Earlier this week I was watching the weather forecast, thinking about making a drive to Eminence on Sunday, which is today, the 27th, with a new rockhounding friend joining me as he was off on Sunday and could go that day……however as the forecast began to change, it became obvious by Friday that I would be changing my plans to Saturday instead. Originally they were talking about a cold Saturday and warm Sunday, but by Friday, the Sunday forecast started with freezing rain at daylight to rain all day after 9 am, so I opted for the cooler day to go hunting this weekend. As it turned out, it was alot warmer yesterday than they forecast, and after finding so many nice pockets full of gemmy material, it turned out to be a win-win day all around.
I had set my alarm clock to 6:15 am, figuring to be on the road by 7 and arriving about 9 am, but my fire dept pager went off about 5:30 so I opted to get up then and hit the road a little after 6 am. It was an ems call and our full time crew could handle it just fine. As Missy and I drove over to Mc Donalds to get an egg and sausage biscuit for breakfast, there was a nice full moon coming up in layers of pretty clouds…I shot these on the move so I apologize for the blurriness….
We headed west to Cuba and then south to Eminence, through Viburnum and by all of the Doe Run mines on Hwy KK, TT, and B…a route I prefer to take these days when headed that way because its a straighter road and no tourist traffic to slow you down. As we crossed the Current River bridge on Hwy 106 east of Eminence, the sun was coming up through a thick layer of clouds and I stopped on the bridge to shoot it…..
I arrived at the quarry a few minutes later, meeting no traffic until I climbed the hill just above it, and pulled down into the parking area below the west facing bluffs. It appeared to me that only about thirty feet of sloped loose rock had been removed since Docia and I were there last with my Colorado friend Ian, and a subsequent trip after that as well….
I no sooner had my boots on and laced up, grabbed my mini mattox and bag, and started nosing around, when I spotted this number and took it back to the truck tailgate….chocolate brown poker chip triple….
…I remember thinking, as I walked back over to the loose rocks and began to look for more gems, that this might shape up to be a nice collecting day after all. I walked down the wall to the left first, seeing if I could locate any new pockets in between the ones already found, and while I found a few smaller pockets, they turned out to be shallow and only pulled a crystal or two out of each one. I then moved over to a chunk of solid rock wall, that nosed out a bit, with a crevice separating it from the rest of the wall, a crevice wide enough that a person could easily climb up into it and up between the two walls of separated rock, the nose of rock is seen below to the left of my blue bag….
As I climbed up into the crevice, I came up on the very large boulder that was there the last time, only farther up that crevice the last time I was there, it was even there when Ian was here visiting…the last time I was there though, it harbored several large poker chip crystals, some the size of the one now sitting on my tailgate, and some even larger than that, several that I was unable to pry out of the pile due to that large boulder and some that were attached to it. It was obvious that while it didnt appear that much of the pile had been disturbed and removed since I had last been there, after a close examination of that boulder and the area around it, much of those crystals were gone and removed, some possibly having slipped through a hole under the boulder and slid down the pile to the waiting jaws of the quarry front end loader and taken to the crusher, where their fate was sealed.
I was able to get down and look under and around the boulder this time, and was able to pry and chip a few crystals from the bottom of it as well as pluck a few out of that large hole under it where some crystals were lodging and laying there waiting to be found. I figured that is where the tailgate poker chip had come from as well. There was still a lot of material just sitting above that boulder, that I didnt want to take a chance on dislodging to slide down upon me…there would be no escape from it as there were no areas to jump over to out of the way from it, so I left it alone. I could see a few chips exposed on the right side of the boulder, but no where safe to stand and work them loose from.
By this time of morning, it had warmed up considerably, now likely around 50 degrees, so I removed my coat and placed it back in the truck. I then returned and turned my attention to the wall of the main bluff to my left, and after a little searching, found a few little pockets that I was able to get to and remove a few crystals from, enough to fill one bag anyway. I then moved around to the right side of the nose of rock and began finding smaller single crystals, and even a double crystal, that had rolled down from a pocket above, so I began searching along the left wall of this side…which by the way, was sloped alot less steep and easier to climb as well…..
