[meteorite-list] Old guy braves the snakes and snails to hunt for meteorites!

From: Galactic Stone & Ironworks <meteoritemike_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:56:48 -0500
Message-ID: <CAKBPJW-YceEtrwjBY4wpXMkYPCza-LouL4cXd7QVmF5rYbPqrA_at_mail.gmail.com>

Great report Edwin. Thanks for sharing it. Meteorite hunting is main
focus, but being outdoors in a beautiful environment is a reward all
of it's own. :)

Best regards and happy huntings,

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On 12/15/12, Edwin Thompson <etmeteorites at hotmail.com> wrote:
> The summer of 2012 started early for someone from rainy Oregon with a fun
> trip for father and son to chase after a new fall in Coloma, CA. The first
> trip to the new strewn field was ten days long and only a few days after the
> fall. Having the bordello room upstairs at the Sierra House hotel turned out
> to be a valuable advantage. With a bar and restaurant downstairs and being
> the only road house in the small, historic gold discovery town, meteorite
> hunters turned up there every night to compare notes. On the weekends the
> crew from SETI and NASA Ames would meet there for large group dinners always
> dog tired from another day of covering ground. The Coloma/Lotus area is on a
> beautiful section of the American river. It was easy to get to know local
> residents there. Since the primary activity during the summer is rafting the
> river everyone in the area is used to the summer growth in population. The
> town seems to have more than its share of young and attractive girls who
> often talk about what they know is coming each summer. They have a common
> saying in Coloma; you don?t lose a boyfriend, you just lose a turn.
> Except for the poison oak, the ticks, the dreaded star thistle and the heat,
> this strewn field was a delightful paradise. The smell of bay trees roasting
> in the hot, dry, mountain air was an olfactory delight. The sounds of
> splish-splashers laughing and whooping and hollering their way down the
> roaring rapids of deliciously cool, clear American river water made one feel
> like this was a vacation. And the gentle breezes that cut through the dry,
> hot Sierra foothill air were a welcome relief. After ten days it was really
> hard to return home to rainy, old Oregon. So much so that it was just that
> easy to rush home, pack up the trailer, reserve an extended stay at the
> Campground in Coloma and head right back down for the summer. It made sense,
> the summer was already planned for a lengthy, determined search in eastern
> Oregon for the fall there some five years ago and this witnessed fall in
> Coloma was a bird in the hand since pieces were being found.
> Since the summer rush had not yet arrived it was easy to get a camp site
> just feet from the river?s edge. A number of the camper?s live there year
> round so it was much like home after the first week, getting to know the
> neighbors and getting settled in. The only difference was that large bright
> ball of solar heat supply overhead that comes much earlier in the season for
> the folks of the Golden State. With the predictable sunshine comes other
> elements such as blistering afternoon temperatures and the legendary
> rattlesnakes not one of which was seen by this meteorite hunter in over
> three months of days out in the bush. This was truly disappointing. The
> dollars spent on snake gaiters and a go-pro camera seemed a waste. And being
> a serious admirer of reptiles it was hard to hear all of the stories of
> sightings and not to get to see one up close and in person. The days were
> filled with other sightings; king snakes, colorful skinks of all sizes,
> coyotes, foxes, turkeys galore, loads of deer and one bobcat.
> The hills and mountains were surprisingly steep. Mount Murphy, Mount Clark
> and Discovery Mountain were all tough going but the most difficult aspect of
> covering steep terrain were the small oval dried oak leaves that covered the
> hillsides in several layers and more than once proved to be more slippery
> than skates on ice. Over time it became difficult to tell which was more
> painful; blistered feet or a bruised backside.
> Not wanting to join the foray of hunters asking permission to hunt the
> private land that peppered the main body of the strewn field the decision
> was made to focus efforts on what might be the area where the bigger masses
> might have landed. After spending a week in Dave Moore Park and two weeks in
> Magnolia and on the river trails it was time to focus on Cronin ranch and
> then on to Rattlesnake Bar.
> Cronin Ranch was work, to say the least. Seventeen hundred acres of
> hillside, star thistle and poison oak (the enemy). As summer progressed,
> days flying by like time travel, it got hotter earlier. To beat the heat
> meant getting up at four a.m. and getting out to hunt at daylight. It was
> easy to stop by three p.m. as that was when the water in the hydration pack
> ran out almost with religious perfection. Shower at four, dinner at five,
> bed by eight and up again long before the eyes were willing to crack open.
> It seemed like a good waste of summer sunshine and cool sleep time but
> determination to find a hidden treasure or the hope of doing so can be a
> massive motivator.
> The days sped by like never before. The occasional hunter or ?zombie? could
> infrequently be spotted off in the distance. After the second month in
> Cronin Ranch it was not uncommon to encounter one or more of the regular
> walker, runner or biker and before long get to know many of them by first
> name. One fellow named Bruce would speed walk through the ornate network of
> trails with his dog. The dog wore a bell which sounded there pending
> passing. Then one scorching afternoon while taking a noon break under the
> oak trees near the movie house a stranger appeared on a distant hillside. It
