Book Cliffs and Yellow Cat Field Trips Report
April 18-21, 2008

by Ron Knoshaug

April certainly seems like a good time to have a field trip to the Book Cliffs and Yellow Cat. The temperature high was in the 60s with no rain and very few bugs. One problem was the high winds on Saturday and Sunday. Judy and I arrived in Grand Junction early Thursday evening, ate dinner, and retired early for a big day of prospecting for barite on Friday. We went to the same area that we found a nodule full of barite the previous fall. Luck was not with us and the nodule only contained calcite. The Beamers (Don and Gail) and Sharon Perry arrived sometime Friday mid-morning and headed to their favorite area to search for some hard to find barite. That evening we met Kevin and KC Larson and Bob Loeffler, who would like to head out with us Saturday morning for the digging area. Saturday morning at 8:15, we all headed for the barite area along with Lloyd and Pat Ferguson and Rose Reynolds and friend Jack. By the time Judy and I and Balou (the trusty dog) were ready for our hike into the nodule area (were slow getting our gear together), Bob was already high on a ridge looking for a buried nodule. Once we gained a ridge, we saw Don, Gail, and Sam (mineral-hunting dog) and Sharon already digging of in a distance. Over another ridge, we ran into Tom Miller in a large hole. Finally, we found a likely nodule to explore and started to break though the shale outer rim of the nodule. By now it was time to head back to Grand Junction to meet the rest of the members of the field trip. Back in town, I was met by members of the CMS club: Demon Runyon, Nichole Robillard and friends from Grand Junction, Fred Swanson, Rick Blackwell, and Chris Dillenbeck; Vicki and Bruce Moore of the NJGMC; and John Daly of RAMS. As I was headed back out to the dig area, I was hoping Judy had hit some nice barite. This did not happen. During the day, some barite was found under very windy conditions and many of our group left by about 3:00 pm. Since it was a tough morning, I took a noon nap in the warm sun and out of the fierce wind, awaiting for Judy to yell she had found a museum-sized barite specimen. Finding none, we called it a day and headed back to take a nice warm shower and to relax. Sunday morning was again cool and the forecast called a red flag day in the Book Cliffs. Saturday, Rose had started a nodule which showed great promise to be barite-rich, but since she was not going to dig Sunday, offered the nodule to Judy and I to explore. She drew a map of its location and explained how to find it. After some searching we found the nodule with the letters JK written in stone at its edge. It started out barite-rich, but like many nodules soon became barite-poor and calcite-rich. By 3 pm Judy and I were done and headed for Yellow-Cat, Utah to hunt for wood, cycads, and cones. As we headed out, we met Chris who showed us a couple nice barite specimens he had found. As Don and Gail were leaving for the day, they went to the nodule Sharon was digging. Sharon was in a calcite-rich area and at the last hour, hit an area which produced barite. She pulled out a great barite specimen, clear termination with wide base, showing some root-beer color at the base. Need to see this specimen again. Judy and I drove to Yellow Cat, set up camp, and tried to stay out of the wind. Usually the snow-capped La Sal Mountains are visible from the camp-site. However, due to high winds and dry conditions, the atmosphere was full of dust.