Field Trip Report: 06 Ranch (also called Winn VI Ranch)

Note: For details about attending one of these incredible hunts, see the note at the end of this post.

The hunt at the 06 was amazing.  We drove north of Alpine on 118 for a ways, out onto the flat valley.  We turned right into a dirt road, and drove east on dirt roads for about half an hour.  We stopped at a huge valley with a pipe-and-wire corral in the middle of a lovely set of mountains.  This was a new place Aaron and James had only hunted once before.  The hills were similar in height to the bluffs at the Walker Ranch, and of course steeper in some places than others.  There were outcroppings of basalt here and there.  
 
There were 9 or so rockhunters on the trip (I believe 10 is the limit) and  we were pointed to a hillside about half a mile long.  We could fan out enough that we would have not been able to see each another.  Aaron & James handed each of us a walkie-talkie to use, and since it’s deer season, we were loaned bright fluorescent vests to wear.
 
At the bottom of the hills, there was a field of rocks about grapefruit to football size.  There were agate and quartz crystal pieces in those fields, partly buried in many cases.  As you went up the hills, they got rockier, and in some places there was grass stubble between  the rocks.    Now and then you’d find a patch that had several good sized agates on the surface, and more partially buried.   In between those patches were smaller sized agate and quartz crystal pieces and some small nodules that were interestingly colored and otherwise marked on the outside.  There were lots of worked pieces and evidence of a native American campsite.  We had been advised to go around the campsites when we found them, and although the one I saw was full of broken agate and jasper pieces, there was enough good stuff all over the hills to make it easy to bypass the camp sites.
 
Some of the agate and jasper there looked like material from the Ritchie.  The dominant agate was yellow/gold/brown moss in a background of cream, white, or blue chalcedony. 

The moss patterns varied from filaments of gold in lacy patterns, to larger patches and islands of moss, to patterns as dense as the flower garden moss from the Walker Ranch. There was enough of it on the surface of the part of that hillside where I was hunting  to fill up the beds of several pickups.  And the gold moss was ubiquitous:  you would go into and out of areas with other types of  agate, but you never got far away from the moss agate.
Along with the gold moss on that hillside there was red moss, black plume in cream and blue backgrounds, occasional pieces of red and gold moss, and some really neat stuff that they call “crayola”.  It looks like the opalized agate that we found on the Ritchie, with much smaller opalized bits in a chalcedony background, often in a regular pattern.  There were small and big pieces of that, some partly buried and a lot on the surface.  Many had surface pits that were in a regular pattern, as if there had been filaments of aragonite or another material in the cavity as the agate formed.  Some of the prettiest colors were lavender, maroon and mauve.  I didn’t seen any ‘rind’ on any of the pieces, so they probably came from a large seam somewhere up the mountain.
 
We had 3 hours there and I probably picked up 100 lbs of what I thought was good material.  Aaron wandered around collecting full bags and buckets, which he carried back down to the cars for us.  Since I don’t carry a rock hammer, he helped me get a couple of large pieces of the ‘crayola’ agate out of the ground, then  carried them down for me.  On the way back down to the cars, I followed Aaron to another part of the hill, which was covered with beautiful quartz crystal specimens.  I picked up some individual crystals that were at least 3” long, by far the biggest I’ve found on any of the ranches.  There were lovely crystal on agate specimens sticking out of the ground everywhere!  This was one place where I didn’t mind picking up gold moss agate!
 
I didn’t get to see what everyone else found, so I have no idea what was on the rest of the hill.  We got back to the car a bit late, with Aaron carrying all sorts of nice things for me.  Everyone else on the trip were people I had taken on fieldtrips, and everyone was excited by what they had found.  Some of them were making their second special trip to Alpine from Houston, Schertz and San Antonio to hunt for one exciting day.
 
Then we drove back the way we’d come for a while, and took a different branch of one of the roads.  In about 20 minutes we were at an area that was the other side of the mountain we had hunted before.  The valley we were in now was not very wide, and there was supposed to be good agate basically everywhere. 
 
There was a dry creek in the bottom of the valley, and since I was looking for the ladies’ room, I wandered into the brush in the creekbed.  There were a lot of large pieces of blue chalcedony, some quite vivid, with gold moss or plume in them.   There were different colors of blue and grey in fortification patterns or bands, and one had a red coating inside, all over the botryoidal surface, but only on the surface.  I found several  nice pieces of tube agate:  one was blue with blue quartz crystals on the outside of the tubes, another was blue with black and grey fortification lines at the ends of tubes and then around several tubes.  That one had gold moss that looked like it was in the middle of the tubes on one side that was broken obliquely to the pattern. There were also several small pieces that were spectacular!

