Gobbler Smoky Quartz part 2

Headed up to Devils Head Colorado in late May on a gorgeous spring day to test my luck with finding Smoky Quartz crystals.  I decided to visit a location I had luck with on Thanksgiving 2013 to see if the pegmatite continued on into a bigger pocket.

I started by digging more into the harder country rock directly behind where the pocket from last year pinched out.  I went about 5 feet (of hard rock digging) around that area and found nothing of interest.  Then I decided to head the other direction, which was piled with tailings and pegmatite rocks so I had some housecleaning to do.  Immediately upon getting below the surface I pulled out a microcline that looked good…probably less than 2 inches below ground.  I took another scrape with the shovel to remove sticks and top soil and a girthy 2 inch smoky popped out of the ground!  This is the closest pocket to the surface I have ever found, the pocket bottomed out about 4-5 inches deep!

I took some video pulling out medium sized smoky quartz from this small pocket.  As quickly as it started, it ended.  I dug for 5-7 feet more but determined that the pegmatite at that point would have been above the current ground level.  It was getting late and I was several miles from the car, so I buried the hole, packed up and hiked out.

Upon thinking about this more, I will pay another visit to this area and start prospecting down the hill for float that may have come out of the seam over the millions of years of erosion in this location (usually I find float and dig uphill towards the hopeful pocket). Never thought of doing this before so we’ll see if this twist on my normal routine pays out.  ???

This cluster was at the bottom of the pocket.  Note the back side where the graphic granite is obvious.  This is what you want to look for when digging test holes or while prospecting!

This small cluster was at the bottom of the pocket. Note the back side where the graphic granite is obvious. This is what I look for when digging test holes or while prospecting!  Curious on the light colored smokey in the center.

Some examples of the smoky quartz I found (still to be cleaned)

Some examples of the smoky quartz I found (still to be cleaned).  The right most is the one with the broken tip.  Interestingly, so far this year each pocket/seam I’ve hit has one (and only one) nice smoky with a broken tip….in each case I have found it near by.  Interesting…

Red Feather Lakes area quartz crystals

Spent the weekend with my folks at Red Feather Lakes and had a wonderful time.  It was too windy to fish, although the lakes/ponds were recently stocked with 12-18″ golden trout I hear; but instead dad and I took a walk to a previous spot we had found and dug in a small quartz vein.

Dad started off the day prospecting a little and came up with a nice set of binoculars that someone had dropped a ways off of the trail.  I’d say he got the best crystals of the day!  LOL!

The vein we worked had graphic quartz with more course larger quartz chunks away from the seam.  I am new to this type of digging, I’m used to digging in pegmatite so I was digging around testing out the whole area.  The whole area was filled with sticky red clay making it slow going.

Right away we found the seam that we ran into last time and the largest crystal was one of the first we pulled out.  Gave us false hope for others that size; but kept us digging for nearly 4 hours.  The clay made finding crystals a little more difficult than normal as you had to work each rock that came out.  The seam appeared to pinch out on each side of our two foot hole; but I suspect there was more in the area.

The crystals are white/drusy quartz and some started to get clear, but nothing to get over-excited about from a specimen perspective, but we did find many single euhedral crystals and several smaller plates.  No amethyst that the area is world famous for unfortunately; but we’ll continue to prospect the area and maybe someday hit some purple crystals.

Over all, an outstanding day digging with my dad, looking forward to the next time!

Nice cluster, many will need to be repaired. Obviously uncleaned.

Nice cluster, many will need to be repaired. Obviously uncleaned.

A small cluster of white quartz

A small cluster of white quartz

The pay out from today's 3+ hour dig. Uncleaned.

The pay out from today’s 3+ hour dig. Uncleaned.

The pay out from today's 3+ hour dig. Uncleaned.

The pay out from today’s 3+ hour dig. Uncleaned.  Arranged by Daphne!

 

“Double-Quad” Quartz / Amazonite Pocket

Went up to Devil’s Head again as the weather was supposed to be gorgeous (and it was!) on November 10, 2013.  I am prospecting in a new area and wanted to go back and check out a couple of signs I found on my way out the last trip.  I dug up the area and found some partial microcline and a few smoky quartz crystals.

