our campfire and socializing. I was expecting a big turnout since over 140 people had called me or e-mailed me with their "reservations". We ended up with over 170 people, including 10 to 12 children. There were 58 motorhomes and trailers and a few tenters and vans spread out over a 10 to 15 acre area. This was the largest field trip that I have led or attended. Most of the people attending this trip were from California and Nevada. Forty CFMS societies were represented. There were guest rockhounds from Alberta, Canada, Wisconsin, Michigan, Texas, Arizona and Dan and Ruby Lingelbach, the AFMS president, from Oklahoma. On the Monday trip to the Hauser Beds we had 120 people in 57 vehicles. The caravan to the collecting site was over 2 and ½ miles long.
Productive. We had 5 days of collecting trips that included 3 of the well known geode beds. For our first trip on Monday, we went to the Hauser beds in the morning and explored the Corn Field in the afternoon. We parked at Road's End and walked in about .5 miles to the Hauser Bed dig site in the dry wash. The geodes here were fairly abundant and easy to dig out of loose, dry ash. The geodes ranged in size from golf balls to softball. These are agate filled geodes, many with small, druzey crystal cavities.
In the afternoon we stopped to explore an area called the Corn Field. I learned about this and several other interesting sites from the Vug Hunter's Treasure Map #7 by Michael Peterson. This pamphlet is a very good, very detailed set of maps and information for collecting in this area. The pamphlet said, "Walking the washes looking for smooth surfaced, corn colored amydules, without matrix, can be discovered exposed in the bank. Some are calcite crystal lined, while others are filled with selinite and barite crystals. They vary in size from a pea to the size of an orange". It took us a few minutes, then we all started finding mostly small, pea size to golf ball size amydules. This area is about 1 mile from the Hauser Beds. The amydules are not really anything special but are different and interesting and added variety to our collecting.
We headed out to the Potato Patch on Tuesday morning. Most of the "digs" were collapsed and filled with a lot of very rocky overburden. The holes that were open were not very productive. But those who dug and put in the work did find geodes. Several of us walked around the hill and the surrounding area where we found pastelite, a few broken geodes, gypsum, agate and chalcedony roses.
After an early lunch we headed for the Big Windy just north of the Potato Patch. According to the pamphlet we were supposed to find "boytroidial psilomine". However, we didn't! We did find A LOT of agate, chalcedony roses and druzey quartz, which is good for tumbling and grab bags. This area is down a faint, rough, rocky road about .7 miles off the main road. Material is abundant, but the quality is marginal.
Wednesday we went to the Straw Beds. The largest geodes to be found in the area are found at the Straw Beds; many in the range of softballs to football size and shape. We found the holes that I started 2 years ago and they were still very productive. Besides geodes, chunks of black and white agate were found. In the afternoon we went back to Wiley Well Road south of camp to collect psilomelane.
Michael Peterson led our trips on Thursday and Friday. We went to the "Lost Larry Lode" near Clapp Springs on Thursday. This is in a Wilderness Area so we had to walk in about a half a mile to the dig site. The material here is a multi-colored, pastel "opalite/jasper". Some material is available as float, but the bigger, good stuff is obtained by hard rock mining. Geodes and other material were found in the area. On Friday we caravaned to a petrified wood and fossil site in Arizona about 20 miles from camp. This area is part of the Gould Wash on the east side of the Colorado River. Several nice, 20 to 35 pound pieces of knarly, petrified Ironwood were found. The fossils in this area are coral and other marine fossils. The road into this site cut through some small, sandy, washes that were big enough to catch a couple of slow moving trucks.
Fun. We had a pot luck dinner each evening. Our biggest pot luck dinner was on Monday evening with over 140 people. It is amazing the variety of delicious food that shows up to a dinner in the middle of the desert. Each evening we were blessed with a beautiful sunset to enjoy with our dinner. Our last potluck was a "soup dinner". Each person contributed at least one can of condensed or ready to eat soup. The cream soups went into one pot and the red/broth soups in another. The resulting soups were delicious.
After dinner we joined together around a roaring campfire that was prepared each evening for us by Dan and Paul McGurk of Boulder City. One evening BLM Ranger Ron Lewis and Ranger-in-training Javier Cortazon from Blythe joined us. They discussed regulations for camping and collecting on BLM land, some of Ron's enforcement experiences and introduced us to his K-9 partner. This was a good exchange for us to better know about the BLM and for them to know about rockhounds.
Rewarding. We had a great group with a wide range of field trip experience from first time novices, old timers who "hadn't been on a field trip in years" and many of the regulars. I don't know who was the oldest, but we had several pebble pups and children. It is a great thrill for me to help introduce new rockhounds to collecting and the joys of field trips. We had a very friendly and helpful group. Especially sharing tools and dig sites, and changing some flat tires.
In addition to the collecting trips and camp activities, a highlight of the trip was the dedication of this great geode collecting area as a Rockhound Educational and Recreational Area by the BLM. This was accomplished through the efforts of Jim Strain and Isabella Burns. The dedication took place on Monday evening after our potluck dinner. I am sure that Jim and Izzie will report on the details of the dedication elsewhere in the Newsletter. But I do want to take this opportunity to recognize their accomplishment and thank them for this outstanding achievement.
We had a special treat on Wednesday morning. The "Boys" from the Mother Lode Mineral Society, led by Marion Roberts and Jim Wade, prepared a delicious pancake breakfast for the whole group. They were up at daybreak preparing the batter and getting the griddle hot. They started serving at 7:00 AM and continued steady until the last pancake was eaten at 8:30.
Not everyone in camp was a rock collector. So, on Wednesday afternoon Betty Pankey taught a round wire jewelry class to about 12 women. She provided the tools and material, showed them how to make a basic ear cuff and a simple ring with beads. Each woman ended the afternoon with some new jewelry in her collection.
A Big Thank You to all who pitched in and helped make this such a great field trip - helping with the pot luck dinners, with the campfires, cutting geodes, changing flat tires, pushing out of sandy washes, the pancake breakfast, the dedication, helping first timers and so on. And a Big Thank You to all the friendly rockhounds who attended and made this such a special trip.