Burgdorf - Ruby Meadows - Crystal Mountain
July 27-30, 2006
Report by Rhonda Gheen

This camping and rockhounding trip started on a Thursday a little late out-the-gate for us as we were not on the road until 6:45am! All our packing had been done the night before so we slept in. Rick had all our abundant supplies lashed into our small utility trailer. As usual our cat was depressed knowing he wouldn’t be with us sleeping for a few nights and glared at us reproachfully on the way out. The two dogs however, Mason (Rick’s half German Shephard) and Kodi (my Keeshond) were ecstatic with anticipation of another trip, almost jumping in before the PU tailgate was down for them!

Our route was straightforward small highways from home near McEwen Oregon all the way to McCall Idaho’s outskirts where the smaller, curvy, but nicely paved road to the digs began. It was very hazy as the driving part of the day progressed. It turned out both Weiser and McCall areas had fires from previous lightening. Ugh, smoke. Just enough to hurt the eyes a bit but not really smell. Otherwise the trip was uneventful except for a stretch of being stuck behind a “Mother Trucker”? I think that’s what Rick called him. No place to pass and so began our Rockhounding version of the ever-famed song “99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall”. Because we collect, the song counts UP not down though. Gotta start at zero and ADD rock.

“Zero Kilos of Stash In The Truck,
Zero Kilos of Stash…….
You Pick some Rocks
and into the Box
and ONE Kilo of Stash In the Truck!”

We laugh a lot but tire of that song VERY quickly…like we get to about 10 and give it up! BTW the after Weiser stretch on our route had lots of cool columnar basalt formations to observe and the green Weiser River valley was a nice contrast to the rolling brown hills before the forested elevation climb to McCall. At mid day, after passing the beautiful Payette Lakes (lower lake populated with homes & resorts and upper lake pristine and screaming FISHING to me).

After a dog stop, gasoline stop and yes, a roadcut and outcrop stop or two as well, we finally found ourselves looking at the Ruby Meadows sign. We noted that FS 364 led to the Ruby Meadows parking lot (and trailhead) and had several free camping areas. Dean W. had said he camped on this one on the McRocks thread. We decided to scout more of the area. Back on the main road, we next found the Burgdorf Hot Springs sign and turned onto FS 246 to see what That looked like. Just 100 yards past the acres of clusters of old and new Burgdorf buildings was Another campground called “Jeanette”. Its dirt road was forked with another unmarked dirt road that took off steeper up the back of the hillside. Hummmm. A mystery road. I like those! Well, that campground was $5/Day or $2.50/Day with Rick’s Golden Access Pass (they called it a Golden “Age” pass which miffed him a bit!) After gasoline prices we hardly cared about a couple of bucks per night so we looked. What A “Fated” Decision! We drove up the campground’s hill and passed 6 spaces…the top one empty and totally in the shade! It was PERFECT for us as it even had grass and a creek running through the “back” for the dogs to lay in. A great blessing for them in summer heat. They are SO happy to play in water and I could screen there too! FYI yet another FS Campground @ $8 per night is on the “Nethker trailhead road” which turns off 246, and is called “The Burgdorf Campground”. LOTS of choices in a very small area! Water is everywhere too so anyone with a backpacker’s filter has it made! (We carry jugs from home though cause we have trailer space).

We set up camp at 1 pm. in Jeanette Campground space #6.

Needing to stretch Rick and I walked down the camp road to the fee box. I inspected the road gravel, slopes, “mystery road”, and every area of erosion between the two roads near the bottom. I was generally just dinking around. BOOM!!! My decades-trained rockhound eye suddenly snapped and focused! The sun was hitting INTO an unusual deep blue color with a fine layer of dust over it nestled into dirt and gravel! When I felt the small heavy dark crystal lift into my fingers and rubbed it to reveal two translucent pink edges I was really stunned to the point of feeling like a Miracle had just happened.

MY FIRST #9 !!!

Within one hour of arrival I had what I knew beyond any doubt was going to be my BEST rock find of the trip. Sometimes an experienced hound just KNOWS. Right then I also Really regretted not bringing a fishing pole! HA HA HA. Rick, smiling,had listened to my babbling and was standing by in case I fainted from shock. He rubbed it in by saying “Well, Now that you found THAT, what do we do for three days?! He also informed me he wasn’t going to stress over anything that small himself and he intended on finding a quartz crystal! I’d told him the books & DVD said there was quartz around and we’d already seen the roads, rivers and creeks beautifully lined with white quartz and pink granite!

Well, the rest of that day is pretty much a blur I was so tired and ecstatic from my FIND (both) except that the INSECTS were just awful in that camp. First many both regular and deer flies and later a huge number of tiny but hungry mosquitos. We called ‘em “The Deet-Eater Squad” ! If you go, Be Very Prepared! After a meal in our screen tent we sacked out very early.

Day 2

I woke up,looked at my corundum, thought “COFFEE”, and by the time I was done preparing and drinking it Rick and the dogs were ready to go (he drinks a Coke in the morning!). Our plan was Ruby Meadows! Or so we thought. Drove over. There was the trailhead, fine and dandy, but we were so fresh and eager we marched right past “the cabin” (now a pile of logs) indicated on the book map! It’s beside the LOWER (shortcut) path into the digs about a half mile up. It didn’t help that a huge tree had fallen covering the entry path which was much smaller than the ATV road we were walking on.

Long story short: we walked a mile too far, found the upper older dredgings that are covered with moss and knew we had it all wrong. The rock piles a mile and a half UP are really overgrown and not the barren workings I expected to be screening. The wonder of it though, was a million, and I mean a million, small red ripe berry bushes that showed me for the very first time in my life how a bear could actually be FED on tiny berries! Also a grouse stood her ground and clucked at me instead of running which I really enjoyed. We explored and grew hot and tired not finding much at all rock-wise. When we returned to the ATV road and started down we found our mistake; below us through a clearing was the barren huge bowl of dredgings that was THE Ruby Meadows!

Report continued . . . . . . .

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