Investigating and Sampling the Deposit
I returned to the outcrop on May 24th with a large bar in hand, and tackled the outcrop. I started moving rock and just below the original large tube-like cavity, opened one large cavity, about a foot and a half across and a foot high. That was an exciting find, one of those that opens dramatically. I was slowly prying the rock apart with the bar when I pried off a large piece, and the bottom of that piece was the top, "the lid," of the cavity. It opened a hole about 6 inches across into blackness. This was about a foot and a half below the big pseudomorph tube. Heart racing, I pondered a cavity full of large, clean pseudomorphs, and unreplaced apophyllites! Ha! Fat chance of that.
Not a problem though, it was an exciting find. It was full of calcite, unusual calcite, well worth finding. This area has been a wonder to collect calcite. There are the thin plates at the Rat's Nest (the "argentine" form of calcite), the thicker plates that show crystal faces, the rare tabular pseudo hexagonal crystals at both occurrences, the pseudo hexagonal prisms at both occurrences and the scalenohedral crystals at the Rat's Nest. This pocket was something else, It contained two kinds of calcite, and all crystals were coated with a very thin layer of quartz, a druse of very tiny crystals. There were thin, irregular plates standing on edge, this included two groups with parallel clusters of plates, and scattered plates, some broken off, lying on the drusy quartz surface of the cavity.
The other form was simple rhombs, but these were in stacks and en echelon groups in large parallel clusters. The best was a curved "plate" more like the palm of a large hand. It was resting in one corner, but was not attached. It had obviously grown to fit the shape of the inside of the cavity, but apparently the calcite did not want to associate with the quartz and was not attached to the quartz.
Two specimens of calcite from the calcite pocket, on the left is a group of parallel plates on edge, 10 cm across, plates are quite thin, specimen on the right is the large curved group of en echelon rhombs, 16.5 cm across, Summer Storm claim.
Along that same line of thinking, was the calcite over the two mounds of quartz in the center of the cavity. On the largest mound, intergrown rhombs of calcite covered most of it, but there were some holes between calcite rhombs and the quartz also poked through the top of the calcite covering. It could be seen though the openings that the calcite stood away from the quartz, except at a few areas of attachment. Most interesting.
As I was finishing up this cavity, I was suddenly startled by a flicker of light, immediately followed by a violent crash of thunder right over head. I had seen the thunder cloud growing, extending over me from the southwest, but it had not been active with lightning and thunder, and not being able to see it's vertical growth, I did not know that it had in fact grown to a big thundercloud. The rain started, and the lightning and thunder continued. I was about 1/2 mile hike from the truck. It would be just as dangerous hiking to the truck as staying where I was. I hurriedly stuffed the wrapped specimens into a bag to keep them dry, then did the recommended safety move, I laid my pack flat on the ground and kneeled down on top of it, head lowered to my knees. That's supposed to make you a small target and somewhat insulate you from the ground (in case a lightning bolt strikes nearby and energizes the ground). Maybe it's better than standing up and dancing, but it sure as hell is uncomfortable and it still leaves one feeling awfully vulnerable!
The storm remained active, slowly moving northeasterly, for better than 20 minutes. Then the lightning stopped, I was still breathing, and I raised up and looked up at the cloud. It was shrinking back to match the other cumulous clouds scattered overhead. That was it, one nasty thunderstorm right over me. At least it inspired a name for the claim -- the Summer Storm claim.
Quartz pseudomorphs after apophyllite, The specimen on the left is a better cluster from the left side of the outcrop where most crystals are severely cavernous, 24 cm across;specimen on the right is a fairly smooth-surface group with crystals to 4 cm long (found as float), Summer Storm claim, Custer County, Idaho.
After that "rest break," I finished that cavity, and barred out the remaining rock that could be moved with a reasonable amount of return for effort made. That didn't produce any more cavities. I did a little bit of work on the left side of the outcrop. The pseudomorphs in the cavities there were not particularly desirable. They were short, with large cavernous "terminations." Let's face it, that means big holes where the terminations should be. Mostly, they were hollow, unterminated, just shells of the short prism faces. I collected a few of the better pieces, those that showed at least some of the terminations and left the rest.
The Summer Storm claim
After that, I poked around a few more times, searching and investigating the area thoroughly, and decided that I definitely wanted to see what the deposit could produce. I just knew that there was another unusual calcite cavity and some more large pseudomorphs. I returned later and staked the Summer Storm claim. It was laid out along the outcrops of the lava flow to cover the occurrence of the pseudomorphs. I spent a day putting in the discovery post and three of the corner posts, then put in the fourth corner post on the next day.
After that, I walked over the claim choosing areas where I would make excavations to get an idea of the amount of pseudomorphs, and where to mine them. This took another couple of hours, and with notes in hand, I then left to go mineral collecting in other areas around Challis.
Return to the discovery.