Pickin’ Red Feather Lakes Quartz

My dad, son and I had the opportunity to go on a rockhounding club field trip with the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society as guests of the Flatiron Mineral Club to a set of private claims near Red Feather Lakes in Northcentral Colorado.  Red Feather Lakes is known for some of the best Colorado Amethyst found and also clear quartz, and a few miles north high quality industrial grade diamonds!  Today we were digging for Red Feather Lakes quartz.

Here are a couple of past expeditions to the RFL area:

There were a couple of claims that we could visit so we had a choice of what we wanted to do this field trip!  Some of us stayed at the first claim the claim owner walked us to in hopes of bigger quartz crystals and clusters (but much more effort) while others went to a smaller claim that had abundant smaller clear quartz crystals that were much easier to find.  Hunter and I chose the first claim with more digging effort and a longer walk while my dad chose to check out the other smaller claim, eventually coming back and getting the best of both worlds.

Hunter is not much of a digger and has a keen eye for float, so he set off right away and started scouting the claim.  Meanwhile, I love to dig so that I did.  I found a couple of crystals within the top foot of soil and found some quartz veins that didn’t produce anything noteworthy.  Hunter found a very nice float cluster right away bringing up everyone’s confidence that there is good stuff in the area.  Meanwhile, the trip leader, Charlotte, was no more than two feet next to me and started hitting nice crystals as she opened up a seam.

Hunter's quartz cluster.

Hunter’s quartz cluster.

Just after Hunter gave us all a jaw-dropping moment, I hit a nice phantom with white quartz with a secondary period of crystallization of clear quartz.  So the father and son duo were not skunked and finding crystals right away!  Cool!

Nice phantom white quartz under the secondary growth of clear quartz

Nice phantom white quartz under the secondary growth of clear quartz

Soon there after Charlotte started pulling out really nice crystals from her seam she was excavating.  I can’t image getting bored of pulling crystals out of a pocket, but Charlotte wanted to ensure that everyone had a chance to pull out some nice crystals showing her kindness and generosity as the trip leader.  So many of us took turns at pulling out crystals from her pocket! 🙂  I found a really nice double terminated cluster, but I had to give that to Charlotte as a memento from the pocket she discovered!  I pulled out some great points and a couple small clusters!

Uncleaned quartz crystal from Red Feather Lakes

None of the quartz has been cleaned yet; I have a handful that are in the acid bath queue.

Interesting crystal form

Interesting crystal form

Large quartz, I cannot find the two crystals that were once next to this.

Large quartz, I cannot find the two crystals that were once next to this as seen by the matrix bottom.  This was the last crystal I pulled from the seam as it was opening up into the main part of the pocket (of course we didn’t’ know that yet!)

Meanwhile my dad returned from the other claim with many nice small clear crystals.  It became his turn and he was able to pull crystals out as the pocket bottomed out.  He was able to keep several amazing clusters from the pocket that kept giving!

Red Feather Lakes quartz cluster

Wonderful cluster from near the end of the pocket. My dad extracted this and another similarly amazing cluster

Dad has some nice crystals and when he gets some photos I will upload them here.  Meanwhile, I took some shots before I left; he has a couple of nice pieces of matrix that hopefully he has the crystals to repair to make a couple more stellar clusters!

Great quartz crystals from Red Feather Lakes Colorado

Both amazing clusters, quickly washed with the garden hose.

Gotta love the fall colors while enjoying the forest and rockhounding in Colorado!

Gotta love the fall colors while enjoying the forest and rockhounding in Colorado!

All in all it was an incredibly fun day meeting many great folks from the Flatirons Mineral Club!  I hope to be able to dig with these folks again in the future!  Thanks to the owner of the claims for making this a fantastic rockhounding adventure in Colorado!

Red Feather Lakes Quartz

My turn at Charlotte’s Pocket pickin’ Red Feather Lakes quartz crystals.

 

Rampart Range Prospecting

Did some digging today on the Rampart Range area on the Northeast side of the Pikes Peak Batholith.  This location is known for mainly Smoky Quartz but also sometimes Amazonite and Topaz crystals.  I started off prospecting a new area and did not find much so I wandered off to an old pegmatite I have worked in the past and went further into the zone I had found some crystals in previous years.  I was lucky today and found many smokey quartz including a couple of small plates, and some weak colored and shaped Amazonite.

I originally came upon this area as I saw some loose pegmatite upon the ground that was somewhat graphic.  Graphic granite is where the crystallization gets more pronounced and starts to get shapes and facets on one or many sides.  I was pulling large (50+ pounds) chunks of pegmatite out of the ground and then I came upon a zone that was much smaller chunks of rock.  After pulling out a couple of pieces smoky quartz started to fall out and then I saw a ceiling plate with a crystal intact.  This plate was about 20 pounds so I left it; but I did bring home two plates intact and was able to find 5 crystals that fit back into place…which was worth the haul of these very heavy rocks to the car.

I plan to hit this site one more time as I want to ensure the pocket pinched out, which it appeared to do; but the previous seam of crystals I found along this pegmatite did the same thing, so it obviously opened up a couple times.

Part of the top plate of the small pocket.  This crystal had fallen off but I was able to repair it.

Part of the top plate of the small pocket. This crystal had fallen off but I was able to repair it.

Another view of the top plate in the main part of the pocket!

Another view of the top plate in the main part of the pocket!

This was along the bottom of the pocket

This was along the bottom of the pocket

These two were repaired back together

These two were repaired back together

I love the point on this one.

I love the point on this one.

Nice crystal

Nice crystal

This crystal is mostly gemmy inside.

This crystal is mostly gemmy inside.

Kinda odd facets, but awesome crystal.

Kinda odd facets, but awesome crystal.

Nice large crystal.

Nice large crystal.

Love this point!

Love this point!

Some of the repaired and larger crystals; many or gemmy

Some of the repaired and larger crystals; many or gemmy

tn_DevilsheadBlueAmazon-1786

These are mostly gemmy

These are mostly gemmy

Smaller but gemmy crystals!

Smaller but gemmy crystals!

Part of the larger bottom plate near the center of the pocket.

Part of the larger bottom plate near the center of the pocket.

Some light colored Amazonite crystals.

Some light colored Amazonite crystals.

These will require a long soaking; but I kinda like them as is...

These will require a long soaking; but I kinda like them as is…

 

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!