A small truck pulled into the Lassen Creek Campground ending my solo occupation. A nice family from Lake County and as it turned out, they were the closest neighbor to the Santa Rosa Gem and Mineral Society. Southern California dominated the three-day event with nearly half of the 82 participants. Day one began with two wagon trains going to two different sites to find obsidian, the first line drove to the Pink Lady mine, an open pit area to look for rock with a pink sheen inside the rock. The second group went to the big tamale, Rainbow Mine, an exposed hillside of mostly obsidian rock. A few years ago the forest service, in response to three acres of scattered open pit diggings, decided to clear some trees and bulldoze the hillside. Today there is a steeply cut bank of ‘benches’ with lots of parking. Even first timers find plenty of beautiful stone, the rainbow variation presents a beautiful range of colors inside the black obsidian. The site also yields a beautiful silver sheen obsidian. Altogether there are four sites in the Modoc Forest set aside for collecting, the two above and the Electric Blue Obsidian site.
The stone there is just a few feet under the surface but buried in very hard clay. The fourth is the Obsidian Needle site which does not require digging. To view these four stones, go to Google Images and enter each color name with ‘obsidian’ for your search. Electric Blue is stunning followed by the Rainbow variety, you judge your favorite, but they are all beautiful, enchanting examples of flint.
Two days after the event ended a group of three cars drove off into the Nevada high desert in search of a special agate a local resident told us about. We drove for two hours and found ourselves in a desolate, dry, snaky looking road in the middle of nowhere, a rock hound’s dream. We pulled off next to a dry creek bed and began exploring. Some of the agate formations there are as big as a small car. I drove off-road to see what was over the next hill and found a spot with three gallons of excellent, deep green agate I have yet to identify. I took two days to drive home through choking smoke, courtesy of the Carr Fire near Redding that still burns today.
Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and a lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Mycological Society. Look for his column each week in The Community Voice.