The Ochoco Mountains

This large area, just a few miles southeast of the large ryolite flow that contains the Priday beds, has several small exposures, scattered all about, that have unique and valuable thundereggs. The eggs and host rock of the exposure at White Fur Springs has a pretty multicolored jasper.

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In the 'old days' the rock clubs would have leases out here and lots of rockhounds would dig (correctly) and good stuff could be fairly easy to find. Not so now?... The agate is here, you just have to clean out a hole and check every rock you pull out of the virgin soil. All the rock you hit will have jasper in it, so chip a small piece off of a few rocks and keep what seems good. If you find a nodule, don't break it... this is what you want and pray to find here. I found two nodules in this excavation and a half bucket of what I think will cut.

Everyone who came to this exposure, while I was digging there, told me that the digging wasn't worth the effort. If you feel that way before you get to White Fur Springs you will not find a thing. These 'bucket half empty' rockhounds did that day though, for they picked up all my discards and put them in their buckets.

There is an exposure of traditional thundereggs a few hundred yards south of the jasper location that has truly been dug out. It is a small area encompassing a small hill/knob that has a small dead end road on its north side. Dig if you may, and let me know if you find a thunderegg there... I just love being wrong. At the end of the dead end road is some pretty green rock with small eggs in it that seemed really hard to dig out. Lots of digging has been done here recently... for what? Mmm. The very top of this knob has been dug recently too... are there eggs at the very top?? I was too sore from digging jasper to find out.

Another exposure north of White Fur Springs is Whistler Springs campground. This exposure is tough because the eggs are rarely worth the effort. The main exposure, just down from the toilet, is always in terrible shape, totally buried in overburden. Just looking at this site makes me tired. The little eggs have very little agate, but the bigger ones can be surprisingly good.

Down from the mother load is a patchwork of diggings all over a little field. These folks are digging for eggs that drifted down from the main exposure. I cant imagine how these excavations can be very productive, but they must be.

I used to use this campground, as a base, to hike to the two exposures I knew of in Desolation Canyon. But sadly, the powers that be, gave this area a new title and digging was suddenly against the law. Of course this deeply carved area is a 'wilderness', it didn't need to be designated as such... with all its restrictions. A small knob three hundred yards over the wilderness boundary (northwest of the water tank at Whisler) is a small exposure of thundereggs that I had just discovered when the Mill Creek Wilderness was designated. I think this was called the Yellow Jacket mine, supposed to be lost... well it is now. I checked it out in July 2013, and lusted over how easy it would be to clean out the small excavation and find some super eggs. The park rangers have taken a keen interest in a monster tree that makes this knob its home (it has 5 small flags stuck to its trunk?). I don't dare even to think about swinging a pick here... maybe in the middle of the night during a snowstorm.

Just south of Whisler is the Radford mine. This place has been dug with big machinery and digging here is for exercise only. A nice view, some promising new diggings further down the hill that aren't... and move on. The Valley View mine is dug out and a private claim, so drive on down to the Lucky Strike mine.

This place is cool, Kop is still around causing trouble, and sometimes the thunderegg digging is good too. On a vacation I took in 2008, the big wall containing the eggs was wide open and I dug many buckets of nice eggs.

On the most recent trip, in July 2013, only a small area was producing, so I dug a few and spent most of my time visiting. Kop was a big player in the early days of rock hunting, discovering and exploiting several gem locations in Oregon, and I love hearing his stories. The eggs here are very nice, with a unique matrix, and I had one I dug in 2013 cut at Richardsons Ranch to show you.

Other small thunderegg exposures exist in the Ochocos that I haven't mentioned, but the digging has become too difficult for this old man to find any eggs there. Let me know if I am just being a big baby.