February Surprise

Last Sunday, with nothing to better to do, I decided to drive down to the secret spot and see what I could find. I realize what that statement will provoke in the minds of those who know me well and have seen inside and outside my home, with all my rock gardens….their thoughts will most likely be in the line of…what else do you need…which makes me chuckle. Truth be told, though, I found myself with nothing to do and so I decided to drive down and even if I found nothing at all, I could at least just look around the new clay dig area and perhaps find some nice druse plates to take down to Tina at the BE Clement Mineral Museum in Marion, Kentucky. Tina seems to like Missouri druse plates as much as Docia and I do.  Docia decided she needed to cut more firewood for her new Hardy stove last weekend so she stayed home and took care of that instead.

Missy and I had a nice breakfast with Mom and Dad and several friends at Du Kum Inn, and then headed down to the secret spot. As we drove into the upper area, I discovered heavy rock dumped on a section of the roadway that has seen some mild erosion in the past year, and then graded and tamped down.

02 Entrance Rd Heavily Rocked


We parked and got and decided to walk down the newly rocked road and see if I could spot any poker chips or druse and poker chip combo pieces in the mix…as it was, after walking down one side and back up the other, I did see some damaged poker chips and druse pieces, and figured there was only one spot that could have produced all this rock, but I wasn`t sure if it came from material already removed from the lower area or was fresh material. I looked across the upper area to the far side, but couldnt see the pile that used to be over there. However, there was no way that all of this material came from that one small pile either. I decided to drive on over to the far side and see what could be found over there…there had been some nice big stuff over there last year and if the work crews had reduced that pile, there was a chance I could find some nice stuff there now.

It took me a while to get over there…even though the heavy rock had been tamped down by something heavy, most likely a bulldozer, it was still quite a rough ride across there, and even as I was moving along at a one mile per hour crawl, I still managed to hit bottom a few times on some rocks sticking up a little higher than I had thought they were.  When I finally reached the other side and looked back, this is what it looked like…

04 Rocked to South Side


It was across this now rough stretch of road, that Docia and I used to stop and find plates of druse on both sides, eroding out of the roadway and sand, but now it will be a while most likely, before we are able to find anything eroding out now…the heavy rock covers not only the top of the roadway but is also on both sides a few feet too.

I parked about midway down the pile and found it to be reduced down about halfway on one side….

05 South Side Pile Almost Gone


….I removed my hammer and mini mattox from the truck and walked up into the pile and started looking around, the first nice one I found was this beautiful yellow bubbly druse plate…..

09 Yellow Druse Found South Side


…and just a few minutes later, located a few nice sized small boulders covered with druse and poker chips. The druse on these smaller boulders were large quarter inch size quartz crystals of a bright gray color that just dazzled in the strong sunlight. I picked up about half a dozen smaller pieces that had obviously broke off something bigger when dumped in the pile last year….a few minutes later, I found the big boulder that they were broke off of, finding a few vugs with similar druse in the vugs. There were also a few poker chips on the medium sized boulder with druse that I decided to take home with me.


As I placed the medium sized boulder in my truck, I looked up and saw a new area where the work crews were obviously removing some clay dirt from a hilltop just east of my location…and I immediately thought of calling Docia to let her know, but I dont have a signal out there half the time, so figured I would just let her know later.

While it was obvious that there were a ways up access it, I decided not to try it out…one of the access roads was a stretch of the same heavy rock I had just driven slowly across and I didnt really want to go through that again so soon, and the other route to take was through soft sand, which I figured I could go through going down hill but the trip coming back up hill might be a different story. While I have faith in my good tires and four wheel drive, my truck doesnt sit all that high and one has to know their limitations. Besides, I really wanted to get on down to the lower area and see what more I could find in the pockets and druse plates. I took the new lower road down to the main road and continued on down to the lower area.



I drove down the steep hill and rounded the corner, and had quite a surprise waiting for me….

11 New Blast Pile


..finding a two story high pile of rock blasted down from the east and south side walls, and off to the right side, you can see where they went in and removed some of that rock for the entrance road in the upper area. Now we have two new areas to search through in addition to the other areas there. Wow, I was really excited now.

I let Missy out and she wandered over to the pile faster than I did, to check things out, finding out rather quickly that the pile of new rock was now covering up one of her favorite places where she normally stretches out and waits on me to finish….