> was easy to see that this person was doing the search thing by the erratic
> side to side movement. There was a strange white thing flailing to one side
> which later turned out to be just a plastic bag tied to his belt. A short
> time later the stranger appeared nearby coming into the grove of oak trees
> and a familiar smile revealed that it was Dr. Peter Utas a meteorite hunter
> from Los Angeles. It was great fun to visit there in the field and compare
> thoughts. By the time conversation subsided the day was hot and shot.
> As the days grew hotter the prospects of going back up north to hunt in
> Oregon for pieces of the Elgin fireball became more attractive. The weather
> predictions were showing weeks of one hundred and five degree days ahead.
> After three months in Coloma and not one find to show for the time and
> effort it was getting tougher to go out each day. Just as rare as finding a
> Sutter?s Mill meteorite was the chance of buying one from a local finder. In
> all of the time identifying stones for locals and networking in the area
> just one 26.5 gram stone presented the opportunity for purchase. This
> gorgeous individual made its way into a well-known university collection. It
> is amazing that after over forty years of hunting for meteorites it still
> boils down to such a simple equation; one day at a time, cover lots of
> ground, keep the eyes open and maintain high hopes.
> So after May June and July in Coloma, California it was time to pack up and
> head for the Blue Mountains of Northeastern Oregon. Having hunted there for
> many years it was like going home. But things were a bit different, never
> having been in the Blues during the huckleberry season added a new twist to
> old stomping grounds. Now the worry was not snakes although they are there
> as well but black bears and judging from all the piles of bear duty filled
> with huckleberries it was time to carry a handgun and the heck with the
> snake gaiters! So with .45 caliber strapped to the chest it was off to hike
> the Blues. Turned out it was just as hot in northeastern Oregon as it was in
> Coloma but once in the deep forest canopy every morning it was downright
> chilly. A 100 degree day in the farm fields of the valley below was only 65
> degrees in the woods. This was a gift from nature. This late in the summer
> the snow is gone and the creek beds are dry. The underbrush is fairly rough
> going and the hillsides of these 5000 foot mountains are a test for any
> hiker. Old logging roads weren?t much use because they are grown over with
> dense brush and alder trees that grow like weeds wherever the land is
> cleared. Game trails that skirt the hillsides are the way to go but it can
> be so tough to go where the four legged critters can go. Well five weeks of
> early mornings and long days of sunlight produced no meteorites here either.
> This trip was planned to last until the end of September or whenever the
> first snow fell but one morning, four hours into the woods a torn tendon cut
> the trip short and it was time in early September to make the drive home and
> have the foot looked at. All the ice packs and wrapping with ace bandages
> did little good and so it was time to let the doctors have their say. Lesson
> learned; it costs $200.00 to have a foot doctor tell you that there is
> nothing he can do and you simply have to stay off your feet. It?s called
> RICE; rest, ice, compression, elevation, exactly what Patrick told me to do
> in a phone call while still in the field.
> So when the news came about the new fall event in Novato, California guess
> who was practicing RICE.
> Within days of the event it was off to California to hunt for the newest
> fall. The Battle Mountain fall was not possible because it fell right smack
> in the middle of the RICE experience. But this new fall was beyond
> resisting. The foot was getting better slowly as it still is. But that warm
> California sunshine was pulling me away from home where the fall rains had
> already begun. There were a few rainy days but right up and through the last
> week of November the sun shined and the temperature was around 72 degrees
> almost every afternoon. It was so different in the area around San Rafael,
> Fairfax and all the way over to Sonoma. Lots of car traffic to deal with.
> There were the same steep hills and lots of underbrush in some areas but so
> much beauty to appreciate. There were groves of redwoods on the sides of
> mount Baldy, huge oak trees on the hills around the Petaluma River, great
> hiking areas with networks of trails and no shortage of runners, hikers and
> bikers. Once again there was abundant wildlife and the same small grey
> lizards seen in all three locations maybe blue bellied skinks. Mt. Baldly
> was quite the challenge that blistered the feet and tested the legs and
> lungs. Sonoma and the surrounding areas were tough simply because it was
> hard to find open areas of public access. There were a number of large areas
> of land that are set aside as land trust but not yet open to hikers and so
> the search was naturally narrowed down. Eventually after weeks of fruitless
> focus and effort the winter rains came in with a vengeance and the area went
> from summer sun to rivers at flood stage in just a few days. It was time to
> head home and even though empty handed this time the sun will come out again
> and it will be time to go back to these areas and give it another try. The
> real value of this time in the woods is knowing where not to search the next
> time. That and maybe this old man will live a little longer from all that
> fresh air and good exercise! Many friends were made and some new places now
> feel like home. It will be great fun to go back again and hopefully next
> time take home a Space rock or two. 		 	   		
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Received on Sat 15 Dec 2012 12:56:48 AM PST

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