Want to see some more geocaching adventures? OK!
Last weekend my friend Anne let me and Emma tag along on a trip she was
taking with a group of friends to northern Idaho to go garnet hunting.
It was super fun, and over the course of the weekend we found 27
This is the view back generally toward Lewiston on Friday evening, as we wound our way along the Clearwater River toward Idaho. We geocached along the way, and found lots of pretty places.
On Saturday, the entire group (10 of us) went to the Emerald Creek Garnet Area. This is a developed area within the Idaho Panhandle National Forest, where people can "dig" for garnets in a much more controlled fashion than if everyone randomly started digging up the streambed and forest. They haul in the garnet-containing sediments, and the sieving troughs where you extract the garnets from all the mud run on a self-contained flume with a settling basin. This way, the large quantities of sediment that are the inevitable part of mining don't end up choking Emerald Creek.
It was a drizzly rainy chilly day, and we got very muddy, but we also found garnets!
I found a total of 6 ounces of garnets, shown with a dime for scale. I have no idea what the quality of these are, but some of them are nearly complete dodecahedral crystals. Probably some of them are worth polishing. Super cool! (Anne found the prize of the day- one that weighed two ounces by itself and was the size of a ping-pong ball!)
Emma got pretty cold pretty fast, and bailed when half the group went back to the cabin after lunch. I think she liked it, though- she asked if we could go back this weekend.
We left on Sunday morning, and tootled home the long way, through Moscow, ID, stopping at a few more geocaches. Here's Emma at a BIG log on a little nature walk we took at a campground to find a cache.
She's holding up a snail to show me, but I like how she is mimicking the tree!
One geocache we stopped at was super cool. It's an EarthCache, so there's no physical cache container or log to sign. EarthCaches are learning stops, to highlight some geologically interesting feature of that point.
This one was near Kendrick, ID, and was about plant fossils! You can pull up to a roadcut, get out of your car, go look at the rocky rubble at the base of the cliff, and find FOSSILS! Real ones! Just sitting there!
We finally continued on home, up and over Rattlesnake Grade, which is a very twisty, winding road in southeastern Washington that took us south into Oregon.
It was an amazing weekend.
Today after work, Emma and I went on a much tamer trek to find a couple closer geocaches at Bird Track Spring campground and Red Bridge campground. We've been both these places many times, but the nature trail at Bird Track, especially, is always worth a repeat visit. It's one of my favorite places.
The trail winds out to the river through the cottonwoods and willows. We always look forward to The Tree Gate.
The wildflowers were pretty, and the weather was lovely and sunny and warm.
This pretty little butterfly, a Greenish Blue (Plebejus saepiolus) was fluttering around the whole time we were having our drink and snack. There were several other species along the river bank, but the weather was so warm that they were too active to sit still for a photo.
We poked around the river for a while,
and saw a juvenile garter snake hunting in the water, lots of insects under the rocks, a few mussels, and tons of itty bitty fish.
These are salmonids that probably hatched this spring (tiny ones) or last fall (bigger ones).
We couldn't find any of the three geocaches we went out after, but you know what? It doesn't matter. As Emma said on the way back to the car, "We found our own NatureCaches." And that's really what geocaching is all about.
All in all, a great way to end Friday afternoon.