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
If you get one of these you can polish your own rocks. You can then use them to make jewellery.
Amethyst from Thunder Bay
If You Can't Find Them, Buy Them
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Links For More Information on Rock Collecting
- Mineral Collecting in Ontario
A great resource for the rules for Rockhounding in Ontario. It lists some excellent places to participate and what types of samples you will find at those locations. Suggestions for what to pack and some safety tips.
- Gem & Mineral Shows and Events - USA & Canada
Lists all the rock, gem, and mineral shows in the USA & Canada
- Bob's Rock Shop: United States Rock and Gem Clubs and Mineralogical Societies
Mineralogical, Lapidary and Fossil oriented clubs and associations are the most valuable resources created and enjoyed by the rockhound community. Here is a list of clubs & associations near you.
- Clubs in Ontario and Quebec
Over 20 mineral and lapidary clubs in Ontario and Quebec belong to CCFMS, an organization for rockhounding hobbyists
- The Annual Rockhound Gemboree in Bancroft Ontario Canada
The largest gem and mineral show in Canada, the Annual Rockhound Gemboree on AUGUST 1 - 4, 2013.