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Jayray

Adventurous Weekend complete!

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Howdy Gang,

For sometime now I’ve been wanting to hunt some fossils and recently got interested in wanting to hunt for gemstones as well. I reached out @adam and @bigrex and a HUGE shoutout goes out to them for the info they provided. 

I left out of town on Friday afternoon and headed to Delta, UT. On the recommendations, I decided to try UDig fossils. Granted, it’s a pay to dig site, but my time was somewhat limited and I had a plan for other stuff too. I ended up having a blast, found lots of trilobites, some algae, and plant life. And the best was the other people who had small children shouting and sharing in their excitement when they found something. I only spent a half day there, then heading to the huge dry lake, Sevier Lake. Let’s just say the lake wasn’t dry and that was a bust to look for meteorites.

Next, while heading back to Delta, I headed to Sunstone Knoll to look for sunstone Laboredite. I found quite a few small crystals scattered about but anyone probably could if they looked close enough. Now it was time to head to Topaz, Mountain.

I forgot to mention, in my planning prep, I decided to rough it and sleep in the back of the bed of my truck. I figured the weather was going to be good, so why not, less to carry. Night one was fine, a bit cramped in the bed, but manageable. I am sure your saying, OK, so what about night two. Well, when they say 10% chance of rain in Utah, that means 100%. But I’ll discuss that a bit later.

I arrived at Topaz, MT. around 5:30pm Sat. night. Threw some rock hammers, 3lb sledgehammer, pry bar, chop-sticks, and a screwdriver in my pack and headed out to hit the high areas in the mountain. I was behind the claim area to the left, as their map shows, and figured I’d go higher as most would probably not. After poking around for about three hours I found some small pieces, and a rose colored piece. Nothing whole, but still fun. I met a few others, as it was crammed pack with all kinds of people. 

Night two. Now about that 10% chance of rain. Well, it started to drop-drop but nothing I couldn’t handle around 10:00pm. I settled in the bed of the truck and was lights out about 11:00. Around 2:00am, it started to rain at a steady pace. I recognized it but figured it would let up. By 5:00, my sleeping bag was soaked, but I was still warm and decided to abandon the bed for the cab. I slept in the front seat until about 7:00. The rain finally let up to a drizzle an broke for about an hour. So I was ready to hunt some more. 

This time I went far left of the claim, where others were the night before, and headed up the mountain. Ofcourse, it started to rain some more, so I found a nice cubby outcrop to stay dry. It payed off. There were some vugs, but noting looked promising. Then after poking about, I found an area that was soft, and seemed to have an air pocket. That was the paydirt. I spent the better part of the hour or more using my chopsticks to dig, pry, gouge, and use the tools to extract the topaz. It doesn’t look like much but I’ll take it. I found another in the same outcrop and by mid morning I called it quits as the rain was persistent. 

As I was leaving, I saw in the rock hounding book about Apache Tears at Obsidian Hill. That was the next stop. Apache tears were everywhere and I grabbed quite a few. Directly across the road is Butterscotch Hill, where you can find tumbled jasper stones. I grabbed a few and decide to head out, since now I was wet from all the exploring. 

Overall, a fun and productive weekend, and I accomplished all I set out to do. Here are a few pics of the adventure. 

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Really nice specimens.  Now  time to join a club for more field trips and maybe a faceting machine to work on those crystals.  Cool

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Sounds like you had a really great time and found some terrific specimens. Congrats.

If you ever get a chance, you should go to the Green River formation in Wyoming and hunt for fish fossils. Lots of spectacular fossils have been found in the past.

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Posted (edited)

Bummer about the rain, but you sure made the most of your short time !  Great pictures too .... I tried to drive out on that " dry lake ' to look for meteorites... :grr01:   :tisk-tisk:

Edited by adam
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@pondmn Yeah we have a club in town and I was a member long ago, but may have to get re-acquainted with them again.

@Morlock There was several individuals up there at UDig that have done that and were talking about it and it sounded cool too. Maybe a summer vacation in the works.

@adam It was fun, and the rain was a blessing, as my body was aching from being contorted looking for topaz, digging. Having the right tools is key and getting up higher on the mountain also helps too. Again, Thanks for the info.

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Cool fossils and specimens. :ya:

Sounds like a really great trip. Thanks for sharing.

Tom H.

 

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Nice work Jason! Our adventure was pretty fun too!

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Cool stuff, nice pics. Very nice Asaphiscus Wheeleri trilobite there and neat topaz specimen.

It's amazing that little cinder cone still turns up so much yellow labradorite. I went there once almost 20 years ago.

I also stopped by Lake Sevier once to do a little photography and quickly found out that is was not entirely solid. I think during Spring and this time of year it would be at it's wettest. I was able to carefully go out on to the lake but it was rather muddy with damp salt. In contrast, the narrower salt flats out by Ibex Well are very dry. Great views of the Milky Way out there.

Anyway, glad I was able to pass along a little knowledge of the area, glad you had some success out there. Let me know if you ever make it out there again and I'll try to join you on a Saturday (if you hit the trilobites then.) Fall is a good time, less snakes (at least in the trilobite areas) I've not seen snakes yet at Topaz Mtn, but that does not mean they don't exist there. Still, for the pay place (U-Dig Fossils) I get the impression that Fall is not a good time. I went there one Fall and the guy seemed to behave as if there was not much to find since they do their excavation blasts in the summer. He did not say that, I just inferred that from his body language and since I did not find as much as most people describe.

 

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@bigrex I was able to meet the owner/operator of the State School land. And found out they basically lease the land and provide the information. Not sure where the money goes, as I am sure they get their cut too. Another claim has also started just to the north of UDig. But the paydirt isn’t as good according to the owner. He also mentioned the BLM site and said the same thing, is that there isn’t much there. My truck was ready for the off road per’say trail leading to it, more for a high clearance or atv type vehicle. Maybe in the fall I plan another trip up there to hit some more topaz and other areas where there is Cambrian shale as you mentioned. 

Jason

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Fantastic finds-John

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On 5/30/2018 at 12:35 AM, Jayray said:

@bigrex I was able to meet the owner/operator of the State School land. And found out they basically lease the land and provide the information. Not sure where the money goes, as I am sure they get their cut too. Another claim has also started just to the north of UDig. But the paydirt isn’t as good according to the owner. He also mentioned the BLM site and said the same thing, is that there isn’t much there. My truck was ready for the off road per’say trail leading to it, more for a high clearance or atv type vehicle. Maybe in the fall I plan another trip up there to hit some more topaz and other areas where there is Cambrian shale as you mentioned. 

Jason

What he says is true, you will find much more at the pay place. However, going off to look on your own at least gives you a chance to find a rarer type of trilobite. At the pay place they keep the layers and beds that seem to have rarer specimens roped off from customers. I'm not sure if they actually confiscate specimens if someone were somehow able to finder a rarer species, but it's not likely they will find one anyway. There's one spot I need to revisit where I found the bottom half of a really large one. Unfortunately, I set it down for a moment and then was unable to find it again after looking everywhere at dusk. Still, it was evidence of larger/rarer trilobite species in the area. I tend to try to avoid the black shale myself. Prefer the Marjum Formation and Weeks Formation to the Wheeler Shale. Below is the first trilobite I ever found that I mentioned in some of our correspondence. It's a Modocia Typicalis in tan shale of the Marjum Formation. They aren't that concentrated in that area, but there are some there. Maybe a little more like nuggetshooting in a sense. At the pay place the value of the trilobites will normally run from approx. $5 to $20 vs. $80 to $300+ for rarer specimens.

modocia typicalis utah marjum fm rex.jpg

Edited by bigrex
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