First Hill Field Trip Information Page
This is a productive, multi-location field trip with hikes over some of the most beautiful country in Eastern Washington. There will be 3 areas, each one progressively more difficult to approach and collect than the last. Participants should be in good shape, and comfortable hiking on a steep, but solid dirt road.
Difficulty Class 3 to 5 (depending on collecting locations)
Material: Blue thunder eggs 2 oz to 2 pounds, Smoky Quartz, Amethyst.
Mandatory Equipment List:
1. 4 liters water
2. Lunch and snacks.
4. Sturdy Hiking boots (No tennis shoes allowed for safety...you will not be allowed to participate without hiking boots).
5. First aid kit.
6. GMRS or 2m/70 cm ham radio.
7. Cell phone (no service in most of the area)
8. Sturdy Jeans or long pants are strongly recommended for areas 2,3 and 4.
9. Study work gloves.
10. Sturdy pack.
11. Garden shovel, trowel.
Site specific equipment list:
1. Geo paleo pick (this is helpful for climbing the steep slopes as well as breaking open thundereggs)
2. Two pound crack hammer with selection of chisels (not dasco)
3. Tool belt.
4. Climbing harness and Jumar or ATC.
5. Climbing rope (I’ll provide, but anyone who has one is asked to bring it along)
First Creek courses through an ancient, weathering basal field near Othello. Steep ridges, up to 1000 feet in elevation, surround the creek; most are filled with thunder eggs of various sizes. Lower areas may also contain free agates and thunder eggs, although I didn’t find any. Anatomy of the collecting site:
Area 1: ½ to 1 mile from the parking lot, moderately steep over a solid, abandoned dirt road. Several road cuts that occur near the parking area look productive, but are barren. Good collecting areas begin at ½ mile from the trailhead. 1-2 inch, blue agates can be found along the road, but most require some digging in loose, rotten basalt. These agates are some of the most beautiful I have ever collected, and are worth the drive.
Area 2: 2 ½ miles from the parking area, quite steep; along the same dirt road, but the grade doubles. Participants need to be in very good physical condition to reach this spot. There are several agate seams near the destination. Hard rock tools required to recover material here, and it is hard work, but beautiful material. Farther up the the road ( just past area 3), there is a steep hillside with evidence of digging pits which may contain free thundereggs.
Area 3: 3 miles from the parking area, ½ mile from area 2. Very steep scramble over unstable rock to reach the basalt benches, which extend to the summit ridge. The collecting area is huge, but composed of steep slabs with variable footing. Participants need to be in excellent physical condition and comfortable on exposed rock. Climbing ropes will be provided, but you must bring your own harness and belay device (ATC, Figure of 8, Jumar all acceptable). Roping up is not required, but strongly encouraged. Personal anchors work well here too, but bring 6 nylon runners and a daisy chain. The entire side of the mountain is rotten basalt, easy to chip away, and blue thunder eggs are abundant, some quite large.
Less exposed portions of the area are reported to produce agates as well, and there are old pits present, but I didn’t find anything on the lower slopes.
Area 4: 1000 feet up the road from Area 3. Loose dirt has several old digging pits. Thundereggs in this area are likely, and it is much safer than area 3, but I have not done any digging myself.
Area 5: 6 miles from the parking lot over very steep trail. Participants much be in excellent physical condition and comfortable with fast paced, aggressive hiking. Alternatively, mountain bikes could be used (and would actually be better, since participants will have less than an hour to collect before needing to return if they walk). There are reportedly smoky quartz crystals in road cuts at this location, but I have not personally scouted the area. The decision to offer this location will depend on the number of people who express interest.
A representative from the Field Trip Committee will be present to assist you at all locations.
6:45 Meet at the Southwest corner of the Alderwood Target parking lot
7:00 Depart for Othello.
9:00 Arrive Othello, rest, snack, coffee
10:00 Depart for collecting site
10:30 Arrive at parking lot, assemble equipment, sort participants into groups depending on their interest.
11:00 Begin hiking to the collecting areas.
12:00 Arrive at Area 1, Collect until 3:30, return to parking area, depart for Othello at 4:30 PM
1:00 Arrive at area 2, collect until 4:00, return to parking area. Plan to depart for Othello at 4:30 PM
1:30 Arrive at Area 3, collect until 3:30, return to parking area. Plan to depart for Othello at 4:30 PM
3:30 Arrive at Area 4, collect until 4:00, return to parking area- plan to depart for Othello at 5:30 PM (this group may decided to stay longer if the Field Trip Rep agrees)
There is neither water nor bathroom facilities anywhere at this location, plan accordingly.
Because this is a new collecting site for the club, and there are potential dangers, ALL MEMBERS CONSIDERING PARTICIPATION MUST CONTACT ME BEFORE REGISTERING TO ATTEND. You will still need to fill out the field trip sign up form, but need approval to attend first.
Chris Herter at 206-491-4015 (this is a new number).