Black and Blue Dogtooth Crystal Weekend

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.

01 Alley Springs Mill Closed Off

 

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.

02 Arrival Back Side of Pile

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….

05 First Find

…..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….

04 Cobb Pile in Front

….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….

09 Blk Double Dogtooth Found

11 Blk Double Dogtooth Found

12 Blk Dogtooth Plate

 

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….

14 Brown Dogtooth Poker Chip

15 Brown Dogtooth in Cluster

16 Brown Dogtooth Cluster

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…..

07 Alley Spring On Way Home

 

0503 Walking Up Trail to Mill

0503 Near Millstream Pond

0503 Millstream Pond Falls 2

Only to find this as the view….

0503 Mill Being Worked On

…and told that apparently this huge sycamore tree…

Mill and Millrace 3

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.

24  My Truck

 

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. 

02 Found Under Big Pocket

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…

03 Started Scratching

….the first one I pulled out was about four inches high and had a beautiful blue tint to it with a black dogtooth center…

07 1st Blue Tinted Poker Chip

08 1st Blue Tinted Poker Chip

….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….

09 Poker Chips Inside Pocket

…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….

10 More Chips Edge of Pkt

11 More Chips & Roof Plate

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….

12 Goodies So Far

The pocket kept expanding to the left, so naturally I kept digging in that direction and it continued to open up along the way….

13 Pkt Expands to Left

14 More Openings

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….

15 More Roof Plates

…and pretty soon I was pulling some beautiful roof plates out too….

16 More Goodies Found

17 Roof Plate & Crystals

…then I set the camera down in front of the pocket and here is what was inside…

18 Looking Inside Pkt

..and then the pocket started going deeper, when it went as far to the left as possible…

19 More Goodies

20 Expanding Left & Deeper

 

here are some more of the crystals and roofplates from the pocket….

22 More Roof Plates

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….

25 Three Org Dogtooths Found

26 Poker Chip on Pretty Druse Plate

27 2nd Druse Plate & Poker Chip

28 Dogtooth Found

29 Cluster on Druse Blk Dogtooth

Roof Plate of Pocket

2nd Roof Plate of Pocket

30 Twin Dogtooths

31 Triple Dogtooth on Druse

32 Small Cluster Dogtooths

33 Small Cluster Blue Dogtooths

34 Small Dogtooth Partial Eroded

36 Triple Dogtooth Cluster

37 Yellow Druse Plate

 

James 🙂

jwjphoto@fidnet.com

Rockhounding With Ian Merkel

One of my good rockhounding friends from Colorado, Ian Merkel, flew into St Louis last week to do some rockhounding in Missouri this weekend. Docia and I set up a couple of locations to take him to on Saturday and Sunday, and he had set up his schedule all day Friday to do some collecting half a mile deep in one of the Doe Run Mines near Viburnum.

I was at work when he flew into St Louis and soon after he let me know that he had reached Sullivan and would spending the night there in one of our motels, before heading to the Casteel Mine the next morning to meet up with some of his mining friends there. I arranged to have Docia meet him in Eminence on Saturday morning and take him to the quarry there, where we would spend much of the day looking for pockets of poker chip crystals and dolomite druse. 

Missy and I got up early Saturday morning and cruised down through Viburnum and Reynolds County countryside to Eminence listening to one of my favorite Colorado musicians, John Denver…..I had told Ian I would be coming in the back way and Docia could more easily meet him and guide him to the quarry since she travels down Hwy 19, which was the route he would be driving down as well. As I pulled into the quarry entrance on the east side of Eminence about 10 am, I spotted Docia`s blazer and Ian`s rental suv down below by the gravel piles….I pulled up next to them with the lyrics of Rocky Mountain High coming from my stereo speakers.

Ian was showing Docia what he had been able to collect in some pockets of goodie minerals deep down in the Casteel Mine the day before…..he had some pretty chacopyrite and lead cubes, but was ready now to take on some serious digging at one of the best locations in Missouri for poker chip crystals and dolomite druse. We all changed into our boots and grabbed our tools and bags, and headed over to one of the original bluff areas that is usually choked full of pockets…where Ian and I started in on the point of the bluff….