My next spot was based on a float rock I found.  You’ll see it in the video, lots of white quartz in the pegmatite so I dug directly below.  Ended up finding a cool seam which turned into a small pocket.  The crystals were decent sized (1 to 4 inches) and the microcline was euhedral.

The euhedral amazonite (faint color, common for Devilshead) including some twins

The euhedral amazonite (faint color, common for Devilshead) including some Carslbad twins

The seam and pocket extended for about 24-30 inches (a couple of directions) and had easily 20 pounds of microcline crystal fragments (many came back as garden rock).  As you can see, there is a greenish tint to the microcline making it amazonite (that means it has traces of lead in the mineral).  This is the second time I have found amazonite at Devils Head, here is the account of the first.  There are several smaller Carlsbad Twins in the find too!   Amazonite is much more common (and deeper color) as you head southwest further into the Pikes Peak Batholith, so it was a treat to find this day!

The largest Faint amazonite / microcline euhdral crystal

The largest faint amazonite / microcline euhdral crystal

The smoky quartz was very interesting out of this pocket; I’ve seen milky quartz coated smokies in the area before, but never “granite countertop” coated smokies like this!  It is really a neat color/texture!  I have noticed that soaking these longer the outside coat is slowly coming off; so I have a few crystals that are going to soak for a while to see what the quartz looks like underneath.

Great color, texture and shape to this smoky

Great color, texture and shape to this smoky

This point was right next to a large root that found the seam and followed it

This point was right next to a large root that found the seam and followed it

One of the smokies from the video

One of the smokies from the video

This shows the "granite countertop" coating that was on all the smokys

This shows the “granite countertop” coating that was on all the smokies

Cool smoky quartz from the video, love the coating!

Cool smoky quartz from the video, love the coating!

The "keepers" from the day

The “keepers” from the day – reference is a gold dollar, not a penny

 

Devil’s Head Prospecting Trip – October 2013

Had an open Sunday so I decided to venture up to Devil’s Head Colorado to prospect in a new area that has much less digging than the typical Virgin’s Bath area.  From my neighborhood, I could tell there was snow up on Devil’s Head and the Rampart Range but I decided to give it a try anyway.  Worst case, I figured, I could hit an old site or even prospect some of the old mines that are on the map that I haven’t searched before.

Upon driving up the snow was covering the ground in the trees but the flatter, more open areas appeared to be snow free.  I decided there was enough snow-free area to make it worth a prospecting hike.  I headed a couple miles off of the road and started to see some good signs; but alas there was digging in the area where all looked good.  All the digging was very old; but still it seems that there is no virgin ground around!  I ended up finding a nice white quartz point in that area but decided to continue further off the beaten path.

A little after noon I found a snow-free spot that had some quartz shards that weren’t very crystallized but pretty clear; and some pegmatite so I started to dig.  I ended up pulling an okay crystal of good size out (about 2.5″) and then a great looking microcline crystal; so I figured there could be some finds.  I pulled out the camera and shot some video of the crystals I dug out.  Check it out!

The sun started to get low on the horizon and behind the clouds and with the wind the nearly 40 degrees started to fall quickly; and the clouds were encroaching while flurries started.  Given the car was about 2 miles uphill (much of it very steep) I decided to bury the hole and head out.  Nearly an hour later I was heading out in a cloud/fog looming over Devil’s Head.  All in all, a wonderful Sunday adventure, perhaps the last one of the season for this locale!

Bigger crystals than usual, the largest is about five inches!

Fun crystal seam at Devil's Head

Fun crystal seam at Devil's Head

Thanks to James for identifying the microcline (smaller of the two below) crystal as a Carlsbad Twin due to the 180 degree reversed twin!

3" Twinned Microcline, 4" Quartz and LARGE Microcline

Red Feather Lakes Crystal Hike

For the kids fall break I took a couple of days off of work and we visited my folks in Northern Colorado.  On Sunday morning my dad and I were talking about visiting Chicken Park where we have heard stories of Kimberlite Pikes (diamonds, we are in that part of Colorado), gold, Amethyst and other fun stories of the area.  Given that is a 20 minute drive from their house we decided to check it out.

