Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Monday, March 13, 2017

2017 Rock Hounding Begins at Lake George Colorado

Sunset over Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs, CO
Enough snow and ice has melted so that I decided to give rock hounding a try in the Rocky Mountains. While areas above 10,000Ft still have plenty of snow the lower elevations around Lake George, CO have many open slopes for rock hounding. This year I hope to expand my prospecting to include more areas outside of Lake George and find other crystals besides smoky quartz, amazonite, microcline, fluorite and goethite. Still, I’m sure I’ll visit my favorite Lake George rock hounding areas several times again this year. Winter was fairly mild though we did have a number of strong wind events with 60-70mph wind gusts in the mountains. The drought in Colorado is also taking its toll on mature trees. As the drought weakened trees are exposed to 70mph wind gusts they snap in half like toothpicks. We saw several mature trees broken off about 10ft above the ground as the one depicted below.
 Winter was fairly easy on the wildlife though I suspect foraging might have been a little more difficult due to the lack of water and foraging material. We saw herds of elk and deer with coyotes yelping in the distance as we made our way out to Lake George to start out 2017.
Elk looking for food
Deer oblivious to my digging, though they eventually caught on
Today Bob and I revisited an old spot we had prospected last fall and had pulled out a few pockets. We decided to return to this spot because it was on a south facing slope so the ground would be well thawed out and snow minimal. The pegmatite is fairly large and probably runs for about 30 feet.
Top-down pegmatite schematic
While most of the pegmatite is underground we have found float crystals in this area at the surface. The quartzy pegmatite runs NW-SE and intersects a more feldsparish containing pegmatite which runs N-S. It is at the intersection of these two seams that two pockets of amazonite were found last year. There was no smoky quartz crystals within the amazonite pockets. Bob and I continue to work the area with mixed results. I concentrated on the area of float smokys while Bob worked further up the hill in some float amazonite. While neither one of us were rewarded with pockets of crystals we did find some keepers. We primarily dug through areas around previously found pockets in hopes of finding some float crystals. We both found amazonite but only a few undamaged keeper crystals.
Typical floater amazonite with lots of iron staining to clean
I had the find of the day with an excellent 5” smoky quartz crystal. While we found many crystals only a few were considered keepers in my mind. We also did some prospecting in the area and found a spot or two we might try out again in the future as long as the weather holds. On the way home I decided to shop my 5” smoky quartz crystal at one of the rock shops along the way home. The proprietor of the rock shop said he could give me $60 for the smoky and I decided I would rather keep the crystal than part with it at that price.

5" Smoky Quartz Crystal
So 2017 has started out on a pretty good note with hopefully many more crystals yet to be found!