Rockin the Rockies

Rockin the Rockies
Stowe Mtn

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day Weekend Digging Crystals At Lake George Colorado

Clouds provided relief during a warm day at Lake George
Our local Club the Colorado Springs Mineralogical Society has a claim but is trying to get a waver for paying a $3000 state bond for their claim (state requirement on federal land). Due to this ongoing problem with the state of Colorado, Club members have been unable to prospect or dig for crystals on the Club’s federally sanctioned claim for 2 years.  I won’t get into the reasons for the continued problems the Club is having with the state except to say that Club members haven’t been able to dig crystals near Lake George because most of the area at Lake George is claimed up and the state has closed the Club’s only claim, so recreational digging has taken a 2 year holiday for some.  My digging partner Bob and I have a claim near Lake George and are Club members so we have decided to make our claim available on a limited basis for field trips for the more serious Crystal Club members. 
After starting the planning process for the trip last month and checking and rechecking the deteriorating Forest Service roads we set out with about 9 people. Some carpooled and one even drove in on a motor bike crossing 3 creeks!  We had to recheck the roads a couple of times as more ATVs are using them and chewing them up but we managed to arrive at our claim without incident and enjoyed a warm June afternoon rock hounding.  Most of the members have some knowledge of how to prospect for crystals so after a short safety talk and review of the claim boundaries people scattered to the hills and commenced prospecting for crystals. Our claim policy is that invited folks can pretty much keep what they find. Folks seemed to team up somewhat while I floated around checking our claim boundary posts. We’ve had some unwelcome visitors in the past claim jumping and vandalizing our claim markers but there is really not much we can do unless we install motion detectors, figure out who they are and then take them to court.  Life is too short for all of this drama. After walking the northern boundary of our claim and finding nothing amiss I found a spot near the top of a hill that looked promising and commenced digging.  The area had plenty of quartz and some chips of amazonite.  After digging for a while the broken quartzy pegmatite led me down towards some yellowish clay and a small pocket. 

The crystals were of poor quality and as the wind started picking up and gusting to 35+ mph I was soon covered in dirt. I decided the effort wasn’t worth it and checked on the rest of the group.  Two folks had quite a dig going and were removing small amazonite plates of crystals.  The crystals were fairly small but they were enjoying what they found.
Frank & Ellie loading up on amazonite plates
I had dug that area a few years ago and had been disappointed with the small/pea-sized amazonite. I never went very deep into the pegmatite and wished Frank and Ellie good luck as I went in search of other Club digger. Another prospector was working on an abandoned older dig. I have worked this area myself a few times and have concluded you have to go really dig deep to hit the pegmatite. The previous owner of this claim was Ray Berry and he found a very large superb pocket at this spot. Ray was an exceptional digger and rarely missed much. Austin did find some small float keepers.  He stuck to it for a few hours before moving on to another spot.
Austin is checking out an area around some tree roots

I located my digging partner Bob and he was with a newb showing him some prospecting techniques. Bob found a pocket with some amazonite and smoky quartz though the amazonite was very pale. He gave all of it to his trainee who seemed very happy with his crystals. The motor bike digger left by noon so I'm not sure how well he did, but another group composed of a couple of seasoned diggers had a good day. They immediately gravitated to a long ago dug up pegmatite of amazonite and quartz and were soon ripping it up. They found some fair amazonite and quartz crystals and were grateful for their time on our claim. As time and energy waned folks began heading out. 
John with a t-shirt full of crystals

I decided I wanted to give one area a try where I had found some 2-3 inch smokys in the past. I started digging and soon Bob joined in as we churned up a fairly small flat section of the claim. Once again loose smokys started popping up and we soon made a couple other folks happy with a few crystals. While no museum pieces were found, everyone left happy to have been able to get out and hunt for crystals. Nearly everyone found something to their liking and were very appreciative of the opportunity. Bob and I may try this again next month.

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