Club president, Eric, and I were camping up at lake Easton over Labor day weekend this year, 2023, and on a whim we decided to head out to Saddle Mountain. We checked the weather report and thought it was going to be a cooler day, but soon we realized we were a little bit mistaken. The weather at Easton was in the mid 60s for most of the day, but not at Saddle Mountain... Whew!
The hotter weather farther east did not deter us, so even as we crossed the Columbia river on I90 and the temps were rising, we pressed on. Saddle Mountain is now one of those familiar places that feels like home to me. We go quite often, and this trip was mostly as expected, except for those climbing digits on the thermometer!
We arrived at our usual spot, just under the cell towers on the hillside and started scoping around. Jumping into the usual holes, we began finding lots of petrified "bog wood," as people call it. I was on a mission to find bases for our Ming tree kits that we sell at the Fall Festival of Gems. The nice medium sized chunks of petrified wood make really nice bases for the Ming trees to be glued to.
Saddle Mountain has a couple of neat things going for it, one is that sometimes, the petrified wood fluoresces. If you feel adventurous and happen to be spending the night on the mountain, bring a UV flashlight with you to spot the glowing orange pieces on the ground. Another interesting feature of the wood at saddle mountain is the druse that is often found as a light coating on some of the limbs and pieces. Do watch out for the stink bugs and small desert scorpions though! Generally they are pretty harmless, but you might startle the stink bugs if you get too close!
One of the charming things about the location of Saddle Mountain is simply the fact that you are high up on a beautiful hill above the Columbia river, and the petrified wood is all around you! The abundance is exciting. Often we rockhound in tight quarters, or certain spots are kept secret because there just isn't that much material to go around, but at Saddle Mountain I think it would take a VERY long time for supplies to run out.
All in all, it was a lovely visit as usual and we managed to survive the heat and deer flies as there was a light breeze the majority of time that we were on the hill. We came away with Ming tree bases for our little kits, and lots of neat little limbs to polish up.
-Danielle Foss, Fall Festival of Gems chairman, webmaster