“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

Devil’s Head Rockhounding Late Summer 2013

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.

Nice Gemmy Smokey I found

Nice Gemmy Smokey I found

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.

Float - Signs of a good pocket?

Float - Signs of a good pocket?

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.

More float

If this isn't a good sign then what is?

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.

Crystal under the iron?

No clue how this will clean up, some nice small crystals on the side

Again, needing some serious cleaning

Again, some tabbies needing some serious cleaning

After about 10 days in acid, far from perfect, but still a nice crystal.

Some nice sized ones, we'll see how they clean...

 

Cool double terminated clusters

 

Sidewall cluster

I love this crystal; terminations are great on the concave bottom!

Findings of the day including floaters

Findings of the day including floaters

 

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!

Nice floater on the way back...

Nice floater on the way back...

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!

May 2013: Goethite and Onegite

May was a fun month for rock hounding adventures.  I visited the Lake George area several times in May, the first was to prospect and find the claim borders / corner posts, I went with my son and his friend.  We had a fun hike and I found a couple of spots that looked interesting.  I then came back and the first rock I turned over had a small spray of Goethite on it.  I have never found Goethite before and so I was pretty excited.  Ended up digging at this location for two days and pulled out a lot of Goethite and related Onegite sprays, some combo pieces, and many Smokey Quartz crystals and small microcline clusters.  No amazonite, however, but that is okay as I had a wonderful time with what I did find.

Looking at these sprays under a loupe I discovered that there are small citrine, smoky and amethyst quartz crystals all over these things.  I guess that is by definition the Onegite — Goethite with these small crystals.  I read online on how to clean these and have soaked them in soapy water for days and then used water spray to avoid breaking the delicate crystals.  On some of the onegite I was able to use a soft toothbrush.  They didn’t clean up 100% yet; I don’t know if some ever will.  Note you can’t put them in Iron Out since this is an iron based mineral.

I will post some of the microcline and smoky quartz in a different post when I have them ready; but here is a slideshow of some of the pieces that I found.  What a cool mineral!

tn_Goethite-1489

Amethyst, onegite and goethite

tn_Goethite-1462

Some amethyst in this onegite/goethite crystal

tn_Goethite-1419

This one is great!

tn_Goethite-1496 tn_Goethite-1493 tn_Goethite-1486 tn_Goethite-1474 tn_Goethite-1472 tn_Goethite-1470 tn_Goethite-1458 tn_Goethite-1456 tn_Goethite-1450 tn_Goethite-1449 tn_Goethite-1445 tn_Goethite-1430 tn_Goethite-1428 tn_Goethite-1425 tn_Goethite-1410 tn_Goethite-1406 tn_Goethite-1390 tn_Goethite-1386

Adventures at Topaz Mountain Gem Mine, May 2013

One of my topaz from today's digs...

It’s always a fun adventure to visit the Dorris Family’s Topaz Mine here in Colorado. They allow the public to come by and dig several times per year as well as most of the Rockhounding clubs as well. Due to the late snow this spring this was the first dig, May 25th, 2013. I rounded up a group of adults and kids and we made the bright and early trek to the mine.

Joe and Krystle were telling us that they are working their way uphill a bit on their claim and that the stones are not as frequent as they have been in the past. I have been visiting for several years and I concur, although it seems (just an unscientific observation) that the stones that are being found are getting a bit larger. Perhaps that is not the case…

Anyway, we started digging on some fresh piles that were pretty wet and within about an hour I found my first topaz. It was completely covered in mud; usually they pop out and look gemmy/glassy and are very easy to spot; but this morning due to the conditions was different–making it more difficult to go through as much dirt as in the past.

People digging at the mine

People digging at the mine

Meanwhile, they were also working a section of the mine with the heavy machinery.  Was cool to watch the big machines at work!

 

Big machines at work getting new piles to go through!
It is beautiful up here in the Rocky Mountains in spring time!  Here I am raking through my part of a pile…
Me raking for topaz
My friend Jim wanted to try out digging for Topaz and brought his daughter who is friends with my son.  My daughter Daphne also brought a friend that was in my Rockhounding enrichment class at the Larkspur Elementary school.  There were several other kids digging as well; unfortunately they didn’t find all that much topaz; again I think luck had some to do with it but also the amount of dirt one must go through as well.  They did have a blast though!
Jim and the kids attacking their pile of dirt

We ended up getting our days fill about 2:00 and drove home, made a pit-stop and had had some orange cream soda and a beer at Bierwerks in Woodland Park, and headed home to sift through the bags of dirt.  Here is where the kids got to find and keep some wonderful stones….and they wondered why they had to dig all day when it was this easy!!!

Sifting through our bags of dirt; the kids did quite well!

Sifting through our bags of dirt; the kids did quite well!

All in all, another wonderful day at the Topaz Mountain Gem Mine!  I should have at least one more trip, probably more, back there this summer.  Looking very much forward to it!

