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

Help Santa out this year and buy Holiday Gift Rock Buckets from me.

It’s time again to start considering what to give your favorite rockhounds for the holidays.   Obviously, the answer is not just ‘rocks’, or even ‘great rocks’,  but ‘large quantities of great rocks’.  To make your rock shopping easier, I’ve gathered more Walker Ranch cutting agates, and dropped the price on some other categories of rocks.  And, if you order soon,  I can pack them and ship them to you before the holiday rush.  Or, you can come out for rockhunts and pick them up yourself.  Here’s what I’m featuring:

Walker Ranch cutting agate, $250 per bucket.

Walker Ranch and Big Bend Crystal and Botryoidal Specimens, $100 per bucket.

Ritchie Ranch agate, $100 per bucket.

As you may recall, I ran out of buckets of Walker Ranch cutting agate last spring.  However, I’ve figured out a way to gather Walker Ranch agate from a number of different types of buckets (Walker Ranch specimens, Misc. Agate, Misc. Rocks, Cut Ends, agate sorted by color, agate nodules, etc.)   That idea is working well.  I’ve gone through different buckets to find the Walker Ranch agate, and I now have 2 buckets of Walker Ranch agate to sell.    I believe I’ll have perhaps 10 more by the time I’m done.  Although these buckets are not ‘unsearched’, they are full of great stuff!  I’m not holding out any cutting material that I find in the other buckets or anything like that.

Because the Walker Ranch specimen buckets have been raided for Walker Ranch cutting agate, I can’t say they’re ‘unsearched’ anymore, so I’m selling the Walker Ranch ‘searched’  specimen buckets, and many other buckets of crystal and botryoidal specimens, at $100 per bucket.

I’ve also reduced the price on the Ritchie Ranch buckets to $100 each, through the end of the year.

Shipping cost is $50 per bucket.  I take checks, PayPal, and cash.

Regards,

Teri


P.S.  I’ve had people ask me for details of the new ranch Aaron Thomas is beginning to lead fieldtrips on.  I really know nothing about it, except that it’s just north and east of Alpine, and Aaron has shown me photos of wonderful agates that came from there.   If you would like further information, please email Aaron at noraathomas@msn.com, or roadcutgeology@yahoo.com.

Revised Spring 2020 Rockhunt Schedule

There have been a couple of changes to the schedule for rockhunts this winter and spring.  First, the Stieg Ranch will not be hosting rockhunts this spring, due to damage to the roads that can’t be repaired quickly.  So the weekend hunts to the Stieg Ranch will be changed to the Woodward’s Needle Peak site or the South Larremore Ranch.

Secondly, Aaron and his family have determined that he needs to receive something for his time spent on the rockhunts so that he can keep leading trips every weekend.   We’ve decided to add a $15 charge for his services as a guide added to each of his field trips, starting this Saturday, February 15th.  That means that his hunts to the Woodward’s Needle Peak and the South Larremore Ranch will cost $65 per person.   That will enable him to keep the hunts small and focus on sharing his knowledge of the geography and mineralogy with y’all so you can find better rocks!

There are no changes to my fieldtrips for this spring.  I look forward to seeing y’all out here on Spring Break and throughout April!

Regards,

Teri & Aaron

P.S.  I now have my whole rock collection inventoried and available for purchase.  Right now the listing is on my website, at http://terismithrockhunts.com/rocks-for-sale/.  However, I intend to publish it as an email in the next few days.  It’s first come, first served, so take a look and let me know what you want!

Date Location Leader Cost Start Time Requirements
Sat. 2/15 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 2/16 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Sat. 2/21 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 2/22 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 2/29 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 3/1 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Sat. 3/7 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 3/8 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 3/14 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun.3/15 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Mon. 3/16 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Tue. 3/17 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Wed 3/18 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Thu 3/19 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Fri 3/20 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 3/21 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 3/22 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Mon. 3/23 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Tue. 3/24 Ritchie Ranch Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Wed 3/25 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Thu 3/26 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 3/27 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Sat. 3/28 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people.  Cash only
Sun. 3/29 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Thurs  4/2 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/3 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/4 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 4/5 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Mon 4/6 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Thurs 4/9 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/10 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/11 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 4/12 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Mon 4/13 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Thurs 4/16 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/17 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/18 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Sun. 4/19 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Mon 4/20 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Thurs 4/21 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/24 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/25 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $65 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 4/26 Needle Peak Aaron $65 6:30 Limit of 12 people C Cash or check
Mon 4/27 Ritchie Ranch Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check

Winter/Spring 2020 Rockhunt Schedule

Aaron Thomas and I are happy to present the Big Bend rockhunt schedule for Winter and Spring, 2020.

Aaron has added a new ranch:  The Stieg Ranch, near Balmorhea. The Stieg Ranch is an alluvial fan, which is relatively flat terrain, with a creek bed running through it.  Both the alluvial fan and the creek bed have every type of agate that eroded out of the surrounding hills.  You can find the Balmorhea Blue agate, banded agate, jasper, petrified wood, chert and artifacts.  The fee will be $50 per person, and that will entitle you to a 5-gallon bucket full of collectible rocks.

Aaron will be leading field trips every weekend from January 4th through the end of April. I will be gone for January, February, and the beginning of March, and will begin my weekday hunts on Monday, March 16.  I’ll have hunts every weekday during the two weeks that constitute spring break for most Texas schools, so there will be hunts each day from Saturday, March 14 through Sunday, March 29.  Then there will be rockhunts Thursdays through Mondays for the next several weeks until  Monday, April 27.  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.

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.

Regards,

Teri and Aaron

Date Location Leader Cost Start Time Requirements
Sat. 12/28 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sun. 12/29 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 1/4 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 1/5 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sat. 1/11 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 1/12 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 1/18 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 1/19 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sat. 1/25 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 1/26 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 2/1 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 2/2 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sat. 2/8 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 2/9 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 2/15 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 2/16 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sat. 2/21 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 2/22 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 2/29 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 3/1 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sat. 3/7 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 3/8 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sat. 3/14 South Larremore Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun.3/15 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Mon. 3/16 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Tue. 3/17 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Wed 3/18 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Thu 3/19 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Fri 3/20 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 3/21 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 3/22 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Mon. 3/23 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Tue. 3/24 Ritchie Ranch Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Wed 3/25 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Thu 3/26 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 3/27 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Sat. 3/28 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people.  Cash only
Sun. 3/29 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people Cash or check
Thurs  4/2 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/3 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/4 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 4/5 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Mon 4/6 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Thurs 4/9 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/10 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/11 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 4/12 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Mon 4/13 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Thurs 4/16 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/17 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/18 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Sun. 4/19 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Mon 4/20 Ritchie Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check
Thurs 4/21 South Larremore Ranch Teri $50 8:00 Cash or check
Fri 4/24 East Needle Peak Teri $40 8:00 Cash or check
Sat. 4/25 Stieg Ranch Aaron $50 8:00 Limit of 12 people.  Cash or check
Sun. 4/26 Needle Peak Aaron $50 6:30 Limit of 12 people Cash only
Mon 4/27 Ritchie Ranch Teri $10 entrance + $1/lb 9:00 Cash or check