Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

First Snow of the Rockhounding Season (Updated w/ microcline pics)

Courtesy Cog Railway top of Pikes Peak, CO
We found a fairly productive crystal area on a claim out at Lake George, CO which has been producing smoky quartz crystals, twinned microclines and an occasional faint colored amazonite. I had found one pocket of crystals at this site and my prospecting partner had also found some collectible material. Digging uphill we were finding small plates of microcline and smokys as well as some single crystals.  While most of the crystals were on the small side there were some interesting Carlsbad twinned microcline.
Microcline var. Carlsbad with perthite

Microcline var. Carlsbad twinning with perthite
 A former officer of our club (CSMS) had moved to WY and wanted to trade some jade and opal for an outing to L. George.  Since Bob and I have known this WY cowboy for some time we agreed to take him along with no guarantees of finding anything.  The area we had recently located has several small pegmatites running very close to the surface which makes digging easy and finding crystals fairly likely.  We wanted to show our WY guest a good time so we took him to the area where we guessed we’d be able to find something collectible.
The first day was wet and we had to quit early, though we did find some float crystals the quality, amount and size were unmemorable. The weather was definitely not cooperating but we had another day to demonstrate our skills. We went back to the same spot and after prospecting and digging around for a few hours I found a spot with a small microcline crystal on the surface and several fine grained granite rocks (pegmatite) poking out of the ground nearby.  I suggested to the WY cowboy that we dig there. While he found some float smokys I hit a pocket just as thunder started to rumble. Watching the skies to the west and trying figure out how much time we had before the storm hit, I carefully extracted crystals from the pocket. While the lightning was getting closer I decided to let Bob my digging partner finish up the pocket while I packed what we had and prepared to scramble down the mountain. Normally it takes about 30 minutes to get back to our parking area but this day it probably only took 20 minutes. Just as we were reaching the vehicles the hail started to pour down. Hail in the mountains is often small but still intense. I was glad to be off the mountain and dry in my truck. The WY cowboy took home some nice crystals albeit mostly small and Bob and I made our way through the storm home while the WY cowboy went to NM to pick grapes.
Our third outing to the site at L. George promised early rain again but we still went out, returning to the same area and continuing our digs. Bob found a small pocket near the top of the hill and I continued working on the pegmatite I had discovered with the WY cowboy. Quartz crystals and microcline were shed from the top of the pegmatite and while I didn’t find another pocket I did dig up several smoky quartz crystals and a few half-dollar sized microclines some with Carlsbad twinning.  I’ve noted before that when an area produces something unique it often repeats that unique crystal abnormality whether it be twinning, quartz hooding, scepters or other abnormal crystal habit throughout the pocket or pegmatite; this area seems to have a predilection to produce Carlsbad twins.
Carlsbad twinned Microcline with a spot of Cleavelandite near the base
Thunder began even earlier than our last outing. We were once again at the top of a hill with another thunderstorm moving in.  This time I decided we would leave at the first sprinkle which pushed us off the mountain at 1PM.  No running down the mountain this time.  We got back to the truck, stopped off at a nearby coffee house and treated ourselves to an apple fritter and large coffee. I highly recommend the Donut Mill in Woodland Park, CO. The temperature outside had dipped to 47F as Pikes Peak got covered in a late summer snow.
My camera is broken, but I hope to get a new one soon and post a few pictures of the crystals we found. For the WY cowboy (Al) check your microcline for purple fluorite.  I found a couple of microcline crystals with rice-sized fluorites near their base in my hoard.
Some crystals from the last few outings, note microcline twins and smokys

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