 

Here are what my kids found at the mine (the larger one is one of the many found in the bags of dirt!).  Makes me think of some of the lamer parts of the Prospectors show on Weather Channel… guns and gems…

My kids findings...gems and brass

My kids findings...gems and brass

 

My findings from digging all day…

My findings from today!

Nice smokey quartz; double-terminated; a cutter!

Nice smokey quartz; double-terminated; a cutter!

The best cutter stone I found at the Topaz Mountain Gem Mine

The best cutter stone I found

Cute blue faceted gem!  Small but beautiful!

Cute blue faceted gem! Small but beautiful!

Finally, the best for last.  One of the first time diggers there pulled this beast from the ground.  It was absolutely spectacular.  Joe stated that this stone was one of the best (upper 1%) stones he has pulled out of the claim; and is likely one of the best ever found in Colorado.  Unfortunately the person that found it didn’t get to keep it (obviously!) as it was destined for the Dorris personal collection!  This stone was (I’m guessing) 600 carats and nearly flawless.  It didn’t hurt that it was Sherry and Blue bi-color!  Looking at this stone was mesmerizing, every angle had a different look and “feel” to it.  A special day to witness this being pulled from the ground next to us, and to view a stone of this caliber!

Absolutely gorgeous monster topaz found today!

Absolutely gorgeous bi-color monster topaz found today!

Bi-color Incredible Topaz found today

Bi-color Incredible Topaz found today

Monster Topaz - Showing the facets, perfectness, and sherry color

Monster Topaz - Showing the facets, perfectness, and sherry color

Thanks to Harold Alexander for some of the mine pictures, and thanks to Krystle Velasco/Joe Dorris for letting us take pictures of the mine’s wonderful mega-stone!

Colorado Amethyst: New Hope claim

My dad and I are both new members with the Lake George Gem and Mineral club and were able to go on this great trip.  The New Hope Amethyst location was claimed by the Canyon City Geology club and on BLM land, but you had to pass through multiple private parcels of land to get to it.  As with any claim, you MUST have permission from the claim owner to collect; even though its on public land.  The Canyon City club arranged with the owners to let us pass through their land and we headed out to the claim.  There were a lot of horses on the first property that were running around curious of what the procession was all about!

Once we got to the site my dad and I went straight to the old mine area and started working on a slightly exposed vein.  There was a lot of hard-rock work; pounding and using chisels and pry bars for this trip.  I was very sore the next day!  🙂

The Canyon City club members there were awesome and taught us much about how to expend effort wisely using the hard-rock mining techniques.  This was great information and something as a novice rockhound you can only really get going on these club field trips with the experts!  Thanks!  We ended up working with several folks to expose a nice vein.  The vein of crystals were pretty brittle and would break apart along terminations easily if the vein was not excavated correctly.  We ended up with a couple of pieces with the vein intact, but mostly just smaller crystals.  All the terminations were coated with a white milky quartz.  The crystals all had smokey quartz with the amethyst; so they were absolutely beautiful multi-colored purple/black with white veins!  These are not like the amethyst you see in rock shows or shops, but they are unique and beautiful!

Extra thanks to both the Lake George and Canyon City clubs for this awesome day!  It was great pulling purple crystals out of the ground!!!  My favorite part is many of these crystals are in the shape of tornadoes; I know–pretty geeky–but makes the day extra special!

You can see the Smoky, Amethyst and Milky quartz in this fine crystal!

These veins were hard to get out whole! Beautiful smokey, amethyst and milky quartz!

This was the largest crystal of the day! Notice the quartz layer on the terminations

We had a great time and found some beautiful crystals!

More Devilshead – July 2012

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!

July 14 – The famous Smoky Hawk Mine

It is always a treat to visit one of Joe Dorris’ mines; this day I took the kids and I up to the Smoky Hawk Mine as part of a Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society field trip.  My daughter had watched the New Crystal Hunters video of this mine and wanted to see it in person!

Joe had some safety fences to put up before we could see the pegmatite vein he had dug up with the excavator, so the kids and I hit the tailings piles.  We found a bunch of great smoky and amazonite crystals!!!

Hunter and Daphne found these crystals in the tailings piles

Amazonite crystals from the tailings piles

Once we were able to enter the pit, Joe showed us a pocket that he found.  He was pulling beautiful small plates and white-capped Amazonite crystals out of this.  Daphne and I worked that for a while and then gave it up to another rockhound so he could experience working in a world-class pocket!  Daphne and I worked along a perpendicular vein that showed amazonite but very little crystalization.  We did find this tiny fluorite with amazonite and I was able to get this whittled down for Daphne!

Daphne's fluorite and amazonite micro-crystal

Meanwhile Sharon (the club’s editor) dug into a lower pocket (maybe 5 feet underground) along the pegmatite vein that produce a LOT of really nice smoky/microcline plates!  She worked this pocket all day long and it produced some incredible plates!

