A New Discovery In Idaho!

April 2022

It's another morning at the Whiskey Creek mining camp, and it's my tenth day here digging and scratching the ground for treasures. Sleeping in my Suburban, I've found, is the best way of staying warm and cozy, let alone the quietness associated with doing so. 17 years ago, when I first started, I used a large tent. It became evident quickly that being in a tent was not the best in the long term. The windy days, mice, heat/cold, and contestant flapping noises of the tent at night were starting to take their toll. After those early days of trial and error, making the Suburban my home has made mining much more fun. However, the mornings are crisp, and it takes a while for these old bones to warm up, no matter how comfy I might be.

The Whiskey Creek mining pit is about 1 away from camp. My digger friend Brian Hendrickson and I have been taking our ATVs back and forth on the rough dirt road leading to the excavator trackway off the main dirt road to the claim areas for about two weeks. So far, the Whiskey Creek jasper has been relatively productive for us, even though digging into the hard rhyolite has been challenging and labor-intensive. This morning Brian is heading home to take care of some business, so I'll be here alone. Being so far in the field alone is a genuine safety concern; it's a long way back to the paved road and 35 miles from there to the nearest hospital. It's very dry here, so rattlesnakes and scorpions are not much of a concern. Food for them is scarce, and they all scatter once I start pounding on the ground. It's the injury or sudden illness that I need to look out for, so I'm extra careful when operating or doing hand digging. I don't mind being alone out here. I believe the vastness of the landscape and the quiet desert let me unwind and download.

This morning will be beautiful again, and I look forward to returning to the pit. I have a particular spot in the pit that seems promising for some nice-sized nodules. Brain heads out, and I get on my ATV and head to the mine. Driving to the top of the mountain, I head off the road onto the excavator track. Of course, like any rock guy, I look at the ground around me as I drive. Halfway to the pit, I glance off to the right and see what looks like a druzy agate chip. I slow to a stop and see others lying on the ground. These are pretty common around here, and I usually pass them up. But this time, I think, "hmm, these would be great for the wire wrappers" they are shiny and already clean by nature and not connected to any host rock. Some have pretty cool patterns and designs. All I find are of one color and unbroken. Delicate white tiny druzy quartz and a few just agate Botryoidal type bumps, mostly resembling belly buttons. Cool, I take my bucket from my ATV and start picking up some. Pretty soon, I got about a few pounds. Just something different to offer to customers at Quartzite. Still, there is something familiar about them I can't really put my finger on. Anyway, I was thinking about getting back to the jasper, so I headed back up the sight hill to my ATV and then back to the pit.

Late the next day, I'm back at camp, and Brain is back. And I show him what I found and tell him how the wrappers will love them. He looks skeptical, "I don't know...," he says; I pick one up with a lot of shiny druzy out of the bucket and say, "For a $1, heck ya! check it out, wrap some wire around it, and you have a pendant!" Still looking skeptical, he looks at the rest of them. Then I add, "well, maybe to help them sell, I can say they are all-natural, organic, and made in the USA!" He has a good laugh. "we'll see," he says. I point out towards the hill from camp about where I found them. The following day he gets up early and heads to the jasper pit ahead of me. As he leaves, I say, "check out the agate spot on the way!" He says, "The last day to mine is tomorrow, don't waste your damn time on those things. Come back with your wife and pick them up. Linda would like that." feeling a little disheartened, I say, "Ok,...MOM," He smiles and heads off. I get ready to go, throw in some water bottles and a snack, put some empty buckets into the milk crates attached to the ATV, and head up. Just getting on the trackway from the road, I start seeing the agate again on the right side. I'm tempted to stop, but I needed to dig the jasper. I pass them by.

Sorry about the glass squealing :(

The First One Found!

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