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!
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!
I had a earned day off on Friday of Father’s Day weekend and so I decided to go crystal hunting. Hunter and his friend Trevar have always wanted to go with me so I figured with they being off for the summer it was a perfect day. We left at 7am and headed up to Devilshead. The plan of the day was to try and find a hole that had long been abandoned and check out the bottom to see if there was anything left. Then once it got warmer we’d head back to where I had luck last year. Well, that plan never worked out…
We never found the hole I was looking for and we hiked quite a bit, so I decided, since it was on the way, to hit a spot where we could likely pull some “scraps” from other digs–give the kids a chance to get “in the mood” and then get them digging! While they were checking out the tailings, I decided to check out a pit where I found my first two crystals ever to see if there was anything. The hole had been worked since last year so I figured it was stale; but after about 10 minutes I hit a little “mud”. That is where I stayed all weekend!
Here is my work environment with the large crystal in the vug
I worked in some mud and was finding some interesting crystals; nothing “perfect” but definitely 2 or 3 faced smokey quartz and somewhat large. I had some hard rock in the way of a crystal I found so I excavated that section and discovered the pocket was larger than I thought. I started to work on the right side of the pocket and discovered some flat sides on a “rock”. I worked this side of the pocket for the next couple of hours.
Here is the large crystal after at least 90 minutes of excavation work
For some reason the big crystal wouldn’t move; I finally was able to get it to move slightly and found that it was hung up on something behind the crystal. I removed some mud back there and discovered another crystal attached. I was able to pull the crystal out of the mud finally, and to my surprise there was a point on the other end! Wow, a huge crystal (I never dreamed I’d find) in my hand!
To my surprise a terminated crystal! HUGE!
After pulling this out, I figured out what it was caught up on, another small little crystal fell into my hand when pulling this huge one out.
The little crystal that was holding up excavation of the huge crystal
The kids were pretty impressed too but they decided to continue on their fort made with sticks and a hole. There were a couple of large (one larger) crystals in the same pocket so I with renewed energy started working on those. Ended up the biggest crystal hit the bottom of the pocket after about 4″, so it was huge in girth but didn’t do anything as far as a point. I have that in the rock garden out front as a momento. The other crystal in the back of the pocket looked promising and I worked on that the rest of the day; but didn’t get it out by the time we had to leave–working in that pocket mud/clay is somewhat difficult and you have to be extremely careful so you don’t break any other crystals.
Nice Microcline crystal
I found a couple of cool Microcline crystals this first day and also some neat double-terminated flat crystals.
Cool double terminated flat crystal
The pocket continued…Saturday AM.
We had a birthday party to go to at 2pm, so I woke up early and headed back up the hill to see what I could excavate in the 4 hours I had. Not messing around, once I booked it into the hole I started by excavating more area to work in so I wouldn’t have to lay down like the day before. That ended up being a good 30 minute investment for sure. I ended up pulling out a lot of the pocket and found some great smokeys and microcline crystals, including several funky double-terminated ones that were great. The large crystal ended up terminating into the granite so there was no point; but it was worth the effort for sure as I pulled out some great other crystals in the process!
Nice thin crystal from the left side of the pocket
Nice gemmy fatty! Part of a cluster that I have yet to fully excavate.
Another cool microcline crystal.
This microcline is the coolest one I’ve ever seen. This was sitting below the granite dividing the two sides of the pocket. Ultra cool crystal!
Ultra cool microcline beast!
The Giant, all cleaned up
This is the second big crystal that took a while on Saturday to pull out. Even though it isn’t terminated, it is really neat with lots of detail in every side!
Big crystal #2
Here are a couple of the double terminated crystals I found immediately behind the big crystal #2. It was time to head back, but there was a lot of cool stuff behind this crystal…ended up still home early so no damage done!
Sweet double terminated smokey
Super cool double terminated with tiny tip
I was pretty excited when I pulled this big guy out. Like a lot of the crystals I pulled out, they do not have very straight sides but instead have a lot of character.
