Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Monday, June 1, 2015

Rockhounding Between The Trees At Lake George Colorado and another large Baveno

Working between the jumble of trees
Despite the conflagration at Lake George over 12 years ago (Hayman Burn), trees remain standing and create problems for those who wish to rock hound. I would have thought that by now most of the burnt out trees would have fallen but that is not the case. There are always leaners to be wary of and fallen trees intertwined with others that are just too big and heavy to move but must be worked/dug around. The biggest trees always fall where you want to dig. Such was the case this day when trees seemed to hamper my every effort. By the end of the day I was rewarded. It is also nice to see more wildlife returning to the rejuvinated forest. Here is a nervous elk which I guess has nothing to worry about until hunters return in September.
Elk on the run
I had my sights set on a certain area, but never made it there as is often the case. Too much interesting stuff on the hike in. I stopped a couple of times and poked around looking for pegmatite. One spot I was sure was just roll down quartz that had washed down into a depression, but upon further examination it proved to be a source of in-place pegmatite with small crystals. I followed the pegmatite for about an hour with little to show for my efforts, so I moved on. It's always difficult to leave a spot you've put some time into especially when you are finding crystals, but these crystals were so few and small that I decided to resume my journey up the hill. On the way up the hill I stopped at my "Big Kahuna" pocket(see 28 Sept 2013 post)  I had buried several smoky shards in the debris of that pocket and since that find I have started tumbling smoky pieces for sale. I finished digging up about 20 broken but gemmy smoky crystals and moved on. Mother Nature tested us once again today with grapul, hail and cold conditions, but I moved on through the hail and stairmaster of trees that was in front of me.
Within 5 minutes the sun was back out and I was digging in another interesting spot still not even half way to my intended destination. I ended up spending the rest of the day there. There was a small dig that showed considerable amounts of whitish/grey quartz scattered about so I dug into it and expanded that old hole. As I dug up the hill I noted quartz pieces tended to be found lower in the scree so I guessed there might be a pegmatite buried further up the hill. After digging about 6 feet up the hill and down maybe 3 feet following the quartz I hit some smoky quartz shards with my rock hammer. I put down my rock hammer and pick and commenced scratching though the scree and almost immediately hit a mud seam with a layer of pegmatite above it and diorite below the seam. The mud seam had some malformed crystal pieces in it and was only about an inch in height but I following the seam between the layers of pegmatite and diorite for about 5 feet. After taking down the sidewall to my right for the third or fourth time I noted the side wall had a seam of quartz. The quartz seam angled down towards my mud seam. Intersecting features like these often lead to a pocket and sure enough the quartz seam angled right into the mud. Microcline crystals started popping up as the mud seam grew in width. The area I was digging has amazonite shards scattered over the surface everywhere but it was just my luck to find microcline. Shortly afterwards I hit some nearly whole smoky quartz crystals so I gave my digging partner a call and he became the photographer and helped dig the scree away from the tree.
Note pile of microclines in foreground, here I'm holding a smoky quartz crystal
 As I continued to dig, my migraine headache of the night before began to return so I called it a day and will return another time to see if this is a good gem producing pocket or not.

Day 2: I returned to this dig and determined to give the pocket area another hour or two. As I resumed digging Bob said "you're never going to get that tree out of there" well, that was just the encouragement I needed to pick up the tree Paul Bunyon style and heave it to one side. I kept digging and things kept looking promising, so I carried on til days end.
Smoky quartz crystal engulfed in sticky pocket mud
 During the process I primarily found microcline... oh why couldn't they be blue?!  I also found some smoky quartz crystals, but they were not the highly prized products I'm used to finding up at Lake George.
The sticky mud made extraction of crystals an extremely slow process
The last hour of this day I zeroed in on large area of mud near the bottom of the pocket as there appeared to be a rather large mircocline crystal there... and what a microcline it is! Normally I don't collect mircocline, but this day I made an exception. After an hour of carefully digging around this crystal I was finally able to coax it out with zero damage. Microcline crystals can be twinned as either Baveno, Mannebach or Carlsbad twins named after the city in Europe that they were first discovered, This large Baveno microcline crystal makes it very collectible as opposed to just a run-of-the-mill microcline crystal.
Large Microcline "in situ"
The above microcline is a Baveno!
Top down view of the Baveno Crystal

Continuation of the dig down and underneath a quartz seam produced more microcline crystals and a few poorly formed smoky quartz crystals. After working on this peg and digging about 5 feet down I decided the effort wasn't worth the reward and called it quits for this pocket (site).