Crystal Peak Field Trip Report
There weren't as many attendees as I expected on this trip. The area north of Lake George is very beautiful and productive, so I expected to see a really good turnout, but only 5 of us from North Jeffco showed up on Saturday morning: David Adel, Tom Miller, Jim Schatzman, Bob Berry and myself. Joining us and the claim owners, Jeff Self and Donna Ware, were 6 others who I believe were from the CMS club.
After meeting at the ranger station in Lake George and waiting about 30 minutes for stragglers to get there, we all caravanned to the mining claim which is just inside the national forest boundary. Instead of setting up camp, which was high on a hill top, we were all excited to start digging so we packed up our tools and water and headed down a little valley for a nice 5-minute hike. We soon saw the dug-up area where we would be digging for the next two days. One pit, which is still being dug by Jeff, was quite large and deep. Jeff said that he has pulled large fluorites out of it, but nothing in the last few days. He told us that there is a seam of pegmatite running in a line between his hole and one to the west which looked almost 50 yards away, so anywhere along that line would be a good place to dig.
Some of the people decided to dig in existing holes, but David and I decided to dig our own holes. We picked a good spot between 2 holes and started digging. We switched holes often since I was using a pick and he was using a shovel. Soon we found a large fluorite cube that had rolled down the hill, but not very far because it's corners are still somewhat sharp. A little later we found another fluorite that wasn't nearly as big as the first. It was about a foot away from the first one and was in the same line as if it had rolled down from the same pocket. After more digging, we didn't find anymore fluorites but we did find some quartz shards and then solid rock below. Thinking that the rock was a "shelf", we continued digging downhill hoping to find the edge of the shelf. We then planned to dig under the shelf and hope for big crystals.
Others were finding smoky quartz shards and points from pockets or from the soil (float). Every once-in-a-while we would hear Jeff talking to someone saying "That's a good one" or "Wow", but I didn't see most of what they were pulling out.
At approximately 4pm, it started to rain heavily and many people decided to go home, including David. (It had been sprinkling for an hour before that.) A few of us stayed in the rain for a little bit but decided to go back to the camp site when the lightning got really bad. After about an hour of waiting in our vehicles, the lightning and rain let up and we went back to digging. I'm glad I did because I soon found a pocket of amazonite. By this time I was about 6 or 7 feet down the slope from where I started. The amazonite is not the best quality - it's got a light green color to it - but some of the crystals are big and have several faces. Jim wasn't having much luck where he was digging, so he came over and we started working together. We dug for a few hours until it started to get dark. The ground was still wet and it was still sprinkling a bit, so we slept in our vehicles instead of setting up tents.
On Sunday, Dave and Kathy Mullen arrived at the ranger station where we had agreed to meet again at 9am. David Adel also came back since he had to stay the night in Denver due to business. When we got back to the claim, we immediately went back to the digging area and saw Jeff and Jim putting up tarps to keep us from getting too wet since it had been raining all morning and there was no break in sight. So we (David, Jim and myself) continued pulling out more amazonite pieces. Dave dug just a few feet to the right of our amazonite pocket but didn't find anything even though he dug down 3 feet. We were all a little surprised because we thought for sure that there would be a continuance of the pocket. Kathy was smart and dug under one of the tarps in an existing hole. I don't know what she found, but she kept dry! Dave and Kathy decided to leave a little early, so the three of us kept digging the amazonite and Jeff continued with his large hole.
In all, we found 2 flats of greenish amazonite, some quartz points, two colorless fluorite cubes, and lots of granite. We created a large hole with a lot of pegmatite still exposed and even a quartz seam a couple feet long, which we hadn't even explored yet. Jeff and Donna are still exploring all of that area, so we didn't fill in the holes. We know there is more in there, especially deeper down.
It was a very fun trip, but unfortunately we had a little too much rain and lightning. Jeff and Donna are very gracious hosts and I hope to dig with them again in the near future, maybe looking for the pocket where those fluorites came from!