…right above my blue bag, in the photo above, you can see where I found my first pocket….I was seeing evidence of crystals exposed along that wall…..and began pulling some loose rocks away and OILA…a pocket became exposed…and boy what a pocket it turned out to be !! There were two parts…a top part with a very pretty partially exposed golden brown poker chip laying sideways in it, and the bottom open area of the pocket revealed edges of another golden brown poker chip inside it….…you could only see the crevice shadow above of the bottom pocket, but the next photo shows the golden brown poker chip I saw in the top pocket, just beckoning to me like a lighthouse beacon….
…and the bottom pocket was just as inviting looking….
I decided to work the top pocket first, after bringing my bag up there with me, clearing off a nice level spot for it and placing a couple of towels above it, to set the crystals on it as I pulled them out. One of the very first ones I pulled out was a narrow two inch long piece of gemmy dolomite druse, brown on one end and bright yellow on the other with a poker chip attached, just glistened in the sunlight…I was just dumbfounded as to it`s sheer prettiness, and after looking back in the pocket, I decided I should go grab two more bags, full of wrapping cloths, and really get ready to work that pocket open. I took that gemmy little druse combo back to the truck with me and grabbed two more bags before returning to the pocket.
After pulling a few smaller crystals out, I latched on to that big one in the middle, the golden brown one and boy was it pretty when I got it out in the sunlight finally, had some real sparkly dolomite and calcite druse covering the base of it, just absolutely beautiful…..
Within moments, the pocket was open and more were waiting in the back to be removed as well….
…more like these crystals….
and this one….
…I then turned my attention to the bottom pocket, wanting to try and remove that facepiece first….
but had to remove alot of loose rock around it that was holding it in place….
…and after removing that facepiece, the slab of rock on the left side covering the pocket to protect it, I saw that I wouldnt be able to remove the pretty golden brown chip behind it, the one you see in the photos above, because it was embedded into the rock behind it, and there was no way to get around it and chip it out at all, without damaging it. I opted to leave it in the pocket and then turned my attention back to the top pocket again. After removing a few more crystals from the top pocket, I started working on removing the cluster…tried chipping it out and tried prying it out, but it seemed to be hung up on something bigger behind it, and I couldnt get a good angle in order to chip at it or pry on it, so I opted to leave it as well….
…when you see what all I pulled out of there, later on when I get them all cleaned up…you`ll see it was no problem for me to leave that bottom crystal and top cluster in there and walk away. I started scraping around the face of the rock with my mattox and lo and behold, another pocket opened up about a foot to the right of this one !! At first, I pulled out a few shards of limestone sitting at angles and then behind it, a few chunks of dolomite druse….
…then after clearing them away, I was rewarded with the sight of yet more poker chips nestled in the druse…
..prime and ripe for the plucking…..
…so after cleaning out AMAZING pocket number two, I wrapped up the crystals and took those three bags to the truck, returning with yet another couple of bags and more wrapping cloths, just in case I stumbled upon yet another nice pocket…I was feeling good and lucky by now. I climbed on up the slope, but didnt see anymore crystal signs, so as I was returning to the bottom, I caught a glimpse of some exposed crystals on the side of the rock wall near the base. I decided to scrape and see if anything was loose, and all of a sudden, the rock wall just collapsed inward, exposing dolomite druse and a few poker chips along the upper edges, surrounding a large chunk of rock that was loose on three sides that I could see. I stuck the mini mattox in and pried back on one end of it and it came back to me very easily, so I grabbed both sides of it and pulled it out of the pocket it was protecting, and turned it over to see the pocket side completely covered in sparkly dolomite druse, with some hematite balls mixed in, and three poker chips attached at various spots, one on the top end had a nice partially exposed dogtooth crystal even…it was fabulous looking….
As you can see in the first of these four photos above, this third pocket was in a direct line below the other AMAZING pockets above, and I was about to find out just how AMAZING this pocket was going to turn out to be, surpassing the other two pockets combined !!
I looked inside the pocket after removing the big chunk, and there were poker chips laying around inside it all over the place !!
Or at least, I thought many were single chips, but once I started poking around inside there with my fingers, I soon discovered that many of them were small clusters, and after pulling about ten small clusters out of there….
this large one the first one I pulled out….
