Book Cliffs Field Trip #2 Report
October 16-18th, 2004

by Ron Knoshaug


On October 16-18, a number of hardy souls braved the fall conditions and went on the exploration and digging trip to the Bookcliffs. Ted and Gigi Gildea went on Friday to explore the digging area. Don and Gail Beamer headed for Grand Junction early Saturday morning (leaving about 3AM) to meet up with Ted and Gigi in Grand Junction. The rest of us, which included Bob Landgraf, Tom Miller, Bob Berry, Tim and Jeanne Arnett, and Ron and Judy Knoshaug met at the Super-8 near the junction of I-70 and Horizon Drive at 10 AM Friday. At the meeting site, we had a pleasant surprise. Two long time NJGMC members, who are now living in Grand Junction (Barbara and Derek Firth) ,met us for a brief chat and wished us well on our outing.

At 10:15 we headed to the digging area off road-25. The road, much to our surprise, was in good shape, with only a few deep ruts and a few washout gullies. When we arrived at the digging area, Ted was already hard at work and Gigi was supervising from a nice folding camp chair. The Beamers were not to be seen, but we were told they were digging over the next ridge. The new arrivals headed in various directions to search for the best barite-bearing nodules. Tom went east over a ridge; Tim and Jeanne stayed on the west side near the rugged ridges; Bob Berry disappeared to some interesting looking areas; Bob Landgraf dug at the bottom of a gully; and Ron and Judy were trying a new technique, which was to hunt for nodules that had not yet been exposed in the clay soil. By shear luck, Ron happened on an under-the-surface nodule by digging a shelf to put his pack. This nodule turned out to have no barite or calcite, but produced tiny bluish crystals yet to be identified. At the end of the day, it appeared as if Tom was the top barite collector with over 40 barite crystals. Ted, Gigi, Don, Gail, and Tom had discovered a large barite mass in one of the nodules which was estimated as weighing over 200 pounds. Ron, Judy, and Bob Landgraf were unsuccessful; but there is always another day for the great barite discoveries.

Sunday was better, but the weather was beginning to deteriorate. The five with the large barite mass headed back to tackle the job of dismantling it. Tom eventually bought a large piece of it home, maybe 50 pounds intact. Ron, Judy, and Bob Landgraf headed to a steep ridge to try their luck there. About 2:00 PM, a front moved through that about sent Judy airborne (if it wasn't Judy, it was her hat that ended up high on the ridge to be saved by Bob). Ron's pack blew open and a water bottle, lunch container, gloves, pop can all headed east toward Kansas in a 50 + gail. All was retrieved and we headed down out of the wind. The Gildeas and Beamers headed back to Denver while Ron, Judy and Bob stayed to dig Monday.

Sunday night camping was uneventful, except for the rain showers from midnight until morning. The digging was good Monday. It was cool and nice, but the day was cut short by another rainstorm passing through the area. Everyone found something and enjoyed the outing. Ted and Gigi took some great pictures, which are included.      Ron