Our journey was abruptly cut short, however, due to a road closure.  There was another way; but it would have been at least an hour drive so instead of turning around and heading home; we decided to check out another road; the only one available.  After a rough road we got out and took a hike.  A little while into the trail we came across some float that caught our attention and we decided to dig a little to see what we’d find.

Float that sparked our interest

Float that sparked our interest

Another float that started the digging...

Another float that started the digging...

Dad ran back to the truck to get the pick and rock hammer while I stayed and scoped the area out.  By the time he returned I had an idea where we should dig and we started.  We spent about an hour digging and pulled out a bunch of rough chunks with faces; almost all with crystallized formations showing.  I ended up finding some red clay and small crystal clusters started coming out.

Some nice crystals that we pulled from the red clay/mud

Some nice crystals that we pulled from the red clay/mud

Some of the clusters we pulled out

Some of the clusters we pulled out

These took me a while to clean up; the mud was really sticky.  We had to get home for lunch and so we left the diggings to come back the next day, a little more prepared to do some serious excavation; except it snowed six inches!  Oh well; my dad said he’d check it out further on some warm day–the luxuries of being retired!

Some chunks of quartz showing crystallization

Some chunks of quartz showing crystallization

Some of the nicer clusters; for dad's cabinet

Some of the nicer clusters; for dad's cabinet

A shot of the take home; most garden rock

A shot of the take home; most garden rock

All in all a wonderful hike with my dad and adventure on the mountain back roads in his area!  Hope to do this again soon!

Cinco de Mayo 2013: A New Hope

Today was a great day and my second outing for the year, this time to the New Hope Amethyst lode claim as guests of the Canyon City rock club.  I was with the Lake George Gem and Mineral club , there were 5 or 6 clubs on this field trip.  Lots of eager Rockhounds wanting to get out find some amethyst quartz crystals!!  The day was slightly overcast which was perfect for a day of digging–bright but not too hot or sunny. I started the day doing some prospecting and walking around the claim and surrounding public lands.  I found some epidote in quartz/granite which was cool; but nothing else per se.  Richard, the field trip leader for the club, had given me a clue on where to find some calcite crystals so I went on a hunt for them.  I was able to find the area he mentioned; but obviously someone had been digging there already and I didn’t see the calcite crystals he mentioned.  The seam that had been dug out had some dried red clay and I figured I should see what that was about so I started digging in that carefully.  I ended up finding a small plate of small quartz points which was exciting (thanks to Carl Carnein for his help with identification).  Unfortunately the host rock was extremely brittle and even exercising great care it was hard to extract the plates without everything busting into tiny pieces.

Cute calcite cluster found in the maroon clay

Cute quartz cluster found in the maroon clay.  These will scratch glass.

I continued to dig into the clay and uncovered more small plates of quartz crystals, again they were very brittle but I was able to extract a couple 1.5 – 2″ pieces intact which was exciting!  Continuing into the pocket I the clay turned iridescent maroon colored and that is where I found a couple of really pretty plates, one, the back/side of the pocket was able to be extracted intact that was rather large, 4-5″ long.  Sweet! The below cluster was one of the intact small clusters which came from this area of the small pocket.

Calcite cluster without the coating of calcite

Quartz cluster that was pretty clean…

Awesome large cluster of calcite crystals intact!!

Awesome large cluster of quartz crystals intact!!

Once I got to the end of this small pocket I broke into a small but pretty smokey and amethyst quartz vein.  It quickly pinched out and I decided to see what everyone else was finding and relax for a little bit. Overall the calcite pocket was about 3-5″ high, 1-3″ wide and about 4″ deep at the largest points.

