Topaz Mtn., Utah 1998 Trip Report
by Bob Loeffler

Pictures!

Attendees: Eldon Hunewell, Bob Loeffler, Moyra Lyne, Mary Salpas, Julie and Terrance Yee

I met up with Eldon Hunewell (our trip leader) and Moyra Lyne at their camp site in the "Cove" a little before the scheduled meeting time on Saturday morning. I was a little tired from the long drive the day before (9 hours alone in a truck isn't exactly a party!), but I was very excited since this was my first trip to Topaz Mt. I could hear those sherry topaz and red beryls calling my name, so I was eager to get started. We waited a little while to see if anyone else would show up and along came the Yees. Julie and Terrance, who were also hearing the cries of those waiting-to-be-found specimens, arrived with their two dogs. After a few minutes of re-acquainting (they moved to California six months ago), we headed to the Cove's east wall. Unfortunately, we never saw Mary Salpas during the trip. I later heard that she was there and did do some collecting. Hope she found some goodies!

After a short but steep climb, Eldon showed us what to look for: small bubbles in the 'foamy' rhyolite. After finding an area of rhyolite that had some bubbles, he told us to stick a screwdriver or any long, thin metal rod into the bubble and carefully probe around in it. Then, if we hit a hard object, it may very well be a topaz crystal. I think we all found some nice, although small, topaz specimens. We also met a gentleman and his son, John and Kasey, respectively, on the mountain. Both of them live between Topaz Mt. and Salt Lake City, so they were seasoned veterans of the Topaz Mt. experience.

In the late afternoon, after many hours of probing for topaz in the late spring warmth of the high Utah desert, we went back to our camp and the Yees went back to theirs (which was outside the Cove). Eldon told Moyra and I about an extinct volcano to the northeast that had garnets, so we headed out to that site even though we only had another two hours of sunlight. When we got there, we were greeted by several high school teens who were having a party (ie. loud music, ATVs and pellet guns). We decided to be gracious and not crash their party and just go about looking for garnets. Before long, Moyra found the first of many garnets. These garnets had weathered out of their host rock and tumbled (or were washed) down the slopes, ending up on the surface of the caldera which is now level with the surrounding terrain. We all found some garnets, the largest one being approximately 1 inch across that was found by, who else, Moyra. She has a knack for finding the good stuff! Sunset was quickly arriving, so we returned to camp. After show'n'tell and dinner, we called it a night.

The next morning (Sunday), Eldon took Moyra and I to find geodes at the Dugway Geode Beds location. Along the way, we joined the Yees at a previously designated meeting place and then continued on to the geode beds. Because of rain the night before (and a little that morning), the clay and dirt at the geode site was very sticky, thus clinging to our boots. We stayed there for a couple hours and, after finding several nice geodes that we quickly broke open, the Yees and I decided to head to a bixbyite site that we passed by on our way to collect geodes. Eldon loves geodes, so he and Moyra stayed and looked for more.

Neither the Yees nor I knew exactly where the bixbyite site was, so we roamed around trying to follow the directions that were explained to us. The bad news was that we never found the site. The good news was that we did find some small hematite pseudomorphs after garnet and Terrance found some small cubes of bixbyite. A couple of the hematite pseudos that I found had many small bixbyite cubes on them, although they really can't be enjoyed without a magnifying glass.

Next, I took Julie and Terrance to the extinct volcano to find garnets since they weren't with us on the garnet side-trip the day before. Thankfully, more garnets were found! The Yees left with a handful of garnets between the two of them. We were getting tired, so back to camp we went. When I got back to camp, I saw some beautiful bixbyites that Moyra and Eldon had found. After staying at the geode beds for a while longer, they looked for and found the bixbyite site that we couldn't find. I think a couple of the bixbyite cubes were between 1 and 2cm. Eldon was going to stay in Delta for the night, so he left around sunset.

On Monday morning, we (Moyra, Julie, Terrance and myself) decided to check out the west wall of the Cove. We all headed towards the topaz and red beryl areas. After more climbing and breaking apart many chunks of rhyolite, I found 2 small red beryl crystals. Even though they aren't as nice as the red beryls from the Wah Wah Mts, I was still very happy with my finds. By this time, Terrance had climbed even higher and was out of my sight. I could still see Julie and I think she mentioned that she had found some topaz crystals. I could see Moyra collecting a little higher and to the south of where I was, but I'm not sure of how successful she was that day. Kasey told me that he had found a bunch of red beryls so far and I later found out that his father found 15 pieces of the red stuff. Very impressive!

Well, I knew that there was a long trip ahead of me since I had to get back to Denver by Tuesday morning (gotta make a living, ya know!), so I came down the mountain and started packing things up around 11:00am. Just as I was about to leave, Eldon arrived after spending the night in Delta. I think he was planning on heading up the west wall (from where I just came down), so I wished him luck and said goodbye to the mountain, "Until next year, Topaz Mt.!"

All in all, we had a great time and found some pretty nice specimens for our collections. Our combined efforts netted: topaz, bixbyite, red beryl, garnets, geodes and hematite pseudomorphs after garnet. Of course, part of the fun is the adventure itself and sharing the experience with others who enjoy this fantastic hobby of rockhounding. We hope to see more of you next year!