What a beautiful (probably smog enhanced) sunset at my friends house here in Larkspur. Wasn’t focusing too much on photos (more on just chilling after a tough couple of weeks) but was able to capture several with a 55mm prime f1.8 Carl Zeiss lens.
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.
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 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 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.
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!
Thanks to James for identifying the microcline (smaller of the two below) crystal as a Carlsbad Twin due to the 180 degree reversed twin!
I’ve made several trips up to Devil’s Head during the late summer this year. The last was September 29th (okay, I know, it is early fall, not late summer as the title suggests). The USFS closes the gate December 1st or earlier so hopefully I’ll make it up a couple more times this year.
In very late August I went with a couple of fellow Rockhounds I met through the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society. (If you want to read a very informative rockhounding blog, and see big crystals (!!), head over to Kevin’s blog, or check out Badger2410’s YouTube channel; both are local Rockhounders). The goal on this trip was to show my guests some successful places from the past and then head out deep into the forest and prospect in fairly new woods away from where everyone ventures! Well, we didn’t really venture too far as the spot we started we ended up at all day.
I found one really nice gemmy crystal and a couple of other so-so ones. I also snagged a couple of small ones that Kevin didn’t want (my daughter always asks me to show her the smallest crystals when I get home; I can’t disappoint!) in addition to the several small ones I found. Bob found the largest of the day following float up the hill. All in all a very fun day!
I went a couple of weeks later and prospected looking for a partially cleared pocket that someone had left and I had buried. I know the area pretty well but for some reason this has eluded me for 3 years now in searching. Perhaps it was just a dream…except for a have a couple of nice smokey’s I pulled out of that pocket. Next year will be the year!
My latest venture so far in 2013 was Sunday September 29th. It was a beautiful fall day and I was surprised that the trees had not begun turning yet; which was a little disappointing and part of the reason I chose to go there. I decided I was going to explore a new area so I parked and then hiked about 2 miles into the forest. I saw some signs of digging and kept going until I didn’t see many holes or previous diggings. I then started prospecting and after about an hour I started finding some very cool signs.
I followed the float up the very steep hill and kept finding good signs; most with lichen making me think it had been undisturbed and I was going to find a cool pocket.
I then ran into this nice crystal face (above) and was getting excited. A little ways up the hill I found the source; and it had been all dug up. Bummer! It appeared to have been dug a very long time ago as all the shards were well buried in dirt and under the needles. I was a bit disappointed but curiosity got the best of me and I dug around in the previous diggings as I always do to try and figure out what they saw; in addition to what they missed! In excavating what I thought to be previous tailings I started to find good crystals, covered in red mud, in red dirt. Ended up this was a side branch of the main pocket and it was untouched. I dug here for the rest of the morning and pulled out some nice microcline and crystals. They appeared so-so but I never second guess until they are cleaned up so I usually take them home anyway. After about 4 hours there, and realizing I had a small bucket of cool garden rock and some potential keepers, I decided to head out another direction and continue to prospect for later this or next year.
I especially like the floaters as they all have lichen and look great in the garden with the rest of the shards and other pieces I’ve brought home over the years. They will also remind me of the pocket that I was 50 years too late on! LOL!
I’ve just started a Phosphoric Acid bubble bath. My friends from the CSMS procured a gallon of the acid that they were kind enough to sell to me and I’m excited to use this in a crock-pot bath to see about cleaning these heavily stained crystals. This is my first time using Phosphoric Acid, so I can’t wait to see the results; if the crystals aren’t embarrassing, I’ll post some cleaned-up pictures!
On my way back to the car I found this microcline cluster sitting by a tree. Usually that means it has rolled down hill from another’s diggings; but I followed it up. There was what appeared to be a very small digging up the hill; too small (so it seemed) to have anything cool like this come from it (or the person would have dug more); so I don’t know. The diggings were VERY old again, so perhaps I’ll check it out on a future trip!
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.
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!
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…
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.
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.
Did a bunch of prospecting this trip with my dad; we started by finding some nice large float pieces but could not find the source of these; which could have been a road. We ate lunch and then ran upon this spot which had been excavated prior; but we saw a couple of signs of Amazonite so we decided to dig. I was finding “okay” Amazonite crystals and my dad was working the larger pegmatite next to an existing hole. Dad finally ran into a small side pocket off of the side and pulled out some of the nicer, large smokeys of the day!
I found relatively few crystals but several faint Amazonite parts and so was having a good time. The Amazonites came from the hole above my head shown in the next picture. A few days later I came back and found a bunch of smokys in the unearthed area above my head into the side of the hill. The grey circle is where I finished the day and found the nice plate shown below.
Here is the plate from the small seam; it was neat to see how the seam opened up and the signs in the rock as that happened. Thanks to my dad for uncovering much of this evidence! That was hard work! The piece needs clean and trimmed; currently it is about 10 inches wide!
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! 😉
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.
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!
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 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.
I found a couple of cool Microcline crystals this first day and also some neat double-terminated flat crystals.
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!
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!
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!
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! 🙂
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.
This one was nice and gemmy, but obviously had another rock at its tip…
Here is the collection of nice microcline crystals I pulled out and cleaned.
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”.
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…
A nice Amethyst cluster from Brazil (?):