I thought I would post this report, even though I still don't have a
digital camera. Sorry there are no pictures. The day was gorgeous, the hounding was wonderful,
and the views were fantastic.
February 25, 2005
Wanting to get an early start I spent the night with Garry Mahan in Port Orchard.
We left his house at 6:05 am, and stopped for fuel in Cle Elum. Our next stop was the Washington
Mineral Council site at Saddle Mountain, where we met up with Jerry Alexander and Bob Bradley.
The weather was almost perfect, sunny and in the mid to high 50’s with a slight
breeze to keep one cool.
The Saddle Mountain site is located north and east of Mattawa, next to the BLM R
road, about 6 miles from Mattawa. We arrived at about 10:00 am, and after changing shoes for hiking
boots, I started hiking over the hills looking for possible digging sites. The area around the
parking lot had plenty of previous dig spots but I like to explore and prospect for areas untouched
by others. I’m always hoping to find the one in a million piece of material. Garry and I had
decided to look for a particular type of “picture wood”, which was known to be found in the Saddle
Mountains. We had one sample of this “picture wood” that was given to Garry. The old gentleman who
gave it to Garry was not able to remember exactly where he had found it, so our search area covered
a lot more area than we could get to in two days. We had to give it a try though.
I hiked over the hill to the south and worked my way back to the parking area to
check in with Garry. When I got back Garry was gone and Jerry indicated that he went north east,
so off I went again, looking for Garry. I never did catch up to him, although I spotted what looked
like him quite a ways north of me. This trip around the hills I located an area that looked
promising, so I started digging. All I was getting was small chips of what appeared to be jasper.
I wasn’t after jasper, so off I go once again. On my way back to the truck to see if Garry had
returned, I dug a little in an area of other dig holes and pulled out two very nice pieces of
Garry still was not back, so I headed to the area where I saw him last. I hiked
over the ridge and down into the canyons on the north side where I located some float of wood chips.
I followed the float up the hill for a ways and then started to dig. I was pulling out some nice
pieces of blond wood with excellent grain, but not very good color. The best pieces I kept were
quarter rounds of blond wood weighing about 1 pound apiece. I still hadn’t found Garry, so back
to the truck I go. This time Jerry said that Garry had been there looking for me and had taken a
portable radio with him. I got the other radio out and called Garry and found out he had been 100
yards up the hill from me, digging in a spot with some nice colored jasper.
I returned to my blond wood spot and dug for a few more minutes, but since I was
looking for wood with color and pattern in it, I gave up on this site and worked my way down the
canyon and up the other side to an area that had been previously worked. I started working this
sport and was finding some nice limb sections encased in what looked like opalized bog. The colors
were mostly dark, with not much pattern. While I was working this site Garry had gone back and
brought the truck over so we didn’t have too far to hike with our treasures.
Garry and I then worked this site until it started to get dark. We headed back to
the Mineral Council site to spend the night.
February 26, 2005
We started our day before the sun was up and decided to go farther east. We drove
to Sentinel Peak and hiked around for about an hour. There was no sign of any digging activity,
and only a few small pieces of white wood float, so we decided to head back to the Mineral Council
site and finish up or last few hours working in the area of previous digs.
I had Garry drop me off about a mile form the Mineral Council site and I started
hiking back along the ridge, looking for float and previous dig sites. I located what appeared to
be a major dig site on the top of a ridge and when I started working in the fringes of the old holes
I immediately found some almost perfect limbs with a beautiful gold ring around the outside. The
limbs were small, maybe an inch in diameter, but perfectly formed. I was getting excited, now and
decided to search the rest of the dig site for evidence of the patterning that I was looking for. I
did find a number of small chips left from previous digs that gave some promise, so back to
my first spot and moving dirt and basalt. I was able to find quite a number of really nice limbs,
all the time trying to get Garry on the radio. Finally at about 10:00 am, after digging about
15 pounds of good quality limbs and broken pieces, I returned to the truck and convinced Garry
that I had found a better area to work. Many of the broken pieces had especially nice colors
and patterns in them, and would probably make some nice pictures.
We had planned to leave around noon, but when you get into a good spot and start
pulling out top quality material it is hard to leave. We finally managed to pull ourselves away
at 2:30 pm. I ended up with about 40 pounds of nice wood in the two days digging, and after the
6 hours of driving to get home I was well ready for a nice hot shower and bed.