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October McCoy Mountains Field Trip

posted Oct 20, 2010, 11:13 PM by ShadowMountain Gem&MineralSociety

    As we readied for our day of rockhounding at five-O'dark in the morning, every compass point of the horizon was flashing bright bursts of lightning. Without any moon or stars, it only made the night darker between the strikes. I could smell the rain and ozone in the breeze and hoped to be able to drive out from under the storm. I hadn't driven five miles before the thunderstorm hit so hard you would think the truck was underwater, wipers unable to help. Like all desert thundershowers this one had it's hard edges and as fast as we drove into it, ten minutes later we drove out from under it. The view east was spectacular as we headed for sunrise.

    We met up with the other members of the Shadow Mountain Gem & Mineral Society at the Valero gas station at the Mesa Drive exit. A beautiful desert morning with a blue sky and white fluffy clouds off around the far mountains. Soon we were all headed north on Black Creek road for our first stop to see the Blythe Kokopelli & Cicimitl Intaglios or Geoglyphs. Some say they appeared in the 1990s and some say they're ancient. We noticed a lack of desert varnish on the rocks around the edges as if someone had turned them over not to many years ago. This area is in the middle of the many controversies surrounding the building of the Solar Millennium Blythe Energy Project. We, as Rockhounds will lose parts of the Pebble Terrace north of the 10 and possibly access to the bajadas on the east side of the McCoy Mountains.

    Desert Rockhounding means traveling slowly over rarely if ever maintained dirt, sand or rocky roads to far off hidden collecting sites where the minerals are found. This area is and always will be as rugged as beautiful. The landscape is jagged and craggy and harsh on city people but rockhounds seek out such places. When the Jeeps, Toyota Cruisers and other 4X4s can't go any further, we hike up and over the washes to our almost secret collecting site. The place where Goethite Cubes aka Limonite aka Pseudomorph after Pyrite can be found as big as golfballs.

    Soon everyone is loosely arrayed across the same steep hillside, standing almost motionless with their heads bowed forward or bent at the waist, staring with fixed looks, keen eyes, focused on the rocky ground. Voices began to pop to life "I found one" and "I got another" as our group traverses the slope. The allotted time passed in the warm desert sun and we tore ourselves away from the mountain slope, back to where we had left our vehicles. The next collecting site was a flat dark desert pavement, some of us took the opportunity to hydrate or rest and have lunch. After a bit Dean called out that he had found a polished piece of petrified wood, the planted prize of the day had been found. A humorous tradition of out society, to salt a site with a prize to be discovered. Then next to the last collecting location was the Pebble Terrace for fossils to fill the Date Fair Rock Bags. All vehicles and all rockhounds made it back to the blacktop without incident or mishap. Last stop for the day in this part of the desert is always the fondest for some members, the ice cream shop stop, everyone went home with a smile.