12 Missy Checks Out New Blast Pile


…I decided to walk down to the other end and pulled out a few bags along with my rock hammer, hand rake, and mini mattox……as it was, I didn`t even get twenty feet from the truck and looked down at the floor, which had been graded again, and all of the pockets we had previously found in weeks past, were all covered up and filled in once again, and I spotted some signs of calcite, an obvious sign of a pocket nearby. Now I had to make a decision and while I was being influenced by the new blast pile to get up on it and check it out, I was also faced with obvious signs of a sure thing right at my feet….I chose the sure thing at my feet and knelt down and started digging in…rewarded shortly with a few poker chip crystals….

15 New Pocket Found



…now I know what some of you are thinking….are you crazy ?? you have a brand new blast pile right in front of you and you are going to sit there and dig for some pockets in the floor ???? have you lost your mind ???

I have to admit, I had those same thoughts, but my reasoning to myself was, the fact that we haven`t had a blast pile in so long to climb up  and look around on, and have had to adapt to the other possible locations, namely the pockets, that they have just about become a sure thing to find crystals in…and not knowing how recent this rock was blasted down, and not having had any rain or snow lately, I knew it might be quite dirty and dusty up there and be hard to find anything nice. Prob lame excuses to some of you but with that, I decided to at least walk along the bottom of the blast pile and see if anything could be found.  I stopped digging and walked over about midway on the pile and started walking down toward the tapered end of it….scanning the slanted slopes for any signs of poker chips or druse. I didn`t see anything in the pile slope, but at the floor level, a few signs of calcite again caught my eye, as well as obvious ledges, so I stopped and once again dug down into the floor area, albeit this time closer to the pile, and within moments, found another pocket with promise….

16 Second Pocket Found

…you can see the ledge on the left up above and in the next photo as well, where within just a few minutes of digging down, I located a couple of nice poker chip crystals. My only worry at this point, was that I might merely be relocating a pocket that we had already found….

17 Second Pocket Producing Crystals


..but a few minutes later, crystals started popping up in the mix all over the place in front of me, so I was fairly sure then, that I had found a new pocket……and here are a few nicer crystals that popped up that turned out to be fairly large and pretty….

19 Crystals In the Mix


…and some plates that included druse and poker chips both….

20 Initial Crystals 2nd Pocket


Here is a photo of the initial ledge, and if you look close under it, you can see crystals popping up in the mix and what appears to be a pocket under the ledge, opening up as well…

21 Ledge Found


…and the next photo shows the initial ledge in the upper right hand corner, and another ledge uncovered on the left side, as well as defined bluffs on the lower side of the photo….…and alot of crystals in between as well as plates and combos, including this nice combo that I turned over just below those first ledges….

23 Huge Chip Plate Turned Over


…and you can see the hole it came from right there…it was quite a nice surprise as I turned it over….it was a BEAUTY !!!!

24 Nice Chip Plate


After I pulled it out, it opened up a few more nice little pockets of crystals and plates too….

25 Pocket Opens Up


…which produced even more crystals for my growing pile….

26 PIle of Chips So Far


…I was pulling more and more combo plates out and crystals too, that were covered in permafrost…it was cold today but not as cold as the day before…I had wanted to go both days but everyone convinced me not to go the day before when the wind chills were down around freezing…the next photo shows a combo plate with the permafrost showing…

27 Frozen Chip Plate Found


…while there today, the temps warmed up to nearly forty and I didn`t notice the wind too much…I normally don`t when I start finding pockets full of crystals though.

28 Another Chip Plate Found


The pocket kept expanding, even though it was slow going,  since everything was semi frozen down below….

29 Pocket Keeps Expanding


…and then the pocket took a turn and started moving back toward where I was sitting….and a nice yellow poker chip turned up as well….

32 Another Crystal Up Close



…and then the pocket turned again after I cleaned it out under me and turned toward the pile of crystals….

33 Pockets Move Under Pile


Well after cleaning out the crystals and plates, I decided to take a break and stretch my legs a bit, so I grabbed another bag and headed up the blast pile from the lower north end. As I suspected, the area up on top was covered with dirt and a thick layer of dust, making it tough to find anything laying around…I found a couple of chunks of solid green calcite and that was about all. I walked over to the east wall and found a few pockets and pulled a few pure white poker chips out of them…as I was making my way back to the edge of the pile to climb back down, I discovered a nice big plate of bubbly druse and some big poker chip crystals laying in between the bubbles. It took about everything I had to carry it down to the truck, but even with dust covering it, it sure looked pretty.

