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Rockhounding

Updated on December 21, 2014

How I Became a Rockhound

The simple answer to how I became a rockhound would be, my grandfather. He had a display of all the rocks and minerals he had collected from wherever he travelled. I found them beautiful to look at and thought he was like a pirate who found buried treasure. When my grandpa saw how fascinated I was in his collection he took the time to talk with me about them.

He bought me a book about geology and actually went through it with me. He would talk to me about always looking around and finding the beauty in nature. My grandparents took me, my sister, and my two cousins on a road trip. We did the usual sightseeing but my grandfather also made sure we got to do some rockhounding.

All Photos By:whatsittoyou

Where to Rockhound

There are a lot of hiking trails near where I grew up. My grandpa would take me to the trails for our search. The trails have exposed rock faces where you can dig/chisel. There are also streams and waterfalls in amongst the trails, which provide excellent conditions for finding great specimens.

Another place where I could search with friends was at the campground we went to every weekend in the summertime. At the end of the campground was a Lake. It did not have sand at the shoreline, it was all rock. While it was horrible for swimming it was great place for collecting.

A great place to go is what they call a "road cut". This is where they have dug or blasted the land to put a road in. There will be exposed rock face with easy access. The Niagara escarpment, located in Ontario Canada, is 725 kilometers long providing you with plenty of places to explore.

You do need to be careful as the rock face maybe unstable. Therefore when rock collecting in this environment it is advised that you wear a hard hat. You also need to be aware of the traffic around you to avoid any injuries.

My grandfather also took me and my friend to a store that sold rocks. This was great because the store had rocks that had been polished. I remember being really fascinated with how pretty they looked with the nice smooth finish. It also gave us an opportunity to get some types that were not native to our area.

A-R2 Kit Rock Tumbler

Model A-R2 Kit Rock Tumbler
Model A-R2 Kit Rock Tumbler

If you get one of these you can polish your own rocks. You can then use them to make jewellery.

 

Amethyst from Thunder Bay

Amethyst from Thunder Bay
Amethyst from Thunder Bay

If You Can't Find Them, Buy Them

Break Your Own Geodes
Break Your Own Geodes

I would have loved to have this as a kid. The chance to smash it open and see what is inside. Geodes are some of the most beautiful pieces in my collection.

 
Geocentral Gemstone Collection Box by GeoCentral
Geocentral Gemstone Collection Box by GeoCentral

This is a good kit for helping with identify rocks. It also includes kinds that may not easily be found in your area. I would have liked to have this set when I was a kid.

 

Rock Collecting Gave Me Focus

I am sure my parents were thrilled when I became interested in rock collecting. I used to pick up all sorts of things I found on the ground and give it to them. It was usually really useless items that no one wanted. For example if a price tag had fallen off at a store, I would pick it up and give it to them. What the hell are they going to do with that? The rock collection gave me focus. If it wasn't a rock, it wasn't worth picking up.

Books For Rockhounds

Gems, Minerals, Crystals, and Ores; The Collector's Encyclopedia
Gems, Minerals, Crystals, and Ores; The Collector's Encyclopedia

This is the book my grandfather gave to me. It was not aimed at children. However it did have lots of pictures of the vast variety of rocks all with the name beside it. I would use it to try to identify the rocks that I had collected.

 
Let's Go Rock Collecting (Let'S-Read-And-Find-Out Science. Stage 2)
Let's Go Rock Collecting (Let'S-Read-And-Find-Out Science. Stage 2)

This is aimed at kids aged 4-8 years old. Great for a child interested in rockhounding. It shows a variety of specimens to help them identify what they find.

 

Sand Selinite from Mexico

Sand Selinite from Mexico
Sand Selinite from Mexico

What to Bring With You

Before you go you will want to consider what to wear. Steel toe boots are recommended to keep your feet safe. Plus you may want boots for the terrain you will be on. I suggest that you do not wear your favorite clothes. You are likely to get dirty and there is potential for your clothes to get caught and rip. Factor this in when deciding what to wear.

You will also want to apply sunscreen and bug spray before you leave. When you go out rockhounding here are the things I suggest you take with you:

  • A backpack - It makes it easier to carry your supplies and what you find.

  • Ziploc bags, Recipe Cards, Pen - That way you can store and label what you found, when, and where.

  • Safety glasses/goggles, rock pick - The tools of the trade!

  • A book - To help you to identify what you have found

  • First Aid kit - In case you have any injuries.

