On Friday, my family and I headed to Hiddenite, NC for a day of gem mining at Hiddenite Gems, Inc. We paid permit fees to sluice and creek. At the sluicing table, we each sat at a bench in front of a wooden sloped “sink,” with running water. We each had screen boxes which we filled with scoops of dirt from our 5 gallon buckets. As the water ran through the boxes and we washed the sand out, gems and rocks were left behind. Each scoop of dirt was like a Christmas present to Luke. He couldn’t wait to “unwrap” the sand to see what was hiding within. He was so excited about finding his gems, including sodalite, quartz, crystals, amethysts, and aquamarine.
After sluicing, we had a picnic lunch at their picnic area in the woods. During lunch we were surrounded by these bold ducks (I called them turkey ducks because their heads look like turkeys). They knew we had food, and they knew we had kids! Kids who drop things, so they hung out with us and were pretty aggressive. Chasing them away only helped temporarily. Then, a cute squirrel made his presence known at the next picnic table. I threw him a couple of pieces of my sandwich wrap which he gratefully consumed. After a few minutes, we noticed he made his way to a trashcan and went inside it to look for more lunch. Lindsay walked over to the trashcan to toss him a piece of bread, and I warned her that if she startled that squirrel he may jump up and land on her head. As soon as I said that, she tossed her piece of bread, and that squirrel came flying out of that trashcan with all fours spread in the air, like he’d just been shot out of a cannon. I was so startled that I let out a blood curdling scream, then I laughed my head off! It was the funniest thing!
Then we made our way to the creek where we spend the next 2 1/2 hours mining for more gemstones. We all had water shoes, which was a big help, and the water was C-O-L-D! I believe Luke found the most gems. He would simply reach down, pick up a handful of sand and find a gem! Or he would catch a glimpse of a gem from above the water, reach down, and pick it up. He was amazing! We did rent a screen box and shovel to take to the creek, which was fun to use to filter out sand we dug up. Almost every time we would find a precious gem. We did find lots of gems and we got excited about every one! The kids absolutely loved playing and digging in the creek! When they were done, they were wet, cold, and sandy, but we had taken a change of clothes for them, so they were happy to be dry again.
There is also an emerald mine where you can dig, but we chose not to do that. One recent discovery there, produced an emerald worth $10,000! Hiddenite Gems’ motto is “You fine ’em, you keep ’em.” And so we did, our plastic bags full of precious gems, and my heart full of precious memories of our time there.