Hi mineral friends!
For our next adventure, we will visit the classic rockhounding locations, the Crystal Peak near Big Pine on Saturday, Dec 9, 2023, and Haystack near Lone Pine on Sunday, Dec 10.
On both days, we will meet at 10 AM to let the cold mountain air warm up for collecting comfort and let the people driving all morning arrive on time. On Saturday, the 10th, we will meet at 10 AM in Big Pine. The parking lot is near the Bristlecone Pine information stand at the intersection of US-395 and CA-168. Here are the GPS coordinates of the meeting place: 37°10’22.4″N 118°17’22.7″W (36.61194,-117.98111). The Google Maps link: https://maps.app.goo.gl/3g26ByKBedgHAJfF8
It’s 255 miles from Pasadena, so the driving time is just over 4 hours. However, lane closures due to construction on Fwy 14 in Lancaster can cause delays, so check the traffic before leaving. Taking Fwy 210, I-15, and US-395 is also a potential alternate route.
If you’re late, keep going northeast on CA-168, past the Westgard Pass, into Deep Spring Valley to the Crystal Peak turnoff at these coordinates: 37°21’51.3″N 118°00’24.3″W, https://maps.app.goo.gl/AJVjxTzzj76VyBm28. Open the makeshift barbwire gate and follow the dirt road until you get to the cars parked next to the hill. Just remember to close (rewire) the gate behind you.
The dirt road is flat, just dusty. City cars will make it without issues; no 4WD or high clearance is necessary. The hill is full of quartz veins, mostly milky and massive, but there are also clear crystals. Decades of rockhounding removed the most accessible material, but plenty remains. Some crystal bunches have crystals over 5-7 cm, sometimes with pyrite cubes altered to goethite over 1 cm in size. The side of the hill is littered with pieces weathered out of the veins that can be collected with little climbing. Finding the best crystals, however, will require some climbing to the veins and breaking them out of the rock. So, bring your heavier hammers and chisels for that. See the Mindat location for more info: https://www.mindat.org/loc-189260.html.
For the second part of the trip, we will meet on Sunday at 10 AM east of Lone Pine (50 miles south of Big Pine, not the same pine!) at the intersection of CA-136 and Dolomite Loop Rd at these GPS coordinates: 36°34’27″N 117°59’49″W (36.57414, -117.99694). Google link here: https://maps.app.goo.gl/uh6kbA8oYevKKgbm7
From there, we will drive a couple of miles to Haystack’s southwest side on a bumpy, sandy road, but all cars should make it. If you’re late, join us at these coordinates: 36°36’32.1″N 117°59’00.5″W.
Haystack is the classic locality for California amazonite and aquamarine. However, it is well picked over and will require walking through ditches and climbing steep slopes and boulders, so this second half of the trip is recommended for people with good mobility. There are many veins in granite with white microcline crystals and dusty to smoky quartz points, but the greens and blues are much harder to find or break out when found. See the Mindat location for more info: https://www.mindat.org/loc-254891.html.
The weather forecast is mild for December, around 58F in the afternoon. However, the night temperatures will dip close to freezing, so I suggest skipping camping and spending a warm night in the motel.
Hope to see you there!