Fall 2015 big Bend Rockhunts

Here’s a complete schedule so far for the Fall 2015 rockhunts. The 2015-2016 rockhunting season will begin on Wed., 10/7. The schedule includes the Big Bend Agate Roundup rockhunts scheduled for 10/19 – 11/2.

Right now, I don’t have any rockhunts scheduled during mule deer season, which is 11/27 – 12/13 this year. 11/27 is the day after Thanksgiving, and 12/13 is a Sunday. HOWEVER, I can probably schedule rockhunts during that time on the Singleton, East Needle Peak, and South Larremore ranches, once the landowners have decided when to allow deer hunters onto their ranches. So – if that’s your vacation, and you wish to go rockhunting, let me know and I’ll see what I can schedule.
I won’t be available from 11/19 – 24, as the 23rd is our (John & Teri Smith’s) 30th anniversary, and we hope to have our family visit us during that time.

Wed., 10/7: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 10/8: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 10/9: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 10/10: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 10/11: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 10/12: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. $40 per person per day.

Mon., 10/19: Ritchie Ranch. Start: 11:00 a.m. Cost: $10 per person plus $1 per lb for agate.
Tues. 10/20: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Wed., 10/21: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Thurs., 10/22: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Fri., 10/23: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Sat., 10/24: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Sun., 10/25: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Mon., 10/26: Walker Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost varies: see below.
Tues. 10/27: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Wed., 10/28: East Needle Peak. Start: 6:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 10/29: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 10/30: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 10/31: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 11/1: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 11/2: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.

Wed., 11/11: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 11/12: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 11/13: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 11/14: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 11/15: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 11/16: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.

Wed., 12/16: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 12/17: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 12/18: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 12/19: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 12/20: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 12/21: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.

Wed., 12/23: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Thurs., 12/24: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Fri., 12/25: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sat., 12/26: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Sun., 12/27: Singleton Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost: $50 per person per day.
Mon., 12/28: South Larremore Ranch. Start: 8:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.
Note that all of the field trips begin at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.
The price for the Walker Ranch is: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth and fifth days are $37.50 each. I believe that Bryan Crumpton will offer the usual “pay in full and get an extra day free” deal for the Walker Ranch hunt, but I haven’t gotten the details for that yet.

Also, remember that Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required for all of my rockhunts, and it costs $10 single/$16 dual. If you haven’t joined yet this year, your dues will pay for the rest of 2015 and for the 2016 calendar year.

Please let me know as soon as you decide that you are coming on a particular rockhunt or set of rockhunts. Even if you are tentatively planning on coming, let me know. If I don’t have anyone signed up for a rockhunt a week before the hunt is to occur, I will cancel the hunt. I will then make other plans for that day and not be available if someone wants me to “un-cancel” the hunt at the last minute.

Regards,
Teri

Big Bend Agate Roundup Scheduled for October 19 – November 2, 2015

Hi Y’all! I’ve finally gotten a calendar together for all the Walker Ranch hunts in October, and the hunts to the Ritchie Ranch, South Larremore Ranch, the Singleton Ranch and East Needle Peak that go on around them. The schedule is below. Note that all of the field trips begin at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.
I’ve decided that these events need a name, so I’m going to start calling them Big Bend Agate Roundups. These will be the two-week-long events that go on in April and October each year.
This Fall’s Agate Roundup begins on Monday, October 19, and runs for a total of 15 days straight. I will probably have some help this year in the form of Jean and Brian Larremore, who may do the South Larremore Ranch hunts without me if I get too tired.
There are no changes from last spring as far as cost goes. The price for the Walker Ranch is still the same: $75 per person per day, or $150 per person for 3 days. The fourth and fifth days are $37.50 each. The Singleton Ranch is $50 per person per day, East Needle Peak is $40 per person per day, and the Ritchie Ranch is $10 per person per day plus $1 per lb. of agate you take. The cost of the South Larremore Ranch varies depending upon who is leading the trip: If I am, it’s $40 per person per day, and if one of the Larremores leads the trip, it’s $50 per person per day.
Also, remember that Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required for all of my rockhunts, and it costs $10 single/$16 dual. If you haven’t joined yet this year, your dues will pay for the rest of 2015 and for the 2016 calendar year.
I believe that Bryan Crumpton will offer the usual “pay in full and get an extra day free” deal for the Walker Ranch hunt, but I haven’t gotten the details for that yet. I will verify that before I ask you to send me any money for the Walker Ranch hunt.
Monday, October 19: Ritchie Ranch. Start time 11:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 20: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 21: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 22: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 23: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 24: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, October 25: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, October 26: Walker Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Tuesday October 27: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Wednesday, October 28: East Needle Peak. Start time 6:00 a.m.
Thursday, October 29: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Friday, October 30: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Saturday, October 31: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Sunday, November 1: Singleton Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
Monday, November 2: South Larremore Ranch. Start time 8:00 a.m.
I’ll send another email today concerning the schedule of Singleton Ranch, East Needle Peak and South Larremore Ranch hunts this Fall.
Please let me know by return email which rockhunts you’d like to attend, so I can start putting together a sign-up list.
Regards,
Teri

