Fourth of July Pictures

It has been a busy summer so far, lots of family activities and work projects have called for long hours.  On the fourth of July we headed to my folks house near Red Feather Lakes Colorado for some needed R&R; and for my daughter and mom to finish a 4-H project, her very ambitious quilt!  I took the camera and was able to catch timelapse video and some interesting pictures.  The video is forthcoming, but here are some of my favorite stills.  As always, images can be clicked for a larger perspective!

Their house had three outside lights and each day there were a variety of moths hanging out on the side of the house.  I’ve never seen thing large of a variety in one spot before.

Signoid Prominent Moth (Clostera albosigma)

Signoid Prominent Moth (Clostera albosigma)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

Big Poplar Sphinx Moth (Pachysphinx modesta)

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St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

Fly on Columbine

Fly on Columbine. Colorado’s state flower and state pest! 🙂

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

Morning Glory Plume moth (Emmelina monodactyla)

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St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

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Boogie and the Big Poplar Sphinx Moth

Boogie and the Big Poplar Sphinx Moth

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

St. Lawrence Tiger Moth (Platarctia parthenos)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

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Green Fly

Green Fly

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops)

Small-eyed Sphinx Moth (Paonias myops)

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 Angulose Prominent Moth

Angulose Prominent Moth

White Furcula Moth (Furcula borealis)

White Furcula Moth (Furcula borealis)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi)

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Didn’t rain too much, but this storm put off a great rainbow!

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Tooks some photos of the quilting process.  Many will go on Daphne’s presentation and in her record book.

Daphne's first quilt on Grandma's quilting machine

Daphne’s first quilt on Grandma’s quilting machine

Mom's Pin cushion

Mom’s Pin cushion

Mom's fabric all sorted

Mom’s fabric all sorted

My son, my dad, and I took a drive up to Deadman Fire Watch Tower / lookout.

Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Rawah Wilderness

Rawah Wilderness from Dead Man fire watch tower

Crystal Lakes and Northern Colorado Front Range

Crystal Lakes and Northern Colorado Front Range from Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Deadman fire watch tower

Old Deadman wooden tower base

Old Deadman wooden tower base

Lush green floor in the forest

Lush green floor in the forest

Interesting forest panorama

Interesting forest panorama

Larimer County meadow looking at the Rawah Wilderness

Larimer County meadow looking at the Rawah Wilderness

Deadman Creek valley

Deadman Creek valley

Reflect & Refract

Reflect & Refract

North Fork Cache de Poudre River

North Fork Cache de Poudre RiverJul

Road Trip 2015 – Eastern Leg

This summer we did the “Road Trip Vacation” with the kids in our new car.  Now that the kids are old enough to remember we visited many of our national treasures.  We started off by visiting the Oregon Trail Ruts National Historic Landmark in Guernsey, Wyoming.  This is a neat little site that is amazing to see how the metal wheels of the wagons cut down into the sandstone.  Many many families looked for a new life homesteading the “wild west” in the 1800’s.

Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site

Oregon Trail Ruts State Historic Site

Cool old tree with me and the kids.

Cool old tree with me and the kids.

Oregon Trail Ruts

Oregon Trail Ruts

Cool old tree at Oregan Trail Ruts

Cool old tree at Oregon Trail Ruts

Our destination for the first night was Keystone South Dakota to see both rock art features, Crazy Horse Memorial Monument and Mount Rushmore!

Crazy Horse Memorial Gate

Gate at Crazy Horse Memorial plus Daphne howling at the moon

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

Crazy Horse Monument

David Humphreys Miller

Henry Little Soldier by David Humphreys Miller

Woody Crumble

Woody Crumble’s Spirit Horse

Down the road from Crazy Horse was Mount Rushmore.  We ended up there after dinner time and it was sprinkling and overcast.  Made for a really neat view with some awesome lightning overhead for a little while!  Saw these very tiny Mountain Goats on the way into the park as a bonus!

