One of the cool things that we were surprised to find moving to this area are a special type of rock locally called Spirit Stones. One of our new friends here actually discovered these stones after he moved out here. He even has a coffee table book on some of the cool specimens he’s found that can be purchased here. Spirit Stones, Cook Inlet Concretions, or Fairy Stones as they are called in some parts of the world, are actually mineral concretions. No one is quite sure how the ones found here are formed. They certainly come in some interesting patterns!
As cool as these stones are, they are rare and not exactly safe to go searching for.
They are found in the mud flats of the Cook Inlet at low tide, and the mud flats are dangerous. The clay mud is akin to quick sand and it’s impossible to know if an area is stable before stepping on it. There have been several drowning deaths due to persons getting stuck in the mud and rescue personnel being unable to dig them out before the tide came in. This is the same type of mud that we got our truck stuck in the first time we drove the beach, it was so lucky that we were rescued!
Spirit Stones do get pushed up to shore sometimes. Usually you need to go out at the lowest tides to find them. That means tromping through roughly 4 football fields of mud. And making sure to always pay attention to the tide so you can beat it back to shore. The tides here come in so fast its possible to actually see them rolling in. Its scary to look up and see there is suddenly water pooled in a low spot between you and shore. Searching for these stones is definitely a two person task for safety.
Personally, I have been stuck up to the top of my muck boots (top of my calves) and been unable to work myself free. (Update: I’ve actually managed to sink up to my hips too!)
Kyle had to slowly work his way over to were I was and help get me out. And only one leg at a time! I can see how easy it would be to sink farther if I had panicked. Knowing how dangerous the mud was I stopped as soon as I sank farther than expected. This prevented me from getting more stuck. If I had been alone I would have tried crawling to disperse my weight and hopefully that would have worked.
At the end of all that danger there is no guarantee that there is even a Spirit Stone to be found. Kyle and I have gone searching and come back empty handed several times. Most commonly what we do find are these little single bubbles, hence another nickname for these stones – mud bubbles.
Another really cool aspect of these stones it that they polish up really well.
Kyle and I have hand sanded and polished a few. It takes quite a while, but the end result is interesting colors and visible layers of stone. Some of them polish to an almost mirror quality, catching reflections really well.
If you’d like to have a spirit stone of your own there are some places to find them. Captain Cook State Park in Alaska is an area that Spirit Stones are sometimes found. Or you can purchase one from Kyle and I’s new Etsy Store, AlaskanWildArts. We’ll be adding stones as we find and clean them up. Along with any other crafts and such that we make out here.