Jim Stoops, of Martinez, is a self-classified rock hound.
"I've always been interested in rocks and geology," Mr. Stoops said. He belongs to both the Augusta and the Aiken Gem and Mineral societies.
"Membership to one of those clubs is a good introduction to people that are down to earth. Some of them get right dirty, figuratively speaking," he said, laughing.
He digs at Graves Mountain in Lincoln County.
"There is such a wide variety of minerals out here to look for. Right now, I'm looking for micro minerals which, really to see, you have to use a microscope. These minerals expand what I can look for, and often I spend most of my time looking for them."
According to Mr. Stoops, the minerals he is seeking can be lime green to white to clear. They have primarily a crystal shape, but there are variations on the shapes, from sharp to rounded.
"I usually do this kind of stuff when there are a lot of people here," he said.
Graves Mountain is not open to the public except for special weekends. The mountain's caretaker, Junior Norman, held a Rock Swap and Dig in May.
"I stay away from the real popular areas where you see lots of people. I don't get a whole lot of competition for this type of stuff," he said. "Not too many people look for that (micro minerals) because it's small. But like anything else, beauty is in the eye of the beholder."
People normally look for rutile, an opaque, titanium dioxide crystal, in Graves Mountain, or the iridescent hematite. When the temperature rises later in the day, Mr. Stoops will cruise around the mountain to see what he can find. He usually gives many pieces of his collection away.
He has been to the mountain more than 20 times because he is a member of the gem and mineral societies.