Pic from Lucy Hunts Uranium

A failed attempt to find some Uranium in Washington State

Being a nuclear engineer, I thought it’d be fun to find some Uranium in the wild just out there in the nature, sitting somewhat dormant since it was made by neutron star mergers and giant supernova billions of years ago. I just wanted like a tiny rock with some uranium ore in it.

I found an old document from 1957 describing where Uranium had been found in Washington State. The vast majority of it is around Spokane in Eastern WA, but there are a few spots closer by worth maybe checking out.

Map of western washington showing old uranium findings
Map showing uranium claims in Western Washington (1957)

The ones up in the central cascades all looked to be in the Galena area, which is difficult/impossible to get to at the moment due to the washout on the index/galena road.

I thought I’d go for the one East of Rainier, which is on National Forest land and talks about super high-grade ore, but all the reasonable approaches require either a 14-mile one-way hike or access to closed-off lumber roads. I spent a lot of time on satellite maps before I convinced myself that you could not get past Ohop on the logging road, thanks mostly to this post. (Along the way, I learned about the Electron Dam down there, which seems pretty cool, as well as Vancouver Notch).

So anyway, this one by Bumping Lake West of Mt. Rainier looked much easier to access.

Screenshot of text describing Uranium found near Bumping lake in yakuma county
The hook

I found a video of some people who camped basically exactly at this spot not that long ago, so I knew it’d be accessible (the internet is an amazing place sometimes).

So Waffles and I took the day off and loaded up the Subaru with our UV light and Geiger counter and were off and over the incredible Chinook Pass! I got some good podcasts in and we stopped in the nice dog park in Enumclaw on the way. Waffles was not good at the agility things.

Waffles did not get this at all

Pretty daunting Rainier views along the way

The road was pretty awesome until just past Bumping Lake, after which it was still fine, though a bit rockier than I like with my little dinky Impreza tires. Good thing I got the extra 2 inches of lift with those King Springs.

Subaru on the Road

Background is usually about 0.5 counts per second. Right out of the car it was a bit more than that. We walked around trying to find sand by a mineral spring. We found lots of sand but no mineral spring. The water was shallow enough for me to walk in it as long as I was ok getting my boots wet. Waffles learned quickly how to walk in a river.

Picture of river and waterfall and sand
You’d think there’d be uranium around here
Person with hat and glasses holding geiger counter while wading in stream with hiking boots and backpack
Well at least I took a selfie
Getting higher

Honestly I didn’t find much that registered over 2 counts per second. I guess 4x typical background is ok but I was hoping for like 100 counts per second. I didn’t find any hot spots after tromping around for some time holding that up to every rock I could find.

Up and down the river we went, and all around

TL;DR:

But it was beautiful.

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