hunting is an
adventure of a
helicopter into the totally inaccessible mountains to bring out the
finest and rarest of rare California jade.
Harsh winters wash
out the botryoidal nephrite or jade from the
expose it for us to find... more botryoidal
prospecting for “the rarest of the rare jades” is an
adventure of a
lifetime. We begin our day of excitement on a remote ridge high in the
Trinity Alps. The
trucks can get no closer to the magical area we call
“Jadeland”. We all eagerly await the distant rumble of the helicopter.
As the sounds of the rotor get closer and closer everyone watches to
get the first glimpse of the chopper. Within moments the body of the
aircraft is silhouetted against the morning sky like a giant dragonfly.
The noise is deafening as the gravity defying beast comes to rest just
in front of us. I myself have never liked flying of any sort. Now in a
twisted deal of fate I am part owner of a ranch that is accessible only
by helicopter or a long and arduous hike, best described by those who
have traversed this gauntlet, as “Killer”. “You may be able to get out
of that gorge but you won't be carrying much jade by the time you reach
any road” Laugh the local natives. We are very careful not to trespass
on neighboring private lands including the nearby Native American land.
Other than the annual erosion, the jade and the land have remained
unchanged for thousands of years. It will remain the same after our
departure as well. We will leave “Not a Trace”...
After the helicopter lands us in the gorge, our search begins. We look
high and low for possible pieces to load into the nets. The massive
erosion to the cliffs re-expose an annual supply of fresh stones for us
to gather. We carefully examine all candidates for quality. It is very
expensive to haul stones by helicopter so we are quite picky about what
we haul out. After choosing which stones to remove they are carefully
packed in protective material then loaded into the helicopter cargo
nets for air-lifting to our awaiting truck beds. As the sun's rays
begin to disappear behind the mountaintops the highly skilled
helicopter pilot gently places our precious newfound treasure safely
into place for transport. Via the winding mountain roads we travel the
5 hour drive to our headquarters. Here is where we will cut and sort
the jades to begin the long process of transformation from rough stone
to finished product.
-as told by Sam Gitchel
[ Next >>]