Sharon's pocket of Microcline/Smoky plates

All this time the pocket Joe found was producing material, and it started to open up.  But, Yam also broke into some red clay and found yet another Amazonite/Smoky Quartz pocket.  I helped go through the pocket looking for excess crystals; there were a lot that came out of this pocket.

Crystals waiting to be plucked out of the ground

 

Crystals we were pulling out of this pocket: notice the shovel handle for reference.

Nice amazonite plate from the pocket - 8-10 inches long

Given that this was a combo pocket, Joe gets to keep it; but I did get a nice consolation parting gift for working on this pocket with Yam and Dave; a nice small (lighter colored) amazonite plate!  Awesome!  This has cleaned up nicely.

I was able to keep this awesome (but dirty) amazonite plate out of our pocket

We had a wonderful day (as always) at Joe’s mine, and some great stones and crystals as souvenirs.  Joe gave us each choice of a really nice crystal as we parted; I chose this white-capped Amazonite that he found earlier in the day.  Also, more from what we found in the tailings piles!

White cap amazonite crystal gift from the mine

Hunter's nice combo he found first thing

Smoky Hawk Tailings: One man's trash is another man's treasure

 

Devils Head: Friday the 13th

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!

Topaz Mine: July 7th with early monsoon

Had the opportunity to go on another open dig this year at the Topaz Mountain Gem Mine operated by Glacier Peak Mining.  As many know we’ve had some serious drought this year and has aided to many forest fires.  We have gotten some relief with an early monsoonal flow pattern with the weather and have had several days of heavy rain; one day which was at this mine.  I got there at 8:30 and a few people were already there.  We all were just walking (crawling) around and looking for topaz that were laying on the top of the soil that had been washed off; in the early morning sun they were pretty easy to spot.  I found several small fragments and others found some killer stones just laying on the surface; but after about 30 minutes of combing the area I decided to start digging…because that is what I do.

I had to move off a muddy layer (about 4-6 inches) on a pile to get to dry gravel to be able to start raking.  The first 90 minutes or so was simply to get “set up”.  I did not find anything raking so I tried my hand at sifting.  I was going through a lot of material but still nothing!  So I decided to start working like I do when I dig for Smoky Quartz and Amazonite and use a shovel and scrape small amounts off into a hole and watch the dirt as it falls.  I immediately started having luck with this technique and found a nice stone.  So I did this in combination with raking and sifting the rest of the day and found a good stone about every 45 to 60 minutes.  I had a great day; this is uncommon to find so many nice stones but I was moving through a lot of dirt too–which I found is the key.

I found the following topaz next; it was a shiny object in the wall of the hole I was digging.  This one was cool because it appeared it had grown around a Smoky Quartz crystal originally.  It had several fractures and would not be a cutter; but it is beautiful none-the-less.  Of course, holding it is memorizing and the picture doesn’t do it justice!

This beautiful specimen had great facets and indentation from a smoky quartz.

I continued and found a couple of more stones; one that *may* be a cutter.  It started to sprinkle and you could hear the mean thunder echo through the valley of storms that were forming and passing directly to our Northwest; I assumed we’d have rain and the day would be cut short so I didn’t want to stall and take lunch so I kept digging.  About 3:00 or so I dug into a another nice clear topaz that had mostly faceted sides.  It is simply beautiful and although it could be a nice cut stone I’m going to have a hard time giving it up for cutting as it is just too spectacular as Gaia produced it!

This is a spectacular faceted clear topaz!

The sun went away behind the storm clouds and it started to get darker as the storm clouds bellowed and became more dense.  I kept thinking “just one more” and I’ll be done; you know how that usually goes!  I decided since a few folks were still there I’d continue as long as I could.  A bolt of lightning struck withing 1/2 mile and I decided it was time to go; but immediately after I was shook by the bolt a found the find of the day.  What a perfect ending to such a fun and lucky day!  It was a 105 carat sherry stone.  This stone also had remnants of being grown against other crystals and it had a nice area that was fracture free and likely could be cut.  Upon checkout, Krystle didn’t want to give this stone up but luckily I took some extra cash and she was gracious enough to let me have it!  I definitely will get this cut and will post a picture when I receive it…it *will* be beautiful!

Fantastic Sherry Topaz

One other great part of the day is that I was able to find many smoky quartz crystals too; a couple were large points and one really nice crystal!  All in all, was one incredible day at the mine; I met a couple of really great folks and hopefully will get the chance to dig there again this year!  Krystle was correct; I did have a productive day (and year so far for that matter!); hopefully future visits will yield one or two of these and I’ll call it a successful day!

Found some great smoky quartz points today too

This pile includes stones from the bag of topaz I purchased as well; the kids got to sift through the bag when I got home!

Topaz Mountain Gem Mine - July 7th, 2012 Open Dig! I did quite well!