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Thursday, March 16, 2006


Can You Dig It?

A couple of summers ago we discovered this amazing Forest Service site about an hour from us where visitors can dig for star garnets. These gem stones are only found in two places: India and Idaho. It was quite a thrill to get down in the mud with shovel in hand and dig out the garnet-bearing gravel. The kids had a blast splashing around and looking for treasure.

Well, all good things come to an end. The Forest Service has announced that because of issues involving water quality, aquatic habitat, and safety concerns, visitors will no longer be digging at the site. Instead, there will be stockpiles of gravel, presumably dug up by rangers, for people to wash and screen through a sluice. Not nearly as exciting for my kids, who equate finding treasure with actual digging in the ground.

I'm glad we went when we did. This is a reminder to not put off those little day trips that you think you'll do next summer, or the next. Put them off too long and you might just miss out altogether.

Here I am, digging for treasure, standing in frigid water in my bare feet. My son loves this picture... It's a memory that will last him a lifetime.


Anonymous brettdl said...

By the time my kids are teens, all fun things will be wholly owned by Disney. We even have to buy yearly passes to park anywhere in the mountains in Southern California. And camping... it's cheaper to stay in a hotel.

1:29 PM  
Blogger Toni said...

Oh, no! That is a shame. Beautiful country and such fun, especially when you get someone else to do the digging, lol. I went there 25 years ago with some friends (he did the heavy work, his wife and I had the fun.)

5:49 PM  
Blogger fly-on-the-wall said...

The year our family moved to Idaho, I took my daughter and son, then 10 & 8 years old, to dig Star Garnets. We camped out just down the road at the FOrest Service Campground and spent a gloriously sunny day digging in the mud. Somewhere around the house is a sandwhich baggie with a bunch of really nice sized garnetas. Now if only I could remember.

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Bob said...

I've been there several times. One of my fave times was when I was a juvenile parole officer years ago and we took a bunch of parolees there for a recreation activity and none of them wanted to get their stylin' jeans muddy so I did most of the digging as I had garnet fever. I know some cool places to dig for crystals up around newport and oregon is full of amazing rock digs and i've hauled hundreds of pounds of opalized and agatized petrified wood out of Saddle mt near Mattwa, WA. Email me if you ever want some ideas for fun rockhounding adventures for kids.

7:12 PM  
Blogger JOE said...

We homeschool and are avid rockhounders. We try to get out and dig in various areas. I've taken the family to emerald creek (for Star Garnets, and solo Creek (for Quartz Crystals. we would like to know if there are any areas relatively nearby that we could go to as a school field trip for geology and rockhounding. We try to incorporate our trips and what we get there with creating the stones into a finished stone, gem, or collector specimen.
Please help us with some localities and we will share some of our family localities in a fair trade. Possibly even trade or barter some specimens, stones, or finished gems. We have a lot of star garnet specimens (dodechadrons), and finshed cabochons (4 and 6 Ray stones). As weel as a shop full of high grade material, rough, gems, and stones

Please call with information:
Joe Hitz

11:27 PM  

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