Only been a couple of times thus far this summer; hope to make it up a few more times. I went back to the spot from July 13th as something told me I missed something; and missed something I did. I ended up finding a very light smokey that I thought was topaz at the top of the seam; but further downhill there was more to be uncovered! All crystals were very black (morion) and attached to nothing just sitting in the dirt. There were two seams; one right underground and another about a foot or 18 inches deep. The crystals and parts were pretty etched but it was a nice seam…found two small topaz as well! I dug that area up and I’m pretty confident that I got everything…learned a lot with this area about how to prospect and dig as I missed the main seams on the first day.
I love the multi-color capped Microcline crystal!
I'm pretty sure this is Topaz; not a crystal per-se; I've never seen this before!
Finally, everything found on the second day at this location near Topaz Point Picnic Area…which by the way has a terrific view of the Pikes Peak Batholith area!
Found some wonderful crystals today! Morion Smokey Quartz, multi-colored capped Microcline, and Topaz!
It is always a treat to visit one of Joe Dorris’ mines; this day I took the kids and I up to the Smoky Hawk Mine as part of a Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society field trip. My daughter had watched the New Crystal Hunters video of this mine and wanted to see it in person!
Joe had some safety fences to put up before we could see the pegmatite vein he had dug up with the excavator, so the kids and I hit the tailings piles. We found a bunch of great smoky and amazonite crystals!!!
Hunter and Daphne found these crystals in the tailings piles
Amazonite crystals from the tailings piles
Once we were able to enter the pit, Joe showed us a pocket that he found. He was pulling beautiful small plates and white-capped Amazonite crystals out of this. Daphne and I worked that for a while and then gave it up to another rockhound so he could experience working in a world-class pocket! Daphne and I worked along a perpendicular vein that showed amazonite but very little crystalization. We did find this tiny fluorite with amazonite and I was able to get this whittled down for Daphne!
Daphne's fluorite and amazonite micro-crystal
Meanwhile Sharon (the club’s editor) dug into a lower pocket (maybe 5 feet underground) along the pegmatite vein that produce a LOT of really nice smoky/microcline plates! She worked this pocket all day long and it produced some incredible plates!
Sharon's pocket of Microcline/Smoky plates
All this time the pocket Joe found was producing material, and it started to open up. But, Yam also broke into some red clay and found yet another Amazonite/Smoky Quartz pocket. I helped go through the pocket looking for excess crystals; there were a lot that came out of this pocket.
Crystals waiting to be plucked out of the ground
Crystals we were pulling out of this pocket: notice the shovel handle for reference.
Nice amazonite plate from the pocket - 8-10 inches long
Given that this was a combo pocket, Joe gets to keep it; but I did get a nice consolation parting gift for working on this pocket with Yam and Dave; a nice small (lighter colored) amazonite plate! Awesome! This has cleaned up nicely.
I was able to keep this awesome (but dirty) amazonite plate out of our pocket
We had a wonderful day (as always) at Joe’s mine, and some great stones and crystals as souvenirs. Joe gave us each choice of a really nice crystal as we parted; I chose this white-capped Amazonite that he found earlier in the day. Also, more from what we found in the tailings piles!
White cap amazonite crystal gift from the mine
Hunter's nice combo he found first thing
Smoky Hawk Tailings: One man's trash is another man's treasure
Headed up to Devil’s head today. Decided to dig around the Topaz Point picnic area as I have not yet dug around there. I went about 30 yards from the car and saw a cool mushroom on a tree stump; after looking at that I noticed the graphic pegmatite laying on the ground so I started digging. Immediately I started seeing some shapes on the pegmatite so I was pretty excited. Here are some of the examples of what I was digging up…
Shaped pegmatite I was digging up immediately after starting...
More shaped peg...
I was getting pretty excited for what I may find...
I ended up finding a couple of small smoky quartz and a couple of nicer ones; but the pegmatite was no longer graphic and produced no more shapes or crystals after searching about 10 feet in diameter around. So I picked up and took a walk…
I came across some good looking pegmatite on the surface so I started to dig. Immediately I found a couple of pieces of white quartz with one side faceted and then I found a nice pink microcline crystal. I started to dig up hill and ended up finding a long-gone seam…just quartz and microcline in the dirt (to start with); all less than 1 foot deep. I played here for a while until I had to leave.
