Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Day of Rockhounding

Today Thomas and I joined our friends Diane and John for a day of rockhounding. Last night I got everything together and packed into a backpack and this morning I put together some things for lunch. We arrived at Diane and John's house and loaded up our things into Moby (their Land Crusier) and headed out.

Our first destination was the Harding Mine between Dixon and Penasco. So we headed up Hwy285 - driving through Pojoaque and Espanola and making our way to NM68 to NM75 and then to CR63A to the caretaker's place. To visit this mine you have to fill out a relaease form and notify Mr. Griego. Once the preliminaries were out of the way we could head out to the mine. We made it to the parking area, got our things and headed up the trail to the mine. We stopped at the "purple room" first. This is a shallow cave that is covered with lepidolite - it is purple and white - and really beautiful. Thomas and John spent quite a bit of time searching for rocks there while Diane and I explored a little further up the trail. Mr. Griego showed up and spent some time giving Thomas and John a little lesson on the minerals available in the area. They all eventually joined Diane and I and we all continued on the trail. Mr. Griego showed us were to go to find some calcite. John and I walked up the hill and looked around the area and were able to find a couple of nice pieces. We then returned back down the hill and met Diane and Thomas - they were just looking around the area and collecting a few samples of different types of rocks. I really had trouble keeping up with the different types of rocks but I still had a great time. We did find a medium sized rock that I loved. It was mostly white with some purple and black intertwined on it and it also had some lichen growing on it. It now sits in our garden and is beautiful.

We retruned to the car and then headed toward our next destination. That destination was the Hondo Canyon to look for staurolites (aka Fairy Crosses). But on our way we decided we were hungry and decided to stop off of NM68 and sit near the Rio Grande and have our picnic lunch. We ate and talked and John even took a little walk in the river. We had a nice relaxing time near the river but we also wanted to go and search for staurolites. We packed up our lunch and made our way up NM68 and just a few miles north of Pilar we turned right onto a gravel road. We saw a couple of cars parked just a little ways up the road but we were driving further up the road and closer to the area where you find the crystals. It is about two miles in to a meadow where you can park and then you just have to walk a little ways up the road. The road is quite rough with a few big rocks along the way and you definitely need a 4WD vehicle with pretty high clearance - and Moby fit the bill - it did a great job getting us up the road - as did John and Diane with excellent driving. Anyway, this put us in the Hondo Canyon and right in the area where we could look for crystals. Diane stayed on the path and planted a letterbox while John, Thomas and I went up the hill to look for staurolites. As we made our way up the hillside looking for an area to search Thomas found one right away. We walked around for a little while trying to find the best area but ended up just searching all over the place. We each found quite a few pieces of the 60/120 degree ones (some better than others) but we didn't find any 90/90 degree ones. We stayed in the area for about an hour and then headed out.

On the way back home we decided to stop at Embudo Station for dinner. We had a nice meal and drinks and relaxed and talked about the day. It was a really intersting day and I got to see places that I didn't even know existed. I love exploring and learning new things. Thanks John and Diane for introducing us to some great places here in New Mexico.

2 comments :

John and Diane said...

I love exploring too! Thanks for the fun day, it was great to hang out with you both all day-
D

Gramatrick said...

Rockhounding is one of our favorite things to do. My boys love to explore. We had some great success in New Mexico last summer.

Thanks for sharing the fun.

dewberry