01 Ian Works Entrance Bluff

 

…and immediately we began seeing evidence of crystals and dolomite and calcite druse all over the bluff, next to a spot that I had been working on when I was there just a few weeks prior. It was obvious to both of us that we would need to knock some overhanging rocks down first, in order to make things safer, so we began clearing off the top layers and then the bottom layers, which were peeling off like the pages of a book. Soon we had a big pile of rocks below us and we began searching for pockets a bit more, and finding many soon enough….

03 Looks For Pockets

 

…within seconds, Ian was reaching into a pocket to explore a bit more carefully….

04 Reaching Inside Pocket

 

…and found a few loose ones right off the bat….

05 Found A Pocket

06 Pocket of Poker Chips

07 Examing A Crystal

…he started pulling some large clusters out soon after, but he wasnt able to take them home, they would take up too much room in the two medium sized suitcases he had for the flight home, so he gave me the bigger ones…I backed my truck up so I didnt have to carry them as far…

08 Backed Up to Load Big Ones


 …when I returned to the bluff, I found that he had pulled away some of the covering matrix and discovered yet another pocket off to the left of the original pocket found…

09 Ian Points Out Another Pocket

…and pretty soon, yet another pocket was located…

10 And yet Another Pocket

…and soon it was one pocket after another in this area of the bluff. We soon found ourselves having to carefully remove some of the covering plates of matrix to access more pockets…..

12 Carefully Removing Coverplate

…he was careful to use his screwdriver and small prybar to pull this one back to reveal….

13 Carefully Pulling It Away

….a nice cluster….now I had a very happy Ian on my hands….

14 Ian is a Happy Camper

…by this time we discovered that Docia was no longer right around the corner of the bluff from us…she had wandered over to the new blast area, so we picked up our goodies and tools and headed over to join her….finding her talking to a couple from West Plains that were looking for crystals as well…David and his mom,

15 New Blast Area

…if you look real close at the photo above, you can see a green dot at the top of that pile just left of center…thats Ian at the top of the pile looking for pockets…I had already filled two bags and came down for more bags and wrapping cloths when I took this photo and the two below….

16 Ian At Top of New Blast Area

17 Ian At Top of New Blast Area

…and this next photo will give you a better perspective as well…

18 Better Perspective

…I didnt take my camera up there with me as the footing walking up can be a little dicey sometimes, but I can safely tell you that we found four pockets that were absolutely filled with poker chips and dolomite druse….in fact, there are ten times more dolomite druse pockets than poker chip pockets up there, but both are pretty and Ian liked both of them as much as I do. I was working a pocket about five feet left of Ian, and it was much easier to reach inside and then around to the back of the pocket to pull crystals and clusters out of it, as the face was almost solid in matrix rock. Meanwhile, Ian was still finding larger clusters than he could manage, so he was handing a few off to me or placing them in my bags.

I walked my last two bags back down the pile to the bottom once again, going back to the truck for yet another bag, and Ian came down the pile along the wall, stopping at the bottom corner where there were several small openings of pockets that David described as woodpecker holes. Ian started exploring one of the small openings and all of a sudden, started ooohhing and aahhing so much, that I moved a little faster to get back up there…no easy feat cause you have to climb up an unstable gravel slide area ten feet high and then pull yourself on up the last three feet, with little to latch on to for solid support…cause nothing is solid there and rooted down.  When I did finally get back up there, Ian was holding a couple of small plates of dolomite and calcite druse covered with orange dogtooth crystals….hence the reason for the oohhs and ahhs…

So we worked on those pockets for about thirty minutes more and then decided to go up above and see what we could find on the upper benches. I had never been up to the bench right above the new blast area yet, but wanted to, so we left David with the woodpecker holes and went up to there to see what could be found. This time I forgot my camera in the truck but Ian had his with him and snapped a couple photos of me working my pocket to the left of his…

Me Holding Up a Just Found Crystal

….his being a pocket of beautiful green poker chip crystals and clusters…one of them so big that Ian  couldnt pack it in either suitcase, so he left it with me…here it is in the bed of my truck….