….I decided two bags were not going to be enough, so I grabbed the big one and headed to the truck with it, returning with more wrapping cloths and more bags…..so I brought back two more bags stuffed full of wrapping cloths, and wrapped up what I had pulled out so far…..
then reached in and began pulling more crystals and clusters from the third pocket….
….after pulling the crystals out that were showing, I reached back in and saw several laying just out of sight under a thin layer of dirt and rock dust….
…these were clusters in the floor of the pocket near me…and the photo below shows how it looked like at the back edge of the pocket….
….including that gemmy little chip by itself in the middle near the back edge, or at least I thought it was the back edge…..
…but we`ll get to that part of the story in a few minutes….I pulled a couple of druse chunks out, one with a gemmy little crystal attached to the end of it….
…and after about thirty minutes of pulling out crystals and clusters and setting them on the white cloths again, this is what I had accumulated….
…pay close attention to the upper left hand side of the pile above…one of the crystals I pulled out had two small dogtooth crystals embedded in it, almost looked like fangs….
…and a few more of the clusters I pulled out this time as well…
…after wrapping these beauties up and taking that bag to the truck, I returned with another bag, filled with the last of the wrapping cloths I had, and pulled even more clusters out of the pocket….
…including this nice little cluster that had a dogtooth crystal poking out from one side…
It soon became obvious to me that I would have to chip out a couple of bigger clusters …so I retrieved my hammer and chisel from the truck and began lightly tapping and soon removed a couple of nice large clusters as well as a few more small clusters….
…and some druse pieces that appeared to contain some of the red colored dolomite druse I had seen from there before…
…as I was pulling this lasst bigger chunk of crystals out, I looked back into the pocket and saw that the remaining clusters were locked into the floor of the pocket and would require a hammer and chisel to remove the rock holding them in below the floor, so I set about chipping the sideplates and bottom rock plates….
…in doing so, I came upon yet another pocket…and it turned out to be mainly dolomite druse, which often accompanies poker chip pockets or surrounds them….
…after removing that plate above that is plain looking on this side, I could see inside the pocket better…..
…by chipping this side of the rock out, I was able to remove clusters from the left side of the pocket floor, shown in the next photo….
After cleaning out the left side of the pocket, I turned my attention to the large plate at the bottom right side of the pocket. I had scraped out a few plates of dolomite druse on the right side of that large plate and discovered it was hollow in the center spot at the bottom of it, and once I had pried it out, discovered it was pockmarked with little pockets of druse throughout the other side of it….which you can see some at the bottom of it in the next photo….
…and once I removed it, I discovered yet another pocket lurking behind and below it…this one full of nothing but druse plates and chunks, most of them rather drab and not pretty at all…this pocket seemed to tunnel back a bit further into the rock as well, and the further it went, the material was even less appealing. Its been my experience hunting there, that quite the opposite is usually true, the further into the rock you tunnel, the prettier the crystals and plates become…..but not in this case….
I also removed several small and large clusters after removing the large plate….
..including these two centerpieces that were on the center column holding the two sides together….
…by this time, I was fast approaching exhaustment…I took a break, carried two bags over to the truck and grabbed a can of Arizona tea, then grabbed as much wrapping material as I could find, having to utilize walmart bags and old t shirts to finish up my wrapping. I then added those last two bags to the truck, wrapped up the bigger chunks and clusters and placed them in the bed of the truck, loaded Missy and headed north. It was now 2 pm and I had just finished six hours of digging, hammering, and wrapping…I was tired but elated at what I had found, and decided to stop off at Viburnum and check out the new druse spot to see if anything new could be found.
As I was driving north on Hwy TT, passing by the Fletcher Mine, I looked ahead and saw a large column of smoke in the sky, which looked to be up near Viburnum. As I entered the city limits of Viburnum fifteen minutes later, I observed a heavier column of smoke coming up near the airport….
I stopped off at the Viburnum fire station to check on it and see if they were in need of any help…Bill the dispatcher there, told me that it was a few acres on fire and they would have it under control shortly, burning up the hill near the airport runway. I visited with him a few minutes, he is related to one of our firefighters here as well. I then drove over to the druse spot and checked it out, spotted a beach ball sized chunk of smokey colored druse and loaded it up in the truck and then headed home with it. All in all, it had been a very nice day to hunt and I was very happy with my finds.
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