Summer Storm claim, Part III (goto Part I, goto Part II)

Mining the Summer Storm claim, May, 2004

The Plan of Operations and Mining

I prepared a plan of operations to conduct an exploration project on the Summer Storm claim and submitted it to the Bureau of Land Management in September, 2003. After investigating the site, considering the impacts (no water, no fish, very little fauna, scant flora, no archeological values and no significant other values), the plan was approved in late spring of 2004. The plan was approved as submitted to dig four pits, one on the outcrop and three others on the tops of the ridges into the lava flow.

This operation was coordinated with John Cornish to be conducted the two days before he would start his mining operation on the Rat's Nest claim. This would allow us to share the cost of the travel time for the trackhoe, and also make it more appealing for the trackhoe operator to do the projects at our convenience.

The operation began on the Summer Storm claim on May 24, 2004, and was finished on the morning of May 25th. It was a cold and snowy afternoon the day before when I arrived at the ranch we have access through to drive to the claims. John was already there, and we sat inside the ranch house talking with the ranch hand and his family who maintain this portion of the ranch.


The trackhoe on its way up to the claim with the mountains in the background showing the fresh snowfall.

John working in one of the pits where several geodes with quartz, calcite and pseudormphs are exposed.

After that, we went out to the claims and camped for the night. Shortly after I arrived at the Summer Storm that evening of the 23rd, it began to snow. The temperature dropped down to freezing, and it wasn't long before the ground and my trailer were covered with an inch of snow. The road was mostly in a clay, so it became very difficult to drive in some areas after that. On the claim, the clay is an expanding clay, and even though very sticky and horrible to walk in when wet, the expansion does a good job of obliterating vehicle tracks in one to two years, so the marks of our project would be eliminated in a short time.


John watching the excavation in progress on one of the prospect pits.

A mixture of specimens from one of the pits showing a plate of the pseudomorphs in the center surrounded by platy calcite and quartz geodes.

The next morning, the 24th, the temperature was 36 degrees and the snow was rapidly disappearing. The trackhoe arrived and after the operator had walked it up to the outcrop, we began work. He tore the outcrop apart until about noon. A number of cavities with pseudomorphs, some interesting quartz and a few very nice calcite specimens were produced, but it was disappointing in the fact that no large cavities and with the exception of a few nice, unusual calcites that were found, there were no major finds. That was my impression, reality was actually revealed a goodly bunch of pseudomorph specimens lying around above the excavation.

I invited a few of my field collecting friends to join in the "fun," and Aaron and Jade Wieting arrived when we were working on this excavation. Randy and Betsy Becker arrived later. Our expected great gathering in the field was dampened a bit by the cold weather, but we had a good time. This afternoon, the clouds had lifted some so they weren't sitting so low, and the temperature was up to about 50 degrees. It was cold, but fairly nice during the middle of the day.


Unusual calcite crystal group with plates and prism-like crystals in a cavity lined with quartz pseudomorphs after apophyllite, Summer Storm claim, Custer County, Idaho.

Group of thin plates of calcite with zoning, 8.5 cm across; on the left are thin plates with finger-like growths of quartz, Summer Storm claim, Custer County, Idaho.

When we had seen enough of the outcrop, the trackhoe operator pulled the rock back up to the working face, contoured the fill and covered it with fines and what served as soil in this semi-arid environment. He then drove down off this site and over onto the next ridge to dig another prospect pit. He got right to work on that, and it wasn't long before more geodes with pseudomorphs, calcite and quartz crystal linings were being recovered. This hole produced some good pseudomorphs and some interesting calcite specimens. It also produced the most coarse quartz geodes with crystals about an inch across.

When the hole was about 20 feet across, and it was late in the afternoon, we called it quits on that exploration pit. The operator filled in the hole, put the soil over it and walked the hoe off the ridge so he could get access to it in the morning to service it and take it up onto the next ridge for test pit number three. Everyone then selected the specimens they wanted, and wrapped them up and carried them out to the trucks. The remaining specimens were left on the surface to be taken by John the next day for his sales stock.

We then hiked off the ridge and down to camp. It was about 5:30 then. The temperature had dropped the last couple of hours down to 40 degrees or lower. Camping was rather cold that evening. It started snowing shortly after we got down to camp; I was very glad that I now had the trailer; standing around cooking dinner in the snow, cold wind and low temperature with large balls of clay on my feet would not have been fun.

The next morning, as we got started, it was warming up enough for the snow to melt off the ground. It had done its job though, the clay was now wet and walking in it was difficult. It also stuck to our boots so that with every step we were picking up an ever increasing mass of clay! When the trackhoe operator arrived, the clay was so slippery that he was unable to drive up the short hill to his hoe to fuel it up, but he said that wasn't a problem, it should have enough for the work we would do there. He greased up all the joints of the hoe, and got to work. Getting up on the ridge was more "fun" than expected. That clay was so slick that after he had gone part way up the tracks would not hold and the trackhoe started sliding back down. A little help from the bucket got him up on top of the ridge. Walking up was no treat either; the clay that stuck to ones boots was heavy, and on the slope it was easy to slide back down as far as you went up each step!

It wasn't long though and the trackhoe was hard at work and we all there collecting the geodes with the pseudomorphs, calcite and a few of the better pieces with the coarse drusy quartz lining. The morning was cold, and the wind blew, so the clay dried out slowly, making it easier to work. We worked until about noon, digging two more holes, and filling in and reclaiming each one as we went. After that, we had the trackhoe moved over to the Rat's Nest claim, and we finished wrapping up the specimens from the Summer storm.

It had been a cold, snowy, windy time, but the testing of the Summer Storm claim and the collecting of it's minerals was a good time for all. John Cornish wanted this claim, to work along with the Rat's nest claim, so I sold it to him along with the Rat's Nest. Specimens will continue to be available from both claims.

And that's my tale: Lanny R. Ream, January 19, 2005

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Copyright 2005, Lanny R. Ream