Cool clearish smokey...should be a cutter...!
Found this one less than an inch below the surface...
I liked this microcline because of the way the crystals formed together. The bottom crystal in deeper on the right side because of the crystal on top of it. Found several other pieces of microcline too; include a full nice sized crystal.
Stacked microcline crystals Notice the space for a smoky on top!
Friday the 13th's Devilshead stash!
Had the opportunity to go on another open dig this year at the Topaz Mountain Gem Mine operated by Glacier Peak Mining. As many know we’ve had some serious drought this year and has aided to many forest fires. We have gotten some relief with an early monsoonal flow pattern with the weather and have had several days of heavy rain; one day which was at this mine. I got there at 8:30 and a few people were already there. We all were just walking (crawling) around and looking for topaz that were laying on the top of the soil that had been washed off; in the early morning sun they were pretty easy to spot. I found several small fragments and others found some killer stones just laying on the surface; but after about 30 minutes of combing the area I decided to start digging…because that is what I do.
I had to move off a muddy layer (about 4-6 inches) on a pile to get to dry gravel to be able to start raking. The first 90 minutes or so was simply to get “set up”. I did not find anything raking so I tried my hand at sifting. I was going through a lot of material but still nothing! So I decided to start working like I do when I dig for Smoky Quartz and Amazonite and use a shovel and scrape small amounts off into a hole and watch the dirt as it falls. I immediately started having luck with this technique and found a nice stone. So I did this in combination with raking and sifting the rest of the day and found a good stone about every 45 to 60 minutes. I had a great day; this is uncommon to find so many nice stones but I was moving through a lot of dirt too–which I found is the key.
I found the following topaz next; it was a shiny object in the wall of the hole I was digging. This one was cool because it appeared it had grown around a Smoky Quartz crystal originally. It had several fractures and would not be a cutter; but it is beautiful none-the-less. Of course, holding it is memorizing and the picture doesn’t do it justice!
This beautiful specimen had great facets and indentation from a smoky quartz.
I continued and found a couple of more stones; one that *may* be a cutter. It started to sprinkle and you could hear the mean thunder echo through the valley of storms that were forming and passing directly to our Northwest; I assumed we’d have rain and the day would be cut short so I didn’t want to stall and take lunch so I kept digging. About 3:00 or so I dug into a another nice clear topaz that had mostly faceted sides. It is simply beautiful and although it could be a nice cut stone I’m going to have a hard time giving it up for cutting as it is just too spectacular as Gaia produced it!
This is a spectacular faceted clear topaz!
The sun went away behind the storm clouds and it started to get darker as the storm clouds bellowed and became more dense. I kept thinking “just one more” and I’ll be done; you know how that usually goes! I decided since a few folks were still there I’d continue as long as I could. A bolt of lightning struck withing 1/2 mile and I decided it was time to go; but immediately after I was shook by the bolt a found the find of the day. What a perfect ending to such a fun and lucky day! It was a 105 carat sherry stone. This stone also had remnants of being grown against other crystals and it had a nice area that was fracture free and likely could be cut. Upon checkout, Krystle didn’t want to give this stone up but luckily I took some extra cash and she was gracious enough to let me have it! I definitely will get this cut and will post a picture when I receive it…it *will* be beautiful!
Fantastic Sherry Topaz
One other great part of the day is that I was able to find many smoky quartz crystals too; a couple were large points and one really nice crystal! All in all, was one incredible day at the mine; I met a couple of really great folks and hopefully will get the chance to dig there again this year! Krystle was correct; I did have a productive day (and year so far for that matter!); hopefully future visits will yield one or two of these and I’ll call it a successful day!
Found some great smoky quartz points today too
This pile includes stones from the bag of topaz I purchased as well; the kids got to sift through the bag when I got home!
Topaz Mountain Gem Mine - July 7th, 2012 Open Dig! I did quite well!