Although there was supposed to be agate up on both hillsides of the little valley, I never got very far up the hills.  I stayed in the creek bed for a while, then ventured only a little ways up each hillside.  On one hillside I found several large nodules (the size of one of Johnny’s croissant sandwiches) that were orange or yellow chalcedony throughout  and really big compared to the ones I found at the Ritchie and the Walker.  I also found some pieces off a large seam agate that had a dense pattern that included red, blue, black grey and gold, and appears to have some plume in it. 

It was there that I came across the only annoyance of the day, in the form of an individual bee that wanted me to turn around and leave.  The bee hovered around my face and hands for several minutes until I got the hint.  Since I’m really allergic to bee stings, I took his advice and wandered away from there.   Full grown human:  0, Bee: 1.

The other hillside had some blue botryoidal pieces with crystals, a couple of nice red moss pieces, and my trip rock:  a long, narrow nodule of tube agate with the edges broken off in several places.  The chalcedony at the outer edge of the nodule was stained yellow and orange., and only part of the nodule was filled in around the tubes.  In the lower part of the nodule, which was solid, there were filaments of pink that went to maroon and gold.  The other end of the nodule was quartz crystal covered tubes. 

We hunted there for another 3 hours, got back to the cars at 5 p.m., and the rocks were weighed up.  I had 153 lbs., which included a very large piece of gold moss that was covered on one side with quartz crystals.  If it weren’t for the help of Aaron and James in carrying my rocks back to the vehicle, I wouldn’t have gotten a third as much.

Today as I was washing the rocks and sorting them, I’ve found about 10 lbs. that, in retrospect, I should have left there.  But first thing in the morning you don’t know what you’ll find later, and when you’re finding good stuff and having it carried back to the car for you, you don’t take much time to high grade. 

My total adventure cost $213:  $60 entrance fee and $153 for rocks.  Was it worth it?  Oh yes!  It was exhilarating, hunting on ground that had not been hunted much before.   It will be years before that particular hill runs out of large pieces, and there are hundreds and hundreds of hills on that ranch.  Aaron and James and the other guys that were there to help dig and carry were helpful and nice.  Aaron explained a bit of the geology to us before we started in the morning, and told us where we should find better material.  I’ll admit I didn’t understand much of the geological information he was telling us, but his advice on where to find the good stuff was similar to what we had been practicing on the Walker, Singleton and other ranches.  And the good stuff was indeed there.  I’ve been on a lot of field trips (over 1000 when I quit counting), and this is one I’ll remember for many years.  I’m going back again in 2 weeks.

Regards,
Teri

Note: The rockhunts on the 06 Ranch are being led by Aaron Thomas and James Winn VI. They begin at the Tri-La-Bite food trucks in Alpine. They currently happen only on Sundays, and are limited to 10 rockhounds per hunt. As of publication time, all hunts scheduled through 1/31/21 are full, and a new schedule for the Spring will be published in February. Once that schedule is published, I will try to schedule my rockhunts to other ranches (if indeed I am leading any) around the 06 hunts so you can come out to the Big Bend and go on hunts ion 4 different ranches in 4 days. If you have any questions about the hunts, you can reach Aaron Thomas at noraathomas@msn.com or roadcutgeology@yahoo.com

COVID Protocols for Rock Hunts

Hi y’all! I’m back in Alpine, Texas, in time to start field trips next week. Before the fieldtrips start, there are a couple of things I’d like to tell y’all about.First, I’ve added a new hunt on Sunday, 11/15 to East Needle Peak. Starts at 8 a.m. at Tri-la-Bite, and is $40 per person. Email me if you wish to attend.Second, for all hunts, COVID protocols will be in place: wear a mask when people are gathered, or when you are carpooling with someone you don’t live with. Wash hands with hand sanitizer (bring your own), and social distance at least 6 feet. I’m afraid that means no hugs! Mask wearing is required for the fieldtrips: you must wear a mask or you don’t go on the field trip. I’m in a high-risk group (age 65, moderate emphysema), and I really want to live through all this so I can have another 35 years or so to rockhunt. Aaron’s a bit younger than I am, so he will have another 60 years of rockhunting ahead of him, which y’all don’t want to miss!

