Thursday, June 21, 2012

Soapstone at Lake Wenatchee

     I went with Linda and our friend Nancy over to Lake Wenatchee in eastern Washington to collect some soapstone.  The reason I need the soapstone is for a project I'm doing for my daughter Sarah and their Stake's pioneer trek activity.  They needed a block of stone to use as a facsimile of a temple cornerstone and soapstone seemed like a good choice.  I'm not sure we have anyone with either the skill or tools necessary to cut and shape a good size piece of granite. Soapstone, on the other hand, can be filed, sanded, and otherwise shaped pretty easily. Besides, it was common knowledge in the family that I knew a place where soapstone could be collected.

       The site where we gathered the soapstone has a wonderful view of  Lake Wenatchee and the surrounding mountains. It really is quite picturesque.  Not that I remembered to take any pictures of the view.  Fortunately, Linda took some good scenery photos, as well as some good nature photos.  I took my chainsaw to cut off the soapstone. I knew from personal experience that it is a tedious task with hand tools, especially if a larger chunk of stone is needed. It still took about an hour to carve off a piece of the stone and do some rough shaping of the piece into something rectangular.  The main reason I had to do the rough shaping on site was also to get it down to a size I could carry.  We're allowed to collect 25 pounds each so I was limited to 75 pounds which was already more than I wanted to carry.  The chainsaw worked pretty well, but I had to take my time as it was very easy for the blade to overheat.  The chainsaw generated a pretty good cloud of talc dust as well as enough talc dust on the ground to make for some slippery footing. I had a brand new chain on the saw, which I am sure is now severely trashed.
One very heavy, somewhat rectangular piece of soapstone
     Now that the soapstone has been collected, I still need to take a belt sander to it and get the sides more square and smooth.  I think they also want a date carved into it.  I haven't weighed the block yet, but I would guess it is somewhere near 60 pounds. I was lucky I didn't have to carry it very far to get it to the car.  Some of the pieces I trimmed off can also be used for some carving projects when I have some free time. I just need to think of something worthy of being memorialized in soapstone. If any of my blog followers are interested in trying their hand at carving soapstone, please let me know.  I have enough to share.
Linda with our good friend, Nancy Sweet

     Some other interesting events associated with our trip to Lake Wenatchee included milk shakes at Zips, the sighting of a mule deer doe with a very young fawn, the delivery of a queen bee along with her entourage to a customer from Wenatchee, and a chipmunk being temporarily trapped in our car.  The beekeeper was someone to whom I had shipped a queen several weeks earlier.  Unfortunately, the post office did not effect a timely delivery and the previous queen arrived in a severely stressed condition. Consequently, she didn't start laying once she had been installed in the hive.  Not wanting to give the  post office a chance to damage the replacement queen, I took advantage of the opportunity to make a personal delivery.  We arranged to meet the customer in the parking lot of the Squirrel Tree Restaurant in Coles Corner. They were thrilled to have a new queen for their hive.  I won't elaborate on the chipmunk or the fawn as I will leave that for Linda to blog about.

    The milk shakes are certainly worthy of mention.  Zips is located on the south side of Highway 2 out past Gold Bar. This burger joint has been there for as long as we have lived here and has been a traditional stop on the way home from scout activities and other trips to the mountains. They have the most wonderful milk shakes, my favorite being their black cap raspberry. This time I was seduced by another flavor when I noticed they made rhubarb milk shakes.  I thought this was something new, but the server assured me that they had been making rhubarb milk shakes for a very long time.  I got rhubarb, Linda got black cap raspberry, and Nancy got a banana malt.  After trying each other's milk shakes we all agreed that the raspberry was definitely the best.  Although I thought the rhubarb shake was pretty good, Linda made a face when she tried it.


  1. I didn't notice your comment because we were moving at the time and I went several month without my computer being set up..I apologize for the delay. The site is at the upper end of the lake. I found out about it from a book called Gem Trails of Washington. I have heard that they no longer allow access to the site, but I don't know for sure. There was a ranger station by the lake that had information about the site. You might try contacting them for current info.

  2. Just read about your soapstone cutting at Lake Wenatchee. That was useful. I want to get some soapstone from there as well and have heard it is there, but do not know quite where near Lake Wenatchee it is. Could you direct me to the place where I could find some. thanks