Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Little Pikes Peak and Elk Trail

Little Pikes Peak is near its bigger brother.  I suppose someone must have mistaken it for it's namesake at some point in time.  Today I hiked Elk trail to see if I could get to Pericle Rock.  I was going to check out Oil Creek Tunnel and the Cincinnati mine, but it got cold and windy and so I never made it, but did do some prospecting as I hiked along. Better to be safe and turn around then get caught in sleet or thunderstorm or both.  I got some nice pictures of Lil Pikes Peak.  I started at 9:30 and it was 55F at the trail-head. When I got back at 1:30 it was 42F... no sun and quite windy.  While I didn't find much, the area has some potential for smoky quartz and I'll probably revisit the area soon. Not sure why the road to the Pikes Peak doesn't open til 9AM, but the gatekeeper said the hours would be extended next week opening at 7:30.  Evidently the key-master sleeps til 9 or so. At 9 there were about 30 cars waiting for the road to open (including me).
Elk trail heading out towards Pikes Peak from the northeast

Little Pikes Peak

Quartz dribbling down the hill, a good sign for smoky quartz prospectors

Red dirt around a chunk of pegmatite. You can see some of the crystal definition

Good smoky fragment, close but no cigar... or smoky for that matter

Rumdoodle Ridge is between me and my quarry (Pikes Peak in background)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Fluorite at Lake George CO

Today we went to Lake George Colorado to continue work on a pegmatite we've been working on and off for the last 3 years.  We have dug about 75 feet up a hill following this pegmatite. Last year my digging buddy found some nice fluorite there and today it was my turn. This pegmatite has only yielded collectible fluorite.  We have found much microcline and quartz points, but none of these were really collectible.  These fluorites were on top of the pegmatite.  Below you can note the reddish dirt which is a seam in the pegmatite.  The red is caused by iron. Below are a few pictures of my latest finds. I will add pictures as the fluorite gets cleaned. The largest grouping of fluorites measured about 5 inches across. The fluorites appear zoned with purple and clear areas. Unfortunately though not uncommon, they are somewhat etched.

Large Fluorite only 10" from the surface

I look pretty happy about this one, wait til I try and clean it!?$#!

Here are some pictures I promised.  Most of the fluorites were etched,
but the edges are fairly crisp, some contain host pegmatite

Glued this one back together... seemed only right.
Some nice twinning shown here
Largest one found, about 5 inches across!

Staurolites near Taos NM

The Vehicle we really needed for this trip!

                  We went to Taos for a weekend getaway and do some rockhounding.  Our local club in Colorado Springs was going to look for staurolites near Pilar NM, so we went along.  The road was quite rough and muddy.  We joked about broken oil pans and engine lights on, but despite a few scrapes on our skid plates the trip went well.  We drove on a forest road for about 2.5 miles. We located schist outcrops and the hunting for staurolites began.  We all found something (Staurolites and Garnets).  The picture above of a vehicle just outside of Taos would have been nice to have, though maybe too wide for the narrow road. Staurolites crystals are famous for their twinning properties. However not all are twins. They are a silicates made of Fe,Al, Mg and SiO
Schist outcrop upper right

Schist plate with small garnets and staurolites

Here is a staurolite crystal in matrix (schist)

This staurolite weathered out of the schist and is ready to clean and be made into perhaps a pendant.

End of Day Group Hug... Yes the sun finally came out!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Goethite at Lake George

While not as exciting or difficult as removing smokys in the previous post. The hike to where I found the goethite with smokys was rather arduous.  I hiked into an area of the Lake George Intrusive that I've prospected before.  Bob (my rock hounding buddy) and I have prospected this area several times, often with success.  I dug into an area of quartz and was about to give up digging when I noted the color of the dirt changed from brown to yellow (a good sign).  I immediately hit groupings of goethite and quartz.  The quartz was infused with goethite to give some crystals brown and others a purple color (amethyst).  In the past the mineral combination was called onegite, which is easier to say than quartz infused with goethite sprays...
Below are some pictures of my finds.  Bob was gracious enough to assist in taking zoom-in pictures of parts of the onegite (see last picture).
Onegite specimens

Goethite and quartz (onegite)

Nice display piece with goethite spray at bottom with quartz

Onegite scepter magnified 40X

Smokys at Lake George

April ended well, with the biggest pocket of smokys I've ever worked on.  The excavation was about 5 feet deep and measured about 10 feet across. While the collapsed pocket was not nearly this big (1ft deep by about 3ft across), the excavation was required to ensure crystals were taken out without damage. Many of the smokys exceeded 4 inches and length.  Below is a photo record of the find. My partner Bob made the discovery in an area we have been prospecting for about a year.  We shall return!
Pocket is opening up with smoky quartz appearing

Smoky Quartz crystals are now popping up as we dig further down

Careful extraction is key to preserving 1 billion yr old crystals

Some crystals nearly cleaned up for display
Bob ensuring all crystals are removed from pocket
Crystal grouping preserved in mud

Finished product one of several 5 inch crystals