Regards,

Teri and Aaron

Rockhunts this Fall, and Rocks For Sale Now

Hi Y’all!  June is upon us, and with it the hot weather.  I’m working on my plan for going to California at the end of June.  My current thought is that I will indeed come back to Texas this Fall to lead more field trips, probably from Mid-October through Thanksgiving, or perhaps all the way til the middle of December.  You can look for a schedule from Aaron and me sometime near the end of August or beginning of September. 

As you know, mandates from the government to ‘shelter in place’ or not travel can indeed cause me to change my plans, but barring something like that, I want to lead trips this Fall to get to see everyone I didn’t get to see this Spring, and have lots of fun picking up agates and other goodies.

Also, I’m still selling rocks by the bucket, and shipping them out.  I’ve sent over 100 boxes of agate and other materials to rockhounds across the country via USPS, and every box has gotten there safely. I still have agate available from the Singleton Ranch ($125 for an unsorted bucket, $250 for a bucket where I’ve sorted two or more buckets together and removed everything that isn’t cutting material). There are a few buckets left of Stillwell Ranch material ($250 per bucket), South Larremore Ranch rocks ($200 per bucket), East Needle Peak rocks ($200 per bucket) and Ritchie Ranch agate ($200 per bucket).  I have mixed agate ($150 per bucket), Agate from Mexico ($175 a bucket) and all kinds of other goodies.  You can look at a complete list of what’s available on my website, at www.terismithrockhunts.com/rocks-for-sale/.   I hope to add selected specimens to the list of things for sale, but I don’t know when I’ll get that done.

If you wish to get your rocks before I head west for the summer, you need to order them by June 15th.  You can either have me save your rocks until you can get out here this Fall, or you can have me pack and mail them to you at the cost of $50 per bucket.

I hope y’all have a good summer and stay well.  See you in the Fall!

Regards,

Teri

Rockhunts for November and December 2019

I’ve finally got a rockhunt schedule for the rest of November and December, and there are some very exciting developments for y’all!

I’m now working with Aaron Thomas, who is a degreed mineralogist and geologist, and a full time Alpine resident.  He and his wife Katrina run a food truck  business in Alpine called Tri-la-Bite, so he’s only free to lead field trips on Saturdays and Sundays.  He has been rockhunting in the Big Bend for most of his life, and has several ranches available for field trips on an occasional basis and a couple he can go to all the time.  Aaron’s very enthusiastic as well as knowledgeable, has more stamina than all of us put together, and is lots of fun to be around.

Because of Aaron’s schedule, I’ll be moving my field trips to the weekdays before and after the weekends when Aaron can lead trips.  This will give y’all the longest possible time for rockhunting on your trip out to the Big Bend, and you can pick and choose which days you’d like to hunt.  You can sign up for Aaron’s field trips the same way you sign up for mine:  send me an email with the days you wish to attend, and make sure to include the phone number for a cell phone you’ll have with you.  Both Aaron and I will be leading trips to the South Larremore Ranch.   All of Aaron’s field trips will be limited to 12 people, and there’s still no limit to the number than can attend my field trips.

For this set of rockhunts, the new ranch Aaron has available each weekend is the Needle Peak property owned by Jan Woodward.  This is the traditional Needle Peak site which has produced great pompom and moss agates and for the past 60 or so years. It’s west of the East Needle Peak property we’ve been hunting on for years, and if you wish to climb up to where the agate is coming out of the mountain, it’s rather steep.  But there is plenty of agate to be found on the flat area below the mountains and above the creekbed.  I was there last weekend and there are spectacular things to be found!  And Jan Woodward is donating all proceeds from the hunts to the local animal shelter in the name of her late husband Trey Woodward.

All field trips this year will begin at Tri-la-Bite, which is at the corner of Holland Avenue and Garnett Street in Alpine.  It’s on the left side of the street, across from the Sonic Drive-In.

So here’s the schedule.  Be sure to look at the start time for your field trip because they vary depending upon the ranch. I love y’all, but I’m tired of getting emails and calls for questions that are answered in this email, and available on my website.

Date Location Leader Cost Start Time Requirements
Thurs. 11/14 Ritchie Ranch Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Fri. 11/15 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 11/16 South Larremore Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 11/17 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Mon. 11/18 South Larremore Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Thurs. 11/28 South Larremore Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Fri. 11/29 Ritchie Ranch Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Sat. 11/30 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sun. 12/1 South Larremore Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Mon 12/2 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 12/7 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sun 12/8 South Larremore Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Sat 12/14 South Larremore Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Sun 12/15 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sat 12/21 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sun 12/22 South Larremore Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people Cash or check

Rollin’ Rock Club membership is still required for my field trips.  Cost is $10 single and $16 for a dual membership.  Membership will run through the year 2020.

