Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Large Amazonite at Lake George and the Woodman gets caught or Summer's Swan Song Pocket (Last Update)

Summer Swan Song Pocket Opening Up
A fellow who lives near the National Forest (I'll call the Woodman) decided to harvest the dead trees from the Hayman fire area near Lake George. I have seen the Woodman removing trees a number of times in the last few years and I figure he is doing the community a favor by taking out the dead trees. The areas he harvests are not hikeable and are hazardous due to falling trees (Forest Service even has a sign  stating the dangers). However, the area is not permitted for taking firewood (as far as I know). I figure the Woodman is not only making the forest safer, but also reducing the chance of another forest fire like the Hayman started by a forest ranger. Anyway I have benefited from the Woodman's work since he clears dead trees from the roads, removes hazardous trees hanging over my pegmatites and kicks up rocks as he goes along. I found a nice amazonite pocket a few years ago thanks to his off road wood pursuits. The Forest Service takes a dim view of people removing wood without a permit, selling it for profit and driving off-road to get to the better stuff. My attitude has always been live and let live, but evidently somebody near Lake George reported him as I saw him being escorted out of the National Forest by a Forest Ranger's vehicle and will probably have a court appearance along with a hefty fine. Figured he would get caught sooner or later especially when he started cutting and removing wood in the middle of the day on weekends. I'm sure he'll be more discreet about his wood removal forays--after all rules are rules!

After watching the above story unfold from my digging site, I hit a pocket of amazonite. Someone had dug a couple of test holes in a pegmatite some time ago and then left them. I poked around in their holes and found a lot of quartz which I decided merited further inspection. After about 3 hours and 2 feet below the previous rock hounder's diggings I was just about to give up. I kept finding subhedral smoky quartz crystals and microcline. My gloves were shredded from the quartz shards, my finger tips were bleeding and I had nothing to show for my efforts. I took the top off around the pocket one more time and dug out the overburden. To my delight I started seeing hints of blue on the microcline (amazonite). I don't understand why one microcline can be right next to a crystal of amazonite. I would think a pocket would be all microcline or all amazonite, but I guess that's not the way mother nature works. While the amazonite was only pale blue/green, the size was larger than I normally find. Time was up this day, the Woodman left with his ill-gotten gains and a fairly large fine I suppose, I found a few amazonite crystals and one nice smoky and covered up my promising dig. I shall return with a new pair of gloves to harvest more crystals at a later date.
More than one large crystal in this pocket

Big Blue/Green Kahuna just about ready for extraction

Near the end of September (visit #2) I returned to the dig and cleaned out the pocket debris intending to extend the dig in all directions. As I was cleaning what I thought was the bottom of the pocket I noticed some straight angles on what I had at first perceived to be country rock. I carefully scrapped around the rock and found it to be a large amazonite crystal... hurrah! Another large amazonite crystal not as well formed was in front of the prize, so I took that one out first. Initially I couldn't believe a crystal could be this big in such a small pocket. Due to mud, crystal fragments and compaction it took me 3 hours, yes 3 hours to remove 1 crystal. From the pictures you can see the difficulty in removing a crystal of this size. No prying was done until I got to the bottom of the crystal on all sides. The crystal weighs just under 26lbs! This is the biggest amazonite crystal I have ever seen. Bob, my digging buddy, even helped me dig the crystal for awhile as I needed a break and know mistakes happen when you get tired and frustrated. After digging out this crystal I found several smoky quartz crystals all damaged beneath the amazonite crystal. I probably did some of the damage to the smokys but suspect when the pocket collapsed and the 26lb amazonite crystal landed on them they didn't fair to well. I then found a number of smaller amazonite crystals to the right of the big blue/green kahuna. Bob thinks I should name this pocket, so I shall call it Summer's Swan Song. A cold front was moving through Lake George and black clouds and colder air were moving in from the north. I think Summer's Swan Song is very apt for this near end of season find.
That's one heavy amazonite crystal! Some odd twinning too
Next I have to figure out what I'm going to do with this monster amazonite. A nice dilemma. Yes there were a lot more crystals in this pocket. I will post a couple more pictures here as I get some of the specimens cleaned.

Visit #3(30 Sep): to the Summer Swan Song pocket. First thing I did was dig out the debris in the pocket from the prior days visit. I was careful to hand load material onto the flat blade shovel in order to spare the crystals from any trauma. Within 10 minutes I was once again digging out crystals. Another beautiful fall day at Lake George as the leaves are now beginning to change. Below are a few pictures of the crystals I took out of the pocket. The smokys have all been problematic with exterior white quartz growth and blunted tips. The quartz seam pretty much runs up the hill and begins as fairly brittle quartz and then firms up as you go. The smoky quartz crystals are all tending to be below the amazonite. This day all I did was carefully dig out crystals. I got a few nice plates and single specimens. I used up all my newspaper for cushioning and my backpack was overflowing with crystals. No twinning was observed in any of the amazonite crystals although they are covered in pocket mud for the most part. While I believe I have 90% of the crystals removed, I must still excavate the bottom of the pocket and carefully probe the sidewalls to make sure I'm really done. I also left a few crystals near the pocket as my backpack was overflowing. Here are some more pictures showing the crystals just after coming up for air after their 1,000,000,000 year rest and yes, there will be another visit to the Summer's Swan Song pocket!
First one of the day, note brownish mud, somewhat unusual, its normally redish, yellow or purple