May Rockhunts

Thank you for 2 weeks of successful rockhunts. The hunts keep getting bigger each time we have them, and we get participants from all over the country joining us. I wish to especially thank my great friend Johnny French, who continued his tradition of providing us with the main dishes for our Sunday rockhound barbecue. Johnny orders the brisket and ham ahead of time, and stops on his way from Corpus Christi to Alpine to pick it up. He certainly knows where to find the best food!

I’ve made great friends through these field trips, and keep meeting wonderful rockhounds. I hope y’all are making new friends, as well. To find additional friends while it’s too hot for field trips, check out the many Facebook groups for rockhounds. There are also lots of websites with interesting information on them about all areas of our hobby.

If you’re happy with my rockhunts, please consider posting to http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g30158-d7713497-Reviews-Rock_Hunting_in_the_Big_Bend_of_Texas_with_Teri_Smith-Alpine_Texas.html. I’ve gotten two 5-star reviews there, which makes me the #1 attraction in Alpine. Getting more good reviews will help me to get noticed by the Alpine and Brewster County Tourism groups for the rockhunts that I do, and hopefully get some support and advertising money from the hotel/motel tax money collected from you, the rockhunters.

We have one more month before it gets too hot to rockhunt. The May, 2015 Schedule is:

Wednesday, 5/6: South Larremore Ranch

Thursday, 5/7 through Sunday, 5/10: Singleton Ranch

Friday, May 15 – Sunday, May 17: Walker Ranch hunt (if we can get at least 6 people – and hopefully more – signed up, Bryan will come out and do a short hunt for us)

Wednesday, May 20: South Larremore Ranch

Thursday, 5/21 through Sunday, 5/24: Singleton Ranch

Monday, 5/25: Ritchie Ranch rockhunt for both adults and kids.

After that, I’ll be closing down for the summer. I’ll hopefully get time to sort my rocks, clean them up, and make some additions to the displays in the museum. I’ll also be working at the Antelope Lodge. Rockhunts will start again during October, probably with a big 2-week Field Trip Extravaganza like we just did.

I’d be really interested in your comments about my rockhunts in general and about this last set of hunts. The number of people attending the hunts is growing, and that can have both positive and negative effects on your experience. Please email me at agatehunter@sbcglobal.net.

Regards,

Teri

Details for April, 2015 Rockhunts

Finally!  I’m ready to provide details for the rockhunts coming up in April.  I apologize to all who have emailed and called asking for these details, but I needed to take some time and explore the South Larremore Ranch before I could tell you what is to be found there, and before the Larremores could set a price for the rockhunts.  I was out at the South Larremore Ranch last Saturday, Thursday and today, and I found quite a variety of agates and other goodies.  I’ll include details about the South Larremore Ranch at the end of this email.

The schedule is:
Tuesday, April 14, 2015:  Ritchie Ranch
Wednesday, April 15, 2015:  Walker Ranch
Thursday, April 16, 2015:  Walker Ranch
Friday, April 17, 2015:  Walker Ranch
Saturday, April 18, 2015:  Walker Ranch
Sunday, April 19, 2015:  Walker Ranch
Monday, April 20, 2015:  Walker Ranch
Tuesday, April 21, 2015:  South Larremore Ranch
Wednesday, April 22, 2015:  East Needle Peak
Thursday, April 23, 2015:  Singleton Ranch
Friday, April 24, 2015:  Singleton Ranch
Saturday, April 25, 2015:  Singleton Ranch
Sunday, April 26, 2015:  Singleton Ranch
Monday, April 27, 2015:  South Larremore Ranch

The prices for the ranches vary as shown below:
The Ritchie Ranch is $10 per person entrance fee, and $1 per lb. for the agate and quartz crystals you take with you.  I’ve found a new agate piece at the top of the hill where my “big rock” came from, and I have no idea how big it is.  If you want it, you just have to dig it out and pay for it!  Payment can be by cash or check.

