Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Friday, May 13, 2016

Pocket #3 at Lake George

Noticed a turkey vulture on the way to our claim at Lake George today. It's hard to get close to these large birds, but this one seemed intent on holding his ground. On the way back home we passed the same area and our truck was mobbed with ravens. As we drove off we noticed a fairly large fresh deer carcass, so that explained the vulture earlier in the day.
Best weather day of the year so far up at Lake George and the digging wasn’t bad either. I returned to the same site I’ve posted about and started digging in an area I had left off last year. I hadn’t found anything but float but where there is good float there normally are crystals. I had stopped digging at a fairly large tree root last year and decided to continue up the hill on the other side of the tree. I continued to find good float crystal pieces and became concerned that I might be gleaning through debris from a previous dig. A shallow depression in the ground about 3 feet up the hill concerned me as a possible old dig, or was it a collapsed pocket? As I neared the depression in the ground my digging partner Bob stopped by as I was swinging my pick into the sod. I flipped over the sod chunk and the dirt underneath was swimming in quartz and microcline. The depression in the ground was a collapsed pocket and not an old dig. This makes 3 pockets in 3 consecutive visits to this site. Every pocket seems to have different material (see previous posts). Pocket #1 contained smokys, white microcline and cleavelandite and goethite. Pocket #2 was nearly all plates of beige microcline and smokys while Pocket #3 had fluorite, amazonite and smokys. While smokys and microcline were in each pocket, the amazonite was a bit of a surprise.
Amazonite shows up for the party!
I’ve dug this area from time to time in the last few years and never run into even a chip or shard of amazonite. While Bob watched me dig for a bit I pulled out a squarish lump which turned out to be some fluorite. I finished up this pocket and started prospecting in another area. Bob seemed busy, so I stopped by his spot and watched him dig for a bit. Bob was down on his luck during our last few outings so I was glad he hit some crystals. Bob found a number of smoky quartz crystals and a couple plates. I started digging out the corner of his dig and ran into some calcite and goethite. I gave Bob the crystals I found as it was his dig but he allowed me to retain some goethite. While this hill has been dug up around a central strongly mineralized pegmatite there seems to be plenty of minor pegmatites running in different directions from the main seam producing crystals within a foot of the surface. I’m guessing we’ll return again soon
Two inch amazonite with sidecar ready for cleaning

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Crystal Pockets at Lake George

Warmest day of the season up at Lake George this year with only a few mounds of snow in the deep woods, the ticks, spiders and ants appear to be thriving in the mid spring sunshine. While earlier in the week I found a nice starter pocket today was a little more exciting. We walked for about a mile or so into the hills and I reworked the pocket I had found a couple days earlier. I worked the downhill portion of the old pocket and after picking up a few crystals I determined the spot was finished.  I prospected a little further around the hill probing a couple of old digs when I noticed someone long ago had dug a narrow trench up a hill and stopped.  At the point where they stopped there appeared to be a fairly quartz laden pegmatite. I stuck my pick axe in a few times and decided to continue up the hill as the pegmatite seemed promising.
A new dig begins!
 After about 15 minutes I started picking up small crystals and a few poorly formed plates with microcline and smokys. I liked the way this pegmatite was running up the hill and the crystals seemed to be without the iron mineral deposits present in the previous pocket. As I continued along the pegmatite I noticed red dirt/clay appearing and was sure I was running into a pocket. The scree and clay started to give way to larger rocks which revealed themselves to be crystal plates.

Smokys appearing in pocket wall
I continued finding crystals for the next 3 hours along with approximately 8 plates of smokys and microcline.
Plate #1
Plate #2

I found a couple of nice plates and one interesting bevino microcline with an attached smoky quartz crystal which proved to be the find of the day
Bevino microcline with accompanying smoky quartz
When crystals show up rock hounds swarm to the area :-)

Thursday, May 5, 2016

2016 Rock Hounding Adventures Begin

Pikes Peak after a very snowy spring
The 2016 rock hounding season has begun. We’ve had a number of late season snows in Colorado this year which has kept my hunting grounds snow covered and wet. Even yesterday (4May) there were patches of snow on the roads. With the sounds of humming birds buzzing the foothills and spring flowers starting to assert themselves it was time to explore some of my favorite sites. I find spring is the best time of year to prospect as all the vegetation is dead and knocked down, the frost heaves have left patterns around all the splintered surface rocks which helps for easier identification.

After prospecting for a bit near the top of a contact zone between a rocky area and scree I found a spot with many shards of surface quartz and one small crystal, I decided this was as good of a spot as any and commenced digging near a fairly large dead tree. I have often had good luck around trees and today was no exception. The tree was dead like so many others burned out by the Hayman fire years ago so I had no qualms in ripping up the decayed roots around the tree to see what was hidden hopefully below. The pegmatite below looked good with graphic granite and even a few subhedral crystal faces appearing. Down and up the hill I dug hitting some small smoky quartz crystals, then a plate containing microcline and smokys. 

As the crystals began popping out of the pegmatite debris I wondered whether I should find my digging partner to let him in on the fun. We forgot our 2-way radios and so I had to walk down hill and find him and then back up the hill. It was about noon so I thought a walk down and up the hill would do me good. Bob wasn’t having much luck and was happy to climb the hill to see what I had found. After watching me dig out a few crystals he found a spot and began finding a few smokys for himself. I found smokys, microcline crystals, pseudomorphs of goethite after calcite/siderite, cleavelandite and goethite. I would say the best specimen I found was a 3” goethite spray capped with botryoidal goethite. Sandwiched in the specimen is a chisel point smoky quartz crystal.

While the crystals were near the surface (1foot down or less) the accumulation of iron staining will make for a tedious cleanup of the crystals. Despite not being a tremendous pocket it was a nice way to start the new digging season
Cleaned Plate of Smokys, Microcline and Cleavelandite