Earlier in the week, my chances of going rockhunting even one day during the first weekend in May, were looking pretty dismal for me…as I had scheduled a shoot on Saturday the 3rd, in the middle of the day and that meant I was going to have to stick around all morning…and I was going to an event on Sunday early afternoon to commemorate the lives of two firefighter friends that had achieved milestones in their lives, celebrating fifty years of service to the Sullivan Fire Department and District. Both men are good friends of our family and after attending the same event for my Dad the year before, and knowing it required a couple of hours time, I wasn`t sure I was going to have any time afterward to go hunting that day either.
By midweek tho, my schedule cleared up so that I could not only drive down to Eminence on Saturday morning early, but I was able to squeeze in a few hours of hunting on Sunday after the event as well. I made a call to my buddy Jim on Friday evening and he told me that the new blast pile was nearly gone and he was seeing some streaks of black as well, so Missy and I got up early Saturday morning and were on the road by 7 am. under mostly cloudy skies, with a hint of clearing skies by mid morning. After stopping off in Houston to fill the gas tank at nearly a quarter a gallon less, we stopped off briefly at Alley Spring Mill, since I had never photographed it in the spring time and the dogwood trees were in full bloom right now. I put Missy on her leash and we walked toward the mill from the small parking lot near the office and found a plastic and wire construction fence set up around the perimeter of the mill and the footbridge to the mill was fenced off as well.
Looking in and across the bridge, I could see that the access to the mill was open from the other side of the stream, by the bluff trail from below, so we loaded back up and I decided we would stop off on the way back to photograph it then.
We headed on down the road toward Eminence, and arrived about ten minutes later. I came to a stop at the intersection of Hwy 19 and looked downtown to see a flurry of activity in the streets below….Jim had mentioned that there was some sort of weekend celebration going on there and it appeared there was some organized activity going on in the downtown area. We headed on east and soon rolled into the quarry and found a much smaller pile of rocks and evidence that the huge hydraulic jack had been used recently on some of the larger boulders with a line of the busted boulders skirting the edge of the reduced pile from one side to the other.
I pulled just past the back of the reduced pile and parked, and after switching to my boots, grabbed a bag, my gloves, and my mini mattox and decided to do a surface hunt first around the edge of reduced boulders on the east side of the pile. I found a few smaller pieces right off the bat and then made a closer inspection of the walls of the pile. I found a few small pockets of dark gray colored poker chips and some calcite druse as well. I walked down the wall to the east and found a few small pockets of druse as well as one nice poker chip cluster, a small one….
…..enough to fill one bag with some interesting looking shaped druse pieces. I returned that bag to the truck bed and then grabbed another one and headed around the skirt of rocks to the west side….
….and immediately started seeing some nice cobbed down chunks of calcite druse all over the place, sparkling and glittering in the strong sunlight. I sat my bag and mattox down and began selecting some of the nicer chunks and carrying them over to the parking area and creating a grouping of them to pick up later before I left. They would make some great yard rocks. I was up in the middle of them making more selections, when my buddy Jim drove up in his pickup with his wife and daughter. They were on their way to town for the festivities…I told him I had been hearing sirens and parade preparation sounds in the past hour and he said the parade would likely start soon downtown. Soon after they took off, I did hear the start of the parade and then later on, live music and what sounded like a drag race or tractor pull as well. They definitely had some beautiful weather for a celebration.
Soon Missy was back from her explorations and parked under the back of my truck in the shade…I put a bowl of cool water out for her and headed back to the pile to see if I could cobb some crystals out of a large boulder. I took my four pound hammer and chisels with me and soon came up on the huge boulder laying on its side on one side of the pile. I liked the looks of the crystals embedded in one end of the boulder, dark grey and black colored. I was able to free a couple of nice crystals from the boulder and was working on some others when a bumble bee starting flying around close by and even buzzing right by me a few times. I decided to give him some room and took a short water bottle break about thirty feet away to see if he was trying to get into a wall hole nearby…however, he didn`t settle down, even followed me over to my break area and buzzed by me some more. I walked back to the truck and retrieved my spray bottle of bee and wasp killer, however by the time I got back over there, he had apparently found a hole and ducked inside. I was glad, cause I was neither interested in killing it nor in being stung trying.
I tried to free a few more crystals and clusters, but was unable to do so, and decided to move to the back side of the pile and see if I could climb up to the top of the pile to see what more could be found. I got around to the back side and determined this was going to be no easy feat in getting up to the top of the reduced pile, as the dirt and rock material was extremely loose under my feet and for every step I took up the pile, I was either sliding back down or losing two steps down. I left the bag at the bottom…a mistake I later almost regretted…and used the mini mattox to carve out steps so I could get to the top, going up switchback fashion even. Eventually I made it to the top, after having to stop and knock down some of the top rocks to make things easier, dragging myself up and over the top edge finally. Once up there, I checked the walls for new pockets, finding a few pockets here and there. I decided to check out the huge boulder that had supplied me with many black dogtooth crystals the last trip down there, and to my surprise, started finding small clusters of crystals all around the bottom of the boulder once again. I even found some laying in the loose dirt at the base of the boulder as well as a few large ones that were nice too, and after digging down thru some of the loose material, I was able to recover some very pretty twin dogtooths…here they are cleaned up….