Mountain Goat

Mini Mountain Goat baby at Mount Rushmore

Rushmore Mountain Goats

Mount Rushmore Mountain Goats

Rushmore baby mountain goat

Rushmore baby mountain goat

Mini Mountain Goat family at Mount Rushmore

Mini Mountain Goat family at Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore lightning

Mount Rushmore lightning

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Washington's Looking at You

Washington’s Looking at You

Turkey Vultures

Mount Rushmore Turkey Vultures

Mount Rushmore lightning

Mount Rushmore lightning

Keystone South Dakota was a cool little town with a quaint downtown with 2 rock shops. Only one was open, however.  There was an amazing antique / thrift shop with a bunch of unique stuff and a friendly shop keeper, and an interesting sign downtown…

Surgeon Supplies

Surgeon supplies documented on a sign in downtown Keystone, SD

Rock Shop Fence

Awesome fence at the closed rock shop.

The next day we headed to Sturgeon for lunch and then to Devil’s Tower and eventually to Buffalo to stay the night…see the next post for more about the second leg of 4 of our adventure!

Red Feather Lakes Fireworks

We visited my folks on the tail end of our family road trip this year.  We happened to be there over the 4th of July weekend.  Red Feather Lakes had a spectacular display on Friday night.  I have never seen so many people there before, but obviously the reputation of the small community’s fireworks show had spread over the years.

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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.

 

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!

2009 Crystal Hunting in Review: Red Feather Lakes

Update:  September 2014.  

I was contacted (see comments for this posting) by a claim owner in this area informing me that he has a claim in this area.  He states that he has the area clearly marked and gated.  He stated that if you have interest in visiting his claim to contact him at spiritfamily25@yahoo.com, his name is Casey Lehman.

Whenever you visit a claim, I’ve been told that you should have a printed authorization ON YOU in case there are any questions why you are visiting, which Casey also states is required for his claim.  Thanks Casey for this reminder as this is important as rockhounds and claim owners to follow all the rules.

Rockhounds are obligated to prospect an area before digging looking for discovery notices and/or corner posts (I’ve been seeing center side posts being placed to help mark claims recently, which is helpful but I don’t think required!).  Many claims corner posts I have found contain information about the claim (name, contact information, GPS coordinates), so in these cases it is easy to know exactly where is not available to dig–thanks to the claim owners who do this as I can pop the coordinates into my GPS and know immediately where the boundaries are at! Remember, claims can feel very large when you are hiking and sometimes the corner posts can be hard to see.  I have found that many claim holders post notices in obvious places around their claims to ensure it is seen if someone is looking, so make sure and look at the trees as well, postings on trees can be seen usually from all angles especially around dug areas!

In talking with several folks in the Rockhounding clubs where I’m a member, it sounds like there are more and more areas within popular spots under claim.  For example, the popular Mt Antero and Lake George localities I guess are heavily claimed….so much so that if it is easy to get to then it probably is off limits.  I’ve been told by very “in the know” people areas that are open to dig; just to find corner posts in those areas when I look. Thus, even if you’ve been to a place in the past or read about it in a book, it is still important to ensure the area is not currently claimed.  Note that claim owners must post corner posts and also a discovery notice on their active mining claims, so responsibility is shared between rockhounds and claim owners.

I highly encourage any avid rockhounder to join a local club as this is the easiest way to hit the “hot spots” on club fieldtrips to private claims (many times the claim owner is there and can tell you the history of the area, and more importantly, help you be successful)!

 

——————

Went twice near Red Feather Lakes and found crystals.  I started digging into a Quartz vein and pulled out a nice set of crystals within the quartz.  The kids just went around and picked up float and everyone had a great time.

The second time I went up my dad and I went alone.  There was obviously a serious snow storm coming and the ground was frozen about 4-5 inches deep; but it wasn’t too cold to mine.  I ended up digging along where I thought the quartz vein I had luck with last time which was mostly big sand and small rocks.  My dad ended up sifting through this with my screen and we were finding several crystals per shovel full of dirt.  So we did this all day.  I found the quartz vein about 24-30 inches below the ground but we didn’t go that deep into it as we were having fun working the looser dirt.  Most of the crystals here are clear but covered with yellowish or gray staining, some of which is Hemotite.  Once it started snowing really hard we decided to leave as I had to head home that day…I started my new job that week.

We found several double terminated crystals on this second day.

We found many larger crystals and lots of smaller ones too.

Most of these are stained and Oxalic and Myriatic Acids do not take these off.  Anyone know of a way to clean these kind of dirty crystals that appear the bad color to be caked on by heat?