The photo of a typical Crystal Peak dig near Lake George, Colo., shows how common it is to dig along tree roots in pursuit of pockets of amazonite and smoky quartz crystals. The reason? Tree roots seek the path of least resistance and often are able to penetrate into the voids and spaces of the pockets and mineralized seams in the harder granite. Notice however, how crumbly the granite is here, at least on the surface. The smoky quartz taken from here was mostly grade B, although some of decent size, up to 6" long. However, there were numerous single small amazonites taken from here varying in places from light colored to very dark, some with selective stripes (see 1st amazonite photo). Very little of the material was in groups or clusters. There was also some very unusual purple cubo-octahedral fluorites found here which unfortunately do not photograph very well. Most of the best crystal groups taken from the Pike's Peak granite are dug from pits 6 to 12 feet deep, below the "frost line". Some productive land is private property, some is national forest, but there are many active mining claims in the forest, and finding a good collecting area can be difficult and confusing.
A nice pocket of deep-colored amazonite crystals up to 3 inches, found at the Crystal Park/Specimen Rock collecting area on Pike's Peak. Notice the pile of crystals at the upper left, completely covered with the typical red pocket "mud" or clay. The clay is a disintegration product of feldspars, the red color due to hematitic iron. This clay and iron stain will not wash off completely in water and detergent. It must be removed by heating inoxalic or other acids which have an affinity for iron, and as such must be done observing certain precautions for safety reasons.
The Devil's Head Mt. area is another smoky quartz, microcline feldspar, and topaz collecting area in the Pike's Peak granite. It is in the front range and about halfway between Colorado Springs and Denver.
A large smoky quartz crystal taken from a huge pocket at Ken Gochenour's Black and Blue Claim at Harris Park a couple of years ago. It measures approximately one foot long and 8 inches wide and is part gemmy. Crystals taken from this pocket tended to be complex growths and were quite gemmy. Microcline was minor and pure white. Some odd cleavelandite was also found.
Some pictures from the base camp and dig at the Black and Blue Claim. Note the large smokies and microclines in the pocket found in August, 1996. The pocket wasn't as large as the one found two years earlier a few feet away, but did contain several nice large smokies and huge pale amazonites. The pocket was "dry" and the amazonite partly cleaved, but crystals over one foot long were found. Owner Ken Gochenour has a number of years experience mining tourmalines and beryls in southern California, and recently opened up a quartz scepter claim atHallelujah Jct., NV.
|Buena Vista Gem Works|
P.O Box 476, Buena Vista, Colorado 81211