Scouting Trip, October 23, 2014

posted Nov 11, 2014, 3:18 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

Scouting Trip, October 23, 2014

This was the first trip for our newly established Scouting Committee. We chose the area of Kramer Junction to explore.

It took us about 2 ½ hours to get there, but we were not disappointed.  The area is vast, and there seems to be an endless amount of opalite in a wide range of colors, and red and yellow moss, much of it showing inclusions of fossilized stems and roots.

The Committee has determined that this would be an excellent place for the Shadow Mountain Gem and Mineral Society to schedule a field trip very soon.


Submitted by:  Barbara Catlin

With great sadness, we announce the passing..

posted Jun 4, 2014, 3:24 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

The passing of Richard Catlin   5/19/2014

As I write this I am very saddened to have to report the passing of Richard Catlin. We have all lost a very loved member of the club. Richard has been a member for more than 40 years. He has held many positions. Board member, news letter editor, trip leader and joke teller, sometimes telling a joke more than once but always getting a laugh. In all the years I have known him, I never heard him ever say anything bad about anyone. He was a kind and gentle soul, loved by all.

A few days ago when I spoke to Barbara, who is being very strong at this time, she told me she had a talk with Richard after his passing and told him she was mad at him for leaving before her. She explained she married him because he was younger and she wanted to go first! Well Richard i’m mad at you too.

We will all miss you and your sense of humor, jokes and words of wisdom. so i will close with these words.

The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good!

May god put you in charge of joke telling and if you are on the board of directors in heaven, save me a seat.

A celebration of life gathering is going to be on June 17th, Richards birthday, at Dar and Marge's house, from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.  Any questions please call me at 760-219-4388.

Darlene Bjork, 

President, Shadow Mountain Gem & Mineral Society.

Wrightwood, May 17, 2014

posted Jun 4, 2014, 3:15 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

Another beautiful Saturday for a rockhounding field trip. This time we headed for the mountains, the weather is getting warm on the desert valley floor. Our last trip before our summer vacation and the destination is Wrightwood, Ca. 

We went looking for Serpentine, the state rock and my favorite, Actinolite. First stop as always was Jensen's Market for goodies and a adventure pass. That taken care of, we drove up the winding road to where the Serpentine busts out of the mountain side. Easy pickens, we found what we came for and the view was just spectacular. Next, back down to the creek bed for Actinolite. It takes a bit to adjust your eyesight to spot this mineral among all the other rocks, but once you do, they jump out at you. I don't believe anyone left empty handed and everyone left happy.

On the way home, we stopped to see our good friends at the open house party held in their NEW clubhouse for the San Gorgonio Mineral & Gem Society. A wonderful hotdog lunch with all the fixings and chili too! 

This was a three society outing with the Hi-Desert Rockhounds joining the Shadow Mountain G&M Society while visiting the San Gorgonio Mineral & Gem Society.

Submitted by,

Roger Thompson

Photo Credit,

Darlene Bjork

2014 Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival

posted Mar 14, 2014, 9:53 AM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety   [ updated Mar 14, 2014, 9:56 AM ]

The  Shadow mountain Gem and Mineral Society afternoon crew in the Demonstration Booth at the Riverside County Fair and national Date Festival, consisting of Don Donley, "the geode slicer," Cristina Donley, Esta Baskin and Linda Layman, "the educators," on 2/22/2014, providing information about rock bags, petrified wood and floating rocks to both young and old.  You can see a small slice of Don’s back in Esta’s picture!


Submitted by:

Linda Layman and

Barbara Catlin

Ocotillo Wells Field Trip 1-21-2014

posted Jan 22, 2014, 4:40 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

       Twelve of us left the T/A in Coachella in 3 vehicles.  A short way down Hwy 86 South, Darlene radioed us to pull over; her Jeep was giving her trouble.  Darlene decided to park the Jeep and deal with it on the return trip. So now we had twelve people in TWO vehicles!  A little crowded, but still legal.

Everything went well for the rest of the way to the collecting sites.

      The State Park Service has now limited us to designated routes in the Eastern area of this Park.  We were able to stop in two locations and collect sufficient material without having to walk too many miles.  Thankfully the weather was beautiful so no one got overheated. 

      The Desert Lillies and other wildflowers were blooming, which was a lovely added benefit to our trip! 

      Now for the bad news!  We stopped at Darlene’s Jeep on the way home, only to discover that some not nice person or persons had stolen the battery and had taken some other items of value.  We all waited while Darlene telephoned for a tow truck.  Darlene and Marge assured us that the tow truck would arrive shortly, and that we should proceed without them, which we did.  It was an unhappy conclusion to an otherwise lovely trip!

      After we had been home for a while, we telephoned Darlene, and I am happy to report that she and Marge and the Jeep all arrived at the mechanic’s location, and home safely. 

Submitted by:

Barbara Catlin

Photo credit to Linda Layman.


posted Dec 23, 2013, 10:15 AM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

                                        CHRISTMAS PARTY – DECEMBER 7, 2013

        We met at noon at The Home Town Buffet in Palm Desert, each bringing a nice rock or hobby related gift for the gift exchange.  After we had all eaten more than we should have, I suspect, the gifts were delivered!  That was when the fun began, trying to figure out who gave which gift, so they could be properly thanked.  What a delightful time of sharing! 