After climbing back down, I went back to the pockets and found a few more, but didnt have my camera with me so I`ll take some photos of the nice combos that I found after I get them cleaned up.

Two Sundays In A Row…

We had so much fun finding pockets last Sunday, the 22nd, we decided to try it again on the 29th and scored again big time. We started a little earlier this time, arriving at 10 am and immediately began finding crystals and pockets. Docia decided to take it easier this time, and brought her own chair for the long day ahead…..

01 Docia Taking It Easy

….she began digging down where she thought she was spotting potential pieces of calcite laying around while I decided to work a pocket from the week before and see if I could find more crystals and pockets branching off from the other pockets and trenches…

02 I Started Here

….we both had success in finding more pockets. I found several nice new poker chip crystals, several singles and some twins and triples even, including some larger singles and some small combo plates.…a few minutes later, I dug down in one spot and bumped into a large plate of rock that was in my way, so I turned it over to find a very pretty gray bubbly druse plate with large yellow poker chip crystals all over it….

04 Nice Combo Right Away

….I was now one happy camper….and this one cleaned up very nicely as well….I kept on digging and the pockets kept on expanding….

05 Pocket Begins To Form

….so I started raking out the dirt and rocks away from the area I was in, to see how much more I could find and the pocket just kept on expanding even more….I started finding pockets of crystals about five and six feet away….

06 Checking Older Pockets

…and the next thing I knew, a hole opened up, there to the left of my mini mattox up above..…hoping I had hit another subterranean cavern full of crystals…but not convinced of it due to the rocks and gravel I was pulling out of the hole above…these were plain old ordinary rocks and gravel, no crystals or even pieces of calcite coming out….and as it was, turned out to be a drill hole instead.

Docia in the meantime, called out and said she was starting to find plates of bubbly druse in her pocket, which is always a good sign for us that we are in the near vicinity of a good pocket….

08 Docia Finds Druse Plate

…and showed me what her first pocket turned out to be…another drill hole, just like mine.

I continued to work on expanding my pockets around the drill hole I had, and found quite a few larger crystals and a few small clusters popping up out of them….

10 Expanding My Pocket

 ….and then my pocket started deepening and I saw more roof plates emerging as well….

12 Pocket Deepens

…so I worked that pocket for about the next hour, pulling more plates and some nice crystals out, then decided I needed to find the hole pocket and see what I could pull out of it, since I hadn`t done much with it since I found it. I took a break and then walked over to where I thought it was located, and began walking in circles…Docia asked me if I had lost something and I said, yes, the hole pocket..I cant find it now….after looking around a bit, she said it looked like the heavy machinery had been there again and moved things around. We noticed that alot of the heavy boulders had been moved from one side of the walls to the other side now….which freed up some areas for us to search again but in the process they had apparently covered up my hole pocket too !

After a few minutes though, I found the spot and started to uncover it again, and discovered that the machinery had actually done me a few favors, breaking up some of the heavy rock on top that covered it up, so now I had some nice druse plates to go with the crystals that I would soon be pulling from it as well.

13 And Expands More

So after clearing away alot of the excess dirt and rock, I again found the opening on the north end and began exploring to the south to find the other side of it and found some other areas opening up as well…

14 Relocating Hole Pocket

…here are some of the smaller pieces of the roof plate that the machinery knocked loose for me…

15 Plates Removed By Dozer

…and here are the first few nice plates of druse and a nice combo that I pulled from the dirt on the left side of the re-exposed opening….

16 First Combo Pulled Out

…I started working the area to the right of the opening, to lengthen the pocket line and see how far it would expand to the right again, and also started working an area moving toward me from the mouth of the opening that was showing alot of potential in terms of exposed calcite, with the hand rake….

17 Main Pocket Relocated

…and as I did so, the foreground area deepened and another small hole opened up…wasn`t sure if this was going to be a new pocket or a back entrance to the major hole pocket, since I could reach into the hole pocket and reach around to my left at a 90 degree angle….

18 Another Pocket or Back Entrance

…I took a break and checked on Docia to see how she was doing and she told me her pocket was expanding quite a bit, she had reached in up to her shoulders and still couldn`t reach the back of the pocket, she had dug out the length of her legs and hadn`t reached the back of it yet either, and she showed me that it had widened out at the mouth of it this far….

19 Docia`s Pocket Now This Big

…so I decided to take a break and stretch my legs and walk over to see how her pocket looked now….