22 Big Green Poker Chip Ian Found Above

…well we worked that pocket for at least forty minutes and cleaned it out as best we could…the crystals in it were covered in a heavy oooey gooey red clay and limonite matrix, so it was a bit more difficult to work in getting the crystals out, not many of them coming out cleanly…I found a pocket off to the side that appeared to tie in with his pocket, but eventually ran out of steam and crystals.  We packed up and headed back down to the new blast area, to see if Docia was ready to head out…we were going to visit a mutual friend who has some beautiful Doe Run Mine specimens that he sells on the side…we have purchased beautiful specimens from him before and thought we would see what he had left.

Docia decided to get some information from David and his mom before we headed out, so Ian and I took another look at the area where Docia was collecting as we pulled back up. Ian immediately found yet another pocket, within a few feet of where Docia had been working and finding some dogtooth crystals, and I went up a crevice to the left and spotted a pocket about three feet higher up…

18A Crevice of Pockets

…where I spotted a beautiful  large poker chip in a very dark gray or black color, attached to the pocket wall…one side appeared to be loose, so with the help of Ian`s smaller prybar, I was able to wiggle it loose from its attachment…it split into two pieces, but I was able to recover all the key players and was quite happy with the way it looks….

20 Two Blk Poker Chips I Found

…the one on the right much darker of the two….

21 Darker Of The Two

…and probably the darkest colored crystals I have ever found here…found the chocolate colored crystals a few months back there, but never a dark enough gray to be considered black, that I can recall. In the meantime, Ian was trying to cobb down a cluster he found in one of the pockets so he could get it into his suitcase….

19 Ian Cobbs Down One

…and he wound up getting a few nice smaller pieces from it….

24 Ian Very Happy

…and here he is looking at yet another cluster….

25 Ian Examines a Cluster

…we left shortly after and drove north through the beautiful Reynolds County countryside and visited with David, our Doe Run mineral dealer friend, for about an hour, before heading home for the night, darkness overtaking us soon after we left. After a good dinner at Cracker Barrel and a little bit of tv, we retired for the night, in anticipation of another long day on Sunday.

We intended to get up about 5:30 am Sunday, but my internal clock went off earlier, so then we had to wait an hour for Cracker Barrel to open, cause that`s where Ian wanted to go for breakfast. I emailed Docia that we would arrive at the Secret Spot between 7:30 and 8 am, and we drove over to Cracker Barrel after Ian loaded up his tools and backpack in my truck.

After a great breakfast, we took off and as we were driving along, we spotted this large sun off to the east…found out he and I both like sunrises like this, with the sun looking larger than life, and so I pulled over and we both photographed it…

01 Sunrise Sunday Morning

03 Sunrise Big Sun

…and then drove on south….arriving about 7:35 am…no Docia in sight…and found half the blast pile removed on the left side…providing us more wall to inspect for pockets…..

06 New Look

…Ian was so excited, he was ready to go before I was…I had to change from my street shoes to my boots, then grab a bag and some tools, my trusty mattox for one thing…..I`m lacing up my boots and he is hollering at me…where`s that pocket at….so I told him and he heads that way and pretty soon I am too…..he was like a kid with a chocolate addiction in a candy store, lol…….and pretty soon he was digging away at a potential pocket on the wall….

07 Ian Working a Pocket

….he didnt like the looks of the pocket I had left him, like me, he thought the crystals on the back wall were too difficult to remove, and the pocket Docia had worked last week, looked cleaned out, so he started tackling this potential pocket above. I moved on down the wall to his right, about fifteen feet, and dug into a potentially looking pocket….

08 Ian Working a Pocket

09 Ian Works a Pocket

…pretty soon it was apparent that he had found some crystals and might just have a working pocket….

