Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rocky Mountain Regional Federation Show

There were two rock shows held at the same time and both put on by the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society.  It would have been nice to put the two shows together, but cost and available space was prohibitive.  The one site was at the Colorado Mining Museum and the other part of the show was at the Best Western in town.  The Mining Museum was more kid friendly while the show at the Best Western had more high end stuff and included the competitive exhibits.  I had one noncompetitive exhibit at the Mining Museum of petrified wood and a competitive display at the Best Western.
Noncompetitive Case of Petrified Wood Found in El Paso County

I won a Blue Ribbon for my competitive display!

 Here is a shot of the rock hounding fair.  The Mining museum is to the right and the vendors are located in the white tents.  It was a good thing there were tents as it was 90F.
 Here is Vicki my wife visiting with a vendor.  The gentleman in the foreground is Rick.  Rick said they were doing well at the show selling jewelry and assorted polished rocks.

Below is a picture of one of the high-end vendors displays.  Joe specializes in amazonite, topaz and smoky quartz.  The specimen of amazonite I am holding was listed for sale at $250.  He had many specimens for over $1000.  He was the claim owner who allowed us to visit his topaz claim, mentioned in a previous blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Rockhounding at Lake George

My rockhounding buddy (Bob) and I went to Lake George yesterday to see what we could find.  It was fairly easy to find a pegmatite (gem bearing granite formation) but harder to find any associated crystals.  I took a few pictures with my new camera.  My old one got too much dust in it.  The pictures show a pegmatite being dug in progress and some crystals found.  The pictures are of smoky quartz and amazonite. 

This picture shows a portion of the pegmatite.  I dug away the scree, roots and misc country rock from the pegmatite and then began to carefully pick away at the quartz bearing rock.  Although somewhat hard to see in this picture, there is considerable quartz in this pegmatite.  I also found some small amazonite crystals while digging into the peg.

This picture shows a large piece of the pegmatite in my hand.  You can see the faces of crystals on the portion of the rock being held, especially in the lower right.  There was a layer of this type of rock and below it was a more concentrated area of quartz with some crystals (see next)

Here is some nice colored amazonite and smokys. Too bad much of the amazonite was sidewall and damaged, the crystals growing  in the pegmatite seam touched the sidewall of the seam while they were growing and prevented the amazonite from being nice classic shaped crystals.  The smokys were few and far between and somewhat small with the biggest being only 4cm in length.  No combinations of amazonite or smoky quartz were found.  The smokys have yet to be cleaned.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Topaz Hunting in the Tarryalls

 I visited Joe Doris' Topaz claim on Saturday and then went to a small museum in the town of Florissant.  Florrisant CO is known for its petrified sequoia tree stumps and leaf and insect fossils, but that will be a blog for another day.  On Saturday we went to a Topaz claim which was formerly worked by Walt Rubeck and called Topaz Mtn Gem Mine. Walt let people dig and screen material on site and when he died Joe Doris got the claim.  Joe has occasional field trips to his claim and allows people to screen dirt on site.  Folks can buy bags of dirt from the placer claim and screen the "salted" material at home as well. Visits to Joe's claim are by appointment only. My wife and I spent the better part of a day screening and raking through dirt piles. We found a few topaz shards.  A couple screening dirt near us found 5 2cm shards and they looked to be "cutters" (enough material to form jewelry).  I have been to this site a few times and the pictures below show some of the material we found in past visits.

Here are some topaz fragments I have found in the past.  While most of the fragments are clear, some are bluish and others yellow....

At the museum in Florissant, they had a display of a large smoky and fluorite found nearby.  These were found in the Holy Moses pocket of the Godsend Claim.  I'm guessing the finder exclaimed "Holy Moses" when he opened up the pocket containing these crystals.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Leadville Colorado

Bob and his wife met us in Leadville to look for pyrite.  We found some as depicted below.  It was a nice day, but our search for the rare pyritohedrons met with little success.  This is a picture from the mining areas looking west.

