Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Rock Hounding the Tarryall Mountains


Austin's Topaz
Looking west towards Badger Flats with a little smoke in the distance
In my quest of rock hounding different areas this year I took up the suggestion of a friend of mine to rock hound a spot in the Tarryall mountains. The Tarryalls are north of the Lake George, CO intrusive area though promise similar minerals of smoky quartz and microcline with an added bonus of topaz. I don’t have many well-formed topaz in my collection and have always found it to be somewhat elusive. We set out early as the day promised rain mixed with snow by nightfall.  Austin took me to a spot he had been working for a while. After prospecting the area he suggested we work a spot that already had been dug up, but should have been dug a little deeper. We started about 10 feet down the hill from an existing excavation.  The top foot or so of material had been dug, but 2 feet down intact roots and less jumbled rock led us to believe that the previous diggers had only scratched the surface. I dug up the hill to Austin’s right both of us digging down about 2 feet and shoveling dirt and rock down the hill as we went. Austin got the first and best score of the day pulling out a light blue 35 carat terminated topaz float crystal.  
This topaz gem reinvigorated both of us and we continued our digging assault up the hill. As we dug up the hill we found interesting float and then I scored a chubby 2 inch smoky. The smoky has good luster but with some internal fracturing.  As I dug I started hitting some very fractured feldspar,
Feldspar shards
Quartz Shards
then a few microcline crystals rolled out of the sidewall and I knew I was headed for a pocket. Soon I dug through the feldspar and started removing quartz shards. It was at this point that I let Austin know I probably had a pocket in front of me.
Austin came over and helped go through the shards looking for topaz. Quickly the quartz shards became more smoky in color and increased in size to some being over 6 inches in length. Then the smoky quartz crystals started to show themselves through the scree and red clay. Austin gleaned through the pocket mud and shards of quartz checking for topaz. The quartz shards were much larger than the euhedral crystals.  The quartz shards suggested 6 inch crystals, but the biggest complete crystal was 3 inches. After I felt the pocket was nearly depleted I let Austin finish it up.
Austin Finishing Up The Pocket
Austin found a couple of crystals in the sidewall and then rechecked for topaz. I took home about a dozen well-formed crystals and let Austin have the rest. I got the quality Austin got the quantity and a little quality as well. Austin did find a 130 carat fractured topaz in the debris I flung out of the pocket. Who knows how many shards of topaz I left, but we can always go back another day and sift through the dirt/clay once its dried out.  I still liked his light blue 35 carat terminated topaz better than anything else I found this day.
Smoky Quartz Crystals just about clean up enough for an acid bath to remove some stubborn iron staining
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