      Outside, it was a cool, cloudy, rainy day.  But inside, with our group of 29, there was a lot of warmth and love! 


      Submitted by Barbara Catlin

Salton Sea & the Bertram Mine, Dec 14,2013

posted Dec 23, 2013, 10:03 AM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

                                                         Field Trip Report – December 14, 2013

                                                     Red Hill at Salton Sea, and the Bertram Mine

      A beautiful clear day with a bit of a breeze!  We gathered and cleaned lots of Pumice at the Red Hill, and even found some pretty good Obsidian. 

All 15 of us gathered Pumice, but Darlene and Marge did all the work washing and seeing if it would float for the youngsters at the Date Festival.

      There were no mishaps traveling to Bertram Siding on the Union Pacific Railroad, and taking Range Road toward the Bertram Mine for the wonderful, elusive Glauberites. 

I guess they are not so elusive, if you find the right spot to dig. Note the photo of Lance and Paula Gillespie with the monster glauberite dug by Paula! 

We all got pretty dusty here with the earth being very dry and the breeze blowing the dirt back in our faces as we were digging! None the less, it was lots of fun, and very exciting to find a pretty glauberite.

       It’s not a complete trip without a stop for refreshments, which most of us did, at the T/A restaurant in Coachella, called “The Fork in the Road.” A very satisfying end for another satisfying field trip.

Submitted by Barbara Catlin

Vidal Junction Field Trip – November 19, 2013

posted Dec 6, 2013, 4:47 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety


   This was a close to perfect day for collecting chalcedony at one of our frequently visited locations East of Milepost 19, on US Hwy 95, North of Vidal Junction.  No wind, moderate temps and slightly overcast skies kept the sun from shining directly in the drivers’ eyes.

     15 SMGMS members plus 2 guests, and 4 members from the Pasadena Lapidary Society made up our complement of 21 eager rockhounders traveling in seven 4 X 4 vehicles.  Although the trail was a bit rough from September rains, it was carefully and successfully navigated and led by Richard and Barbara Catlin.

     4 different areas were chosen for collecting chalcedony.  They all offered an abundance of material from the smallest desert roses to the larger pieces with characteristic streaks of iron and lighter material that could be used for slabbing and cabochon making.

    This was a very successful trip and one of our longer ventures.  From the T & A departure point on I-10 to the collecting area and back, the distance was measured to be exactly 251 miles, well worth the time and distance.

     Submitted by:  Mac Jones

Actually, there were 8 vehicles!

Red Canyon Field Trip – Saturday, November 9th 2013

posted Dec 6, 2013, 4:33 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

Some of us remember Snoopy in the Peanuts cartoon beginning his writings with “It was a dark and stormy night”. This field trip did not start “dark and stormy”. More to the point, Saturday began with perfect weather for rockhounding in the Red Canyon area and it ended with success and perfect weather. No wind, moderate temps in the mid 70s, and brilliant sunshine. However, it wasn’t the weather that caused many of us to think about reevaluating the location for this field trip. Read on!

Barbara and Richard Catlin were scheduled to lead this most interesting and scenic field trip but problems with a water heater and plumbing caused them to back out at the last minute. Fred Kalmar ably led the group of 9 vehicles into the “wilderness”, starting off from our usual location at the T & A stop on I-10 at 0700. Climbing up I-10 directly into the sun presented a bit of a challenge for visibility but we all ended up at Chiriaco Summit in time to take the exit, leave I-10 and begin the “off road” portion towards the collecting area for fluorite (flourospar). Both names are used for this mineral composed of fluorine and calcium. The mineral has an important function in the chemical, metallurgical and ceramic processes. But enough of that. We were interested in just collecting pieces for inclusion in our rock bags to be sold at the Riverside County Fair in February.

Arriving at the collecting site, after a rather rough road full of dips , dives, and hills carved by summer rains that managed to make the journey somewhat more “interesting” and slower, we parked and walked up a gentle wash to a higher area to collect our treasures. Around 20 in our group managed to come up with hundreds of suitable pieces for the rock bags. Some larger specimens were also collected by digging into the partially eroded side areas just slightly above the trail in the wash. One lady in our group fell into a sharp rocky patch and did some damage to her lower leg. She commented that she

should have listened to the suggestion for not wearing shorts. Even though the weather was fairly warm, long pants are very much in order for just that kind of protection from rocks and thorny bushes.

While we were waiting for everyone to return to our vehicles and carry on to the next collecting area, we observed another 9 or 10 car caravan passing on the same route we had just taken and carrying on towards Red Canyon. This turned out later to be very fortunate for us to not be the only group in that area. Read on!

The next portion of the road, which was more of a goat track than a road, was unfortunately more rutted, gouged, narrow and terrain challenging than the last one had been. We were to lose some 1500 feet in altitude along what I estimated to be about 8 miles. This took considerably longer than usual because of the difficult terrain. Did global warming have any influence on this trail deterioration? Possibly, because of the heavy rains over the summer. This trail is not kept graded or improved by BLM or water board personnel, resulting in changes to its “driveability” becoming the norm. In short, it was a “rough and rocky” road!

