Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

End of Season Rock Hounding at Lake George Updated: 6 Nov

Started out the day with a rather innocuous controlled burn by the Forest Service. By afternoon the winds had picked up and shrouded our digging area in smoke. I decided to quit after I started coughing due to smoke. My production this day gave me no real excuse to continue on.
Smoke from controlled burn moving towards me

While I've found a couple pockets in the last couple of weeks I really don't have much to show for my efforts. It's not unusual to get skunked from time to time, but it is unusual for me to find fairly large pockets and get little in the way of collectible crystals. The crystals have been broken, hooded and etched. I thought I had some good amazonite at one dig, but when I began cleaning the crystals I realized they were sprinkled with fluorite (see previous post). Fluorite can etch microcline and these microclines (var amazonite) were deeply etched (read ugly). Next dig I found a few small smoky quartz crystals and that was it. Third dig I found a few amazonite crystals, but only one was collectible.
Not much to show for 2 pseudo pockets and 10hrs of work!
The fourth dig in the last 3 weeks found me digging in a pocket of quartz and microcline crystals. The ground around the area was sprinkled with smoky quartz shards and bright blue amazonite pieces from nearby digs. When I brought my crystals home and began cleaning these newly found specimens I found the quartz was nearly all hooded or broken and the microcline was just that... microcline, no amazonite. I don't mean to complain, it is great to get out and find things, I just wish my efforts were rewarded with more consistently collectible specimens. Anyway here is an account of my latest adventure. 
As I mentioned it was a bit smoky and that only increased during the day. I had done a bit of prospecting and found an older dig that stopped at a fairly large rock. Rocks and trees slow me down, but they rarely stop me. Many of the older digs we encounter have dead trees as part of their perimeter. Most of these trees are dead and rotten due to the Hayman fire, so a little push of encouragement brings the trees to the ground. The rocks are another matter. If the rock is firmly embedded in the soil I will dig around it. If it's a roll down rock/boulder from above I usually don't bother. This particular 200+lb rock was solidly anchored to the ground on the northern edge of the end of the dig. I reasoned that since most pegmatite run north south in this area there might be a chance the previous digger stopped at the rock even though the pegmatite may continue on under it. I dug away the ground around the rock and then got above the rock and eased it out with a push from my legs. The rock rolled about 3 feet down the hill and gave me enough room to inspect the area. Sure enough after a few shovels of dirt, pegmatite appeared and the dirt began to take on a reddish tint a sign of iron infused clay ahead.
Note the contrast in color
I also begin pulling out rather large broken crystal fragments about 1 foot below the surface.
Nice sized crystal chunks appearing
I reasoned there must be a pocket up the hill, maybe beyond the position of the aforementioned boulder. I decided to expand my dig left and right and make sure I didn't miss anything. You'll see in the picture some pegmatite, perhaps collapsed wall and the clay material that often covers crystals.
Time for me to get disappointed. I kept pulling out quartz pieces and most of it appeared hooded. It's somewhat difficult to tell in the field with pocket mud coating the crystals, but they didn't look good. I continued digging out crystals when Bob showed up. Bob started doing a little field cleaning to the crystals and confirmed my suspicion that a lot of the crystals were junk. I continued on and Bob dug a little too helping me excavate the pocket. While I have not finished the dig due to time, I will probably return at some point hoping things improve (usually never do) with this pocket. The picture below shows a 3 inch hooded smoky quartz crystal from this latest pocket. Well a couple days later I got back at it. Bob has a theory that there is always at least one good crystal per pocket. I took the top down around the dig and began again pulling out broken crystals. As the side wall ahead of me began to firm up, I thought I might be reaching the end of the pocket. Suddenly some fairly large nice quartzy shapes began to appear. I carefully dug around the quartz and called Bob over to have a look. This may be that one crystal that pays off for my time and effort. While it is double-terminated and 8 inches long it too is a disappointment due to overgrowth. Still it's better than ice crystals. I wrapped up the crystal and continued the dig until the end of the day. Are there more hooded crystals there yet? Probably. Tommorrow is another day and hopefully I'll have more success, but it is getting late in the digging season. I guess this is my "Double Terminated Halloween" pocket. It was quite ghastly.
An example of the latest finds... at least its double terminated
8" Double Terminated Smoky In Pocket
If Only This Smoky Hadn't Been Hooded With Crappy Quartz!
Nope, not a Gwindel
Scepter with two terminations

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