Saturday, November 13, 2010

Going on a Gem Hunt

It was a good thing that my friend and traveling companion, Marina, did a bit of internet research at the motel on our day's destination.  We were looking for an old copper mine on bureau of land management land near Mt. Shasta.  We hoped to take home some pretty blue green copper ore called chrysocolla.

Her research clued us in to be on the lookout for the shot up old RV.  We went too far past it the first time and, after scraping our vans through scrub, found an enticingly wide and well-traveled dirt road.  With signposts!  This road led to a working mine with imposing KEEP OUT signs.

We circled back, enjoying the views of Mt. Shasta.

In our search, full of exploratory sorties from our vans, we struck pay dirt--not the kind we expected, though.

Clementine shouted, "Mom!  Look!  Bear tracks!"

Sure enough.

A bear had walked all over this spot.  We found front pawprints (above) and hindprints (below).  Clem suggested we put a dollar bill in for size.  Pretty big!

I can't remember who discovered the little balls of pumice.  Greta is cleaning one with a wire brush with Mt. Shasta in the background.

The kids investigated many dumped items.  Good old fashioned fun with a tire.

At last we found the slag heap we were looking for.

And plenty of chrysocolla.

And even more treasures.

Broken bones.

Rabbit scat! 
We all recalled the story Susan Labiste told us about friends who thought they had found pine nuts on the ground but who instead had fried up and were eating rabbit scat in butter and cinnamon.

This was supposed to be a gem hunt, a departure from our mammal search, but it turned into a bear hunt.  And a rabbit hunt, and a bone hunt, and a pumice hunt.  What I like about this mammal hunt is that it keeps our eyes open.  It is amazing what you find if you think to look.

But please, don't mistake the rabbit scat for pine nuts.


Carolyn said...

Enjoyed this post but all I can think to say is "EWWWWW" (this may put me off pine nuts for a while)

Susan said...

Carolyn, ha! I thought they were yucky, but Greta loved them--not to eat, but to sort. They are the shape of M&Ms and you can't see it in this picture, but they are even different colors in an earthtones palette like some Whole Foods M&M knock offs.

Kristin said...

What a bear track! And so perfectly pressed in the volcanic dust. Shasta is such a beautiful mountain. I love the land around there. Be well on your explorations. They are fun to read about.