Colorado Collecting Trip 2008!
By Scott Kleine, Great Basin Minerals

16 Sept 08- Kevin Dixon and Chuck Borland prepare for the hike up to Adam Sotomayor's
Fluorite Claim, near Lake George, Teller County, Colorado.  At about 9,000 feet in elevation, it will make most people huff and puff as they climb-
Chuck's ready to go!
Up we go!
Friends Adam, Caleb and Lisa checking out Kevin's Pit-

Lake George,
looking south-

Lisa and I dug a big hole in
the quest for amazonite-
Caleb was fighting a debilitating case of Altitude Sickness and had to lay low...
We dug and dug, but found just a few partial amazonite crystals-

Mount Antero
Chaffee County, Colorado-

17 Sept 08-

Sunrise, on our way to ANTERO!!!

Even an hour away it is easy to see this Goliath 14,269 foot tall peak!
A little closer view of Antero.  It is amazing to think that in just a few hours we will be collecting near its peak!
This says it all!
What an amazingly beautiful place!
Today, Kevin Dixon and I were invited by Steve Broncato to his claims on Antero.  Here, Steve and Adam Sotomayor got out to stretch their legs, while Kevin and I (in our own separate vehicle) took pix of the
changing colors of
the Fall Aspens!
Up, up, up, above the trees, above the treacherous switch backs we go!
   Thousands of feet above the tree line we approach the claims.  In this pic, Mount White lays in the background as we near an elevation
of 13,000 feet!
Here is Mount Antero in all of it's might!  Up, up, up the amazingly steep talus
slopes we go!  Heading
towards the famous
Subway Pocket!!!
Steep, treacherous boulder debris slides and unstable cliffs define Antero's slopes!
Currently, this excavated void measures about 7 meters deep and 3 meters wide!  And, it is still going!!!  Steve Brancato, Clay Hudson and Adam Sotomayor have been steadily working
(and zealously guarding) this pocket on Steve's claim for years!
The ends of enormous 30cm-wide, possibly meter-long, 100kg smokies and smaller feldspar crystals can be seen in the continuing floor pocket mud!  
What a MONSTER pocket!

After a nice pocket tour, I had to get back to a spot that I helped find that showed in-situ Aquamarine!  As we were all heading up the face of the mountain, I spotted an odd piece of pegmatite with a cluster of Biotite mica books and quartz.  Amazingly, there were also several 3 to 6mm gem blue Aquamarines, along with bits of lichen!  Steve thought that a recent rock fall could have dislodged it from the lower portion of the pocket that still showed in the wall, exposing both pieces.  For the rest of the day, I pounded the heck out of this Aqua-bearing outcrop and found 2 more, intact pockets containing blue treasure!
Here's the other side of the pocket, still attached to the bedrock.  One small 3mm gem blue Aqua could be seen on this piece-
After moving several hefty rocks with prybars, hammers and chisels, I exposed this new clay-filled pocket!
The Aquas had so much mud on them as they came out, they were impossible to see without extra scrutiny of every tiny piece from the pocket-
I even started to see some decent smokies, before the pocket pooped out.  I have always wanted to find and collecting an intact pocket of Mount Antero Aquas!
Here's the base of the pocket, showing a smear of blue beryl to the upper right-
The payoff!
Gemmy Blue Antero Aquamarine!

18 Sept 08

Today, we drove back up the Antero Grade and went over to Mount White, where our good friends Quentin and Anita were working their claim for Phenakite and Aquamarine.  I wasn't able to shoot any pix this day, but I can tell you that it was very steep and even snowed on us for a few hours with some classic bolts of too-close-for-comfort Snow Lightning! 

19 Sept 08-

Today Kevin Dixon and I went to the Dreamtime mine to go collecting with Quentin and Anita!  At Quintin's active minesite, a juicy-looking, but relatively barren pegmatite played with our emotions, as we pounded on it for hours with no results!

