Lots of Agate Available for Fall Rockhunts

Jean Larremore will indeed lead trips to on her ranch on Tuesday, October 18 and Tuesday October 25.

This last week, I’ve been on the South Larremore Ranch, the Ritchie Ranch, and the Singleton Ranch.  There’s lots of new agate visible on all three ranches.  We’ve had lots of rain in the last few months, and that’s at least partly responsible for uncovering new pieces.

At the South Larremore Ranch, there were a few muddy spots in the creek bottom, but very few puddles (and all of them were small enough to really call puddles).  The mud at the crossing was too deep and sloppy to attempt the crossing in a car, but we walked across it (after I slipped and fell on my butt, of course).  By the time the day was over, Brian Larremore had used the tractor and made the crossing good enough that we would have been able to drive it.  However, since then it has rained for two solid days here in Alpine, and I have no idea how much rain they got down there.

Regards,

Teri

Final Schedule for October 2016 Rockhunts

Hi Y’all!  I’ve gotten lots of responses from rockhunters concerning the schedule in October.  Although I had several requests for changes, I had lots of people sign up for most of the trips, so I’ve decided to keep the schedule as it is.   I’ll certainly keep your suggestions in mind for the rest of the Fall schedule, which will be coming out in another email very soon.

The prices for the ranches are also unchanged from last year:  The Ritchie Ranch is $10 entrance fee and $1 per lb. for the agate you take; the South Larremore Ranch is $40 per person if I take you, and $50 per person if Jean or Brian Larremore take you; the Singleton Ranch is $50 per person, which gets you up to a 5-gallon bucket of agate (if you find more it’s $40 per bucket, charged in ¼ bucket increments), and East Needle Peak is $40 per person.  The Stillwell Ranch has no admission fee and charged 50 cents per pound for good rocks. The price for the Rollin’ Rock club membership, which is required for my hunts, is also unchanged at $10 per calendar year for a single membership and $16 per calendar year for a dual membership.  And the price for my guide services is still the same:  free, but you can give me a gratuity if you feel so inclined.

So here’s the October schedule, with the addition of starting times.  All trips begin in front of the office at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90 in Alpine.  However, if you’re staying someplace that is closer to the hunt site than Alpine is, let me know and I’ll try to make arrangements to meet you someplace along the route.

See you soon,

Teri

October, 2016
S 15 Ritchie Ranch Start Time:  9:00 a.m.
Su 16 East Needle Peak Start Time:  7:00 a.m.
M 17 South Larremore Ranch Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
Tu 18 Teri’s day off (maybe South Larremore Ranch?) Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
W 19 Singleton Ranch Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
Th 20 Singleton Ranch Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
Tu 25 Teri’s day off (maybe South Larremore Ranch?) Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
W 26  South Larremore Ranch Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
Th 27 Singleton Ranch Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
F 28 Singleton Ranch Start Time:  8:00 a.m.
S 29 East Needle Peak Start Time:  7:00 a.m.
Su 30 Ritchie Ranch Start Time:  9:00 a.m.
M 31 Stillwell Ranch Start Time:  7:00 a.m.

 

2016 Spring RockHunt Recap

Wow!  It’s been almost a month since the April rockhunts, and I’ve been practicing sleeping in late and being incommunicado .  But now, in a small flurry of activity, I’m going to send out an email!

I had a great time leading all the spring rockhunts, and I think everyone that attended had a good time as well.

I found some incredible agate, especially at the Singleton Ranch and the South Larremore Ranch.  I am very pleased with the variety and quality of agate found at the South Larremore Ranch, and just a little bit puzzled geologically about how it all got there.  But the important thing is that it DID get there, and we can find it in reasonable sizes and quantities for cutting and specimens.  And there’s still some of that ranch to be explored.

I saw lots of old friends and made some new ones.  As usual, we had people fly and drive in from around the United States, including people from Florida, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arkansas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Oregon, and of course all over Texas.  Johnny French brought barbecue for the group and we had a fantastic dinner during the April hunts.

In general, the weather cooperated with us, especially in April.  It had rained earlier on the Larremore Ranch, however, which left the usually-not-difficult creek crossing a muddy mess.  So, twice, we got all hands on deck with shovels and picks, and fixed the crossing so that all the vehicles on the hunt could get across if they chose to.  We also ganged up to pile rocks in holes and fix roads on the Singleton Ranch.

We also took several trips to the Stillwell Ranch.  I was really happy with the agate I found, and the petrified wood was excellent.  You can hunt the Stillwell Ranch on your own if the weather is cool and the roads are dry, but going on a trip with me means I can probably help you find a good spot to hunt and identify what you’ve found in the field, so you don’t pay for rocks you really don’t want.  The fee is very reasonable at 50 cents per pound, and of course I don’t charge anything, so the only big expense is your gas.  And the Stillwell Store has ice cream bars and cold drinks for an after-rockhunt treat.

