Rockhound Information and Gemstone Sculptures

Minerals and Rockhounding

Much of the time from the 1970s to about 2010, I spent most of my “rockhounding” trips collecting and studying minerals, primarily in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve always been interested in agates, petrified wood and other lapidary materials too, but mineral collecting was my greatest passion. I made many trips each year to field collect minerals, study their occurrences and write articles and books. I also did some of this with the rockhound lapidary materials, and wrote several field guides for mineral, gem and fossil collectors. I published and distributed some of these, but others were published by other publishers of rockhound guidebooks (Gem Guides, Johnson Brothers, Jackson Mountain Press).

I like to share information on where I collect and localities that I have discovered by exploring. Some of these were unknown to mineral and gem collectors, others were not well known but had been visited by other collectors. In recent years, I've started spending most of my field time on jade hunting in Washington. There are several reasons for this. One of which is that I'm running out of new mineral localities in the Pacific Northwest. I can still find micro minerals, but have been to so many of the old mines, quarries and road cuts that produce minerals, that I'm kind of tired of them. I need something new. There is still this desire to open a big cavity of crystals, but quite frankly, I've run out of localities to do that. Also, I'll have to admit that I'm not the young and crazy person I used to be. Hiking half a day to get to a mineral locality takes a lot out of this "old" body, so exploring for new minerals is not as easy as it once was.

So, I went back to hunting jade, something I had enjoyed doing in the 1970s. When I go jade hunting, I satisfy my desire to be out in the woods, and I have a really good chance of finding some good material. So I figured that even though I have been enjoying collecting minerals for most of the past 40 years, when I do that I mostly find the same thing I found the trip before. Mostly it is micro minerals, and for most of them I've been there several times already.

I can go jade hunting and find something new. A better piece, a different color pattern, and maybe a really good piece. It also provides the material for carving. It's still fun and exciting. I might get a little tired of hunting jade in a few years, but for now, it's what I do most of the time to be out in the wilds.

I still make one or two mineral collecting trips each year and have taken the effort to get to a couple of new localities for me. One was a locality that has been known for decades (the Livingston Mine in Central Idaho) and visited by a few mineral collectors. Access to it is moderately difficult, it requires a long drive up a rough mountain road to 9,600 feet elevation and even too more than 10,000 feet and a long hike to a near by mine. With a couple of friends, this trip didn't produce very much, but we did find two minerals in micro crystals (vanadinite and descloizite) that were not reported from these two similar mines. For those who know, no, we did not find any jamesonite worth collecting.

Best wishes to you, I hope you can get out and find something, be it something new for you or something you just happen to love to hunt for.


Information for the Rockhound and Collector