Saturday, September 20, 2008

Mt. Antero rock hounding, et cetera

After all of the outdoor adventure this summer, Troy was still itching for more. He worked up plans to squeeze in one more drive and I agreed to go along with the boys. The result: Mt. Antero on 7 Sep.

There were three phases: a 4WD, a hike up Mt. Antero, and rock hounding.
The drive was very bumpy in spots and I would have to say it had one of the steepest dirt road stretches I have dealt with in a while. I did not spin wheels, but I was right on the verge of doing so a couple of times. Once we broke above tree line, the drive was pretty easy if you have no problems with the "exposure". Maybe if you were riding shotgun or if you have a strong fear of heights, then it would be uncomfortable. The boys have no fear in the truck so they were just fine. Near the end of the drive, the trail flattened out and snaked through a high park until making a zigzag up the last portion. The final leg was a little sporty on the switch-backs, with one that I had to do a two-point turn on. This part was even more interesting on the way down. Not really any more difficult, just a bit nerve racking if that stuff bothers you.
Once we got to the parking lot up top, three of us decided to summit the peak (Troy, Bernie, and myself). Troy's wife said she would keep an eye on the kids so we started off. Bernie decided a short way in that he did not want to continue due to the stress on his back, so he turned back for the trucks. Troy and I spent the next hour searching for the trail on the rock-strewn peak. Just short of the summit, there was a nice spot overlooking an easterly ridge line and a steep drop-off to the north. A few more vertical feet and we were at the top of 14,269 foot Mt. Antero. Troy and I shuffled around a bit and I picked up some nice white and pink quartz specimens before signing the log.
On our way down, very near the base of the summit trail, I noticed a vein of green stone and started to follow it off trail to the west. It was evident that others had been scrapping in the area before. I quickly found some small but fully formed quartz crystals. After hunting around for five or ten minutes I caught back up with Troy and we headed for the trucks to pick up the kids. Both Alex and Andrew were more than enthusiastic to finally have a focused rock hounding effort. We probably spent an hour poking around, with Alex and I finding some keepers but nothing that would be considered high quality.
Most of the return trip was uneventful except for the other drivers discovering some of the disadvantages of ABS while four wheeling (I already had my differential locker engaged so my ABS was disabled). Also, half way down to timberline, we literally ran into a herd of mountain goats.
Pictures of the day can be found on my Picasa album:
--The picture at the top was taken by Alex--