The Walker Ranch is again offering a spectacular deal on their rockhunts:  if you pay in full by March 15, you get a free day.  This is on top of the free day you get already when you pay for two days at full price.   The first two days are at $75 per day, the next two at $37.50 per day.  So the fee schedule is:
1 day $75
2 days $150 ($75 if you pay by March 15th)
3 days $150
4 days $187.50 ($150 if you pay by March 15th)
5 days $225.00 ($187.50 if you pay by March 15)
6 days $262.50 ($225 if you pay by March 15)

In order to get on the list for this trip, you need to send a deposit of at least half of the fee.  Of course, if you send the whole fee by March 15, you get an extra day of rockhunting for free!  We need 20 paid attendees for this trip to happen.  The check should be made out to Bryan Crumpton, and you can send it to me at:
Teri Smith
509 N. 8th Street
Alpine, TX  79830

South Larremore Ranch is about 45 miles south of Alpine on Highway 118.  It’s 2,500 acres that was once part of Rex Ivey’s ranch, which is now subdivided and called East Rim Ranch.   The ranch is flat, and consists of alluvial deposits containing many types of quartz stones.  I have wandered around on this ranch for three days, and have found agate, including moss agates, fortification agates, and plume agates; petrified wood, some of which is completely agatized in beautiful colors; jasper in all colors of red from orange to purple, along with yellow, orange, and green;  and flint and/or chert in nodules of different colors.  There are also some shell fossils, and some interesting things I call “Terlingua Nodules” that appear to be at least partly agatized on the outside, and often are filled with calciferous mud on the inside.  The cost for this ranch will be $40 per person.

East Needle Peak is $40 per person per day.  On my last trip down there, a couple of months ago, I found a 16 lb. chunk of green moss with pompoms in it, and a 5 lb chunk of clear petrified wood with yellow and orange inclusions.  The only reason I could identify it as wood is because the exterior of the piece showed the rings and bark of the original wood.

The Singleton Ranch is $50 per person per day, cash only.  More details can be found on my website.

All of my field trips require that you join the Rollin’ Rock Club.  The fee for that is $10 single or $16 dual membership for the calendar year 2015.

To summarize:  I need at least half your fee for the Walker Ranch hunts to secure your place.  And I will need 20 participants to ensure that the hunts occur (we’ve never had a problem with getting 20 people!)  If you want to get an extra “free” day, send your entire fee to me by March 15.

You don’t need to send me a deposit on the other ranches.  Simply send me an email telling me which days/ranches you wish to hunt on, and I’ll put you on the list.

All hunts begin at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.  Specifics about each hunt’s starting time will be sent in an email in about a week or so.

Regards,
Teri

What Tools You Need for Rockhunting in the Big Bend

All the ranches I lead field trips on have a good quantity of agate on the ground. This occurs because the basalt, where the agate grows, erodes, but the agates don’t, so they’re left in the dirt. Generally, all you need to do is pick them up. The more difficult ones may require you to dig in the soft dirt.

My basic equipment list is this: a table knife, like the ones you can get at a dollar store or thrift store. Stainless steel, all one piece. You use this to dig in the dirt around an agate and pop it out. Next, a chopstick. Use this to clean dirt off of an agate or clean out the inside of a geode so you don’t damage the crystals or mark the agate surface with a metal implement. Third, a toothbrush. This goes with the fourth item, which is a spray bottle filled with water. Use these two together to clean agates to see if they’re what you want. And wetting down an agate helps you see what it will look like polished. Another useful item is flagging tape, which can be used to mark the location where you put your lunch, your bag, or your car, and to mark the location of a rock you want to go back to later.

For putting your finds in, I like the bags we used to get when we went to conferences: canvas, with a couple of fairly long handles so they’ll sit on your shoulder. You can find these at thrift stores, garage sales, and perhaps in your own closet. When the bag gets full and you bring it back to the car, you can empty it into a bucket and start over. That way you don’t have to carry many rocks at a time.

Of course, you want to have a rock pick, a crack hammer or small sledge, and a couple of prybars in your car in case you find the one in a thousand agate that’s still in the basalt. But you don’t need to carry them with you all the time. You can buy some construction flagging tape and take a piece with you as you hunt. Then you can mark where the great rock is that you need to get out of the host rock, and go back to your car for the tools.

Now, I’m spoiled, and I carry something called a gem scoop or treasure scoop. this gadget helps you by allowing you to lift rocks up off the ground without having to bend over. I should have some in my shop to sell by April, or you can get them from Kingsley North at this url: http://www.kingsleynorth.com/skshop/products.php?keys=treasure%20scoop&catID=

A New Ranch is Opening for Rockhunts!