I’ve also relearned some lessons that I used to know.  I need to take a day off once a week, so that I can catch up on sleep and laundry.  I need to be more clear in my instructions, and I need to have samples and maps for every ranch.

I’m closing up for the summer, and probably won’t have any more field trips til the beginning of October.  I’d appreciate input from y’all about the schedule, since I tried to cluster more rockhunts together in the middle of the month rather than running several weekends a month like I had last year.  Please let me know whether that worked better for you or not, and how you think I can improve the schedules in the future.

I hope to have time to work on the museum this summer, and on the set of photos I’m displaying in my slide show there.  If anyone has some photos of the hunt, or of the material you’ve found, whether rough or processed, and wouldn’t mind having me use them in my slide show, please email them to me.  I’ll add your name and a copyright line for you, and they won’t be used for anything except the slide show in my museum.

Lastly, I’ve been trying to contact Paul Bowman, who came out on the April field trips for the first time, and his email address is rejecting new messages.  If anyone knows him, please tell him to email me!  Thanks!

Regards,

Teri

Complete April Rockhunt Schedule

Hi! Below is the complete April rockhunt schedule, including meeting times and costs. All field trips start at the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine. Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required to attend the hunts. Cost is $10 single/$16 dual membership for the rest of 2016.

It also has been brought to my attention that I forgot to update my calendar when I made changes to the schedule. So what’s on my website doesn’t match what’s here. This email is the correct schedule. I hope to have the time to fix the website very soon.

Saturday, 4/9 8 a.m. S. Larremore. Cost $40/person
Sunday, 4/10 8 a.m. S. Larremore. Cost $40/person
Monday, 4/11 7 a.m. E Needle Peak Cost $40/person NOTE 7:00 a.m. MEETING TIME
Tuesday, 4/12 8 a.m. Singleton. Cost $50/person, cash only
Wednesday, 4/13 8 a.m. S. Larremore. Cost $40/person
Thursday, 4/14 7 a.m. Stillwell. Cost: no entrance fee, 50¢/lb of rock taken. NOTE 7:00 a.m. MEETING TIME
Friday, 4/15 8 a.m. S. Larremore. Cost $40/person
Saturday, 4/16 8 a.m. East Needle Peak. Cost $40/person NOTE 7:00 a.m. MEETING TIME
Sunday, 4/17 8 a.m. S Larremore. Cost $40/person
Monday, 4/18 8 a.m. S Larremore. Cost $40/person
Tuesday, 4/19 8 a.m. Singleton. Cost $50/person, cash only
Wednesday, 4/20 8 a.m. Singleton. Cost $50/person, cash only
Thursday, 4/21 8 a.m. Singleton. Cost $50/person, cash only
Friday, 4/22 8 a.m. Singleton. Cost $50/person, cash only
Saturday, 4/23 8 a.m. S. Larremore. Cost $40/person
Sunday, 4/24 7 a.m. East Needle Peak Cost $40/person NOTE 7:00 a.m. MEETING TIME

I went back to the South Larremore Ranch today and did more scouting. There’s lots of neat agate there, scattered over an area that’s at least a square mile in size. Some of the pieces are unlike anything I’ve seen before.

Thanks for all your patience while I got the schedule worked out.

Regards,
Teri

Last Minute Gifts: December Rockhunts

Hi! I’ve just set up some rockhunts for this next weekend, at the South Larremore Ranch (Saturday, 12/12, 8 a.m.) and East Needle Peak (Sunday, 12/13, 7 a.m.). Although it’s still mule deer hunting season, these ranches will not have hunters in the area on the days when we’ll be visiting. I know it’s short notice, but I want to offer as may opportunities as possible for rockhunting in 2015.
I also have rockhunts scheduled for the rest of the year:
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.
Tues., 12/22: Teri’s day off
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.
Tues., 12/29: East Needle Peak. Start: 7:00 a.m. Cost $40 per person per day.

All rockhunts start at the Antelope Lodge 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine. To reserve a spot, you can email me at agatehunter@sbcglobal.net, or call me at (432) 386-3431.

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 may then make other plans for that day and not be available if someone wants me to “un-cancel” the hunt at the last minute.

