Joe and I went to two of our favorite petrified wood hunting locations today to see what's changed since the last few heavy rains.
A lot has changed.
We went to Site 1 first and, while the erosion wasn't too bad, it had definitely made an impact on accessibility. There was also an issue with the development across the creek, and how they'd just used some kind of heavy equipment to just shear off the bank, doing nothing but promoting erosion of gargantuan proportions. As an ecological restoration major, this kind of shit makes me want to throat punch some developer, and make them pay for remediation. But things like that don't happen. On our side, however, it was just regular old erosion that played a part in the changing bank face. And it wasn't too bad.
The sad thing was that the big root ball we'd been eyeing appears to have, well, disappeared. Whether someone was able to drag it out or the erosion managed to dislodge it is unclear, but I would venture to say that it was way too big to have gone too far downstream - and we walked a long way. Joe said there was all kinds of matted down vegetation and squishy mud around it, so I'm betting someone was actually able to retrieve it, somehow, using methods we've yet to perfect.
But not all was lost. We found some pretty amazing specimens.
The first one was - I'm assuming - part of the root ball that broke off when it was being extracted. The entire side and part of the end and middle is nothing but gemstone material of some sort. Agate, chalcedony, quartz, amber...it's hard to tell; it could be any or a combination of those.
This specimen is full of mineral material
We also found a pretty sizable log that we were able to pick up together and get back to the house.
That's my size 6.5 boot next to it.
The other cool things I found were two pieces of gemstone material - again, no idea what kind, exactly - that was washed up on the bank. It either came out or is all that's left of a piece of wood that was weathered away, destroyed, or just came apart after being thrashed around in the water.
I really like these because it shows how interesting nature can really be.
Before we left, we did end up with about half a bucket-full of wood. We've been super-selective, for all good reason, but we did take a few pieces that either had twig knots, inclusions, or a very interesting pith or overall twisty pattern.
However, when we went to Site 3, things were much, much different.
The two ways down to access the layers of soil containing the wood were completely eroded out. I mean, straight down, no way down. And, even if you could get down, you ain't gettin' back up, and definitely not with any sizable specimen in your arms.
This was a little sad, because if you looked in just the right spot, you could still see one of the giant logs we'd started digging out. Not all of it; the creek was still a little high for that. But it was there. I'm not sure how treacherous the water flow must have been to do such incredible damage, but it must've been one hell of a strong current. Across the bank there was a dump site of sorts; looks like a golf cart graveyard. Most of them had been washed halfway down the bank. All the vegetation that had been lining the sloping banks was gone on both sides and on the middle sandbar. From our vantage point, we could only see that one huge log poking out of the water, and a few small pieces that weren't worth picking up on a slow day, much less now.
So, it's sad that these three major specimens we've been eyeing for awhile may be stuck there forever - for real, now (i know i've said that before) - but nature has a way of reclaiming everything, one way or the other. Maybe it will be more accessible after things dry out a bit, but we have a tendency to have more rain in the winter (heck, it actually freakin' snowed here last week), so who knows how long it might be before we really get a chance to go back. Even then, we still might not have come up with a good way to try to extract those large pieces. If we couldn't do it when the bank was navigable, there's less of a chance now.
So, I'll have to post the story and pics of the last trip to Site 2. Impressive haul is the only way to put it - and not all of it was wood.