11 Ian Found One to Right

…while mine was def looking like it had some nice specimens inside…I would have to dig them out, but was already spotting orange dogtooth crystal points inside….

12 Pocket I Found to Right of Ian

13 My Pocket Up Closer

Ian took a break from his pocket and decided to look and see if he could find another pocket near mine…

14 Ian Searching Area to My Right

 

…so he decided to check behind this chunk of rock ledge and then decided it would be much safer to knock it down…

15 Ian Makes Things Safer

…so while I was continuing to work on my pocket, he knocked the ledge and overhang down…

16 Ian Makes Things Safer

…and while he didnt find anything here…..he did locate a pocket on the east wall  that turned out to be quite nice and productive for him. In the meantime, I was still pulling druse plates and crytals out of my pocket and making my way further back inside it…

18 Progress of My Pocket

…and here is the pocket that Ian located on the east wall…he let out a big whoop and I looked over to see him pulling a very big single poker chip crystal out of the pocket, here you see it against the wall at the end of his prybar…

19 New Crystal Ian Found

…and the pocket behind it…

20 New Pocket Ian Found

Ian was actually taking these two photos and then turned around and photographed me working on my pocket…

21 Me Working a Pocket

…something you dont see very often…lol…

22 Me Working a Pocket

23 Me Working a Pocket

…and looking inside…here is what he saw when he shot this one….

24 Working My Way Back into Pocket

…and here is a combo I pulled out of there while he was photographing me…

25 Combo Found in Pocket

…and here is Docia who was checking out some pockets near me as well…

26 Docia Checks Out Crystals

…by this time I had filled three bags full of crystals and I was ready to look elsewhere and take a break, so Ian asked if he could check out my pocket and I told him to knock himself out. He had to stack up some rocks to get up to it and the next time I looked over there, here is all I could see of him….

27 Ian Crawls Into Pocket

…and actually had some good luck inside after crawling nearly halfway inside it. He pulled a plate down from the top and all of a sudden…crystals started raining down on him from another pocket above…he said it was like activating a slot machine full of chips or coins. After working it and filling up a bag, he decided to walk over to the south wall and see what Docia was finding over there…I was still resting up and I looked up the slope to see them both working a pocket near the top….

28 Docia and Ian Work South Wall

…I walked over to the west wall to see if I could find some druse plates, cause Ian had mentioned he would like to take some druse home with him as well and we werent going to have time to run over to the new druse spot. I walked over and began looking down at the base of the wall, as they normally fall from the clay dirt above the rock wall and land at the base…when the sun came out from behind the clouds, and made them glitter, I was able to spot and pick them up….here are a few I found over there….

29 Druse Plates I Found

30 Druse Plate

31 Druse Plate

and here are a couple of cluster combos we found while there as well….

32 Poker Chip Clusters

Ian and I took off about 1 pm so Ian could get cleaned up and get the specimens wrapped up and packed away in his suitcases before heading for the airport…

33 Ian Wraps Up his Crystals

34 Ian Happily Wraps Up Crystals

…the photo above shows a happy but tired Ian, packing his goodies away in his suitcases before heading home...he had to leave a few of them with me cause they were too big or heavy….he took one with his camera of us and here it is…

35 Rockhunting Buddies

…had a great time taking him hunting here in Missouri and glad that he made it home safe and sound !!

 

Blue Hole Expansion and Hematite…

I decided to go back to the secret spot to see if I could dig a few more blue poker chip crystal clusters out so I could take a few to Ian, my geologist friend in Colorado, as I was planning to drive out there the following week, taking my Mom and Dad out there for their 50th anniversary to see the fall colors and ride the steam train at Durango…they have never been to Colorado in the fall and the last time we rode the train was 45 years ago..when I was a wee little guy.

Docia met me there, she wanted to go up on top and see if she could dig out some more of the rainbow colored druse plates, so we met there and discovered some more rock had been removed recently….

