Summer is “Rocking” Along
One of the most abundant properties in the mountains are rocks, rocks of all kinds. But the kind that gets a lot of attention in this area are of the semi-precious variety.
This area is littered (literally) with garnets, rubies, quartz and sapphires.
Plus, you can find aquamarine and emeralds in these mountains. Bet you didn’t know that North Carolina also has the largest and highest quality emeralds in North America. In fact, the emerald, not the ruby is our state stone.
Imagine this, the largest star sapphire in the world was found at the Old Pressley Mine. It’s located in Canton right here in western NC.
You can just take a hike down a gravel road after a rain and often find quartz rocks with small garnets fused inside in the road bed.
What glitters isn’t always gold. Another mineral found in abundance in the dirt of these mountains is mica. Its sparkle might make you think there’s gold dust in the dirt. Mica is formed in sheets or layers and be mined in large pieces. It is very useful in the electrical industry due to its low level power loss (a non-conductor of electricity), plus, it’s reflective and insulating.
Basic safety and common courtesy to exercise when hunting for gems:
- Be sure to obtain permission from the landowner, or pay the fee at the mine. This prevents trouble and keeps the sites open for all of us to enjoy.
- Back fill any holes you dig to prevent injuries to people or livestock.
- Use the proper safety gear. When splitting rocks, gloves and safety goggles are a must. Many non-commercial sites are overgrown, so be sure to wear pants, boots, and long sleeves.
- Remember to pack plenty of sunblock, food, and water, for the elements can be especially harsh.
- Do not collect in protected areas, or closed sites. Do not collect on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
- Be on the lookout for bees and snakes in wild areas, and carry a first aid kit and plenty of water.
- Do not disturb protected wildlife and plant species.