This would be the first time in over five years that I had gone on a “camping” trip with my Dad. Usually it was trout fishing/ hiking in another part of the UP, but this time I would be showing him some of my favorite new haunts in the Marquette area; he would show me one or two places he had discovered recently as well.
The Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club couldn’t have picked a better weekend to have their annual rock and gem show. This would be the second show I’ve attended since joining the club in March of ’06, and it seems I might just have a new annual tradition.
These trips always seem to get started later than I intend; the morning of Thursday August 2nd was no different. It was my plan to leave at 8:00 am, and
by around 8:45 I was ready to go. Weather was perfect for the long drive up, and having gassed up the day before I drove through the morning and didn’t stop for a break until I got to St. Ignace where I stopped at a Subway to get lunch and dinner. My next stop was at a rest stop east of Naubinway where I ate the first half of my sub. By then it was around 1:30pm and I was in need of lunch. After that little rest I was back in the road headed for Escanaba. Arriving around 4:30 I filled up on gas and stopped at the local Big K-mart for some supplies. Then it was back on the road, up Hwy69 through Felch where I stopped at a road cut for some more rock with nice Bornite samples on it, and after a stop for road construction or two, I connected with Hwy95, driving north to the Lake Ellen Kimberlite Prospect to fill up a bucket for later sifting and to take some pictures. The wild raspberries were getting ripe, and the pit was mostly shaded from the warm summer sun by the tall surrounding trees.
After filling my bucket I decided to look a little closer at the few sunny
patches on the wall of the pit. In one spot I noticed a small dark glassy rock and plucked it out with my fingers. It turned out to be this faceting grade Pyrope Garnet.
Knowing how the local Black Bears like wild raspberries, I stuck around only long enough to eat the second half of my sub, and moved on to Van Riper State Park to meet up with my Dad. I hadn’t seen either of my parents since the previous October when they left for Florida, so this was a nice reunion. We talked until the sun set behind the trees and I got in my cozy dry bed in the van to rest up for Fridays activities.
Friday, August 3rd
We got an early start, eating a quick breakfast and arriving at the Pamida in Ishpeming shortly before the 9:00 meeting time. There were already a few car loads of rockhounds waiting, and here’s a picture of the group gathering around club member Bob Clark’s truck where he showed specimens of what might be found in the area. That’s my Dad (Jack Adams) on the right in the green sweat shirt and white visor.
When ready, the sizeable convoy made its way down Hwy41 and parked along the road in front of the Mt. Shasta restaurant. Walking through the narrow opening in the fence, my Dad and I went straight to the crushed rock pile. I was surprised to see one club member already chest deep in a hole and breaking pseudo garnets out of the chlorite matrix rock. The sun was warming things up, and as I dug in the crushed pile, black chlorite dust was kicking up and sticking to the sweat on my forearms. We dug past noon, finding quite a few nice specimens including this one that I broke some of the matrix away from revealing nice natural facets.
I also found what was identified as Grunerite by Bob Clark.
Club President John Crady passed out bottles of cold water to appreciative rockhounds courtesy of the Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club. Some fine specimens were found that day including one or two the size of baseballs with nice natural facets. Here’s a picture of me on the crushed rock pile.
And next, a panorama combining three photos of the group hard at work (play?).
We finished up around 12:30 and went to the Mt. Shasta restaurant for a great lunch. I went to the restroom to wash up and realized the staff must have thought me a miner from old times. My nose and arms up to the elbow were black with chlorite dust. After making myself more presentable I returned to the table and noticed that a lot of the group from the field trip were there. John Crady was at the table next to us and I chatted with him for a bit. Apparently the Marquette area only had about 60 inches of snow this winter as opposed to the normal 200, which accounts for the low water levels in the streams and great lakes this year.
After lunch we stopped at the party store in Michigamme where I got in line to buy some ice. While there, an older lady asked me if I was with the group at Mt. Shasta and I said yes. She asked what we here hunting for, and I said Pseudo Garnets. She looked at me for a second and said “Black Diamonds, that’s what we call them.” It’s the second time I’ve heard them referred to that way, and I agreed, “that’s right.” She said that years ago they used to find them the size of softballs. I asked if she still had any, and she said her son had them. I told her to hang on to them, because good ones that size are getting more rare all the time. It was a great conversation that I’ll remember for years to come.
For the rest of the afternoon my Dad wanted to show me a spot he and my brother had found on the Yellowdog River. In previous research I learned that gold had been found on this river so I took along my metal detector to scan the gravel beds. When we got to the area where my Dad wanted to park, there were new “private property” signs posted, so we back tracked a way to where there were no signs and hiked to the river. My dad was surprised at how little water there was running over the several falls he showed me. At one point while walking on the water-smoothed bedrock I slipped and got a soaker up to the thighs, and as smooth as the rock was, it was a trick getting back out, slipping again and smacking my knee on the rock in the process, but I got out (obviously), and managed to keep the electronics of my metal detector out of the water. Since I was wet anyway, I walked across the stream and got this picture.
