Sunday, September 1, 2013

Searching for Gems At The Wissahickon Creek


I wrote a blog about a good friend of mine, Cathy Young, who runs the Mid-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures. She has the most amazing trips and if you want to learn about nature, geology, fossils and minerals, then this is the site for you.


This past Saturday and the last day of August, my two ghost hunting buddies and I joined several other people in the parking lot of the Valley Green Inn at Wissahickon Creek in Philadelphia. This area is part of the larger Fairmount Park System. The Wissahickon Creek is known for its unique rock formation called Wissahickon schist. This is the predominant bedrock underlying the Philadelphia region. This is a Precambrian and Cambrian stone that has flecks of mica and small garnets. The creek is also known for its Triassic sandstone and shale along with layers of quartzite and metamorphic rocks. What’s really neat is that these rocks were all pushed up when the continent of Africa was colliding into North America. 

Okay, we’re done with the science lesson and now back to the trip. Karenne Snow, who is a Geologist and author of New Jersey Wildlife Viewing Guide and the  co-author of, Gem Trails of Pa and NJ started off the adventure by showing us the different types of rocks we would be looking for. We headed out on the first leg of the hike, all excited and geared to gathered as many garnets and maybe some kyanites as we could carry.
The trail started off easy, but then got steeper… for me at least. This was how the hill appeared to me and my friends:

                                                                           Actual hill size

                                     This was going to be harder than tackling wayward spirits.

                        We stopped to look for garnets, which were all over the site.

                                                Rita, Karenne, and the group looking for garnets
                                     Rita and I huffing and puffing after reaching the top of the hill

                                                     Rita and Jean planning our escape
 The other members of the group had to practically carry us down the hill, brave souls. Thank you Sue and Don and Karenne!
Did I mention that Rita had a bad knee and I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?  Even Jean, who is sure-footed like a mountain goat, was wiped out by the time the group made their way  down to level ground. Maybe it was because I kept knocking Jean down as I tripped over every pebble in the trail.  I'm so out of shape!

When the group broke for lunch, and before heading to the other side of the bridge for the second leg of the expedition, Rita, Jean and I escaped!

We were scruffy looking, dirty, sweaty, and in need of sustenance. We decided to have lunch at the Inn; a liquid lunch.
You had to see the expression of the hostess and waiters' faces as we entered the restaurant.
                          I hope the others aren’t still looking for us, but thankfully, the drinks did help. 
There will be more trips coming up and we intend to go to the next one, but if there are hills to climb, we have two choices; get into shape, or....wait for them at the bar. Only kidding, I love hiking. Below you'll find information on our illustrious and knowledgeable guide.

Karenne Snow became interested in geology in High School in Oklahoma, where she took her first class.  She majored in geology in college at Rutgers.  She worked in Malacology at The Academy of Natural Sciences, then went to the Museum side and became a Teacher/Naturalist, and then Public Programs Coordinator.  While with the Academy, she led many trips – “Expeditions for Everyone.”  She mainly ran birding and canoe trips for them at that time.

Karenne also ran programs and trips for the Pinelands Commission of NJ, and the Nature Conservancy.  She’s the Past President of the Burlington County Natural Sciences Club.  She has run programs for the Burlington County Earth Fair and the Burlington County Park System.

 With Cathy Young, with both The Academy of Natural Sciences and for Med-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures, she has led many mineral and fossil collecting trips, and birding and canoe trips.  She’s even leading a mineral and gem trip for Cathy in NC this summer.

Karenne is the Past President of the Philadelphia Mineralogical Society, Author of NJ Wildlife Viewing Guide, and Co-Author of Gem Trails of PA and NJ.

Hope to see you on the next trip!!!!




  1. Thanks Marie! This sounds really fun and we love that area. Will be adding this to our growing list of things to do

    1. You won't be sorry. Thank you for visiting my blog, Sarah:)

  2. Sounds like fun. Especially with friends. This is so close to us. I'll keep it in mind to share with my hubby.

    1. My friend Cathy runs a lot of adventure day trips, but you can go to the creek on your own and look for things.