Saturday, June 26, 2010

Butcherknfe Draw and the North Side of Cedar Mountain

The old saying is that only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the desert sun, and I guess Molly, Renita, and I have to be added to the list! We have wanted to return to Butcher Knife Draw and so when the the forecast was for clear skies we decided that today was the day!
Now Butcher Knife Draw is listed as a site for finding crystals of chromium diopside and pyrype crystals and it also is the site of lamprocite dikes, which bring up material from deep in the Earth's mantle,(diamonds), so even though we had visited the site last year we just had to go back.
At least we knew where we were going this year and so the only difficulties were avoiding the heavy ruts in the road and a traffic jam as a herd of cows was being driven by two cowboys and a cowgirl.
The only sensible thing to do when you encounter a cattle drive is to pull over and watch the herd go bye. Molly of course hates cows, unless they are in her food dish, and so she tried her best to cause a stampede. It was neat to watch the herd being driven by and see a cowboy head off a cow and calf that were tring to stray form the herd.
They soon passed and we continued avoiding washouts and the deep ruts left by someone who had traveled this way while the road was muddy. Before long we reached Big Dry Creek and turned onto a four wheel drive road tha parallels the draw.
Now the first place you look is in the ant hills as the ants bring up small gemstones. Last year we had only found one as the Treasure Hunter Show had aired and every ant hill had been carried away by all the treasure seekers, so we had hoped that there would be new hills and a lot more gems.
We had just started up the road when we saw one and then another ant hill. Stopping and inspecting them we were both disappointed in that there were no gems visible and so we drove further north looking at ant pile after ant pile until we found one with several small pyrope crystals.
Now the pyrope crystals were small, as that's what the ants bring up, so the idea is to look away from the ant piles and hopefully find larger gems. Finding several, we were both soon distracted by all the chert nodules.
Black chert, black and yellow banded chert and a deep red chert was everywhere. The difficulty was in finding really good pieces for our collection. I had also wanted to look for a lamprocite volcanic tube, as the materials I had read said they were often blue or green in color, and that they were the source for the gems.
Crossing a ridge I spied two green outcrops and so I went down into the valley. I looked at the lower one and inspected the rock for xenocrysts,(A Xenocryst is a fragment picked up by the molten material and carried to the surface in the eruption), and it appeared that there were numerous small crystals in the rock.
Breaking off a piece I carried it back to the truck and as I neared Renita I could see she had a pile of rocks to add to our collection. Now we do live and travel full time so more rocks always present us with a dilemma, should we actually carry the piece all the way to Texas and the lapidary shop? Looking at her samples and mine we left about half of them on the ridge and saved the coordinates, in case we want to come back.
Leaving the draw we returned down the road stopping and looking for more rocks. Again chert was everywhere and so we made three further stops. At one of the arroyos we found a fairly large piece of gold moss agate. We already have a bunch of gold moss agate but we don't have any from Wyoming and so we kept it as we really want to specialize in Wyoming stones.
Molly had already decided that it was too hot to be in the sun and crawled under he truck while Renita and I picked the differentt washes. Again the chert was everywhere and so we passed up sample after sample, only keeping the best.
Arriving beck at the campsite, my arm had started to swell up from where several ants had attacked me in defense of the home,(I hadn't destroyed them but had just altered them slightly). We both appreciated the air conditioning and it felt good to be back home,(Home of course is wherever we park our fifth wheel), with mor epurope andsome neat japser and agte ofr our winter lapidy hobby. Clear skies

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