Everything is getting packed. Tents, cots, Igloo coolers, chairs, shovels, rock hammers, picks, pry bars, dredges, sluices, gold pans, engines, gas cans, wet suits, hip waders, hiking boots, external-frame packs, towels, propane tanks… Freaking everything!
I hit the road and begin to collect my crew Wednesday morning and I don’t return from this adventure until August… hopefully rich and tan! Where am I going this year? Wyoming, of course! Our first stop is to a place I call “Secret Spot” to hunt for opals. Opals of all kinds; white, black, fire, precious. I don’t care. What I do care about though is setting a world record. Our goal: Find the largest opal boulder on record, bring it back to Seattle and polish it. It won’t take much to beat the current world record holder, the Galaxy Opal from Brazil, all we have to do is beat 5,000 carats polished. I don’t just want to beat it, I want to destroy the world record! I am shooting for 100,000 carats plus this year. Anything less will be a failure!
Second stop, and our shot at a second world record, Central Woming and the hunt for a giant iolite gem. We’re talking man-sized, hundreds of pounds. A real MONSTER. The goal: To find and facet the largest natural gemstone on planet Earth. The current record holder is the America Golden Topaz, also from Brazil, that weighs in at about 22,000 carats. I want to destroy this record too. I want a stone so big that when we cut it, the table of the stone can be used as an actual table!
Stop three, the Medicine Bow Mountains. Here is the main gold of the trip; to get as many diamonds as we can shovel and dredge. I chose a certain creek in the Medicine Bows for a good reason; for its historical gold production, and for the fact that 14 identifiable kimberlite pipes drain into it. If I’m not getting buckets of diamonds, I am sure as hell going to be getting some gold while I’m out there!
My crew will swell to as large as ten adventure hungry near-do-wells at times, and our backs will be breaking with the promise of riches that will await us in the rockies.
Opal, Iolite, and Diamonds 2011, Ho!by