20 Docia`s Pocket Keeps Expanding

…and see how many nice crystals she had pulled out of it so far….

21 Docia`s Initial Crystals

…I walked back over to my pockets and took an overall photo of the progress I had made so far…the relocated hole pocket opening in the bottom right hand corner, and the expanding pockets moving to the left and around the backside even….

22 Crystals Pulled From Around Hole


…I was pulling crystals galore out of both areas and then I started working on the right expansion of the hole pocket as well, finding even more of a bluff line of druse hanging upside down with poker chips attacked to them and another pocket opening up on the right side of the bluff line too.

24 Expanding Hole to Right


After working the right side a bit, I decided to work on the hole opening on the left and see if I could get some of the druse roof plates down without too much damage to the poker chips attached to them…always more difficult when the thickness of the rock is so great and you have to use a sledge hammer and chisel to knock them loose…chances are the poker chips are going to knock loose as well and fall off, or there is a chance the whole thing could fall to the floor of the pocket and damage crystals on the bottom floor or cause damage to the crystals when they strike the other crystals on the way down….I stuffed a couple of blue bags inside and under the roof plates to minimize any damage and then set about hammering the roof plates out…

26 Bringing Down The Roof


…as I suspected they would, they came down in several pieces, but I was able to salvage some nice combos despite how it looks above…

27 Combo Roof Plate


…and one in particular came out with several poker chips attached to it just fine, with minimal damage, so I was very happy to see that….

28 Me With 1 of Nicer Roof Plates


…I set my camera down in the pocket and activated the flash to give you an idea of what remained inside it…..

29 Inside the Hole Pocket


…and the next photo shows the progress I have made since then, with the hole pocket now expanded with the removal of the roof plates and some of the crystals and plates up on top piled up….

30 Roof Plates and Crystals


…and a couple more of the roof plates that came out with little damage….

32 Combos From Roof


…I took another break and then while moving around, found yet another spot with some potential showing, not far behind the hole pocket and started digging down and raking back the rocks and dirt until I exposed another ledge…..

33 3rd Pocket Found


…and after cleaning out the hole pocket a bit more, I started working on the ledge pocket…

33 3rd Pocket Found


…for some reason, I didn`t photograph that ledge plate after pulling it up…either it wasn`t pretty or I just forgot….but underneath it and off to either side, I found three more pockets chock full of crystals…

35 3rd Pocket Expands

36 Crystals Popping Up

Well the next thing you know, this pocket is moving to the right and to the left on me, by way of a small trench, and I was pulling both small plates and large crystals out right and left in the trenches and in both of these small pockets, and they were tightly packed in there, too.

38 Pocket Expands Into 3


The next 2 photos show a few of the crystals and a combo plate,  coming out of here…

41 Crystals From Last Pockets


42 Combo Found in Last Pockets



…while the next photo shows me working my way down the trench which widened out almost into a ditch line and shows crystals just hanging around in the mix of dirt and rock, like taters in a big pot of stew just waiting to be plucked out…

43 Crystals In the Mix


…and here are a few of those crystals after I pulled them out of the stew mix….

44 Crystals From Pockets


..and as you can see, the trench started forming bluff sides, plates of druse and chips hanging upside down, or just druse plates, and there were chips all over the place underneath and in between them as well….

45 Crystals All Over


…one of those plates turned out to be this nice cluster combo of poker chips all over a small area of druse….

46 A Nice Cluster


…as well as a few other nice large plates of druse or druse and poker chip combos, as well as some nice large poker chip crystals alone…and this nice combo of druse and poker chips was the next one to pop out along the sides of the pocket trench….I usually find these plates as part of the roofline of a pocket, but in this case they were lining the sides of this trench filled with crystals and plates. I wasnt complaining at all, I was having way too much fun pulling them out and admiring them as they seemed to be coming out of their without damage for once…

48 Another Nice Combo

…there was much fun in the hunt as I often hear about…and soon after, I popped out yet another nice cluster.…and soon enough, the trench led to this last pocket of crystals and bluff plates….


50 Crystals Up Close


53 Crystals In the Mix


…where I found this nice little palm sized guy…

54 Nice Cluster Found Last


…and here the pocket ended with this haul of nice crystals and plates….

51 Crystals Plates and Clusters


…all in all, a very nice day and just as I arrived home, I pulled off the highway and snapped this beautiful sunset….

55 Nice Sunset End of Day


…perfect ending to a great day of collecting…

56 Nice Sunset End of Day