Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Return To Devil's Head Collecting Area

The crystal collecting area called Devil's Head southwest of Castle Rock, Colorado has had renown for it's large topaz for nearly 100 years. While I'm sure there is still some topaz in the area I am satisfied with finding smoky quartz and amazonite. The smoky quartz at this locale is known for it's size while amazonite is often fairly pale though exceptions occur. I've found the pegmatite to be a little more difficult to work here rather than the softer more broken up pegmatites I've found at Lake George. We parked our vehicle near topaz point and began prospecting from there. We found several promising pegmatites with small crystals, but most of the crystals on the associated plates were broken.
Now that's a boulder!
It was a warm day in the middle 80s, which is hot for the mountains, so after a fruitless search in the morning I settled down in a promising shady area. The site had numerous digs, but there was still a lot of undug quartz in the pegmatite which included smoky quartz with numerous faces. I removed some overburden and then dug straight down and pulled out pieces of the pegmatite looking for crystals.
Well formed pegmatite too solid for me to break through this day
I found a lot of subhedral crystals including microcline, but not much to take home. Then, after pulling away a large chunk of smoky quartz a few well formed crystals showed themselves. I guess the previous digger didn't get all the goodies.
Unfortunately I had not taken my heavier equipment to deal with the pegmatite. I really needed a larger chisel, sledge hammer and pry bar. I usually don't carry this heavy equipment with me until I find a need for it. Prospecting at 9000 feet and 85F with a hot sun discourages me from taking any more equipment than I have to. However, I can go back now straight to the dig with my heavier equipment and see what I can do. It was a nice day though a bit warm and a few nice crystals from Devil's Head are now part of my collection.
Best of the lot

Very Gemmy but some internal fracturing
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Friday, July 4, 2014

Independence Day Pockets at Lake George with Turkey Vultures

On this warm 3rd day of July I found two pockets of crystals. Both had lustrous smoky quartz crystals with gemmy interiors. In general crystals from Lake George seem to have less cleaning issues and overgrowth than crystals I've found around Pikes Peak (see previous post) so today we are at Lake George. I had just set out climbing up a hill and noted some white float quartz dribbling down. As I followed the quartz up the hill I noted an old prospector's dig as the probable origination of the roll-down quartz. The dig was not large and seemed fairly old judging by the vegetation growing in the depression of the dig. The old dig stopped at the edge of a fairly large fallen tree. I picked up the now dried out tree and cast it aside, I'm guessing when the dig occurred the tree was pretty hefty. I stuck my pick axe into the dirt where I had removed the tree and hit pegmatite and red dirt. I then began to dig and immediately hit crystal fragments.
I took out my scratcher and began to unearth crystals. Nothing spectacular about this pocket except for the fact that someone a few years ago had dug to within inches of my find and stopped because of the downed tree. The previous digger may have found his own pocket, or I might have found an extension of his pocket. In either case I got some nice crystals fairly easily this day.
Nice Haul From Pocket #1

It was about noon and I had found a good looking pegmatite with some promising quartz a few weeks ago and decided I had time to follow up on that pegmatite after digging out pocket #1. After about a 20 minute walk up another hill, I dug down removing scree and broken rock till I got down to the self-buried pegmatite. I followed the grayish quartz for a few feet and suddenly it became smoky and a couple faces appeared on both the quartz and feldspar. Then I discovered a small fluorite formed around a smoky.
I knew a pocket was close. As I was expanding my dig with my scratcher tool I found a hole in the pegmatite wall (this was it). I cleaned out the hole as best as I could with my hand and started to pull out smokys from the hole.
Soon I had to enlarge the hole to get out some of the small plates, the job was becoming a little difficult as I was down about 5 feet into the ground. Thunder had been rumbling for at least an hour as a storm built up just to my south. As this storm moved off to the east a group of vultures started circling overhead (kettle) then roosted on a nearby boulder (committee). According to Wikipedia vultures in fight are a kettle, resting or nesting a committee and chowing down on carrion a wake. I knew it couldn't just be a flock of vultures :-)
Those Vultures Mean Business!
 I continued breaking down the pocket wall and removed crystals mostly of the 1 inch variety. Clouds started to darken overhead and I could hear thunder approaching again from the northwest. I decided the vultures were not going to have a wake over a lightning seared meal today so I covered up my dig and began my hike down the hill to find my digging partner and head for home.
Pocket #2 Bounty: I Noted A Repair On One Plate Will Really Pop The Plate... I'll Add That Later

Happy Birthday America There Is No Place I'd Rather Live Than Beautiful Colorado!