Farson, Wyoming Field Trip Report
July 4 - 6, 2003

by Ted and Gigi Gildea

Another Farson Wyoming July 4th Celebration has passed, but not without some fanfare in the rock collecting world. These are the written rock collecting adventures of Ted and Gigi Gildea for Summer 2003.

Wednesday July 2nd began with packing up all our camping and rock collecting gear and setting off to one of our eagerly awaited events of the summer. The 6-7 hour drive was uneventful, although the invention of books on CD/tape is a marvelous way to pass the long hours in the truck. We made that right hand turn at the Big Sandy Recreation Area sign several miles past Farson, Wyoming and proceeded to the RV/Camping area on the far side of the dam. Of course, the 40 mile an hour winds were in force and putting up a tent in that wind is a real test of one's skill and patience. Last year, our tent was constantly blown flat by the wind (even while we slept in it) and we ended up buying a new tent that could withstand the wind completely. We recommend Cabela's Alaskan Guide Model tent. This year, the wind was prevalent every day only during the period when we got back to camp from a day of hunting to about 9PM at night.

Our good friend, Martin Peters, was on hand to help with the camp setup, having arrived 4 hours earlier that same afternoon. He did not fair so well putting up his tent. The tent frame was broken in that same fierce wind. Luckily, Martin was able to retain a motel room in downtown Farson. Essentially, he would camp with us in every way, except he would drive to a motel a few minutes away to shower and sleep in a heated, windless motel room at the end of the day.

Since field trips led by Russ would begin on Friday, we took the opportunity on Thursday to proceed with our own field trip out to the Big Sandy area where palm and cane were known to be found. Ted's big find of the day was a 3 piece log (possibly palm) about 10 inches in diameter.

Martin hung with Kim and Leroy from Nebraska to learn about scoping for cane. Between the three of them they did find one good piece of cane, but I don't think Martin got to be the final keeper of it.

Toward the middle of the afternoon, Brian and Wendy Mitcheltree showed up and dug with us for about an hour or so before we called it a day. In that short time, Wendy was able to scare a cattle calf into a full out run, as well as, find a small log.

That Thursday evening, some of us benefited from Martin's motel room shower. It felt great, even though the water had that Farson sulphur smell - you know, rotten eggs? After a dinner of shrimp cocktail, grilled marinated steak with a fine Cabernet Sauvignon, we sat around and told stories of amazing finds over the past few months. All participated in helping Brian and Wendy pitch their tent in the 40 mile an hour wind - an experience that no one should miss. Brian used big heavy rocks to keep the tent stakes from coming up in the wind.

On Friday morning at 7AM, Russ led twelve vehicles on a field trip to Wood Top. We dug in the same area as last year and there were many finds of wood that day. The Marchand family (Hummer, Deborah, and Ariel) from Steamboat Springs, Colorado found a 15 foot log, a tree trunk.

It was an amazing find, even though it was broken up into many pieces and the bottom side of the log was rotten. Brian and Wendy also uncovered a long log of undetermined length that also turned out to be rotten on the bottom side.

Ted dug in the same hole that he & Martin found many log rounds last year, but only found small limbs this time. Martin had the honey hole of all and pulled out many log and limb rounds. Martin had the best finds of the day.

By 1PM or 2PM, most had found wood and taken off to avoid any more of the heat of the day. The ice cream shop at Farson was the typical stop of the afternoon on the way back to camp. After a satisfying supper, most went back out to hunt some more in the Big Sandy area. We, rock hunters, just can't get enough of a good thing.

There was a fellow rock hunter by the name of Milton who had an amazing find of cane somewhere in the Big Sandy. He wasn't saying exactly where he found it, but it was certainly the talk of the camp that night. Russ said that Milton got the brown star of the entire weekend event. Milton also found two cane tubers that Russ said were very rare.

On Saturday morning, Russ led another 8 vehicles to the Blue Forest for a day of hunting. There were many who found log rounds with the excellent blue chalcedony. Brian and Wendy went back out to the Big Sandy area to find the hole where Wendy had found her first log that weekend. They were planning to leave for Kimmerer, Wyoming early that afternoon, since they had a reservation to hunt for fossil fish on Sunday morning. Ted, Gigi and Martin went back to Wood Top to finish cleaning out Martin's hole that still had a plethora of logs and limbs just waiting to be pulled out.

Saturday evening was the pot luck dinner that always has excellent attendance by all who have not left. We had earlier decided to leave before the pot luck because we were anxious to get on the road to Montana, tired of the ferocious winds, and had anticipated having dirt in our food. Russ and the crew assembled all the vehicles in a semicircle blocking the wind. Because of Russ' urging, we decided to stay for the dinner. All enjoyed a satisfying meal (free of dirt) with some very delicious desserts.

For those who attended the Farson Rock Swap three years ago, you may remember Chris from the University of Wyoming in Laramie that camped with all the Colorado crew below the dam. She and her new husband, Jerry, were in attendance this year. We had a happy reunion with her.

After the pot luck dinner and much rock fellowship, we bid farewell and headed to Montana for the second half of our vacation. We left relieved that we never met up with a BLM officer because we were unsure if we were over any limits for wood. ;>)

We were slightly disappointed in the small turn out of the Colorado rock clubs and we hope that this report will spur you on to join us next year, because fun was had by all and everyone found wood.