"Zipper" Vein of Smokey and Amethyst Quartz at the end of the Calcite pocket

“Zipper” Vein of Smokey and Amethyst Quartz at the end of the quartz pocket

Everyone was having luck about two feet deep digging an amethyst vein.  There was a lot of folks digging in a tight space so I decided to try and intercept the vein a little ways away from the crowd; 10 yards or so uphill.  I dug and dug in all directions but did not find the vein…it either made a significant turn, went further down than I was wanting to dig (which was 3+ feet!); or pinched out.  After a couple of hours I reclaimed my prospecting and just hung out and listened to everyone talk and enjoyed the stories and watching everyone find great little clusters.

Small amethyst, milky and smokey quartz clusters and points

Small amethyst, milky and smokey quartz clusters and points

I went through some of the tailings and found some cool little points, and after everyone was done they offered me a chance to dig in the excavated hole and I enjoyed about an hour of finding great small milky quartz covered plates before it was time to head home.  It was a wonderful day with great people; I’ve really enjoyed visiting this claim and appreciate the opportunity to do so!

Needs a little more scrubbing; beautiful amethyst quartz!

Needs a little more scrubbing; beautiful amethyst and smokey quartz!

Calcite crystals in close proximity to quartz vein

Quartz crystals in close proximity to quartz vein

 

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Cinco de Mayo :: Colorado Tarryall Topaz

Took the family up near Tarryall Northwest of Lake George to the Topaz Gem Mine for the first open dig of the year. Joe Dorris and his family are awesome supporters of Rockhounds and Gem & Mineral clubs and allow families to come and visit a few times per year.

We took advantage of this year’s first dig and started off pretty slow. We took a portable fold-up chair and after lunch the chair ended up getting blown into a big pit. I went to retrieve the chair and as I was bending down I saw a rock with shapes covered in dried mud. I rubbed it off and it was a specimen quality topaz of nearly 300 carats! That got everyone digging harder and everyone found one (except Trevor 🙁 ). Hunter found a huge bi-color (blue/champagne) cubic shaped beast (about 250 carats) and Daphne found a clear, near perfect crystal (about 8 carat) that doesn’t really need cutting as the facets are awesome! Erin found a couple of nice cutters too.

Hunter holding the two massive stones we found today!

Hunter holding the two massive stones we found today!

The kids posing for the camera digging for topaz

The kids posing for the camera digging for topaz

Daphne digging for topaz

Daphne digging for topaz

Huge bi-color Topaz

Hunter’s bi-color Blue/Sherry gem!

Blue Topaz

The big blue lunker I found by accident.

Daphne's beautifully faceted clear topaz

Daphne’s beautifully faceted clear topazGreat d

Blue topaz cleaned by Joe Dorris

Blue topaz cleaned by Joe Dorris

I had Joe clean my clue topaz and pressure treat it; a big improvement and it is now an amazing cabinet displayed specimen stone!

 

 

Cherokee Oklahoma Selenite – Spring 2012

We’ve been wanting to do this trip for a while; so we decided to embark on a long 3-day weekend trip with my dad and my kids to go Selenite digging in the Great Salt Plains in North-central Oklahoma.  I did some calling around and because of the oil boom and the Wynoka Rattlesnake Festival no hotels were available except in Enid; so we opted for a place in neighboring Anthony Kansas–the Anthony Motel & Cafe.

The Cafe was closed and I think we were the only non-oil industry guests at the motel; but it was nice enough…we got the Harley room so who could ask for more? Got there Friday evening and hung out in the room and went to bed early.  Drove south to Cherokee OK on Saturday morning and headed out to the Salt Plains.  Being a storm chaser as well; I was amazed that we were in the center of the high risk area; so we kept our eye open for building storms all day…

The wind was brutal; about a 30-40 mile southerly wind all day that picked up about 3:00pm…so we decided we had enough digging and decided to leave.  Of course, like everyone else, we lost several things that blew out of the back of the truck and we couldn’t catch them it was blowing so hard!

We dug all day and found that the Selenites were a couple of inches below the ground.  Hunter discovered that if you dug near the standing water you’d find crystals right away.  They said to dig a hole in the sand, let it fill with water (we are at the water table) and then use a bucket or can to wash the sand from the walls.  This did work and crystals did fall into the murky, sandy water; but we discovered that the Crystals exist right at the interface between the sand and clay usually; so we ended up just digging horizontal about 3″ below that interface and then pulling out the crystals on the top of the sand rather than in the water…seemed quicker and easier.  You can either set out the crystals in the wind to dry; or just toss them in a bucket…we did both.

