Franconia Strewn Field, October 7-9, 2011
After the successful group Holbrook hunt earlier in the year the idea for an "October birthday" Franconia trip was tossed around. Richard Garcia took the reigns and organized a great weekend. Several of us met the night before the hunt at the hotel swimming pool to talk about the next day's activities, check out some of Richard's Franconia finds, and do a little detector tuning.
(photo courtesy of Richard Garcia)
We met at the staging area before dawn and headed out. After a couple miles in 4WD we arrived at the parking area just as the sun was climbing over the horizon.
A quick self portrait and I'm ready for the hunt.
We put on our snake guards, gathered our gear, and waited a few minutes for all of the vehicles to arrive. Here Ben appears to be giving a quick a pep talk, and then we're off.
We paused in front of the tunnel as a train passed for a group photo.
(photo courtesy of Richard Garcia)
The weather could not have been more perfect. Rain squalls passed through the area a few days prior and we were in the middle of a cool spell. We hiked into Warm Springs Wilderness and never saw temps higher than 82*F, with a light breeze to keep us refreshed all day.
On top of a ridge Richard oriented us all and pointed out a few landmarks, describing the orientation of the strewn field. Then everyone headed out and the hunt was on. My panorama captured Ben adjusting his detector in the middle of the strewn field. (click picture for full-sized)
Most of the group headed up towards Jason's hill. Since I did not have a metal detector I decided, with a little advice from Ben, that I would only hunt areas that were inconvenient to swing a detector in. I headed off to the east and gridded some steeper terrain and searched around any large groups of rocks I came across. I always tried to take the most difficult path, and if I found myself on flat terrain I quickly moved off to something uneven or rocky. The steeper embankments were covered with snake holes, and I was on high-alert all day. The Crotalus scutulatus, or Mojave green, is who you need to watch out for out here. Almost all of us were wearing some form of snake protection. I made sure to never reach for anything without checking the area well, and beat the bushes with my magnet stick before I walked through them. I didn't see a snake all day.
I get into almost a zen state when I'm out hunting meteorites in the desert. It takes a lot of patience to walk less than 1 mile per hour for 11 hours, but I find there's a lot of meditation in that. Buddhist monks take it to a whole other level with their Walking Meditations, but I try to put myself in a similar state of mind. Here's a typical small wash from the area. I could wander around out here forever; only the dark gets me to leave.
I found these tracks in several spots. It took me a little exploring, but I finally figured out they were animal paths. This would be a good spot to set a snare if you were surviving in the bush.
The wind and the bushes made their own paths, too.
One of many rock carims encountered during the day, probably marking the spot of a previous find. The desert pavement is mosaic of meteorite-hued stones.
The Fouquieria splendens (ocotillo, desert coral, coachwhip, Jacob's staff, vine cactus) were thriving. They made a great sound in the wind.
Mr. Horn E. Toad. When I first saw this little fellow and paused to get my camera I completely lost sight of him even though he was only a few feet away.
I returned to my truck for lunch and a little air conditioning, then headed back out to try my luck in the north end of the strewn field. I hiked over to a ridge on the west, then turned north.
A view south from high atop a ridge.
Heading north, deeper into the strewn field, the Black Mountains looming ahead. I hiked north until after 5pm, but with no luck and the sun getting lower I decided it was time to head back. The canyons and washes in the north were awesome, I really enjoyed my time there.
My way back found me on a ridge connection two mesas, the top of Jason's hill being the mesa behind me in this photo. I know there's meteorites up here.
The mesa on top of Jason's Hill, looking south. The ground on these mesa tops was totally different than anything I had encountered all day. It consisted of what looked like broken up cement, like it was an ancient lake bed that had been uplifted to form the top of this hill. Every now and then as I walked pieces would clink together like ceramics.
I didn't find any meteorites, but I didn't leave empty handed either.
A. 1/2 a geode
C. Crystal "cave" w/flat bottom, displays nicely
D. These crystals were all over, this was my favorite piece. It has translucent edges.
E. Meteorwrong (see below)
F. Layered crystal with a sparkly top (pyrite probably)
G. This crystal formation looks like silicon injected into the rock.
H. A magnetic little rock with flecks of a metallic substance throughout (showing up as the small black patches in the pict)
I. A small crystal cave.
Here's the meteorwrong. It doesn't look like a Franconia chondrite, but I thought I might have made a cold find until I picked it up. I marked the spot in my gps, "just in case", but I knew once I inspected it that it was a wrong. Even at that, it is my best wrong to date.
Whatever the "crust" is, you can see when you examine the bottom that exposure to the elements turned it black.