Our first casualty of sorts happened to me. My normal 4 wheel drive vehicle that usually climbs up and down trails such as this suddenly lost its traction. After stopping and getting out to check the vehicle for damage, a flat tire was unfortunately found to be the cause of the problem. We all worked as a well coordinated crew to get the spare, jack up the vehicle, take off the flat tire and replace it with the spare which unfortunately was quite flat. Remember the vehicle cavalcade that passed us at the collecting area for fluorospar? That group stopped down the road, and we passed them only to now stop their progress with the flat tire. This flat tire was now the spare. We needed a compressor and quick! Fortunately, one of the vehicles in the other group had one and we filled the spare tire with air after about 5-6 minutes.

After this near unfortunate event (I fall short of calling it a near tragedy), we continued on down the Red Canyon trail towards a large wash. Scenery was quite spectacular. Vistas of the surrounding mountain ranges in all directions were clearly visible. The “road” did not improve, in fact in some areas it worsened and caused some of the vehicles in our group to become stranded due to heavy sand and difficulty handling the tight turns required in order to stay on the trail. That was handled with proper tow material, patience and a resolve to be a bit more diligent. However, that change in attitude did not help. We continued to have stuck vehicles one more time before we finally encountered the end of our vertical drop, only to encounter more loose sand and a different driving challenge.

We managed to find the canyon where we were to collect bloodstone, a mineral whose official name is heliotrope. Heliotrope is a form of chalcedony, the classic form of which is dark green with red inclusions of iron oxide or red jasper. If the inclusions are yellow, the mineral is given the name “plasma”. Once again, we had to walk a bit to get to the collecting area and the mineral came in rather heavy rock formations which were difficult to carry without resting many times to change hands if carrying the mineral in a pail or bucket. Next time I resolve to use a back pack.

After about 11⁄2 hours in this very scenic and interesting location we decided that we would now begin the journey back to I-10. Although there is another way out, we took parts of the Bradshaw Trail to the North which for some distance parallels the old railroad track, not in use for many years now. There is an alternate route to get out of this very sandy canyon road, and that is to the Southwest to Highway 111 near the Salton Sea. However, being more familiar with the road to the North we advanced on that one. The road unfortunately turned out to be much more soft sand than usual and there were at least 2 occasions where some of our cavalcade took the wrong

turn and became lost. All roads looked the same and there were many tracks. If the speed of travel was not kept up, some of our vehicles became stranded once again and had to be hauled out of their location with tows from Fred and others who were equipped for such situations.

Many of our problems were caused by drivers not keeping the car behind in view. That became more difficult due to the amount of dust being raised but the need to keep the speed up in the soft sand. Not all of our vehicles were as well equipped as some to navigate through this “muck”. However, when we come to any fork in the road, we are supposed to stop and ensure all vehicles are there so that no wrong turns are made. Had we followed that one simple rule, we would not have lost that much time turning back and looking for the “lost”. We lost a lot of time waiting for vehicles to catch up or back track in order to find the right road. So much time was lost, in fact, that there was no time left for stopping at Chiriaco Summit for our usual ice cream treat. And THAT was the real tragedy of the trip!

All in all, even though we experienced a road and trail that was probably the toughest road the club had ever encountered, we did enjoy success and ended up with sufficient fluorite to fill the rock bags along with bloodstone that could be sawed and made into attractive cabs.

There is an old adage which goes something like this: “It’s a poor day when you don’t learn something, even when you get old(er)”. Here is some of what I learned and I will change my approach to reflect this on the next rockhound field trip.

1. Ensure that the radio has fresh batteries. Communication was difficult at times due to low power in the radios.

2. Make sure your spare tire is inflated and in good shape. 3. Carry a tire inflation device that can run off the car

battery. 4. Keep the vehicle behind in sight at ALL times.

5. If there is a need for speed, such as in soft sand, brief everyone on this prior to getting into this so that we all are aware of this requirement.

6. Always wait at the fork in the road for all vehicles to catch up.

7. Keep a tow rope as part of your equipment. 8. Watch speed on the tougher parts of the terrain.

Sometimes you have to go slower to protect your vehicle, and THAT is what damaged my tire – too much speed trying to keep up.

The above list is in addition to the usual list which deals with water, clothing, food, etc. We are often in areas that are not very friendly to anyone who has to overnight or wait for assistance. Better to be prepared for any eventuality than to hope for the best.

Mac Jones

Yuha Basin Field Trip, October 22, 2013

posted Nov 11, 2013, 4:00 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The weather was perfect! 

We found enough fossil shells to go with our Educational Rock Sample bags! The added bonus to our rock hunting was

finding some very nice calcite dog tooth crystals! 

Sometimes there has to be a bad side: Darlene's Jeep had mechanical problems, but she was able to drive it back to Interstate 8 and call AAA,

which covered for a tow back to her mechanic in Cathedral City,so it wasn't so bad after all! 

Submitted by Barbara Catlin

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