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.
Regards,

Teri

Local Rockhound Featured in National Magazine

This is the first of five press releases I wrote to send to local newspapers about the article that was printed in Rock & Gem’s September 2015 issue about me and my rockhunts.  It’s amazing to me that most locals haven’t even heard of rockhunting at all, let alone know what we rockhunters do.  So I decided to try to get the word out…

Local rockhound Teri Smith leads agate hunting field trips on ranches in Brewster and Presidio counties. This activity has brought her some measure of renown in rockhunting circles, and led to a feature article on her and her rockhunts in the September 2015 issue of the national magazine Rock & Gem.

Teri, who with her husband John owns the Antelope Lodge in Alpine, has been leading field trips for over 15 years. Her trips are for children as young as 3 or 4 years old up through mature adults who rockhunt from lawn chairs while seated in the shade.

Texas is a wonderful state for rockhunts, says Teri, because it’s all private land. “In the states west of us, where much of the land is Federal property, there are few collectible rocks left on the surface in many areas. In Texas, however, you can only go rockhunting with the permission of the landowner, and there’s often agate all over the ground at rockhunting sites.”

Texas’ Big Bend is known around the world as an agate collecting location. Some local agate can produce cabochons (domed, polished stones used in jewelry) that are incredibly beautiful. Other pieces make great display specimens just as they are.

Teri’s field trips bring in people from all over Texas and the rest of the United States. People regularly drive or fly in from both coasts to go on her trips. Rockhunts cost between about $20 and $75 per person per day, depending upon the site selected. The fee includes both the entrance to the area and the agate hunters choose to take home. All the fees go directly to the landowner. Teri’s compensation for leading the field trips is to be out on the ranch and collect agate without a charge.

Rockhunting season begins in October and continues through the cooler months until May. Teri runs special rockhunts for kids during school holidays. Twice a year, in October and April, she hosts large groups of rockhunters for what she calls “Big Bend Agate Roundups”. These roundups feature trips to five different ranches, including one that is only open during those times.

If you haven’t been on a rockhunt before, Teri will help you understand what the collectible rocks look like and where to find them. She’ll direct you to areas where the agate is known to be, and help you sort through what you’ve found so you can learn which agate pieces will work for your desired purpose, whether it’s to make jewelry, or to collect specimens or “garden rocks”.

If you’re interested in attending a rockhunt, in hosting rockhunts on your ranch, or just want to see what agate from the Big Bend looks like, you can look at Teri’s website at www.terismithrockhunts.com for more information, or visit her museum in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine.

So Just What Exactly is a Rockhunt?

This is the second in a set of press releases I wrote to send to local papers in conjunction with the story on me that was published in the September 2015 Rock & Gem Magazine.

If you go rockhunting with Teri Smith, a rockhunt is a day when you go to a private ranch, accompanied by Teri, to find agate and other collectible rocks to take home with you.

Before you begin your rockhunt, you’ll want to have your vehicle ready for rough roads, dress for a desert adventure, and assemble lunch, drinking water, and simple rockhunting equipment for your group. While you can get to some of the collecting areas in a passenger car, high clearance is needed for most sites, and a 4wd vehicle is ideal.

First thing in the morning, you will meet with Teri and the other rockhunters who are going on the trip with you in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90, Alpine. Teri will have
you fill out some paperwork and collect the landowner’s fee for the rockhunt. She will then tell you the rules for the ranch you’ll be going to, tell you about what types of collectible rocks can be found there, and perhaps take you to her museum to show her examples of what she has found on that ranch on past rockhunts.

You’ll also join the Rollin’ Rock Club, a national group of rockhounds that sponsor Teri’s field trips. The Rollin’ Rock Club is a member of the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and participants in Teri’s rockhunts follow the AFMS rockhunting guidelines.

Teri will explain the route you’ll all take to get to the ranch, and you’ll follow Teri in your own vehicle to get there. Driving times vary from 10 minutes to more than two hours.

Once you arrive at the collecting site, Teri will give you some instructions, advise you of hazards in the area, and show you samples of the agate and other collectible rocks found there. You’ll make arrangements to get back together at some time later in the day, and head off in on your own to hunt for the agate.

If you’re new to agate hunting, you can remain with Teri after the others have dispersed, and she’ll give you hints on what to look for in order to find agate among the other rocks on the ground. In almost all cases, agate will be on the ground or partly covered, and digging is generally not required. Teri will make arrangements to meet with you again in a short time to critique what you’ve found. Then you’ll be off collecting on your own, and meet back with the others at the end of the day.

At the end of the collecting day, you’ll all meet back at the vehicles and compare finds for a while, then Teri will lead the group back out to the paved road. From there, you can follow her back to Alpine, stop along the way to photograph the sunset, or head to another one of the nearby towns for dinner.

