Sunday, March 23, 2014

Gear needed for hunting rocks, gems w/ kids

Among the great pleasures of day hiking is finding interesting rocks and even gems. When collecting them (and only collect on approved trails), you’ll want to make sure you bring along the right gear and equipment to capture the prey during your mineral hunt.

Among the items to pack include:
g Geologist’s hammer – A rock hammer is a necessity to dislodge rocks and gems from the surrounding stone. Gently chisel around the rock so that you don’t accidentally crack it.
g Goggles – As you chisel away, rock chips will fly about. To prevent one from hitting your eye, wear safety goggles, even if you wear glasses (which don’t entirely cover your eyes).
g Brush – A small paint brush or old toothbrush can be used to remove the dust from your dislodged rock or gem, or to remove grit and small debris from where you’re digging out the stone.
g Collection bag – Once you find a rock, you’ll need a bag to carry it in. Also bring several smaller re-sealable plastic bags that that you can place each rock into before putting them into a collection bag.
g Newspaper – You’ll likely want to wrap the rock in paper before placing it in a re-sealable bag and then the collection bag. This prevents the rock from being scratched or from scratching others in the bag. Newspaper works fine, but magazine pages also will suffice.
g Notepad and pen – If you wish to collect rocks and gems as a hobby, you’ll want to note where and on what a date the mineral was found. Write that info on a piece of a note paper that you stick with the corresponding rock in a re-sealable bag.
g Rock field guide – A book about the different types of rocks and gems will help you determine what you’ve just found. You may want to first understand the traits used to categorize minerals.
g Magnifying glass – While not necessary, sometimes you’ll want to get a close look at your stone and gem to help you more easily identify it. A glass with 10x magnification works well.

Two other items you might consider bringing along are a copper penny and a nail. These will help you gauge the mineral’s hardness should you wish to determine the kind of rock you have.

Sturdy clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty also can be useful. Often jeans or kneepads are needed as you kneel on the hard ground. Study boots with good traction also are beneficial as you walk across rocky terrain.

Find out about trail guidebooks available in the Hittin’ the Trail series.