Sunday, April 12, 2009

Rockhounding Quincy Lakes, WA

I'm going to pass up all the political ranting this time around - just want to talk to the rockhounds in the group as promised when I planned my excursion to the Quincy Lakes Area of central Washington.

Sorry I didn't come back sooner - but my best friend and rockhound buddy, Munchie, got pretty sick. I thought I was going to lose him, which is not a surprise because Rottweilers aren't supposed to live 11 1/2 years as he has. His diagnosis is congestive heart failure, but he's been put on diuretics and they are making him feel much better again. Tomorrow he will get his x-rays to make the diagnosis official, and then will get some meds that will prolong his life with quality. I am hoping we have the summer to explore and really make wonderful before he checks out of this berg.

Our day in the Quincy lakes area was quite eventful. I hadn't realized there was so much fabulous opal down there. It seems to mostly be derived from wood replacement from what I can tell. I actually got a few pieces that were very obviously wood - one round and a few pieces that look like petrified bog.

At the lakes themselves there are many trails. If you plan to go there, do note that if you want to park in the rec area to take off on your hikes, you have to have a permit so get one before you go. We wasted some energy walking in that could have been used better later in the day.

On the north end of the lake chain there are a few old opal digs. Most of it is common opal and not very revealing of any petrification of anything - but it showed the possibilities of the area.
We headed south from the lakes to Silica road....because, well - the name of the road was just plain intriguing coupled with opal digs. On the portions of Silica road just north of highway 28
there are a few mines. Judging from the white powder soil, I am presuming the mines are talc rather than opal, but then again, from the amount of opal, they may actually be opal mines.

While the mine areas themselves are off limits (might be able to get permission, haven't checked yet) there is a lot of land very close to them that is not posted, so we stuck to those areas. I found a few white mounds and dug in for some pretty sweet results. The petrified round I got isn't the best wood I've ever seen but still has some of the rings and it's solid. Much of what was in the area was pretty flaky - the layers would not take a cut. The surprise of the day was digging up a few chunks with a pretty bright flash of colors. It is layered so is the type used for doublets and triplets rather than whole cabs, but I sure didn't expect to see it.

Most of this opal is green and brown, but I did get one piece with orange bands - almost red enough to qualify as fire opal, but not quite there. Again - enough to get my nose open.

All in all it was a good day. While I probably won't go back to the lakes themselves, I expect to go back to the Silica Road area again - and probably to the areas across the river close to the petrified forest park there.

If you are a rockhound who is reading this - the forums, photo gallery, etc on my site are down for repairs right now but will be back up soon and most of my trip reports will be listed there. I will drop a line here, though, and let everyone know when that is back up. There are portions of the site which are still online and you can find those at:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Rockhounding Season....Finally!

It seems like years since it's been spring. As an avid rockhound, winter can be excrutiating. Here I am in a new area, so I was able to do much hiking in the lower lands near town, but am finding that there isn't much to hunt right here. I have to take it on the road, even though I don't have to go far - I have to go where winter hits harder, which means I had to wait for spring.

After a nice winter storm warning for Western WA yesterday, we've finally gotten an all clear for this weekend. The storm seems to have stayed in the mt's so I am off to Quincy lakes as planned this weekend to hunt. Rumor has it that there is petrified wood and varied crystals (sounds like quartz from description) to be found. Judging from its location from the petrified forest and the terrain that I passed by on the way south of the area once, I'm sure that the reports I've heard aren't too far from truth. But, if you are a gem hunter, you are probably quite familiar with those who want to be helpful and give information, but have not one clue of what they are saying.

Quincy lakes area is one I had already picked out as a good day trip on my own, so if the reports of wood and agate aren't correct, I won't be overly disappointed. Not as much as if I had actually planned the trip around someone's advice to go there, anyway.

Yeah - I'll put this in rant mode for just a bit here.
Why the hell do people insist on giving you nice little hand drawn maps and pinpointing locations as terrific areas to hunt if they don't know firsthand that there is something there? I've taken some real wild goosechases - some that took quite some time and gas to drive to, just to find that the person giving me the "tip" had never been there firsthand - or just plain lied about the area. Do people actually think that you aren't going to notice that they are way off once you get somewhere?

After loads of really bad leads, I've finally learned how to weed out the bad ones from the good ones. It's not always the novices that give the bad leads - the experienced hounds can be the worst of the lot. Not sure whether they just want to appear more knowledgeable than they are and feel you won't ever really go there or whether they think it's funny to tool you around, but when I talk to an experienced rockhound and they give me a tip, I take it with a huge grain of salt unless we are planning to go together to the area. If they are willing to go, I can be sure of what they are telling me. If they won't go, too, I usually put the trip in with one that I've already planned that takes me close enough to check the area out a bit but don't make it an only destination. I learned not to make tips a sole destination a long time ago.

Anyway - if you haven't ever been somewhere and picked up good specimens with your very own hands, don't draw maps and send people off to a dead zone. Some people have a hard time getting free time to go and it's really mean to make them waste it "snipe hunting". If someone sends me on a wild goosechase, I will post online all about how lame they are so nobody else gets caught in their idiocy.

End of rant.

Well, as I said - I picked this trip out on my own. It's not under snow and it's in a good locality so no one can do me any damage if they tell me they found something there and it turns out not to be the case. It's spring so I will enjoy a nice hike in the sun with some warm weather, but as any rockhound knows, I'm out for the find. I'll be back to tell everyone what I find out about the place -- and maybe before that. Never know what politicians are going to do to rant about in the meantime.

If anyone out there has hunted Quincy lakes and are okay with sharing info, drop me a line about what you found and which of the lakes offer the best hunting grounds. It's a big territory, so I'd like to narrow the field down as much as possible to start out.