Sunday, November 1, 2009
The hike started from the day parking lot and quickly turned into a bit of an uphill slog. We passed the Jasper Trail turnoff, as we had decided to hike and rockhound along the Thunder Egg Trail, named for the type of geodes found here. The trail quickly began to turn into smaller trails where people had headed up the mountain and I choose one which seemed a little less traveled.
Now there has been tens of thousands of rockhound before us so we had no great illusions but the optimist inside us both had drawn us here and we began our scanning of the mountain side.
Rockhound State Park is located just outside of Deming, New Mexico. It's located in the Little Florida and Florida Mountains,(pronounced flo rita)). Its basically a rhyolite outcrop of volcanic origin and contains vugs, or cavities, which have been filled with crystals of jasper, opal, chalcedony, and lots of perlite.
Anyway I started up the mountain side and quickly forget everything else until I turned around and saw Renita far below. She was searching for rocks and we had a good view of each other so I continued to climb up the scree slope heading for some outcrops.
I had to wind my way through large groups of cactus, both prickly pear and barrel, and stopped to admire a great specimen of my favorite barrel cactus, called Fishook Cactus.
There was jasper everywhere,red and pink and some white. I found a small piece of chalcedony, but no opals. The climb became a little steeper and I stopped to make sure that the return path wasn't too steep, as the thought of slipping and plunging into a cactus patch wasn't terribly appealing.
Renita became smaller and smaller as I continued up, finally reaching the outcrop. It was a solid mass of rhyolite intertwined with jasper and filled with chert. In other words it was harder than heck and my hammer simply bounced off of it!
Deciding to continue looking among loose rocks I found some more perlite, my pockets were now bulging with the stuff. I looked at my watch, wanting to continue up the slope, but it was almost lunch time and I had the lunch in my daypack. That was ok and so I headed down as Renita stood and waited, her sack filled with a lot of rocks for me to look through!
We ate lunch at the picnic area and another fullltimer stopped and visited with us telling us of all the opal that had been found last year. I had just about walked over the area they were mining, and we could see the white scar quite easily from where we we resting.
The day hadn't brought any great discoveries, but we had a lot of perlite to play with,(perlite is a black obsidian like mineral which has a high water content). There was a display of some that had been polished and so I had more rocks to grind into smaller rocks and rock dust. We were both happy.
We checked out the campground and the sites were huge. Many had water and electricity and they all had a great view of the surrounding countryside. A place that would meet our needs and definitely a place to return to. It had been an enjoyable day and we would return here again. Clear skies