Spruce Grove 1998 Trip Report
by Bob Loeffler

Pictures!

Attendees: John and Linda Mottes and their two sons; Melanie Hood and her son, Grant; Dr. Dana Wilson and his son; Jeff Lines; Bob Loeffler

Most of us met on that Saturday morning around 9:00am. The Mottes' and Hood's camped there the night before, so they were already tearing down their tents (since they wouldn't be staying Saturday night) when I got there. The Wilson's, who drove all the way from Grand Lake, CO, arrived a few minutes later. After a few minutes of explaining where we were going, and waiting for any latecomers, we headed up to the areas above the old Moore claim which is on one of the ridges that comes down from South Tarryall Peak.

The hike was long -- approximately a mile and a half -- but it wasn't steep. We took several water breaks on the way up since the temperature was heating up. After 3/4 of the way there, the leader (myself) got a little confused. A short time later, during which time we explored other beautiful scenery, we found the correct path to the area above the Moore claim. These areas may have been part of the Moore claim; I really don't know. Since most of the group was new to collecting topaz in the Spruce Grove area, I informed them of the most common way of looking for the topaz -- screening the dirt and gravel around large rocks. I probably didn't even have to tell anyone since there were holes everywhere.

So, the adults started to either screen or surface collect, and the kids did a little of that and also explored and played. I found a shady spot under a tree near some large rocks and began digging and screening. Last year I found 4 small pieces of clear topaz on the surface in this area, but this day I didn't have any luck.

After a while, I thought I would go and explore like the kids. Found lots of nice trees, large rocks, many holes and a couple small, clear quartz points, but no topaz. In the afternoon as the sun was pounding down on us (the temperature reached approximately 85 degrees F that day), we all decided to pack it up and head back on the long, but scenic, hike to the campground. We got back to the bridge that is right next to the campground and some of our group waded into the rushing river. As we were sitting there, a few other rockhounds crossed the bridge carrying their finds. These rockhounds were digging in other areas, so we hadn't seen them where we were. One of them, John, showed us some nice smokey quartz points and pieces of topaz. One of the topaz pieces was an inch and a half long, but it was broken so only a few faces were showing. He told us that if we were here the next morning, he would show us a good place.

The next day, John arrived at my campsite so we went to where he had been the day before. Since no one besides myself stayed overnight, it was just the two of us. He showed me several possible prospects along the way. The place where we finally settled on was one of the Colorado Springs claims (I think). After two hours of sifting, John had found some more pieces of topaz and some smokey points. I had found a few smokies and I was starting to get hot. At 11:30am I went back down to the campground to meet Jeff Lines and refill my water bottle. Jeff had told me a couple days earlier that he couldn't be there until noon on Sunday because he would be coming from Steamboat Springs. Jeff and I talked for a little while and waited for anyone else to arrive since one other member said that she may be coming around noon also. No one else showed up, so away we went.

I took Jeff back to where John and I were digging. After an hour, John was getting ready to end the day and told us that we could dig in the hole that was producing the topaz specimens, so of course Jeff and I thanked him and jumped at the chance. We are glad we did! Both of us found two nice pieces of topaz each after just an hour! Once again, the warm weather and fatigue (I didn't get much sleep thinking about the whopper topaz crystals that are out there waiting to be found) was getting to me so I decided to call it a day. Jeff was also a little tired, so we both packed it up and went back to our cars.

Although this field trip wasn't as productive as trips in the past, we all still had a lot of fun learning about the area and its minerals, taking in the scenery and socializing. I guess you could call it just another nice rockhounding weekend in Colorado's mountains.