Nice grouping, appears to be about 5 crystals in all

Smoky and amazonite, one of the few well formed smokys I found

Visit #4(2 Oct): The dig continues for amazonite and smokys. I had thought I was nearing the end of this pocket but when I thought I was clearing out the left side of the pocket it widened out. While I didn't find anything spectacular this day, there were plenty of crystals to keep me busy. I found some smokys, but they were all damaged to some degree, either with white quartz hooding them, or blunted tips. The smokys are very gemmy and lustrous in appearance other than where they have overgrowth. The amazonite crystals remained pale, but still well formed and desirable. Near the end of the day I notice I am breaking more crystals from fatigue and carelessness. I sent in Bob, my pinch hitter to help remove crystals while I wrapped what I found. Bob found some nice specimens and was rewarded with a few for his collection. Today the zipper on my backpack broke from the weight of the crystals! I name a pocket and define it as significant depending on the quality and amount of collectible crystals. Normally I'm happy to fill a flat (18x12" box) with desirable crystals from a pocket. This pocket has produced at least 5 flats not including the big Kahuna. I will post some pictures soon of my 4th visit. There will be a 5th visit soon. Will that finish this pocket?
After a week of cleaning in acid. Looking good, Abe is almost standing on his head... more cleaning is required
The pocket that just keeps on giving! Today was Oct 8 and the fifth visit to the Summer Swan Song Pocket. I spend about 4.5 hours at this site each time I visit. I finally finished the left side of the pocket today. I still have straight ahead, right and down in some areas to revisit and dig out. While I have found better crystals in smaller pockets, I have never returned to a pocket more than 3 times, nor found the volume of collectible crystals like this before. Today I found more smoky quartz crystals. While many still have the outer hooding of white quartz the points of the crystals are better formed and the quartz itself seems stronger and less subject to fracture the largest smoky is about 6". I dug out a couple of plates today. Of course the prize is plates with smoky quartz and amazonite... Not today. I found quite a bit of cleavelandite in the pocket today. One plate in particular was covered with cleavelandite and amazonite crystals. There were also a couple of broken smokys on the plate(rats). I placed this plate in oxalic acid this evening and will try to photograph it soon for this post. I showed the big kahuna over the weekend to my mentor, Ray Berry a 40 year prospector of Lake George area and he had never seen anything quite that big. Ray was excited enough to take several pictures of it from different angles and get its weight (26lbs)... seemed like a trophy fish. Here is a few more pictures. Smokys are not all that photogenic or collectible for that matter. The nicest one was in two pieces. I will post additional pictures as the crystals get cleaned
Largest Smoky so far. It was broken in half and has white quartz hooding parts of it
Lots of crystal forms in the pocket, note smoky and amazonites here

Smokys collected yesterday most of them have issues... Intarsia anyone?

Washed and ready for an acid bath

Dark area underneath this amazonite is purple fluorite. Have to keep an eye out for that as well

Snow capped smoky with amazonite 3" tall

Pocket Favorite the "Big Kahuna" partially cleaned
Apparent Bevino twinning plane shown as diagonal faint line through lower half of crystal extending to upper left corner!
Purple Fluorites on side of Amazonite Crystal


  1. Very exciting to read of your adventures, Kevin! Wish I could've been there to see you extract The Big Kahuna. Happy cleaning!

    1. Thanks, Now I got something to do this winter besides other people's taxes should keep me motivated til spring

  2. I keeping my eyes on the blog to see new stories and pictures! This is an amazing find; thanks for documenting it! Enjoy the remainder of the pocket(s)!

    1. I believe I finished the SSS pocket today. I still have to knock down the sidewalls and make sure I haven't missed any hidden crystals. It was fun!

  3. Your finds and your blog are so impressive to me. I'm visiting from Florida and would love to do some rockhounding before I head back. Unfortunately I haven't done this type before so don't really know what to look for. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I love digging but have only done it at Rucks Pit for calcite clams.

    I've been up to Devils head where they said there were open visible rock collecting pits twice but didn't see what they were talking about. I also went to Lake George and didn't know where to look either. So far all I've gotten is frustration and gas bills! : )

    1. I hope I am not suggesting in my blog that finding crystals is easy. It is not easy. If you want to have a better chance of finding crystals you need to arrainge a trip with someone who knows the ropes and probably pay them, even then you would probably not be guaranteed anything. It took me about 2 years dozen of trips, researching, reading and digging before I made a few nice finds. Even now on average I only find about 1 pocket for every 5 trips I make out to Lake George. I am winding down my digging this year as frost is setting in.