I didn’t find any gold that day, and my waterlogged boots made the hike back to the Trailblazer quite a bit of effort. Still, it was a fun adventure, and I was glad we went. By then it was dinner time, so we drove back through Marquette and got some food. Then we returned to camp where I changed into some dry clothes and set the wet things out to dry. The Friday night crowd was starting to fill up the campground, and we talked until sunset when the mosquitoes finally drove me into the van for the night.
Saturday, August 4th
This morning I was up early and headed out to a garage sale in Ishpeming that advertised antiques. Having no problems finding the sale, I bought a few interesting pieces including three large pins used during mining days. They are all stamped with the miners individual numbers, and the miners used them to hang up their mining cloths for laundering after their shift was over. The lady having the sale said that her family had been in mining.
After that I drove to the local sports shop in Ishpeming where I bought a sweatshirt and t-shirt with the logo of the local high school, the Ishpeming Hematites.
Next I drove to the Elks Club where the 32nd annual Ishpeming Rock and Mineral Club Rock and Gem Show was being held. This was where my Dad and I had arranged to meet. At the outdoor sales area I was able to grab up some nice specimens including my first nugget of gold, and two copper/ silver “halfbreeds”.
I successfully made two short videos with my camera of the outdoor sales area, but it seems that I need a little more practice. The videos are 360 degree turns, and even though it felt like I was turning slowly, on video I was turning faster than I should have. You can still pause it and get a good focus on what you’re looking at, but it’s not exactly what I was hoping for. Still, it’s better than last year, when the video didn’t work at all.
After shopping I locked up the van, and hopped in my Dad’s Trailblazer. He took me to a hiking trail that he had found with my sister and nephews last year at an area north of Marquette called Sugarloaf Mountain. It’s a nice hiking trail that leads you up and over a large wooded hill and down again to the shore of Lake Superior. At the beach my Dad wet a fishing line and I looked through the beach rock. The lake level was low enough that we were able to hop from rock to rock out to a couple of small rock islands that were made up of granite with pink feldspar with black basalt dikes and green epidote, and displayed evidence of violent volcanic activity in the distant past. After about two hours we made the strenuous hike back over Sugarloaf ‘Mountain’ and to the blazer. We then returned to the Elks Club in Ishpeming where he dropped me off and returned to camp while I looked around one last time at the rock show. I made a couple more purchases, this time to expand my library of rock and mineral literature. When finished I got some dinner and returned to camp to meet up with my Dad and get ready for the evenings activities at the Elks Club.
That night the speaker was local archaeology expert Jim Paquette. I had seen him speak once before about finding Jesuit trade rings in Marquette County, but this time Jim spoke about the finds he and a friend had made which proved for the first time, the existence of Paleo-Indians in Marquette County some 11,000 years ago. I also learned a new rock term, Hixton Silicified Sandstone, which is a unique material found in Wisconsin and revered by early Indians for making spear points. My Dad enjoys history and seemed to appreciate the talk given by Mr. Paquette. After the talk was over some very nice items were auctioned off and door prizes were given out. We left shortly after 9:00 for camp to rest up for our final full day in the UP.
Sunday August 5th
Today we would be going to Lindberg’s Quarry near Negaunee for Kona Dolomite, but that wasn’t until 1:00, so I decided to show my Dad the “Cornish Town” park in Negaunee. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip for him. The park has photos throughout showing how the buildings used to look ( now just foundations overgrown with trees and brush). In it’s heyday this section of Negaunee had it’s own police post, train depot, school, courthouse, and two or three mines as well as many residences including one for the Priest. All of it was abandoned when the area began to cave into the mines below. We went to the North Jackson mine area. In May there was a chain fence keeping people out, but now the fence was removed, and we were able to go in and see the water filled pit with signs warning people to ‘keep back, deep water’.
Around noon we left for the Negaunee township hall to meet up with rest of the gathering rockhounds. There in the parking lot we ate lunch and prepared for the quarry. At 1:00 the large convoy of vehicles, many with small trailers to haul away rocks (on this field trip there’s no limit to the weight you can carry out, within reason, I’m sure they wouldn’t let you in with a dump truck or other large equipment, still, not bad for a $5.00 donation). Gray clouds dropped a few sprinkles on eagerly hunting rockhounds, and shaded us from the early August mid day sun. Here’s a panorama of the quarry pit that afternoon, followed by a sample of what I found that day.
Back at camp we rested for a while and then my Dad started packing away all non essential items for the trip home the next day.
Monday morning I helped take down Dad’s tent and we said our goodbyes. I had an uneventful seven hour drive home, arriving around 3:30pm with my ‘booty’ of rocks from Michigan’s upper peninsula. This might be an annual trip for us and I look forward to the next time my Dad and I can get back to the UP, hunting its diverse minerals.