Regards,

Teri

Fall 2019 Rockhunts: Maybe We’ll Have a New Ranch to Hunt On!

Those of you who are friends of mine on Facebook have probably heard the sad news, but for those that haven’t, my husband and best friend passed away on August 1, 2019, in Hollister, CA, where we were spending the summer. While Smith had been ill for many years, his death was unexpected.  Emotionally, I have been supported by our four children and four grandchildren, who came from Texas, Ohio, Virginia and England to be here with me.  I’m learning to understand what the word “widow” means in practical terms, and what the future is likely to look like for me.  I’m just hoping that I don’t have to get a real “job”, since that would mean that I couldn’t lead rockhunts on the days when I work.

I intend to come back to Texas in the middle of October and lead rockhunts through the end of November.  However, the Fall schedule is still up in the air because there’s the possibility of a new ranch being available in South Brewster County, near the Stillwell Ranch.  I won’t be able to tell you how good it is until I get there to look around, and that won’t be until October.

So… I can either wait til then to publish the actual schedule, or I can publish it right now with the caveat that the locations may change if this ranch proves to be as spectacular as I believe it will.  What I can tell you for sure is that I will be available to lead fieldtrips on the following dates:

Friday, 10/25 through Sunday, 10/27

Friday, 11/1 through Sunday, 11/3

Friday, 11/15 through Sunday, 11/17

Friday, 11/29 through Sunday, 12/1

If the new ranch proves to be good, I’ll probably add either Thursdays of Mondays to the schedule and go to each of the ranches on one day of the four-day weekend. Let me know by return email whether you’d like me to post a schedule that may change or wait til October to post the names of the ranches I’ll be hunting at each day.

The prices for each ranch is the same as in previous years:

Ritchie Ranch:  $10 admission fee and $1 per lb of cutting agate or good specimens.

South Larremore Ranch:  $50 per person per day.

East Needle Peak:  $40 per person per day.

And Rollin’ Rock Club membership is required.  I’ll hold the memberships and not submit them until December, so they will apply for 2020 as well.  Cost is $10 for a single membership and $16 for a dual membership for the year.

Hope to see you this Fall!  If not, I’ll be back in March and April for what may be my last set of rockhunts.

Regards,

Teri

News, both Good and Bad

The last of the old-time rockhunting ranches has been closed.  The wonderful Stillwell Ranch has been divided and much of it has been sold.  Included in the sale is the old primitive campground and the hills in which we used to find marvelous agate.  The black tank area to the north of the big wash has been sold as well.

The Stillwell Ranch is still open as a place to stay, with RV hookups, primitive camping, and the store.  There is another ranch in the area that has expressed an interest in hosting rockhunters, and I intend to talk to them soon.   I’ll let you know as things progress.

As for me, I’m in California for a while, but I may  be coming back to Texas to lead field trips in Fall 2019 as well as in Spring 2020.  Some of that depends on y’all.  Please let me know if you’d be interested in Fall field trips, and when you’d like them.  I don’t know yet if I’ll be able to do Fall trips, but if I do, I’d like to do them when as many as possible can attend.  So send me an email that indicates when you’d consider coming out for hunts, and how many people would be in your group.  I realize that this is all incredibly iffy, but the more I know about when y’all would come out if  every thing falls together, the better I can plan.

My husband John is not doing all that well right now, but I believe the doctors are getting a handle on it and he’ll be feeling better soon.  The lower elevation seems to be helping him breathe better, and his medicines need to be tweaked to what his current condition is.

Since I don’t think that I’ll be able to reopen my  museum soon, I am offering for sale some of the exhibit material, including the plume agate ‘windows”.  The windows are $2500.00 each, or $4500 for both.  I also have two other panels that have never been displayed, one of which is composed of mostly local material, and the other of which is mostly Brazilian.

I’ve also still got agate buckets for the Walker and Singleton ranches, and Stillwell, Ritchie, Larremore, East Needle Peak and other material as well.  Nothing will happen on that until I’m back in Texas, but the more I know about what you want to purchase, the better I can accommodate you.

I hope y’all are having a wonderful summer!  If you’re rockhunting, or cutting previous finds, I’d love to see photos of your rocks!

Regards,
Teri