02 Taking Advantage and Looking

…so I decided to look at the floor level and see if I could find any pockets along the newly scraped and dug area, and within moments, found a slight depression and started scratching…

05 Slight Depression Here

 

..and began finding calcite chunks and crystals right away….

06 Little Scratching Produces Crystals

 

07 Crystals and Chunks

 ..and just a little under the surface, I made a discovery I have never found here before…poker chip crystals with a hematite mixture…and some pyrite or chacopyrite mixed in as well…I have def never seen pyrite or chalcopyrite there at all.

08 Hematite and Poker Chips

coming from this pocket here…as you can see there is a little bluff area here too….

09 Hematite Pocket Here

..standard signs of a pocket nearby….but this one contained poker chips and hematite matrix meshed together…def a new one for me. as you can see, I also removed some orangey poker chip crystals too…

10 Hematite & Crystal Pocket

…after cleaning out this shallow pocket that deadended real quickly, I decided to go back over and see if the blue poker chip hole could be expanded. Docia was coming down from the top with two bags full of druse plates…she decided to take a break and see what she could find down below. I moved some rock around in the shaded area and fairly soon found another pocket opening up about a foot from the blue hole…

11 Blue Holes Expanded

…I called Docia over and turned one of the pockets over to her while I worked the new one…within minutes, we both began pulling crystals out of the pockets…here is the one I was working….

12 Another Blue Hole Found

…and here is one of the smaller clusters I pulled out of the new pocket…apologize for the blurriness…

13 Blue Chip Cluster

Docia and I worked those pockets for at least an hour and then she decided to go back up above and see if she could find more druse plates…..I wrapped up what I found in the blue hole and then returned to the same area and scratched around a bit more…and within a few minutes, the bottom dropped out and a hole appeared…

14 Hole Opens Up

…I opened it up a bit more and some rocks fell down in the hole and the splash sounded very deep….

15 Hole Opens Up

…and I opened it up a bit more and reached my hand down into about ten inches of cool water to retrieve a few crystals and plates with crystals….

16 Initial Pocket Hole

…and here is a closer up photo of the crystals…

17 Some Plates Druse and Chips

…I spent a few extra minutes expanding the pocket to one side and pulled a few more crystals out…before running out of steam for the day….at least I had some more nice crystals to take to Emmie and Ian though….

19 Pocket Expands

 

 

 

 

Blue Poker Chip Hole July

On my first Saturday off, Missy and I got up early and drove down to the secret spot, trying to avoid the heat as much as possible. We have been locked into the longest dry and hot spell I can ever remember, so since it gets light about 5:30 am, we have been making every effort to start as early as possible. As we drew close to the area, we saw a beautiful sunrise coming up over the trees….

01 Sunrise Huzzah Valley

..it was nice and fairly cool this time of morning, but that wouldnt last long. As we drove up on the lower side, we came upon a few moo-moos in the roadway….

02 Cows in Roadway on Arrival

…I walked around the rock pile for a few minutes and then decided to check out this corner….. I felt led to check here first….

03 Something Led Me to This Corner

…I looked down and saw something that looked like a poker chip and so I began to dig down…finding water in the gravel mix fairly fast…..

04 Started Digging Here

so I took a fast break and returned to my truck and pulled out my bailing bowls and a bottle of water. I reached down into the mix and grabbed ahold of what I had seen a few minutes earlier, and turned over this plate, and it appeared to have a blue poker chip crystal on it….

05 Plates of Druse and Blue Chips

 …now I started to get excited as it had been awhile since I had found a good pocket full of blue poker chips…like at least a year and a half or two years. I started digging down a bit more and pretty soon a small cavity opened up and water was everywhere. I was definitely going to be bailing water soon enough….

06 Water Was Apparent

…and within a few minutes, I found even more calcite signs that a pocket was closeby….

08 More Signs of Calcite

…I reached down into the water and pulled out this blue poker chip twin that was absolutely beautiful……

09 Blue Poker Chip Pulled From Pocket

and then started bailing water from the expanded hole…when I got done bailing, this is what I saw…and boy was I now excited….

