“Ridin’ the Pain Train” or an Over-hyped Tornado and Ne’er-do-wells (Ep 1)
Well we start the season with one calamity after the next. While not excusing claim-jumping or high-grading the TV personalities somewhat invite trouble by being on TV and over-hyping their finds. Prospecting has always been secretive. The destruction of Busse’s and Hall’s equipment was despicable and there is no reason for it. It was nice to see the Busse’s find nice colored aquamarine crystals. The fact that someone moved the claim marker on Dwayne Hall’s claim suggests to me he has a disagreement with a fellow claim holder who believes Hall may have over-staked his site, though tampering with claim markers is a federal crime. I think Joe Dorris has a lot of interest in his topaz claim by ne’er-do-wells too. Joe’s claim sits along a well-traveled county road and is easily accessible. He told me one day he expects to find a crushed body or two on his claim due to high-graders digging under the unstable granite boulders. The Dorris’ did find some nicely terminated topaz. The narrator spoke of Joe’s topaz claim as being near Lake George, while in reality it is in the Tarryall Mtns near the town of Tarryall. Amanda and Travis got turned away from Mt Antero but did find some crystals elsewhere. I noted the couple was talking about the dangers of the mountain road while driving without seatbelts. If the truck rolls they will be flung from the cab and crushed. Not sure their crystals were worth hundreds of dollars either. High priced smoky crystals must be gemmy and lustrous with undamaged/sharp points. With gemmy being the inside and lustrous the exterior. Amanda’s crystals did not appear to have a good luster.
The whole tornado event was quite over-hyped, but most of the show is make believe anyway. The facts of when the tornado hit and where were modified for the show. The trees the tornado (F-0), took down were mostly dead or extremely weakened from the Hayman fire and subsequent drought. The actual tornado damaged a couple of house trailers in Lake George and took down a number of trees. As a meteorologist by trade I checked out the path of the storm and coordinated my analysis with the National Weather Service Pueblo Office. The track of the tornado was about 2 miles through Lake George and into the National Forest. The storm occurred on Sunday at 12:30 PM. The Prospector’s show talked about that storm threatening Amanda and Travis during the following night--didn’t happen. There may have been a storm that threatened the duo, but it was not the storm that produced the tornado. I mentioned to Joe that the storm knocked a few trees down near his Klondike Cowboy claim (he had no idea), the tornado was nowhere near his Ute claim where the track hoe was parked… of course without stretching the facts a bit there would be no viewer interest.
So we start the season with ne’er-do-wells, an over-hyped tornado and ridiculously overpriced crystals. I think I’ve seen this show before… maybe several times before.
“Poppin Rocks” or Nothing New Under the Sun (Episode 2)
I liked the title of the show. While I’ve been prospecting for 5 years I’ve never seen this popping rock phenomena, but it is believable. It’s always nice when they mix a bit of science into the show. The point Dorris made about Jack Buckner had some historical interest for me as well. Dwayne Hall and his pocket of smoky quartz crystals reminded me of some of the junk I’ve found this fall. I thought it was odd Hall was following aquamarine fragments and he was sure there was a pocket of aquas behind the boulders. Once Dwayne found some smoky quartz his whole theory was forgotten and not another mention was made of aquamarine. I would say he was working in an extremely dangerous, borderline crazy excavation considering how unstable the mountainside is. At least he was the one taking all the risks as the newbs looked on. He found one ugly smoky quartz specimen and recognized it as such. I think hog turd would have been an apt description for that rock. Nobody will give them the quoted $400-$500 for the junk they found unless they’ve been out in the sun too long. Perhaps next episode will show Hall pulling out aquamarine, there must be a pocket there somewhere due to all the nearby float he was finding
Cardwells have 16 claims, wow! I guess he’s the Joe Dorris of Mt Antero. Even though Cardwell’s ancestor originally put the road in, it is not a private road. While I wouldn’t object to the work he did on the road, I’m not sure what the Forest Service would say. I would say he did very well indeed to have taken that track hoe up the mountain in 1 day… now he has to find some crystals, I guess stay tuned for that. Narrator kept mentioning Fretterd’s secret Agnus Dei claim. Anybody who wants to locate Fretterd’s claim can do so by doing a little research. I won’t give it away, but the claim is in his girlfriend’s name. The mere fact that it is a claim means you can look it up. The Agnus Dei has about 8 claims filed all around it by a guy from Denver. Thanks to the show a large area of Cameron’s Cone is now claimed and off limits for others. Oops I’ve already given too much away. Rich does find good stuff on the Agnus Dei. I really liked the smoky plates.
Aquamarine – Plenty of it! (Episode 3)
I have been somewhat disappointed by the exploits of the prospectors in previous episodes on Mt Antero/Mt White, but finally some aquamarine. Claim jumpers from the previous winter were highlighted on Amanda’s claim, but they didn’t get it all. I would guess the claim-jumpers on Amanda’s aqua pocket were the same ones that hit Busse’s stowed gear featured in episode 2. Unfortunately I doubt they will get any help from the county police. If Travis and Amanda did intercept claim jumpers they would not use their weapons except in self-defense as they would be on the wrong side of the law if they shot somebody stealing from their claim. I really don’t understand their lack of safety gear. I’ve never gone rock hounding without a pair of gloves. I usually wear mechanics gloves or cheap throw-aways. As you could see from Amanda’s hands the quartz was shredding her up pretty good. I often take a hard hat and safety glasses as well if the site requires it. I noted Dwayne Hall using a chisel and hammer pounding away on granite without protective eyewear. I guess if he’s gotten away with doing things that way for 30+ years he probably wouldn’t change. Dwayne’s featured aquamarine was a beauty, but not sure it’s a museum specimen. Loved the aquamarines being pulled out by Amanda as well, but didn’t note any real good terminations on any of the crystals, still a lot of gemmy “cutters” with jewelry value.
The whole episode with the truck going down-hill is not that unusual. The part where Busse came across an SUV off the road seemed somewhat staged. I suppose some people who drive 4-wheel vehicles don’t know how to use them (recommend lowest gear duh). I met one person stuck on a 4-wheel road who didn’t know how to put his vehicle in 4-wheel drive (this has happened more than once). Recommend anyone driving up Antero get 4-wheel driving experience first… better yet drive an ATV up--much easier. I’ve driven up a couple times, and always found the first 4 miles through rocks harder than the road above tree line.
Joe Dorris usually wins the day, but not this time. Don’t believe hooded/scepter quartz with amazonite is a big deal nor the sepulcher smoky. I think some hype here as well. If the Icon pocket were put together and cleaned it might end up in a museum, but I guess donors need to see the finished product before ponying up $1M.
Two thumbs up for the aquamarine found on this episode.