JANUARY 21, 2018 – FIELD ROAD SIDING (between Yermo & Baker)

January 21, 2018

Last month on my way home from Primm, Nevada, I pulled off of the I-15 multiple times to find freeway-close caches. About half way from Baker to Yermo I took the Field Road offramp and looked for 3 caches on the south side. The first one was Road Not Maintained (GC4QEX).

At all 3 caches I noticed that the ground was strewn with interesting rocks, many of which I knew would tumble well. But after a week of rock hounding and geocaching I was too tired to collect anything and hurried home instead. During the next 2 weeks I read that “Field Road Siding” is a famous rock hounding site picked over by collectors for a hundred years. Small pieces (just what I want for tumbling!) were reportedly still abundant and collectible specimens could still be found if one looked carefully.

I took advantage of the warm clear weather and the Martin Luther King holiday to return to Field Road. Just beyond the last cache I’d found 2 weeks earlier, the terrain looked like this.

Light rain a few days earlier washed off the rocks and there was still enough moisture to hold down the dust. I quickly started to collect 1” to 2.5” rocks. They’d been ignored by generations of specimen collectors and lapidarists who took only larger rocks. I even found another cache in the middle of the rock field.

I’d started in mid afternoon after arriving directly from home. Still, I quarter filled a canvas shopping bag and found 7 geocaches before sundown.

Early the next morning I drove from my usual Barstow motel back to Field Road. This time I went to the north side of the freeway. Following directions in Gem Trails of Southern California, by Otie Braden, I drove 1.2 miles to a site with even more rocks than the previous day.

The farther away from the dirt road, the better the choice of quality rocks. Here’s one I found about .35 miles out. It’s too big for my tumblers but a specimen collector would probably want it.

There were no geocaches here but other oddities were seen.

I wondered how and when this rolling pin ending up in the middle of the Mojave.

Three hours and another half bag of rocks later I cached along a dirt track that eventually turned into a paved but strangely dilapidated and deserted section of Yermo Road. It was only miles later when I drove up to the back side of road closure barricades that I knew the reason why.

I ended the day with 7 more geocaches.

The next morning (Monday) I checked out and drove west on the newly extended Hwy 58 and exited on unpaved Helendale Road. Then I turned south on Open Route 4800 which is arrow straight for 20+ miles to the eastern edge of Lancaster. This shortcut isn’t recommended for 2WD passenger cars due to sandy or (uninteresting) rock filled stretches. On the way I stopped for caches skipped on earlier trips. One was in a giant tire near a more attention grabbing half-boat. A cautious look inside revealed no homeless person. Then insights were gained about boat construction and flotation.

Here’s a Halloween themed cache.

This one was guarded by another rigor mortise tortoise. I see far too many of those.

Two plastic ammo can caches were weathered on the outside but clean and new-looking inside.

At home I washed off my collected rocks. These 2 pieces of petrified wood were my best finds. They’ll be kept as-is and not tumbled.

I tumble most of the rocks I collect. Very few flawless examples result. About 75% are good enough to keep or give away. The ones pictured below are jaspers from my November trip to Lavic Siding (see previous post). They have some holes and rough spots but I still like them because they’re self-collected.

I’m accumulating tumbled rocks for a post retirement (8 more years!!) lapidary sideline hobby.