We took the boys to Hiddenite NC for a day of gem mining at Emerald Hollow Mine on Saturday.
I thought we would spend about a half a day or so there---but it was so much fun that we ended up staying ALL DAY LONG.
We left early that morning, had breakfast en route and the boys watched TRON on the way to Hiddenite. We got there mid morning, paid our admission and began sluicing. This was Spencer's favorite part of the day-- digging in buckets of dirt, finding rocks and pebbles and washing them under cool running water to see if you found a semi-precious gem...or a clump of mud.
We later found out that the buckets were salted (planted with gemstones that aren't even from the mine)--but we all had fun anyway.
After the sluicing, buying creeking permits and renting tools, we made our way to the creek. The water was cold which toned down the afternoon heat. The shade from the trees and cool water made the entire afternoon quite nice where it was 91 degrees here at the house.
Joe and Will really enjoyed creeking and found several stones. Spencer enjoyed playing in the creek and got quite muddy. I "creeked" for a couple of hours...then I rested under the trees with my kindle and enjoyed having an afternoon off from work.
We found several cool gems. Will immediately started researching rock tumblers and planning our next gem mining adventure. Spencer picked out his prettiest piece of amethyst and gave it to his teacher. Sweet kid, huh?
They had legends posted on several places on the property to help you identify your findings. In the collage above (middle right), do you see the tiny, wittle, itty, bitty speck of a stone on Will's finger tip? Yep, that's the ONLY emerald we found at Emerald Hollow Mine. We didn't see any Hiddenite AT ALL. They should call it Red Mud Holler.
By the end of the day, the boys were identifying their own stones and it turned into a great learning experience. Next time we are going deeper into the NC mountains and seeking out unsalted territory!