Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

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

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