A Rolling Rockhound Review
We didn’t find the Aquamarine but we did find Amazonite… LOTS of Amazonite!
As a rockhound, especially an amateur rockhound, you may not find exactly what you set out for but if you keep your eyes open, focused on the ground AND your surroundings, and follow your “Rock Sense” you’ll most likely find something.
I discovered Haystack Knob when researching Beryl (Aquamarine) rockhounding sites in the Owens Valley, California. Haystack Knob is known to have deposits of Amazonite and Beryl (Beryl only if you look long and hard enough). Unfortunately, my circumstances at the time didn’t allow me the time to search out the Beryl on this trip. We’ll cover that in a future post
Haystack Knob aka Kern Knob is about 4 ½ miles (as the crow flies) from downtown Lone Pine. Whether taking a northern route from downtown via Lone Pine Narrow Gauge Rd. or southern route via Dolomite Loop, both end up on Owenyo Lone Pine Road. The route travels asphalt and well-maintained gravel roads. The dirt road leading to the site from Owenyo Lone Pine Road is well-traveled and in rather good shape, okay for a passenger vehicle. There is plenty of parking available where the road turns back toward the ravine behind the knob.
From here it’s a short hike into the ravine behind the knob and up the boulder-strewn hillside to your left/NW.
We followed the ravine a short way and climbed a small knoll to our left or NE from which we had great views of the Owens Valley.
The coordinates I had directed me to a site that was reported to have been a rich vein of Amazonite at one time but that had been so picked over that almost nothing remained. I was thrilled when I came across a few scarce chips of Amazonite scattered about on the south-facing slope. I collected those and continued to search in the immediate area.
The ever-enthusiastic rock hound, Max became bored so he, Lola, and Mr. RR headed back to the truck. I called out my infamous “I’m just going to look around the corner and I’ll be right behind you.” Needless to say, it took me more than an hour to head out after them, which is why Mr. RR insists I carry a GPS Tracker, water, and other basic supplies.
While they waited patiently, playing stick back at the truck, I walked over the knoll that and around a second higher knoll behind, scanning the ground the entire way. On the backside of the knoll, I found numerous small shallow pits with piles, yes – piles of Amazonite scattered about. I scavenged the tailings left behind by previous rockhounds and came up with some nice specimens. If I’d had more time and the right tools, I’m sure I could have found larger, purer pieces but I was more than happy with my first Amazonite specimens.
I highly recommend this site for Amazonite, and if you have time… study the resource links near the end of this post for directions on where to find the Beryl. Please drop me a line if you find anything here!
I am not an expert! I’ll do the research and reconnaissance and share with you what I discover, but it’s always a good idea to do your own research before heading out into the field.
- Site: Haystack Knob via Google Maps; Haystack Knob aka Kern Knob, near Lone Pine, California on the eastern side of the Owens Valley
- GPS: 36.610776, -117.983922 to the general area
- Rocks or Minerals possible: Beryl (Aquamarine), Amazonite, Smoky Quartz
- Rocks or Minerals found: Amazonite
- Surface, dig, other: Surface and dig
- Public lands jurisdiction or private ownership:
- BLM, BLM-Bishop Office (760) 872-5000
- Fee to Dig or Collect: No fee
- Road classifications – 2x, 4x, UTV, or Foot: 2x paved and dirt (great condition) and ½ mile hike and scramble.
- Hike Classification (Difficult, Moderate, a stroll in the park): With the hillside boulder scrambling, I’d call it moderate.
- Hike Distance: approximately ½ mile to site described here
- Environment (Desert, Forest, etc.): Desert and Inyo Mountain foothills
- Safety concerns: Typical of a desert environment; watch out for poisonous creatures & predators carry a safety tracking tool and paper map, always tell someone where you are going and do not go alone, take plenty of water, be sure your vehicle has plenty of fuel and check your tires before heading out.
- Where we stayed: Boulder Creek RV Resort
- Camping nearby:
- Check with the local Chamber of Commerce regarding the many RV Campgrounds & Resorts in the area.
- Boondocking nearby: Haystack Knob is on BLM property and dispersed camping is allowed. Please familiarize yourself with BLM’s dispersed camping regulations before doing so. Although dispersed camping is allowed in the Alabama Hills nearby, it is discouraged due to its popularity; BLM-Alabama Hills National Scenic Area. LADWP, City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, lands in the area are open for day use only.
- A Needle in a Haystack, W.Margerum Walt Margerum, from the Bulletin of the Mineralogical Society of Southern California, Vol. 74, No. 7, July 2004 (p. 8-11).