Confessions

How?

pacer pegmatite
This big? Not yet. But given enough time. Maybe!

I’ve hauled my own rock pile from here to my backyard.

After reading these adventures, you’ll know how Wyoming rock collecting has changed.

What I’m sharing are my personal musings and aren’t intended to offend or accuse anyone. They are my own confessions and convictions. You might find them interesting, so here goes.

I was out by my fence the other day. Along it, there’s a pile of rocks about 20 foot long, 3 feet wide and 2 foot high. I stand by this rock pile in amazement! How did all those rocks get by my fence? I’ve hauled them there, a few at a time through the years.

Remember reading about my Casper Mountain experience? Well, I’ve been back a few more times since then. In fact, I’ve been back many times.

  • it’s a short 4 mile drive
  • I enjoy collecting fluorescent minerals
  • so, I’d grab a five gallon pail and head up the mountain
  • I’d spend an hour wondering around
  • fill the pail with the best specimens I could find
  • sort them out the next day
  • photograph the best ones
  • and put them on the pile

It was just so easy. Just so convenient. Just so much fun!

Sometimes, the same rocks I rejected and left on a earlier trip, were often prized during the next one. That should have been a clue. 🙂

Now, most of the best specimens from that outcrop, are along my fence. And few are left on the mountain.

I confess, I’m the guy that did it. And I did it one bucket at a time.

Why?

I’m not sure why.

  • did I need them?
  • am I a compulsive gatherer?
  • am I greedy?
  • do I love to hoard?
  • is it the power of possession that drives me?

I’ll leave the character evaluation to others, but I think not.

What

One day, my wife asked what I was going to do with the rock pile?

I hadn’t thought about it. But told her I might sell them. Actually that was just a quick excuse. And I knew I wouldn’t, as that possibility conjures up unpleasant youthful memories of trying to sell raffle tickets, fruit cakes, etc., in a small, rural town overrun with children.

Thinking about it:

  • I love the adventure of the hunt
  • the thrill of the discovery
  • I enjoy photographing my finds
  • and sharing them with others

But even the most spectacular rocks I collect, end up sitting on a shelf for a few years. Then they’re wrapped up and put in a box, making more room for more specimens. And most eventually end up on the pile.

I find myself looking more at the pictures of those specimens, than the specimens themselves.

Consequences

While walking around my little town, I notice many rock piles just like mine.

  • some contain good specimens of jade, petrified wood, chalcedony, etc
  • some show the efforts of a knowledgeable collector
  • others have obviously been gathered by someone who found an appealing or unique looking rock and brought it home
  • some are used to build rock gardens, fountains or patios
  • but most are found in long neglected heaps, half buried with the accumulated detritus

It’s obvious that when those properties changes hands, few new owners will know the value or effort those rocks reflect.

What value would my fluorescent rock pile have to someone else? Not much, as those rocks, in daylight, are drab and unappealing. They would probably be sent off as trash.

What troubles me the most, is knowing that someone, in the future, might get interested in fluorescent minerals. Buy a lamp. Then go prospecting on one of the few public places left on the mountain. Would they find the adventure, the thrill and the joy that I’ve found?

What if someone before me had scooped it all up?

  • would I be looking for a few drab uninteresting specimens?
  • would my sense of value be degraded to the point where almost anything is acceptable?
  • or would any interest even exist?

If I purchased all my specimens, I would find value and beauty, but not much hunting thrill and certainly no sense of adventure.

Some will say that all should be got while the getting’s good. Many locations have been reclaimed, urbanization, used as road fill, or in other ways lost forever.

And that’s a good point. But are the rocks in my rock pile any more secure?

Action

It’s hard to believe that the population in the US will top 300 million. Man, that’s a bunch of people. The impacts of an increased population on a fixed resource necessitates some basic changes.

It’s no longer prudent to:

  • pump all the water
  • collect all the shells
  • catch all the fish
  • shoot all the game
  • collect all the wild bees
  • pick all the wild flowers
  • or cut all the timber one may want or is allowed to

Sportsmen have long realized the impacts that taking can have on their sport. Many areas mandate catch and release programs for fishermen. And many fishermen practice catch and release for all their fishing regardless of the law.

Many hunters have abandoned the gun for the camera. These sportsmen realized their enjoyment isn’t based on the kill. But rather, the animal itself is the vehicle for a broader experience upon which their enjoyment is based. Taking serves no positive purpose if you don’t need it.

And if that’s the case for a renewable resource like those of the sportsman, how much more important could these concepts be for the rock hound with a non-renewable resource? How could a rock hound carry out these concepts?

I think bag all the rocks should be included in the list. I’ve got a few ideas. I’m going to limit my take.

  • no more five gallon buckets and multiple trips to the truck
  • I’ll spend time looking
  • and only take the few best specimens that I can carry in my hand

I’m going to become more narrowly focused. I’ll

  • just focus on fluorescent crystal specimens, etc
  • go looking and photographing the rest, but will leave them for someone else to bag

I’ll limit the collecting damage. If extracting an excellent specimen requires tearing up the environment or demolishing an outcrop of perfectly good specimens, I’ll take a picture and leave it intact. This is especially important on natural outcrops and imperative on public land.

When collecting in an active quarry or mine, I’ll limit damage in another way. I’ll collect all that can be shared with others before it goes to the crusher. I’ll photograph the rest.

Third, I’ll remember there are many ways a mineral specimen can be lost. And one way:

  • involves much personal effort
  • takes up storage space
  • complicates moving
  • and deprives others of the joys of collecting

If I can’t display it. It stays where it’s at.

Finally, this is a short list. I’ll bet there’s much that I haven’t considered. What do you think?

-rf

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