Ted's Bitchin' Pocket
April 2006

Devil's Head, CO
by Ted Gildea

Tim Hillsten, Tom Miller and I met at the Topaz Point campground Saturday morning expecting to do some hiking and exploring, looking for new places to dig. When we got there it was snowing hard and there was two inches of snow on the ground. We didn't think we would be very successful at finding anything with the ground covered and hiking might be dangerous. We decided to go to an area where we had been before. I found a hole that had already been started years ago and there was some good peg showing in the walls. I cleared out the hole and found even better signs in the floor.

I began to remove a one foot thick layer of peg from floor of the hole (from left to right, facing up-hill). When I removed it all the way to the right side of the hole, an opening appeared in the floor as big as my fist. Dirt was falling into it and it wasn't filling up.

I immediately called Tim and Tom over to have a look and to get their advice on how to proceed. We all decided that I should remove the walls back to about two feet before opening up the pocket. So I stuffed the opening with newspaper and went to work. After all this material was removed, I went to work breaking through the cap-rock. As I was proceeding, I was trying not to get my hopes up. Any rockhound knows that there is always a good possibility of being disappointed. Tim kept on assuring me that it was going to be a good pocket according to his "Spidey Sense". After breaking through the cap-rock, I began to remove lots of shards and rubble. There was clearly about 3 to 4 inches of open air space and I could stick my arm in to the elbow. I was siting crosslegged in front of the pocket and leaning in. I started to pull out some good crystals before long and Tim was right, it was a fantastic pocket! The Smoky Quartz crystals were in clusters encased in what I call "Flowering Feldspar". Some were in the shape globes we called "Disco-balls", with 1 and 2 inch Smokys sticking out all arround the feldspar. Before long my back was killing me because I was leaning over all the way and reaching in as far as I could to pull out the crystals. So I began to let Tim and Tom have a turn.

Tim and I cleared an area in front of the pocket so he could lay down with his head and arms in the pocket (it was not easy for me to get into this position). We call this "the head down position" because your head is lower than the rest of your body. He was able to reach in much further where the big stuff was. Tim, right away, pulled out a big plate of Microcline crystals with one big Smoky on it. It was about this time that we named this pocket "Ted's Bitchin Pocket". Tim even entered that in his GPS. Next Tom got a nice big one for himself. Then it was my turn to pull out a big one, but I couldn't reach in there because my arms were hurting.

So I got Tom to be my pinch-hitter. This is a photo of the next plate that Tom was working on in my behalf. Tom's arms and upper body were in the pocket all the way to the middle of his back. He worked on this plate for almost an hour. Since the quartz crystals were pointing downward, he had to be very careful. Tim and I could hear Tom from inside there uttering many excited exclamations. I was pacing back and forth like an expectant father.

Finally, Tom was ready to pull out the plate. Tim had to pull on Tom's belt while he pulled out the plate because it weighed over 30 pounds.

Then my child was born. Tim suggested that I have this plate professionally cleaned and depending on how it turns out, I may enter it in the Prospector's contest at the Denver Show this September.

Usually, when you find a pocket, they don't last very long. I opened up this pocket at around 10am and we worked on it till 7pm that evening. We split up all the crystals 3 ways. We had to leave the tools in the hole so we could carry all of our specimens back to the vehicles. That was a hard hike. We came back the next morning and Tim and I worked on this pocket for several more hours. We got several more nice specimens. We even were able to give a nice one to Don Beamer who joined us that day. It was a big Microcline (5 inch edges) with a 4 inch Smoky growing out of it. We were blessed to have this experience. Because of the snow on the first day, we felt as though we were rewarded for persevering through adversity. I hope you enjoyed this report.

Ted Gildea