Site News and What’s Coming Next

I hope you and yours are well and safe. Nevadans are still free to move about the state, even here in Las Vegas in Clark County. As such, I am getting out as much as I can while I can.

With many of you staying at home, I will be posting much more often. In addition to reporting on whatever day trips I take now, I will be posting photographs from my travels across the Southwest that I have taken over the last three years. They won’t be well processed or described in too much detail (this is the greatest time killer with photography) but they will be something interesting to look at. Until my server space runs out, these will be full size images that you can download and use in any way you like without a need to credit me or worry about copyright restrictions.

As far as my health, I badly wrenched my back two weeks ago while working on my truck. I took aspirin for two days and then admitted defeat by turning myself into an Emergency Room at three in the morning. Since then I have visited three more medical facilities, each time getting good care but also exposing myself to whatever might be in the air. It’s a bit worrisome.

My injury somehow produces pain from my lower back to the sole of my left foot. I have no pain for ninety percent of the time unless I move the wrong way. Walking around and staying active helps if I am careful. Somehow, I can still do cautious, slow hiking up hills without much discomfort. I don’t understand this. On the other hand, I stiffen up so much at night that when I get out of bed in the morning I am screaming in pain. Literally. I have an appointment with a physical therapist soon.

What else?

My book project is taking up too much of my time and patience. I am a perfectionist and I wanted this hardcopy book to look a certain way and to be in a spiral bound format to lay flat. Bringing this about has caused me to waste too much time indoors. As such, I will be roughly formatting the document and then releasing it for free, chapter by chapter. The Arizona chapter is 70 pages by itself. I don’t know whether I will put it out as a .pdf or a Word doc. I will be locking down the content in some form, my one restriction for the time and effort it has taken to produce this writing.

I’m going to try to get back to Railroad Pass today to try to source some andesite for a friend who is looking for it. Unfortunately, it may not be there, despite the simple geological map that I was using previously from Macrostrat.org. I pulled the official USGS geological map for the area and the real outcroppings of andesite are miles distant and off pavement. See the image below, “Ta” stands for andesite. Scattered occurrences of andesite may occur at Railroad Pass since maps cannot locate every rock. But again, andesite is quite a bit away and I shouldn’t go off pavement too far since I can no longer change a tire on my own. I also have other reasons to return to Mountain Pass which I will detail later.

I hope all of you are well and safe.



This is Macrostrat’s simplified description of the hill I was on at Railroad Pass.

Harding Pegmatite Mine

Random photos of the Harding Pegmatite Mine in Taos County, New Mexico. Some of these might have been posted before, some of them may have been downsized at one time. Follow the link I just gave, many more details there. More pictures to come.

















Visitation rights are now subject to change because of the virus. Check the University’s websites. And check my current places to visit travel list for attractions around the area. Subject to when we can all travel again, of course, and with the hope our rock shops have not gone out of business.

Harding Pegmatite Mine

Between Taos and Santa Fe along NM 75. Bring all your maps.

The Harding Pegmatite Mine is a former rare minerals quarry located in Taos County. Now maintained by the University of New Mexico, the Pegmatite Mine is open to rockhounds for no fee. Five pounds of material may be taken provided guidelines are followed. Large groups must pay a fee and they need to call ahead.

Visitors must fill out a release form available at the mine’s website. Follow the University’s instructions exactly as it will be necessary to fetch the caretaker before entering the mine. The road to the first mine gate is short and passable by passenger vehicles. Parking is extremely limited at this first gate. No trailers or RVs. If the gate is open, a larger parking lot is farther along the road.

Pegmatites are unusual and interesting rocks igneous rocks, originating from volcanic activity. At the Harding Mine, white sparkling rock is all around, some with pink tints, often with gray or darker inclusions. The pegmatite is the white rock, the various colors and inclusions the minerals. These can be quite unusual, needing an expert to identify them. Bityite, eucryptite, and fluorapatite are some. More common is the pink tinged lepidolite.

A lepidolite tinged rock showing nice pink coloring is a challenging but satisfying project on a warm day in the beautiful hill country of Taos. If possible, bring a short wave and longwave lamp, along with a barbecue lid cover. Hunting fluorescent rocks enlarges searching beyond what appears in daylight.

Print the “Walking Tour for the Harding Pegmatite Mine” file before visiting. It references the numbered markers that are spotted about the quarry.

If possible, a tour of the old quarry should start at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in Northrop Hall, home to UNM’s Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences. A museum in Room 124 displays specimens from the mine. A dimly lit case on the first floor also exhibits specimens, including a large chunk of beryl. In that case, notice how one rock seems to intergrade with others. The rose muscovite, the lepidolite, and the spodumene all seem variations on a theme. What’s not obvious is the sparkling nature of some of the rocks, which comes into play in bright light.

The mine’s entrance off Highway 75 is on a strong uphill grade and is difficult to find. There is no sign indicating the mine road, save for a small wood plaque on a juniper asking people to pack out their trash. On a fair day, you will be caught up in looking at the surrounding countryside. This is the land D.H. Lawrence fell in love with and you will, too.

36°11.890′ N 105°47.346′ W

This link is for the mine tour.pdf and the release form:

http://epswww.unm.edu/harding-mine/

The Taos hill country is populated with artist studios, wineries, and scattered Indian Pueblos. Cottonwoods in the fall blaze yellow along streams and other watercourses. It is a delight in fair weather. Iceland spar may still exist in the area, check Mindat.org for possible locations and MyLandMatters.org for land status.

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