Wednesday, March 28, 2012

April 2012 CFMS Field Trip

April 5 – 8, 2012
  • This trip is open to all rockhounds who agree to abide by the AFMS Code of Ethics, the directions of the field trip leader and practice safe rockhounding.
  • Member’s guests may attend, but must sign the Risk and Liability Waiver
  • Call the field trip leader beforehand to sign up and for further information.
  • Remember to wear your name badge and sign in with the field trip leader.
  • A Consent and Assumption of Risk Waiver of Liability form must be signed upon arrival at meeting site..
TRIP LOCATION: Topaz Mt. and Dugway Geode Beds, North West of Delta Utah
Vehicle access & parking rating:
Vehicle access & parking: # 3 at Topaz Mt. & Dugway geode beds. - Good for most vehicles and RV‘s, no specific handicap parking at Topaz Mt. and Dugway geode beds.
Collection or View Site: From a # 3 at the base of the Mt. to a # 7 at the Red Beryl site, ½ mile or more to site, difficult trails and ravines or water crossings. A # 4 at Dugway geode beds, flat ground, unpaved sections, handicap access with some help.
 WHEN: April 5th through April 8th.  This is a repeating site tour; you may show up and leave at any time during these 4 days. See schedule for optimum arrival dates.
 MEMBER'S GUESTS:  This is a public collecting area and anybody may camp and collect at the area concurrent with our activities. Those who choose to make the escorted trip to the Red Beryl site and convoy with us to the Dugway Geode Beds must sign the waiver.
COLLECTION MATERIAL: Topaz Crystals, Bixbite (Red Beryl), Pseudobrookite crystals, Hematite crystals, and Geodes.
 LEADER & CONTACT INFO: Please contact ahead of time: Jim Barton, CFMS-N, Home 916-773-0458, Cell (916) 847-7321, Email
 PROPOSED SCHEDULE: Arrive in Delta, UT or camp at “the entrance to the cove” at Topaz Mt. prior to or on Wednesday, April 4th or any day after.
 1st escorted trip to the Red Beryl and Topaz clusters in the Fluorine Zone (7 on the collection site access scale!), Thursday April 5th at 9 AM from the Camp Site in the Cove. Those not able to make the climb will be directed to Topaz collecting areas at the base of the hill.
 1st convoy to the Dugway geode beds, Friday April 6th, 9 AM from the camp site in the cove.
 Saturday and Sunday, will be the Red Beryl site and geodes respectively at 9 AM at the Entrance to the cove.
 MEET: I will have a red Toyota Tundra with a pop-up camped at a suitable location near the entrance to the “cove” of Topaz Mt. Look for the CFMS North signs at the turn off Hwy 174 and the CFMS North Banner in Blue and Gold on the side of the Camper. There should be plenty of locations in the vicinity for tent, car, and RV camping. Low clearance and large RV’s should consider checking the road into the site carefully prior to committing to the less maintained roads at the entrance to the cove. Use of a tow vehicle is recommended for large RV’s for the last leg into the Red Beryl site and out to Dugway.
 DIRECTIONS TO SITE/CAMP:  General directions are: Catch Highway 50 East from Sacramento or Fallon, Nevada to Ely, NV. Follow 50/6 East from Ely to Delta, UT. Just West of Delta, UT, follow signs to the Intermountain Powerhouse, a coal fired power plant seen on the horizon. Turning onto the road to the powerhouse, you will be following a good paved road for approximately 40 minutes to the entrance to Topaz Mt. Collection Area, a BLM controlled area. I will stake the dirt roads into the site with “CFMS-N”.  Those staying in Delta may wish to meet and convoy together to the “cove”. While it is possible to make the trip from Sacramento in one day, finding the site, camp, and setting up camp in the dark are not easy. I recommend you consider leaving very early, stopping off at the BLM Garnet Hill collecting site just West of Ely, NV and then overnight in Ely. The next day will get you into Delta with time to refuel and take a drive out to the cove camp site and check things out.
 VEHICLE REQ'S: A high clearance or 4x4 vehicle will save some from a hike to the base of the mountain at the red beryl site. 2 wheel drive vehicles should make it to the camp site without problem, and we can shuttle members to the base if enough high clearance vehicles are available at each tour start. Make sure you leave Delta with a full tank of gas if you plan on doing a little exploring or are planning to go to Dugway from the “cove”.
 CAMP/FACILITIES: This camp site is primitive. No services of any kind. If you are going to camp, you will need to be fully self contained and equipped. National lands rules require that you provide for removing human waste from public lands and dispose of in approved public facilities. One solution is to carry heavy duty zip-lock type bags. You should be prepared to demonstrate for a BLM officer that you are in compliance with some manner of human waste containment and disposal.
TOOLS: The matrix at Topaz Mt. is a medium to very hard volcanic rhyolite. Wide and narrow cold chisels, along with a 3 or 4 pound hand sledge are necessary. A standard rock pick and narrow screwdriver are good for carefully removing specimens when located; a coat hanger or a stiff wire with a hook bent on the end also works well. Some of the more serious and energetic collectors are willing to carry heavy full size sledge hammers and pry bars. I would recommend that you have them available at the car or the base of the hill, but take them up only should you find a deposit that would make it necessary or worth hiking down to get them.  Should you uncover a small pipe of loose “floater” topaz clusters, a wire coat hanger with a clean end bent into a ½ inch “L” shape is the most effective tool. Red Beryl (Bixbite), are found with the hand sledge and chisel.  As an effective alternate, using two screens, one 1/4 inch stacked on a one 1/8 inch screen. Screening the rubble and powder will locate crystals that were lost during the use of chisels by previous efforts of rock hounds. You can make a screen set with some device for keeping them together while you shake them, or you can purchase, self stacking, commercial classifiers from a mining shop.
 Digging at Dugway Geode beds would require a standard shovel and garden rake or hand rake, and rock pick.
 Topaz crystals and other specimens are delicate. You may wish to carry a roll of toilet paper and disposable plastic containers to put them in to protect them.
SAFETY CONCERNS: There are scorpions, snakes, and other common desert animals in the area. Common sense should be used when moving rocks or climbing hills. Do not put your hands where you are not sure that it is clear of creatures. The weather should be cool, and the snakes and scorpions should be at a minimum. This is not a resort! The mountain is in a constant state of erosion and wasting. Rubble and boulders are everywhere. You must be very aware of those climbing or working up hill from you and be prepared at any moment to heed their warnings regarding falling rock or rubble. In turn, you must be very aware of those below you and not cause wasting or rock slides. Those working in proximity to each other must be aware that there will be some amount of rock and dust that will eventually fall on you. You should exercise the option to move if you feel threatened or annoyed by the activity of other rock hounds. Due to the potential for danger, we will not be escorting young people under 18 years of age into the Red Beryl area.
 Rhyolite dust is primarily silica dust and it would be wise to bring a dust mask if screening material.
CLIMATE/WEATHER: The weather at Topaz Mt. is rarely perfect! The average high in April is 65 degrees, with an average low of 33. The record high is 89 and record low is 12.  I strongly recommend that you install the weather channel site on your computer. Check the weather for Delta, UT starting 10 days out, selecting the 10 day forecast.  Check the weather each day until you leave so as to not get caught across the desert in extreme weather. You may need to alter your arrival or departure date depending on the weather. Bring firewood for the communal or individual campfires which are usually permitted and sometimes necessary!
CLOTHING: Weather forecasts will dictate the necessary clothing.  The rock and rubble nature of the site would suggest that you wear full pants and full covering shoes. A brim hat would help with bright sunlight reflecting off of the white rhyolite. Layering would help with the change of temperature as the day goes from cool mornings to hot afternoons.  Gloves are a very good idea, especially when digging.