Fall 2015 Big Bend Agate Roundup

This is the third in a series of press releases I wrote to send to local papers along with the September 2015 Rock & Gem magazine.  This information has been published in other blog posts here, but I’ve included it again because it was part of the press kit.

The Big Bend Agate Roundup is a semi-annual event which brings rockhounds from all over the country for two weeks of rockhunting on local ranches. These rockhunts are led by local rockhunting guide Teri Smith, and allow participants the chance to find many varieties of agate that would otherwise be difficult to obtain.

The October event this year consists of 15 straight days of rockhunts held on five ranches in Brewster and Presidio counties. All of the rockhunts begin in Alpine, in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, where participants pay their fees and sign liability waivers before they caravan to the selected ranch.

The terrain on the ranches varies from almost flat to quite mountainous, providing locations perfect for people of different fitness levels. The Ritchie Ranch, which is close to Alpine, has rolling hills, and you can drive right to the locations where the agate can be found. The South Larremore Ranch is also quite flat, but more walking is required. For both the Walker and Singleton Ranches, there are locations where you can park right by the agate beds, as well as more remote agate locations that require walking and some hill climbing. At East Needle Peak, you need to be prepared to walk and climb to get to the locations where you can find agate and fossils.

The last Agate Roundup, held in April, 2015, brought over 60 rockhounds to the Big Bend from all parts of Texas and other states as far away as Oregon, Virginia, and Indiana. The schedule for this fall’s event is posted on the website www.terismithrockhunts.com and listed here:

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.

 

Rockhunts are Fun for Visitors, Profitable for Locals

This is the fourth in a series of press releases I wrote to send to local papers along with the September 2015 Rock & Gem magazine.

Rockhunts are a tourist attraction in the Big Bend that have not been well publicized in the past, says Teri Smith, local rockhunting guide. “In the past there were a couple of ranches that were open all the time for rockhunters, but not much beyond that. Now only the Stillwell Ranch open all the time, but I lead periodic field trips that allow rockhunters access to ranches that they would not be able to go to otherwise.”

Although the rockhunts occur in ranches in both Brewster and Presidio counties, all of them begin at the Antelope Lodge in Alpine. This makes it convenient for rockhounds to stay at motels and RV parks in Alpine.

The economic impact of rock hunting can be extrapolated from the number of rockhounds that go on Teri’s field trips each year. In 2014, 175 people came to Alpine to go rockhunting with Teri on local ranches. In addition to representing all parts of Texas, these rockhunters came from 15 states from coast to coast, and from Canada.

The average rockhunter went on 4 field trips, meaning they stayed at least 4 days in the Big Bend.

While most of these visitors came to the Big Bend specifically to go rockhunting, they also visited other tourist destinations, such as Big Bend National Park and Fort Davis National Monument, stayed in local motels, RV parks, and campgrounds, ate in local restaurants, and shopped at local stores.

Others came to the Big Bend for a vacation and decided to try rockhunting while they are here. One day of rockhunting can lead to a lifelong hobby, and many people who go on one of Teri’s trips make their next trip to the Big Bend just for rockhunting.

Rockhunts are scheduled regularly during the cooler months from October until May. Twice a year, Teri hosts the “Big Bend Agate Roundup”, which is two weeks of daily rockhunts. These concentrated rockhunting events are popular enough that more than 30 people have signed up for a specific field trip.

Local Rocks & Gems on Display at Last Frontier Museum

This is the last page of a set of press releases I sent to local newspapers with a copy of the Rock & Gem magazine for September. The purpose is to let Big Bend area residents know that rockhunting is a viable tourist attraction in the Big Bend Region.

Using mostly rocks found on her field trips, Teri Smith has created the Last Frontier Museum to show rockhunters and others what collectible and valuable rocks and gems can be found in the Big Bend Region.

The museum fills a room in the office of the Antelope Lodge. Except for the contents of a display of “Agate from Other Locations”, most of the items in the museum were found by Teri during her years of rockhunting in the Big Bend.

According to Teri, the museum could be much larger if she had the room. “There are many wonderful examples of agate and other minerals that I simply don’t have space for right now”, says Teri.

But the museum is quite crowded as it is, with exhibits covering the different types of agate found in the Big Bend, the colors and forms of quartz crystals found here, the different ways agate can look when you find it, and examples of what you can do with the agate you’ve found. There’s also an exhibit comparing what can be found on each of the ranches where Teri leads rockhunts.

Fossils, too, have a place in the museum. They can be found in profusion in the area near Terlingua, and also as far up in elevation as Alpine and its environs.

The Last Frontier Museum is in the lobby of the Antelope Lodge, 2310 W. Highway 90 in Alpine, and open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day. Admission is free.