Chariot Gulch in the Silver City Mountains was our destination for Sunday September 12th, 2010. This area is west and above the Sinker Tunnel Mine and sort of remote. The road up Chariot Gulch isn't suitable for cars or trucks but our trusty Arctic Cat ATV handled the rocky, rough and steep terrain easily. To be honest, this was a exploratory trip as I knew nothing about this area so we were quite excited to find some cool rocks. While we could have explored this area more thoroughly, we really only stopped at two spots for any length of time.
Geology 201 Spot
We called the area located at 43.015324°, -116.694063° Geology 201 because of the totally cool rocks. I suspect a whole semester of a Geology 201 class could be held right at this spot. The rocks were so varied and crazy we marveled over 100's of them. All the good rocks are mixed in a semi-dry stream bed with some quartz crystals, twisted and tortured sedimentary rocks, agates and opal. None worth any money but the weirdness and "eye candy" factor made this one of my favorite spots for rock hounding during the 2010 rock hounding season.
Oro Fino Minor
Located at 43.010363, -116.694154 and just east and downhill from the Oro Fino mine we decided to call this spot Oro Fino Minor. This accidental rock hounding spot was really a no-brainer. We just emerged from a long rough and steep part of the trail that was totally in the shade. So when this sunny and open area came into view we had to stop. Of course, seeing quartz littering the road certainly made our decision much easier. Once off our ATV a quick swivel of the head to the north and we knew this was the place to stop for a picnic lunch. The view was incredible with the pine tree cover landscape surrounding us and a grand view of the Snake River Plains spreading northward to the Boise Mountains. While some people like to dine at sidewalk cafes or ritzy restaurants we prefer picnic lunches with views not obtainable anywhere else but in Idaho. Yeah, we have a few flies to deal with but the service and solitude is unbeatable.
After lunch, we turned our attention to the road and rocks. We didn't have to look far for cool specimens. Right at our feet we found small conglomerates of quartz crystals. These 1-2 inch long rocks contained many small crystals in the white to clear range. I call these rocks "little sawtooths" because the resemble the Sawtooth Mountains near Sanley, Idaho.
Other finds included what I call "common opal slab sandwiches". Basically two pieces of flat common opal with an unknown thin layer between that cements the opal layers together. The opal in these sandwiches could also be just quartz...but I suspect it's opal. We found the source of these cool rocks in a vein running through a boulder next to the road.
We ended up bringing home a large handful of the "little sawtooths" and a few opal sandwiches. Our family and friends might find some of these rocks in their Christmas baskets this December? The best of the best will be displayed on our fireplace mantle.
Info on the Bondy's Chariot Gulch Rock Hounding Trip
Date of trip: Sunday September 12, 2010
Tools Used: While we had our rock hammers with us they never left the ATV. All rocks were gather by hand and they were laying loose on the road or in the streambed.
Critters and bugs: This was an afternoon trip so we didn't see any animals except a few chipmunks. We dealt with a few flies...very few files so it was quite enjoyable.
Crowds: Once we turned onto the unnamed Chariot Gulch Trail, we were completely alone. I named this trail Chariot Gulch because it isn't marked on any map I could find.
Entrance/Exit Point Coordinates: 43.023502, -116.695135 and 43.009008, -116.695657
Elevation: Entrance at ~6,300 feet | Exit at ~7,300 feet
More Pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/tim.bondy/ChariotGulchRockHounding?feat=directlink
Overall, this late summer trip was quite fun. We got off the roads less traveled on to the trail rarely traveled and discovered a wonderful area. As I said above this trip isn't for the trucks...even for 4 wheel-drives. There were times we had to put our Arctic Cat into 4-Low to get up some short, steep sections. The trail isn't very wide in parts and nature is beginning to take over. This area also has some mining claims on it...Claimed by a company called GoldCorp Holdings but it's a lode claim. The road leading to Silver City was quite busy on this day. More busy than any other time I have been up here. It was mostly the ATV and motorcycle crowd instead of car traffic. I encourage you to get out to see some of the beauty and wonders Idaho contains.
As always, I encourage questions, comment and any advice you may have for rock hounding or exploring new areas.
The Bondyweb.Com author
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