Sweet large crystal
This one was nice and gemmy, but obviously had another rock at its tip…
Gemmy flat sided crystal; one of the few with flat sides
Here is the collection of nice microcline crystals I pulled out and cleaned.
Microcline collection from the pocket
There were several more really nice crystals, you’ll just have to pay a visit to take a look at them I also found more imperfect crystals like this one that were way cool; several that were thinner than glass and in a small “pane”.
Cool flat crystal, not terminated but interesting shape.
This is terminated on one side, very cool crystal!
Between the success at Devilshead, the Saturday birthday party and the Sunday BBQ, this was a great father’s day weekend! Thanks everyone, including you, mother earth!
Last time I visited my folks I took some quick photos of their crystals…
Smokey on Matrix from Devils Head, 2009 trip.
Nice smoky on Microcline from the same pocket as above at Devishead.
Another picture of this cool crystals…
And another picture:
A nice Amethyst cluster from Brazil (?):
A nice encrysted Amethyst:
In retrospect, I had a great year digging at Devil’s Head in the Pike National Forest. Firstly, I can be digging in about 65 minutes from starting the car here at the house. Nothing like being close to the action! 2009 was definitely a beginner’s year for me and I learned quite a bit. I also got quite lucky (and unlucky).
I ended up finding a spot (luck!) that produced right away. I visited that hole about 6-7 times this fall. Most days were good; but there were a couple of days that did not produce. I buried the hole but am thinking about digging it out again next spring…we’ll see, it won’t be the first time I buried that hole and then dug it out again!
I believe everything I was finding was Miarolitic Cavities as opposed to pegmatite vugs. For the most part these these were right at the boundary between the roots and harder rock about 8 – 18 inches below the surface. Joe Dorris has a nice description of these on his website. I also found, digging in old unfilled abandoned holes, several deeper pockets filled with thick red clay and some crystals. I’m assuming these are more “vug” type structures in the pegmatites. That red clay is definitely a mess!
Highlights of the hole I was digging in were the many large double terminated crystals my dad found on the first day of snow in Colorado this year. Also some really nice orthoclause crystals, one which is multicolored in squares. We found nice smoky quartz crystal heads from sub-inch to about 4 inches in all different quality. Some were nice large “gemmy” color…the further south you get the darker the crystals it seems here in Colorado. I have a cigar box full of small crystals, and several larger individuals and a few crystals on harder matrix/feldspar.
Here are the fruits of my (and Hunter’s) labor on my second day in my hole. We found a pocket that I could stick my hand into which was very exciting, that seemed more like a small vug/pocket as it was surrounded by very hard rock. Most of the small crystals came from a pocket about a foot higher, likely a Miarotilic Cavity?
This is the same hole but the next time I went with my dad. It was snowing so hard that we ended up having to leave we were so cold…
These were some of the best crystals to come out of this hole. My dad was digging and extracting the bigger crystals and I was taking my new screen I just bought at the Gem and Mineral show the day before to sift for “smaller” ones.
On my last day in this hole of 2009, I found several small pockets along the root/rock line parallel to a quartz-ish vein about a foot away from the vein. That afternoon I dug for about 5 hours and found nothing, so I need to determine if this spot is worth continuing with next year. This is the coolest thing when you pull off a rock and see a “hole”. Sometimes they pan out, sometimes they don’t.
Here is another pocket I found. I would just run my hand along the top of this hole loosening the dirt/rock and the cleared out base would be filled with rock and crystals. This is a common way I pull these smaller points out of the ground.
2009 was blast and I got hooked on finding smokeys. We have joined the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society and plan to learn a lot this year and go on several digs, including the private claims that the society works. My number 1 goal is to better understand how to find geological features that will tell you where a good place to dig is; that is the hardest part so far in my experience.
Oh, and sometimes, a rock falls onto your hand and there is a crystal on top of it. This happened twice this year. That was nice slender half-dollar sized crystal!