Quite a few years ago, we had gone for a drive to the Green River Lakes, north of Pinedale, Wyoming. At one point our son had mentioned that a road that turned left from the lake road, took you to Dubois. Since then, I had always wanted to take that road over Union Pass.
This trip, along with a day agate hunting on the Wiggins Fork, was on the to do list for this summer. As my birthday neared Renita suggested that we should spend two nights in Dubois, Wyoming and take a day trip to Wiggins Fork, and a second day crossing Union Pass.
Now we had been to Wiggins Fork before and so we knew the way to the confluence of Wiggins Fork and Frontier Creek.
It starts out as a good, paved road and crosses Horse Creek turning into a forest service road. It is actually a pretty good road, as four-wheel drive roads in Wyoming go. It’s a beautiful drive along the east flank near Yellowstone National Park.
Arriving at the trail head we were greeted by the sight of numerous hunting camps and even got to watch as three stings of mules plodded by, laden with supplies for back country camps.
There were even other agate hunters searching for the petrified wood, some of which is agatized.
The wood was covered by a pyroclastic flow, (if you don’t know what a pyroclastic flow is, (look it up and think of what happened to the people of Pompeii) and formed a mold of the exterior. The organic material turned into gas from the heat leaving a hollow cavity which was than filled with silica rich water. It often formed silica lines but sometimes, formed prismatic agates.
When these are polished as thin sections, and held up to the sun, their beauty becomes apparent, (I had been given a slice of iris agate three years before and just got around to polishing it this summer. Our goal on this trip was to find some of this agate)!
We found a good spot to park, put on our waders, and crossed the first braided section of Frontier Creek. Renita and I have different rock hounding techniques, she slowly checks out every rock and I move along at a good clip looking for a rock with the telltale exterior.
I left her with bear spray, and I headed across the braided sections. At one point I had to pass through willow stands and finally reached a few pine trees. Being aware that grizzly bears inhabit the area, I moved out of the dense foliage and slowly walked downstream looking for petrified wood.
My high hopes were quickly dashed, and as I searched and searched, I finally found a few pieces of the replaced wood. Greeting Renita, she showed me a beautiful piece she had found soon after I had left. Hers was much better that anything I had picked up! Returning to the truck she decided to take a break and eat lunch while I headed back out.
There were three other agate hunters in the area and two of them had found their own agates. One of the agate hunters told us years ago, the agates had been plentiful! As usual at popular spots, its quite a bit harder now to find good specimens.
After taking with them and seeing their finds, we headed back to Dubois for a nap before dinner and planning the next days drive over Union Pass. Clear skies (end of Part 1)