Terlingua Nodules.  Could they be fossils of egg masses?

Terlingua Nodules. Could they be fossils of egg masses?

Larremore Ranch Fossil Concretion

Larremore Ranch Fossil Concretion

Plume Agate from the South Larremore Ranch

Plume Agate from the South Larremore Ranch

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Petrified Wood from the South Larremore Ranch.

Announcing the opening of a new ranch for rock hunting in the Big Bend of Texas: the South Larremore Ranch. This is an entirely different area than the northern part of the Larremore Ranch, which was open for rockhunting in the past. I was out there yesterday, and I hunted at three different locations within half a mile of each other on the 2,500 acre ranch. One area was full of flint nodules, fossil concretions, and some cool things I call “Terlingua Nodules”. The second area had lovely moss agate chunks and a few pieces of plume agate. And the third area had small pieces of fully agatized wood in great colors. Here are some photos of my finds.More details about field trips on this ranch will be available in about a week.

Spring Rockhunts for 2015

The cold weather is over for a while, and I was out on the Singleton Ranch this last Sunday, on top of Telephone Hill.  The rain, ice and snow that we’ve had in the past six weeks has made agate visible everywhere.  The grass has not yet begun to grow, and the pickings are very, very good.  The same applies at the Ritchie Ranch, and I’m sure it applies to the Walker Ranch as well.

I’ve got Singleton Ranch rockhunts scheduled for the second and fourth weekends in February and March.  If you have a chance to come out in February and March, the weather should range from cool to moderate.  In other words, just about perfect for rockhunting. The schedule for the Singleton Ranch hunts will be modified in April, when the Walker Ranch hunts occur.

The second and third weeks of March are Spring Break for most schools in Texas.  I’m scheduling special hunts for families with kids at the Ritchie Ranch during these weeks.  The hunts will be Monday, March 9, and Wednesday, March 11; and again the following week on Monday, March 16, Wednesday March 18, and Friday, March 20.  The hunts will be about half a day long, and start at 10 a.m. at the Antelope Lodge in Alpine.  For details, look at my website at www.terismithrockhunts.com.

The special April rockhunts will begin on Tuesday, April 14, which is the week of the Gem and Mineral Show in Alpine.  There won’t be any hunts the weekend before that because I’ll be out of town for my husband John’s 59th high school reunion in Goliad.

The hunts at the Walker Ranch will probably begin Wednesday, April 15 and continue through Monday, April 20.  After that will be hunts to the Singleton Ranch, the Ritchie Ranch and East Needle Peak.

One of the reasons I haven’t finalized the schedule is that I’m looking at a brand-new ranch this weekend.  If there is lots of agate on this new ranch, it will impact the schedule for the days after the Walker Ranch hunt.  The ranch is located between Highway 118 and Highway 385, close to Santiago Peak, so it may have agate that’s different from any of the other places where I lead field trips. I’ll let y’all know early next week.

This year, another event is also taking place in Alpine on the same weekend as the Gem Show and Walker Ranch Rockhunts.  It’s a show at the Museum of the Big Bend entitled Trappings of Texas.  It’s been held for many years, but until this year it was in February, concurrent with the Cowboy Poetry weekend.  What this means for rockhunters is that lodging in Alpine is going fast.  So as soon as you decide that you wish to come out for the rockhunts, consider booking a room.

More to come next week.

Regards,
Teri

Winter Weather Causing Rockhunt Cancellations

Sigh. I didn’t move out to the desert to be cold. This is the coldest, snowiest, iciest winter I’ve been through in my almost 20 years in Alpine. All this cold stuff is survivable, except that when there’s snow on the ground you can’t go agate hunting because they’re hidden under the snow. Now that’s a real bummer!

To those of you considering coming out to Alpine to hunt agate this winter, I promise I’ll do my best to make sure you have a great trip, regardless of the weather.  I’ve gone rockhunting in cold below freezing, and if you’re dressed for it, it can be a great experience, as long as there’s no ice or snow on the ground to keep you from finding the agates.  Any precipitation, whether in the form of rain or snow, washes the dust off of the rocks and brings many new agates to light..  And in between the cold snaps there have been wonderful days when the weather has been as high as 70, with bright, clear skies.

And the nice warm days of spring are just around the corner, so make your plans for the spring.  I’ll be sending out an email soon about the hunts at the Walker Ranch in April, and the Singleton Ranch hunts are ongoing.