2003 was another beautiful Fee Digging Oregon year, marked by digging success at a number of locations in Oregon, California and Nevada.
As always, we had great success fee-digging at the Dust Devil Sunstone mine and at the Juniper Ridge Fire Opal mine – both in Southern Oregon.
The Dust Devil Sunstone Mine:
Weather and scenery around the Dust Devil was more wonderful than usual this year. Mild temperatures and a merciful fire season offset the extra flat tires we
Camp looked about the same as always, though the Dust Devil crew has been making some changes to the pit through reclamation and opening some new digging areas.
Evening light painted the Rabbit Hills (above) and
Hart Mountain (below) in wonderful pastel shades.
Seen from the Dust Devil, Hart Mountain is an imposing figure on the
horizon, but up close it offers a staggering array of vistas.
This is a view looking northwest from the road to the top.
This shot is peering northwest down into Degarmo Canyon. I appear as the tiny
blue dot in the lower left of the photo – looking for Jaspers.
This image looks to the east from the skirt atop the south fork of Degarmo.
Look, Ma – no airplane! I had both feet planted on the ground when I snapped this one.
Juniper Ridge Opal Mine
The Juniper Ridge mine offers the polar opposite of Sunstone mining, and that’s why the two mines compliment each other so well on a trip. While Sunstone mining involves digging, the greatest effort involves SEARCHING to locate the gems. When you see them, they’re already yours. At juniper ridge, there’s no searching – Opal is everywhere – the challenge is getting it out of the host basalt.
A sledge hammer, stout chisels and good work gloves
are essential for chasing seams of Opal through the hard basalt.
Hard work pays off. Here, I’m holding a one-kilo Opal “egg”
and a 1/4 inch thick slab cut from another one.
Our next adventure took us to beautiful parts of California, where the geology is different.
You can still see lots of basalt, but there’s also lots of granite.
This granite-covered hillside was near our camping spot for the trip.
…and near where we dug this great, glassy Rose Quartz – and some wonderful Smoky crystals. I have faceted stones from this material. If you want some just contact me.
With all that granite, there had to be some feldspar dikes – and some Tourmaline –
One of my mining partners loosed this crystal – as big as my forearm!
California has some great “airplane not required” vistas, too.
This one was near another old Tourmaline dig we visited on that trip.
My first rock-hounding trip into Nevada definitely hooked me on that state. The terrain is
rugged and beautiful. The wild horses are a thrill. And, there are more different kinds of
rocks per field trip than you can believe.
This shot is a view from one of the Opal claims we worked that day.