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The Fraser River trip: 2012

Wow, what a trip it was!  Zhia and I showed up early the day before to scope out the place and find good places for parking.  We found some pretty hostile side roads around Hope:  I have never seen so many 'NO' signs in my life.  As it turns out, gravel bars are favourite places for throngs of people coming to slay salmon in the fall.  The locals do not like their 'style', as they tend to leave garbage and consume too much alcohol while snagging fish.  Unfortunately bad apples have made it difficult for the rest. 

Through patience and tenacity we found a place to park (right under a sign that says not to!) and walked about a kilometre down to the river, and Landsrom Bar.  What a place! The scale is quite amazing: the bar is about 1000 ft wide and about a kilometer and a half long.

The rocks were so amazing and different than anything on Quadra Island. We found ourselves unable to walk more than ten feet without filling our pockets!  We even resorted to picking on our hands and knees: now thats rock hounding! Our taste in pebbles soon became more discerning and we were able to cover more ground.  And then we found our first agate! It shone out of the gravel like a piece of glass.

The sun helped us find more agates: as it got lower it shone through the gravel at an angle, making the agates pop out with such brilliance we could spot them 30 feet away! We found at least 10 nice ones before we were done. But wait, on the way back, along a side creek i found what i thought was jade, gleaming translucent green through the water. Further research has revealed it is probably green chalcedony, chrysophrase.  Zhia walked away with something I am calling fire agate, probably a red chalcedony. Absolutely beautiful Zhia, good job! 

First official day of the trip, we mustered as a group and went back to the bar. (No, not beer that early in the morning, the Lansdrom GRAVEL Bar).  We didn't find any large rocks on this bar so on we went to Yale. When we showed up there was already a group of rock hounders there, and a couple of people gold panning.  This bar is massive, and the amount of rock is staggering.

The scenery was also staggering, the snow-covered coast range mountains towering over our heads and the sky bright blue with no clouds in sight. It was hard to imagine that massive paddle wheel boats made it here 130 years ago, 150 km up the river, and deposited 20,000 Americans seeking their fortune in gold!   We found serpentines, marble, quartzite, jasper, selemenite (mutton fat jade),  and some very pretty oddities.  (I also found a fist sized agate, yaay!)

  

The second day we met and went on to Alexandria Bar, about 15 km further up the mighty Fraser. As we arrived the sun was just burning the frost off the huge boulders scattered about. Another day of sun made the huge drifts of white sand gleam. Alexandria Bar is also huge, though not quite as big as the others. Here we gathered mainly serpentine, a beautiful green rock which is translucent in a thin section.  (confirmed by expertly chipping the rock to yield a small chip for inspection). Serpentine is the precursor rock for jade, and is often mistaken for jade. After many trips carrying heavy rocks to the truck we were exhausted and ready for the long trip home.  Wow, thanks Fraser River. We'll be back.