10 Base Full of Blue Chips

…and up a little closer…..

12 Blue Poker Chips in Base

…I continued to bail and dig and expand the hole, and after about ten minutes, I had discovered that there was a nice cluster of crystals in the middle of the hole….on the right side of the photo below….

13 Base of Pocket Full of Blue Chips

 

…and here it is up close as well….

14 Large Cluster Blue Chips

…and so with this for motivation, I continued to dig out more from the sides and found even more blue tinted crystals waiting for me…

15 More Blue Chips

…some were loose and easy to remove, while others were rooted to the bottom base plate of the pocket….but quite pretty to behold….

16 Pocket Expands

…I kept bailing and digging, and even found another small pocket about ten inches back toward the pile, but this pocket was short lived, I only pulled one or two crystals out and underneath them were a few plates of druse only….

17 Bailing Water is a Necessity

…and here is the short stack of loose crystals I had pulled out so far…many of the crystals seen in the photos above were indeed rooted to the bottom of the pocket solidly….

19 Small Pile So Far

…and here is the plate that I originally found and turned over to find the pocket, in much better light….

20 Original Plate Found

The pocket kept on expanding and ledges started showing up…I wasnt sure if these were going to signal the end of the pocket or more pockets would open up behind them, but I was getting tired and the heat was mounting….so I took a break and chipped out the clusters you saw in the photos above….and kept digging, til another hole opened up, as seen below in the lower right hand corner…

21 Keep On Expanding

 

22 Another Hole Opens Up

…as it was though, that didn`t lead anywhere and so I wrapped up my clusters and twins and took them back to the truck. I took a small water break and then decided to make use of the extra two hours I still had left and check out the pocket on the other side, that I had discovered a few weeks before, but hadn`t followed up on due to the excessive heat.

23 Checking Out Other Pocket

 ..the pocket over by the mud and waterhole….I had popped a single dogtooth crystal out of it when I last saw it, so I wanted to check it out and see if there was indeed a good pocket there. I took my trusty mini mattox and began digging around and eventually a trench started forming up…after about ten more minutes of digging it out, a few holes opened up underneath the trench….

24 Digging It Out

 

25 Holes Open Up

..unfortunately, I didnt have my flashlight with me, so I couldnt tell how deep those holes were but they sounded deep when things fell down into them…

26 Holes Appear to Be Deep

I was trying to expand the sides of the trench a few minutes later so I could reach down into those holes and see what was below…me thinking there might be a deep pocket underneath and full of crystals no less…and I had about thirty minutes before I had to leave and drive down to a rock and mineral dealer friend`s place to check out some lead mineral specimens for a friend of mine. So here I was trying to chisel out the sides of this trench and expand the opening…I was holding the chisel barehanded as I have done many times before, but this time got a little too close to the rock wall with my left hand and basically mashed my little finger into the wall…yes it hurt, it hurt alot, and I`ll just say I`m surprised that no one heard what I had to say when I yelled a few things very loudly….I walked over to my truck and grabbed a bandaid  from my glove compartment and wrapped it around my little finger, it was also bleeding profusely, as I had punctured the skin as well…and I just about passed out from the heat and pain both….as I laid there I wondered if this was the type of pain that Pete, a rockhunting buddy from Pennsylvania had felt when he broke his hand a few months ago in Kentucky….my whole hand was throbbing in pain….a few minutes later I  grabbed a bottle of water and held it to my forehead and prayed for strength and a re-charge of my batteries….I strongly believe in the power of prayer folks and it was answered within ten minutes….and I kept my end of the bargain…I packed up and left there and headed to my dealer friend`s house, deciding to return another day and work on that pocket some more then.

Here are a few of the clusters and twins that I was able to chip out of the pocket that day, now all cleaned up….

2nd Cluster Found Blue Hole

 

3rd Cluster Found Blue Hole

 

Big Blue Cluster Found

 

Another Triple Found Blue Hole

 

Triple Found Blue Hole

 

My Truck at Quarry 2