A Thanksgiving Collecting Trip

by Karen Dawes

Lithosphere (February 1994); Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society, Inc.; Fallbrook, CA

During Thanksgiving week, Mike and I went rock hunting with friends and former club members Ken and Elaine Nelsen. We had told the Nelsens of our previous trips to the Providence Mountains and they wanted to explore the area also. We camped at Pax's in Cadiz (Motto: "It never rains in Cadiz, but when it does, it's only at night.").

The first day, we took a nearby road to a really great area for collecting. There were many specimens to find including hematite, garnets, chrysocolla, and green epidote shot through with hematite. While we were there a wild goat grazed in a nearby wash, keeping an eye on us at all times.

The next day, we went to a Cambrian fossil area we had not visited before. Mike and Ken explored some diggings that we could see from the road and found a wonderful shale of red algae superimposed with dendrites. Mike found a beautiful piece measuring 12 x 7 inches. On a second trip to the diggings, Mike and I went back over really rough, very sharp, rock infested terrain. Mike went back to the shale while I picked up as much girvanilla algae fossils as I could carry. We gingerly picked our way back to the trucks with our treasures.

Day three found us at the Vulcan Mine dumps. There are too many rocks and minerals at the Vulcan Mine to list. We were mainly interested in finding pyrite. Elaine and I found tiny salt-sized pyrites on serpentine and calcite. Ken made the find of the day with a cluster of perfect 1/4-inch pyrite crystals on matrix. Very nice!

The Nelsens had to leave but not before we visited the Kelso Depot. Built in 1923 by Union Pacific, it was closed in 1985 and donated to the BLM in 1991. This wonderful building will be the visitor center for the East Mojave Scenic Area.

On day four, Mike and I hunted for trilobites south of the highway. We found our way back to the area and climbed to the shelf of shale. I found it too difficult to dig and so contented myself by breaking pieces already down. Eventually, I found a trilobite. I sat on the Cambrian shale and gazed down at the tiny 550 million year old creature and tried to imagine what its world was like, but the image was flat like a museum display. What did it smell like? What did the air and sun feel like? Meanwhile, around the fossil ledge, Mike had found some very nice trilobites and a chelicerate (we think).

The next day was Thanksgiving and we moved on to Chemehuevi campground. It's on Lake Havasu. At night the lights from Havasu City reflect in the water and sparkle like thousands of jewels. We wanted to get blue agate from the Blue Danube claim which is owned by the Needles Club. Unfortunately, we could not get permission because of liability, so we searched nearby washes finding enough pieces to tumble.

Day six, we were back out on the desert in an area we had never been before. Mike went off in one direction and I went in another. I wasn't finding much when I spotted a perfect little chalcedony rose about two inches across. I could hardly breathe! (Yes, I know you can buy one for a dollar at any rock show, but in all my years of tramping across the desert, I had never found one.) Back at the truck Mike told me he had seen about twenty wild burros. We walked to the wash and seven were still there.

We had a great trip and brought back several boxes of rocks for the Volunteers.

Copyright © 1994 by Fallbrook Gem and Mineral Society, Inc.

The preceding article was originally published in the February 1994 issue of Lithosphere, the official bulletin of the Fallbrook [California] Gem and Mineral Society, Inc; Richard Busch (Editor).

Permission to reproduce and distribute this material, in whole or in part, for non-commercial purposes, is hereby granted provided the sense or meaning of the material is not changed and the author's notice of copyright is retained.

Last updated: 18 September 2002