Here is a picture courtesy Bob, of some of the pyrite we found.  The one to the left is a dodecahedron.

Rocky Mountain National Park

 Rocky Mountain National Park was fairly frozen at the top.
Here is a picture of Longs Peak a 14000ft Mountain in the Park.
To the right is me in front of a 10ft pile of snow by the road.
There is a road called Trail Ridge road which has an elevation in excess of 12,000ft.  This road opened after a long winter on 7 Jun.
 There are more animals in the Park than they know what to do with, primarily elk and deer.  The elk population is eating themselves out of their home.  We noted several 8ft high fences around willows and aspen trees trying to promote and protect new growth in the Park.  I think calving season was late May as we saw a few baby elk running about.
 The somewhat more elusive big horn sheep were still at lower elevations as well due to the snow.  Here is one taking a look at the us.

Not sure what kind of golf score the people below get, but the elk seemed to tolerate golfers as long as they maintained a 20 foot distance.  I saw a ball bounce off an elk and it hardly even startled it.

 Here is Bear Lake, about 10,500ft.  We've taken some nice hikes around the lake, but that was not to be this visit.

We did visit Sprague Lake, here we are enjoying the warm rays of early summer.  We were able to hike around this lake with little snow in the way.  We also saw a lady catch a small trout.

Below is a picture of a Rock shop in town.  The people were friendly and they had a number of rocks from the area.  The owner was especially proud of his petrified wood and rose quartz.

Amazonite Followup Story

Here is some more information and pictures of the amazonite dig.  My digging buddy Bob found a pocket of amazonite and we dug it out.  Pictures show the transformation of amazonite from being in the ground to being cleaned.  The cleaning isn't done yet, as some iron remains in the amazonite crystals.  The first picture shows the pocket with what we thought was microcline.  A little field cleaning showed it to be amazonite.

Here is a piece of microcline which in reality was amazonite.  See below for more pictures.

Finally it is cleaned up some.  I will let it soak in phosphoric acid for awhile and that should bring out more of the iron oxides.

 Bob's back was getting sore, so I took a turn at digging.  I unearthed this beauty, best of the pocket I think.  Bob will clean it up and display this highly prized piece in his living room I'm sure.

Here I am with that piece.  A most handsome specimen if I may say so.

I also found some cleavelandite. This mass is about the size of a tennis ball.  If I understand things correctly, cleavelandite is to albite as amazonite is to microcline (or something like that).  Since this was Bob's dig, he has most of the material, but I got a few nice pieces as well.  I noted one of my amazonite crystals has a little cleavelandite on it, so that is special in its own right.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Amazonite, Rocky Mtn National Park & Leadville

I will post some pictures this weekend.  The amazonite that I collected a week ago is not cleaning up well due to etching by the chemicals in the pocket where it was formed.  After a week of vacationing in Rocky Mtn National Park we stopped by Leadville on the way back.  As many of you probably know Leadville is a famous mining town, where a lot of lead, silver, some gold and other minerals where extracted.  Currently a large open pit mine nearby removes molybdenum.  I found some pyritohedron crystals in an abandoned dump, none much larger than half an inch in diameter, still they are interesting.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


See previous post.  We spoke to the claim owner about the location of the crystal I had found a few days earlier and he said that part of his claim had been bulldozed 25 years ago.  This made sense to me as the rocks seemed jumbled and attempts to find the origination (vug) of the clear crystal were stymied.
Yesterday I went rock hounding to the Lake George area again.  My rock buddy found a nice pocket of amazonite.  I took several pictures and will wait til we get some of the groupings cleaned before I post them.  This particular amazonite is a faint blue-green, some of the pieces are fairly large with cleavelandite.  My partner took one grouping home that had at least 6 crystals and was about 6x8x6 inches.  Being the nice guy that he is, he let me dig a few crystals out for my collection.