We have heard about the Petrified Forest in the hills above Barnhartvale for a long time, but we never had the exact location. Roland Neave referred to it in his book, Hiking the High Points. It is noted in various rockhounding journals. There was even a two-part newspaper article in December 2000 by author Peter Grauer. There is a Min-File Fossil Claim available on-line, but every source has been vague about the exact location.
The problem has been that not only have people been collecting from the site, a couple of "enterpeneurs" also have been taking out truckloads to sell to rock shops. So, rockhounds keep the exact location quiet. We knew it was above McGlashan Lake so one day we roamed around the hillsides, but couldn't locate it. That made us even more determined to find it and finally we got hold of the GPS coordinates, so off we went.
Fifty to sixty million years ago the Petrified Forest was once a forest of redwoods or sequoias. The trees were consumed by fire and ash from a volcano over successive eruptions. Fossilization took place over many millions of years. During the Ice Ages, the pressure of the overlying ice sheet hardened the ash over the trees, but the forest was lying on a slope so it also was scraped and eroded over time. Part of the area slid down the hill and exposed the petrified wood. There is a lot more under the surface, but fossil hunters look for what is on the surface.
We went through the Monte Hills since we find that road to be better than all of the roads going up from the Campbell Range. We made a map using Google Earth and plotted our route and waypoints. Using a GPSr, we parked the truck and headed off through the bush. The bush is dense here and new windfall makes this a slow and challenging route.
The dilemma remains – should we tell everyone where the fossil bed is? After much deliberation, we have decided not to provide coordinates or maps. Some finds are for a few only, those who will respect the preservation of the area. Suffice it to say Kamloops has the remains of a petrified forest up in the hills.