OTHER REMARKS: If you do not contact the leader with phone and cell phone numbers, I will not be able to update you if conditions, schedules, or access changes at the sites.  While there is estimated to be 10,000 years of crystal deposits available at this site at the current rate of digging, there are no guarantees that you will actually dig one or 200 of any of these specimens. There is at least one RV Park in Delta, and quite a few hotel/motels.  If you accept the challenge to climb 500-600 feet up the side of the hill to the red beryl zone, you will want to bring plenty of water and food to maximize the day there. You will not want to hike down for lunch!
There are several productive areas closer to the base of the hill for those who are not prepared to scale the mountain. Clear crystals are fairly abundant in the washes and ravines.  The champagne colored topaz crystals here are “color centers” and if left in bright light or heated, will turn clear.  For those who want to do some serious digging at this site, I will recommend the following paperback book:  "A FIELD GUIDE TO TOPAZ AND ASSOCIATED MINERALS OF THE THOMAS RANGE, (TOPAZ MOUNTAIN)," Volume 1; By John Holfert, Walter Mroch, and Jeremy Fuller; HM Publishing,
This book is inexpensive, but absolutely the best resource on tools, minerals, sites, maps and photos of the mountain. Last year the book was available in the local rock shop in Delta.
We will be using Family Radio Service Radios (FRS) on channel 10, no tone code (or code 0) If you arrive during the day, you may attempt to contact me on the hillside on the FRS radio. Cell service works somewhat for the camping site, but don’t rely on it as an absolute (last year Verizon worked and AT&T didn’t until close to the Powerhouse/Delta). There is cell service in Delta.
 FEES: There are no fees for these sites.