Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the mines they go. Students at BYU-Idaho gathered together at the Outdoor Resource Center early in the morning of June 25 and traveled for an hour and a half to the Spencer Opal Mines, located in Spencer, Idaho, a town close to Island Park, to mine for opals, a rare, fragile gem that is white in base color and possibly possesses multiple colors.

Spencer, Idaho, is a tiny place with the only store there selling opals, the town’s prized gem. This store is family-run by the Mortensens, and each item within the store is handmade. But this ability to be creative is not the only reason why the Mortensen family mines for this rare gem.

“You’re trying to find that one piece,” said Leo Mortensen, the head miner at the Spencer Opal Mines. “That one piece that’s gonna make it stand out to any other opal you’re ever going to find.”

Not only does Mortensen understand the impact that will be left with his family, but the impact that this will leave on the students.

“Basically, they’ll be able to tell people, for years down in their generations, of how they went up and they got to mine their very own opal,” Mortensen said.

Mortensen said he plans on majoring in technology but will continue mining opal daily until he graduates from high school.