There appeared to be several types of crystals.  Those that formed in the sand, we called them “Sandy”.  Those that formed in the clay that were larger and brownish.  Those that formed in clay that were bow-ties of sand in clear crystals, we called them “bow ties”.  Those that formed in both sand and clay; we called them “changlings”.

Note that digging this way you have to be careful with your shovel as it is easy to break or bend it…we bent one of ours and another person there broke their metal shovel.  The clay is stiff and heavy; so go easy.  Daphne discovered the “motherload” of the day which put us into the great clusters and bow-tie crystals…of course this was just before we wanted to leave so we ended up staying an extra hour…but it was worth it.

Storm Prediction Center issues a high risk; we were in the center of it!

Storm Prediction Center issues a high risk; we were in the center of it!

We went home and saw the storms forming on radar…the ones that looked to impact our location of Anthony were at the time near Woodward, OK; which is where several folks died.  The storm directly impacted Cherokee where we were all day (note that when we drove through every carwash and other bay was taken by cars already).  I decided not to chase the storms given I was with the family and in Erin’s truck (hail damage was not an option; plus some of the side dirt roads would not be good in her car) so we decided to hang out in Anthony.  About dark; the storm came through and we took refuge in the local funeral home basement; which was the normal storm shelter after the sirens started blaring!  The kids got a good experience of what it is like to be a citizen in tornado prone areas (they’ve been on several chases with me prior…so they know that side too; which isn’t as scary).  The twister went about 4 miles SE of town on its way to Wichita.

On the way home Daphne wanted to see “tornado damage” so I chose a route to put us through where I read there were touch-downs.  We saw some damage near Hudson which was relatively minor; albeit still scary!

Overall a great trip, some amazing crystals and chased by a storm on a high risk day in the heart of tornado alley! Great fun!

Rural small town propaganda.  Obama Care wasn't popular with this guy and his junk

Rural small town propaganda. Obama Care wasn’t popular with this guy and his junk

Rural propaganda

Rural propaganda

Our hotel in Anthony Kansas, the "Harley Room"

Our hotel in Anthony Kansas, the “Harley Room”

Just south of Cherokee, Oklahoma

Just south of Cherokee, Oklahoma

Entrance to the state park

Entrance to the state park

Driving into the salt flats; used to be trees and winter wheat everywhere...

Driving into the salt flats; used to be trees and winter wheat everywhere…

Just in case you dig up some old military heirlooms

Just in case you dig up some old military heirlooms

Tornadic storm after the core passed just south and east of Anthony.

Tornadic storm after the core passed just south and east of Anthony.

Tornado thrown sheet metal into a power line

Tornado thrown sheet metal into a power line

Some of the nicer clusters of bowtie selenite

Some of the nicer clusters of bowtie selenite

More clusters of selenite

More clusters of selenite

Nice bowtie selenites

Nice bowtie selenites

Cool cluster of selenite

Cool cluster of selenite

We brought home two classifiers filled with crystals!

We brought home two classifiers filled with crystals!

Some of the nice selenite finds

Some of the nice selenite finds

Interesting selenite crystals, not the normal "bowtie" blades

Interesting selenite crystals, not the normal “bowtie” blades

Cool clusters of selenite

Cool clusters of selenite

Some of the larger bowtie selenite crystals

Some of the larger bowtie selenite crystals

Cut Topaz finally arrives! Nice!

I finally received my topaz that Joe Dorris arranged to have cut for me–there were all ones that I dug from the ground! These are great for the most part; one has some pits and are issues with the original stone that I didn’t see. Now I have to figure out how to set them into some jewelry!

Not all of these were sent to get cut…only the four circled were sent.

Topaz before cutting

Here are the stones afterward the 10 month wait (this was abnormally slow I guess, definitely worth the wait and fees)…

Cut Topaz in new boxes

Cut Topaz