It appeared someone had chipped off a few of the remaining clusters and crystals I had left behind and I`m glad that whoever was there, left behind a lot of pretty crystals for me to find and take home. One that was in the shallow area of dirt, was a spectacular twin black dogtooth crystal, in the shape of a V, each one about two inches in length. After chipping off several nice clusters from the huge boulder a few weeks ago, I was delighted to find a few more perfectly shaped small ones this trip too….
I dug down around three sides of the boulder and found enough small crystals to fill two bags full…however since I had left my bag below and didn`t want to slide down and grab the bag, and then make the arduous climb back up with the bag in tow, I decided to take my long sleeve shirt off and wrap up the crystals in it and then carry the whole thing back down the pile. I also grabbed two or three nice large chunks with lots of black dogtooths on them, and then slid down the loose talus pile on my butt…this was much easier. After wrapping them all up separately on the tailgate in my wrapping cloths, I decided I had enough goodies for the day and headed home. By this time, I had four bags completely full of wrapped goodies.
However, after getting them all wrapped up and bagged, I decided to drive over to the cove area and check that wall as well. By this time it was pretty hot outside so I turned on the ac and left Missy in the ac while I worked the wall. I started at the east end and worked my way back west and pretty soon was finding crystals, poker chips and dogtooth crystals, laying in the loose matrix at the base of the wall. I followed a trail of poker chips up the small ramped pile and pretty soon, discovered a pocket buried in the loose matrix that had apparently fallen from above and became buried. I pulled enough crystals out of it to fill half a bag and by this time, I was approaching exhaustion fast, and still had a two hour drive home. I`ll get some of these crystals photographed and loaded up here soon.
Soon, Missy and I were headed home, stopping off briefly for a short hike to Alley Spring Mill and after finding only one dogwood tree in bloom near the mill pond…..
Only to find this as the view….
…and told that apparently this huge sycamore tree…
which has been there many years and frames the mill beautifully in photos, is the root cause of the construction project now…the roots of the huge tree have penetrated the basement walls of the old mill and there is talk from the US Forest Service, of cutting down the beautiful tree instead of trying to find a way around it to save the mill…they say the roots are lifting the mill building up somewhat. I`m not sure I completely believe everything the USFS says in regards to this or anything else for that matter.
….we headed back to the truck and ac, and drove home. Missy was as tired as I was, carrying ten pounds of fur in the heat…I thought I was going to have to carry her to the truck…luckily she gets her hair cut on Wednesday.
Sunday morning, I decided Missy and I would drive down to a neat spot near Bixby, where I have always been able to find some neat druse pieces….my Mom had asked me for some holie rocks that she could plant ground cover in for her rock and flower gardens. I had seen some holie rocks there that I thought would be perfect, and as it worked out, we had a few hours of daylight left after the event on Sunday afternoon. It was as hot Sunday as it had been the day before, and I was prepared to leave Missy in the truck if need be with the ac on full blast. We arrived about 4 pm and I was able to locate about half a dozen nice large druse chunks with some holes in them, tho the holes were not nearly as big as I thought they were going to be. I also found some really pretty soda straw plates nearby as well, some of the straws were about two to three inches in length and very sparkly in the sunlight.
After loading the holie rocks and druse plates up, I drove over to the secret spot to check it out and decided to putter around a bit and see if I could locate any new pockets there. The shade had stretched out about thirty feet from the west wall by that time in the day, so I drove over and parked in the edge of it, enough to cover the cab in case Missy would need to get in the truck in the ac again.
As it turned out, there was a great breeze blowing from the northwest and came right across the shaded area very nicely. I scratched around a few times until I found a nice area that had great potential…I was ten feet under the huge pocket I found back in the spring time last year, the pocket that had apparently vibrated open after a blast seventy feet away from it…the pocket that was three feet in diameter…the pocket that was chock full of dogtooth crystals, some of them were a big as beach balls….and about ten feet below it, I found a very nice pocket. Missy by this time, had made a few forays to the edge of the parking area and then wandered back and laid down about fifty feet from me on a ledge in the shaded area.
I walked back to the truck and grabbed my camera to document the pocket after I had decided that it was indeed going to open up into some poker chip crystals…
….the first one I pulled out was about four inches high and had a beautiful blue tint to it with a black dogtooth center…
….and once the pocket really opened up, I started pulling several nice large single crystals out as well as a few clusters, some with some beautiful druse attached to them….
…I could see several on the edge and just inside the loose mix of matrix at the bottom of the pocket…I really get excited when I see those, cause I start wondering what all is inside and how deep is the pocket going to wind up being…the thrill of the hunt I guess….
What was really strange, was that after I had pulled out several blue tinted crsytals with black dogtooth centers, I also found a small pocket off to the side, with a few small orange dogtooth crystals inside it. I have never found the two colors that close together in different pockets, usually they are at least ten feet apart. I`m always thrilled when I find the blue tinted crystals tho, since they seem to be a rare color to find. Here are some of the initial crystals from the blue pocket….
The pocket kept expanding to the left, so naturally I kept digging in that direction and it continued to open up along the way….
The top section of matrix around the roof plates was very thin and loose, so everytime I started digging in that area, things started falling down and had to be cleared out gently….
…and pretty soon I was pulling some beautiful roof plates out too….
…then I set the camera down in front of the pocket and here is what was inside…
..and then the pocket started going deeper, when it went as far to the left as possible…
here are some more of the crystals and roofplates from the pocket….
I filled two bags completely full and then Missy and I took off and headed home. Sure made for a nice weekend.
Here are some of my goodies found at the secret spot Sunday….