googleed3ca5fea536c11e.html South African Mineral Specimens: My Recent Crystal Collecting Trip up the Mountains.

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A Mineral specimen blog by which we want to share our mineral outings as well as our experiences in the Western Cape mountains.


Friday, June 8, 2012

My Recent Crystal Collecting Trip up the Mountains.

A few weeks ago I started making plans to visit a remote place up in the Western Cape mountains, where I had discovered an amazing source of fine quartz crystals years ago.  Due to the steep ascend, careful planning had to be done as one can only carry so much up the mountains:  tools, ropes, sleeping gear, food etc..  Finally, on Monday morning 28/05/12,  I left, driving the 80 km or so to the farm, with the kind permission of the farmer.  Once at the farm, I drove up to the mountain as close as my little Toyota car would allow, and then hiked up a gorge for about 10 km to a convenient place which would serve as my home base. 

I arrived at my destination at about midday, rested for an hour or so and repacked my rucksack with only the bare essentials.  Once again, I started up a steep slope to a cave which would serve as my second home base.  After a very strenuous climb, I reached the cave and, after making myself at home, climbed down a treacherous, very steep ravine, through very dense ferns and shrubs, to fetch some drinking water.  I made a welcome fire and after having a meal, sat for hours, just staring at the flames.  What a difficult day it had been!

My view from the cave.

Legs full of scratches.

Lovely coals to keep the cold away.

Tuesday started out a beautiful morning.  I had breakfast and prepared myself for the climb to the crystal destination.  An hour or so later, I reached the place that I had come for.  It was a cliff with many small to larger pockets of crystals, as well as a few small caves, which I am certain, have many crystal plates inside.  Most of these small caves can only be reached by a very experienced mountaineer (which, by the way, I am not).  A few years ago I removed a fairly large pocket at the foot of the cliff and I hoped to find a few more specimens there.  I did find some more, but not nearly as much as I had hoped for.  Not far away from this, now empty, pocket, I found the remains of a leopard kill, in this case, a rock rabbit.  

From there I walked about 30 m to a small cave (accessible and just big enough to sit in) and started removing a heap of rock rabbit dung, rotten vegetation and soil at the bottom of the small cave.  Suddenly I found a loose crystal, then another and another ... and then the first plate of crystals.  Before long, I had far more than I could carry and there still appeared to be many more.  I wrapped what I intended to carry down, with the largest plate about 20 cm long. Due to the steep decline, I only took about 7 kg of crystals and as it was getting late, I started off back to the cave. 

The trip down was very difficult and rather dangerous.  One slip, and you could lose far more than crystals.  I reached the cave just before dark, and after unpacking, made a fire and had supper.  Once again, I sat in front of the fire for a good while and thanked my heavenly Father for protecting me and allowing me to remove such beautiful treasures of nature.  That night I slept much better than the previous night.

A small cluster of quartz crystals, fresh from the earth.

A pocket of crystals - one of many - beyond my reach.

Nearly at the bottom!

Wednesday morning was yet another beautiful day, with a few clouds that disappeared later on in the day.  Then I had a problem.  To walk down a very steep slope with about 25 kg of weight, was nothing to look forward to, especially not if there were sections of loose rocks to negotiate. Everything progressed fine and after a difficult, but successful walk, I reached the home base.  

I washed in a river that flowed close by, and had something to eat and rested for a while.  About 10 minutes away (an easy walk) was yet another crystal deposit beneath a small cliff, where we have found many lovely crystal specimens over a number of years.  It wasn't long before I reached this familiar and welcome site.  I spent the rest of the day working through a heap of loose rocks and found many single crystals and two nice small clusters.   Back at home base, I once again made a fire and after having had supper, enjoyed a welcome cup of coffee.  I sat next to the fire until the coals had all turned to ashes, then climbed into my sleeping bag for a very welcome and much needed sleep.

Thursday would be my last day of digging and I planned to take it easy and take what I could get.  It ended up being a really successful day.  I discovered a small, but high quality, pocket of small plates of quartz crystals, as well as another small pocket of well formed single crystals, all loose.  I thoroughly enjoyed removing these lovely treasures and took what I could carry and left the rest for next time.  Back at the camp, I sorted my baggage out and placed all the wrapped crystals (some 12 kg), tools and other things that I would not need again, in my rucksack and carried it halfway down the gorge.  I did this because I feared that the weight would be too much for me the next day.  The total weight of my bag was about 42 kg.  When I arrived back at camp, I made supper and this time I sat next to the fire till the last heat of the coals were gone. It had been a good day and would be the last night's sleep. 

A stunning large cluster waiting to be removed.

A few loose crystals with two of them partially cleaned.

A partially cleaned specimen
Cleaned Cluster

Cleaned Cluster (same as above)
A partially cleaned specimen

Cleaned  Specimen (same as above)

A few of the single crystals, cleaned.

The next day I rose early and hiked down to where I had left the rest of my crystals, tools etc..  After loading it into my rucksack, I walked down, carrying 42 kg on my back.  I must say, I was very pleased to see my car in the distance and even more so upon reaching it!  Not too long afterwards, I was home safely, with Riana waiting for me with a nice, home cooked meal. 

All in all it had been a tiring, bruising, but very fulfilling trip.  I am grateful to my heavenly Father.  The quietness of unspoiled nature, with the only sounds being that of running water, birds and rock rabbits, is very, very rewarding on its own.  Add to that a few crystals and last, but not least, a gratitude towards God for the privilege of being able to enjoy all that.

When I do get the chance to clean some specimens, I shall add a few more photos.  Some specimens clean easily, whilst others may have to soak for weeks.

Thank you for taking the time to read this entry.  I hope that you enjoyed the journey with me.


1 comment:

Dennis Joubert said...

Hi Pierre,

Ek het dit baie geniet.

Tannie Lea