Towards the center of the dig, Quentin was working on a pocket containing fine black clay and partial fluorite crystals!  To the left, under the arrow, is where the pegmatite dike continued.  This is where we decided to start the days work with the equipment-
Quentin carefully digs into the wall of the trench with his backhoe-

And BOOM!!!  This new work opens an AWESOME pocket!!!  Quentin stopped at the perfect time and not a single crystal was damaged or seen in the dump!  This pegmatite shows classic pocket structure, with a 10cm-thick lens of hollow graphic granite extending along the edges, separating the exterior granite from the more coarse and loose, inner pocket material itself.  Quentin was his typical, very generous self and let me jump in and start the recovery of this pocket!

Pocket Time!
This was my first really good Smoky Quartz from the big pocket, a perfect double-terminated gem measuring 10cm!!!
Then this incredible specimen came out next!  This 12cm floater Smoky Quartz cathedral has a light green Amazonite near the bottom left!!!
Don't even think for a second that this pocket is over and done with!
That's no wall rock by my finger!  Guess what
I found next?!
A delighted Quentin holds this GIANT and AWESOME, 20cm long, double-terminated and bent Smoky Quartz Crystal! With a very fair deal and a congratulatory handshake from Quentin,
I added it to my collection!
A gorgeous gem Smoky Quartz on Feldspar matrix and a
very nice plate of light green Amazonite from the big pocket-
Then Kevin Dixon, with his "I'm a Pirate" shirt on, gave that
pocket some buccaneer pioneering!
Later, towards the back end of this 1.0x0.5x0.3-meter pegmatite pocket was its BIGGEST surprise!!!
Back in the pocket again, I was carefully removing shattered Quartz shards and smaller Smokies with a wooden tool, when a MONSTROUS 26x8cm Smoky Quartz Crystal came into view!  As I carefully removed it from the pocket a greater gift began to unfold.  If finding this giant Smoky wasn't enough, piece by piece, an amazing jigsaw puzzle began to form!  Quentin and I diligently reassembled 5 separate pieces from the pocket, with the end result being this TOTALLY AMAZING Smoky Quartz Cluster measuring 32x18x8cm!!!  Only the lower backside portions of the specimen show any kind of matrix contacts!  This superb cluster is now the centerpiece of my Colorado Quartz collection!
As soon as I hopped out of the pocket, Quentin's friend Justin jumped in and found this very cool interpenetrating-twinned Fluorite cube!

20 Sept 08-

Another day, another incredible pocket, right behind the big one from yesterday!  This time, it's Kevin Dixon's turn to pull out a DREAMtime specimen!

A 4cm Fluorite cube can be seen near the monstrous 25cm Smoky Quartz cluster!  Kevin prepares for the extraction!
Come to Papa!
No surprise, the Fluorite didn't fit on the Smoky cluster, but both specimens are still
truly amazing!

The giant gemmy smokies are perfect and double-terminated!  The Fluorite cube is perfect!

Kevin Says "WOW"!!!

Of course, Kevin had to go home with both of these beauties, and deservedly so!

Congratulations Kevin!!!

21 Sept 08-

Today was our last day to go collecting and Kevin and I wanted to make the best of our remaining time!  First we went up Adam's Hill to get Kevin's collecting tools and say Hi to Francisco and Mindy Ray Sotomayor!  They were busy working their favorite pit in search of amazing RED Fluorites!

Francisco busy
digging away!
Here's Kevin in his mine pit.  He's also on the path of some great mineral zones of Smoky Quartz, Feldspar, and of course Fluorite, Fluorite and more Fluorite!

Then we went over to see Quentin and Anita at the Dreamtime Mine-
Pushing the unusually barren pegmatite back into the wall-
Going, Going, almost gone...
Quentin checks out the new exposure, while Kevin gets down and dirty-
Justin found this very cool 7cm blue-green Fluorite cube!

Quentin finds a very nice Fluorite!

A superb 4cm Carlsbad Twin and a excellent 5cm Bavino Twinned
Perthite (Orthoclase/Albite mix) Feldspar that I
collected from the same pocket!

I also scored a killer 10cm gem Smoky Quartz group, along with an unusually well-formed 6cm Biotite Mica crystal!

We pounded on that pit until hardly any more Pegmatite showed!

The next day, I hopped in the car and drove the 1130 miles to get home, thinking just how great this collecting trip was the entire way!

Colorado is Cool!

A great variety of specimens that I collected and got to
take home from the Dreamtime mine, Teller County, Colorado!

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