We had a group of 11 vehicles and about 20 people from CMS and the Puyallup Valley Club for this trip. It was spring T-shirt weather as we assembled our tools and put on our boots at the first stop.
Stop 1 – 8 miles from Hwy410 on FR70 – Dubbed “Old Slope”, because at one time the road used to go past this site. Now it’s relatively unknown. The hike is 2/3 of a mile, but on an old road bed, so it’s pretty level. Muddy in places and a small running stream to cross. A lot of clay and steepness at the site, but I think everyone was finding some collectible material. After cleaning up the rocks my son and I found, they appear to be mostly opalized wood. Some very beautiful creamy brown and beige colors with a barky crust. Some with black and brown. A couple pieces with red. We spent about two hours here and then hiked back to eat lunch.
Stop 2 – Further up FR70 about 2 miles – we stopped at a rock slide Tony called the “Blue Site”. There are agate nodules in the rocks that can turn blue when sitting out under sunlight for a few days according to Tony. I found a few nice agate nodules in matrix, plus some creamy brown jasper nodules, plus two quartz crystal points. Our stay here was short. Maybe 30 minutes.
Stop 3 – Further up FR70 another mile (11 miles from Hwy410), we stopped at a site where Earthtone jasper is collected. A week before this trip as I was checking out roads and snow level, I found quite a bit of nice jasper here next to the road. It is multi-colored, with reds, greens, and browns. There is also a dig site at the top of the cliff, about a 100 yard hike, which needs hard rock tools to bust anything out. We didn’t stay here long. Tony just wanted to show us the site so people can come up on their own another day. It is marked as Site 2 on his map.
Stop 4 – Further up FR70 we stopped along another cliff. Tony showed us areas above where seam agate could be found. We didn’t spend much time here, but one member of the group found a nice Plume agate next to the road.
Stop 5 – Further up FR70, we turned left onto FR7065 (about 4000 foot elevation). Some people parked their cars here and joined others in pickup trucks and SUVs as the road got a little bit more rocky. We drove a short way up to the Naches Trail road where we parked and then spent an hour or so walking down the trail collecting agates and jasper along the way. Not abundant material found here, but there were some nice finds. At this point we were starting to get a few raindrops as well. Fortunately the serious rain held off until we were all back in our cars and heading down the mountain. On a side note, it was mentioned that Ezra Meeker led his group of covered wagons here over the Naches Trail on his way to settle the Puyallup Valley. I’m still shaking my head at the prospect of that effort. The Naches Trail goes over the mountains into where the Little Naches river runs down to the Yakima Valley and it appears that jeeps, ATVs, and dirt bikes use the trail in dryer weather. Right now it’s pretty muddy and snow covered at higher elevation.
My favorite part of any trip is talking to other participants, seeing what they’ve found, and then the next day cleaning up my material and really seeing what I collected in more detail. Definitely a worthwhile trip. Special thanks to Tony Johnson for all his knowledge sharing and Dennis Batchelor Puyallup Club trip leader for the joint trip.
Submitted by Roger Danneman CMS Trip Leader