Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Sweetwater Station, Bull Canyon, and Agate Flats

You read the history of the area around Jeffery City and you read of the discoveries made by the early jade hunters. One found a nine hundred pound boulder of apple green jade. Another man found one of 3000 plus pounds. You talk with a local who tells how her mother knew the sound of her hammer striking a jade  boulder and of her many discoveries.
Knowing full well that jade has been hunted in the area for 60 years and yet you still dream of finding a newly eroded piece and please please please let it be the bright green apple. So it should be no surprise that Renita and I were heading to the jade fields and like fisherman everywhere, or any prospector, full of the eternal hope.
Our first stop of the day was at Sweetwater Station, along the Bison Ridge Road. it was a place we had first hunted jade last year, a place where we had picked up green rock after green rock. We hadn't really known what jade looked like but we still hunted. This year we knew what we were looking for.
Parking the truck off the road Renita headed south and I north as we hunted a ridge formed from a terrace of alluvium, ancient stream deposited rocks. We combed the area and did find some lined green rock that we had found last year. It had made a beautiful cabochon, but it wasn't jade. We looked at our samples and decided we probably hadn't found any jade and so we headed for another spot, Bull Canyon.
Now Bull Canyon isn't very far away and soon we stopped at an old jade claim. It was in a formation called the Ice Slough Conglomerate and was a place that had held jade in situ, which means enclosed in the solid rock, but we didn't find any.
We took a four wheel drive round down to the canyon and we did find lots and lots of good agate, but it wasn't jade and so we kept on looking. Tired we finally took a break and decided to go to Agate Flats and look for more Sweetwater Moss Agates, and maybe some small pieces of jade. At least it was a place where we knew we would find something of value.
We were not disappointed. Quickly finding an agate and another I headed out to a ridge while Renita hunted near the truck. I found a draw in which I found agate after agate and quickly found over a hundred. Renita hadn't done as well and so she joined me and started to find her own honey hole or agate jackpot.
We ended the day with a huge pile of agates and another pile of rock that wasn't quite jade, but had still tantalized us. It really didn't matter what we had found as the time together was the real treasure. See it really isn't the finding but just the looking that makes life worthwhile. Clear skies.

(As we drove home we talked of the day and decided that maybe we really should be looking around the jade prospects of Douglas and so we are heading east tomorrow!)

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