  • A hard hat and work gloves - Depending where you plan on going there is potential for debris to fall on top of you.

Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit Soft Box - For Car, Survival or Home, 205-Piece
Coleman Expedition First Aid Kit Soft Box - For Car, Survival or Home, 205-Piece

This will give you the basics for what you need to treat injuries that may occur. It is also handy to take on a camping trip.

 

Rock Collection Display

Eventually I outgrew rock collecting. I never threw out what I had, but I just had become interested in other things. My grandfather never pressed me to keep it up, he just supported me in my new interests and hobbies.

Without him knowing it, he is also what drew me back to it. When my grandparents died my mom was given the responsibility of clearing out their home. When I went over to help, I found myself down in the basement and staring at his rock collection again. This time not just with wonder at the rocks, but with the fond memories of time with my grandpa.

When it came time to divide up my grandparents property, the others were wanting the possessions that had cash value. Some just wanted things they needed like furniture or appliances. They may have thought I was stupid or crazy, but all I asked for was the rocks.

They were what meant something to me. I knew whenever I saw them, I would have great memories of him. Now I am looking for a better way for me to display them. Perhaps then I will be able to inspire someone the way my grandpa inspired me.

Wall Curio Cabinet / Wall Shadow Box Display Case for Figurines, CD06-WA
Wall Curio Cabinet / Wall Shadow Box Display Case for Figurines, CD06-WA

While it is not advertised as being for a rock collection it does have removable shelves. Therefore it would be easy to fit all the varieties of shape and sizes of rocks into it. It has a mirrored background which allow you too see them from all the different angles.

 

Share Your Hobby

While I do like to look at what we collected, what I appreciate most is the time I got with my grandfather. This is a really great hobby to have to connect with your kids or grand kids. You get to spend time with them out on the trails with no distractions.

Even if you don't find anything fantastic they will like having the opportunity to go on adventure with you. You don't have to be an expert in the field. You just have to go with them. Together you can look up what you found and label them. Spending the time with them and showing an interest in what they like will make any child feel that they are truly cared about.

What You Will See at the Rockhound Gemboree, Bancroft Ontario

Alabaster from Alberta

Alabaster from Alberta
Alabaster from Alberta

Who or what got you into starting a collection?

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    • Zeross4 profile image

      Renee Dixon 3 years ago from Kentucky

      I'm also a rockhound, and I've been collecting rocks since I was a very young child. I am featuring your lens on my own, Where to find geodes. Thought you'd like to know. Loved your rockhounding lens, and hello from a fellow rockhound!

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 3 years ago

      I got started because we lived in Los Alamos, New Mexico. There are many beautiful rocks around there. When we had our kids, and were homeschooling, I would take the pickup and two of them with me and go rockhounding with Harrison Yocum (I have a lens about him). He was so much fun to be with! I didn't take a rock pick. I took a hand truck and some round burlap bags. I would often fill the bags with rocks. The hand truck was for things I couldn't carry. One time I went back to one of the places by myself. They had a lot of black tourmaline, and I took my burlap bags, and filled them up. The place where the rocks were was a good part of a mile from where I had to park. When I got home, I weighed what I had CARRIED out, and it weighed 100 pounds! Boy was I surprised! We sure had a lot of fun, and we have tons of rocks allovertheplace (probably literally on the tons).

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 4 years ago from UK

      I started collecting rocks for my kids some years ago, but it was mainly bought samples rather than collecting; except for pebbles from beaches and from the occasional river walk

    • merfzel profile image

      merfzel 4 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I don't collect, but have always been fascinated with rocks and geology in general. I love this lens. In fact, I think I have "liked" it more than once :)

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens, I have rocks also, but far more shells I have picked up from strolling on the beach, but yes I am great person for collecting things that I pick up on walks in the bush.

    • maryseena profile image

      maryseena 4 years ago

      I'm a hoarder; I collect smooth stones and pebbles wherever I go, but never really thought of arranging them in a display cabinet. Thanks for the idea.

    • profile image

      hmommers 4 years ago

      I collect stones and shells for their form. Don't know anything about them :-)

      Nice to read your story!

    • profile image

      DebW07 4 years ago

      I think your grandfather would have been so happy to know that you took over his rock collection. To me, it sounds like you got the best memento from his possessions. Great lens.

    • Klaartje Loose profile image

      Klaartje Loose 4 years ago

      My dad got me into starting several collections!