Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Great Goddards Ledge Rose Quartz Conspiracy Hoax

Philip Morrill et al. (1958) described Goddards Ledge near Rumford Center, Maine as a rose quartz locality, found while the pegmatite was worked for ceramic feldspar in the WWII era.

So in 1993 I tried to find it. It's a nasty traverse, pretty steep, up the side of a mountain, unmarked, no trails and 'intermittently' posted. But what the hell. Plus it's raining (keeps the black flies and mosquitoes down). Up and away we go.

Bonanza !!! I found an old feldspar working littered with giant shards of glass quartz way up the mountain, under lots of mud and leaves. This must be it. Light going fast in the rain. It's all rose quartz. Unbelievable! Nobody has been here for decades. It's all mine !!!

Get home at 10 p.m. totally soaked in mud, get up, go to work, next day take out all the 'finds' and cover the kitchen floor of the apartment with them. Yes !!! Sun comes out next day. All the 'rose quartz' is amazingly clear and devoid of any pink coloration.

My landlord, Yvon Doyon, comes by for the rent. The whole house and deck are covered with pieces of non-rosy quartz. We have to step around them as I write him the rent check. He gives me a quizzical look. It's a tenement. Lots of 'not-normal' people live here, and I get the feeling Yvon has officially put me in that category.

I've been hoodwinked. Shamboozled. Schlamottled. Diabolicized. It's all NON rose quartz !!! How could this be?

I think it was becuz I was a wee bit too 'eager,' or as Jim Mann would say, 'rock warped.'

Actually, a dozen or so of the pieces are true rose quartz. The rest are so faintly tinted it would have taken rose quartz tinted glasses to see it. And apparently I was wearing coke bottles of that stuff when I was at Goddards Ledge. Oops.

But it gets worse. Much worse. The next spring I brought my girlfriend to Goddards Ledge as the 'first stop' on a Memorial Day camping vacation; and we both climbed the 800 foot nasty incline up to the 'quarry.' But we didn't find it. I followed the wrong ravine. Since there are no trails, it's a bit complicated. And every mosquito and black fly in Oxford County had our number. So we ran back down the mountain to the car, totally sweaty, hungry, disgusted and bug-bitten.

Except I could not find the car keys. They were somewhere 'up there' on the mountain. I had put them in my backpack (for 'safe keeping') and forgot to zip the pocket shut. So they could be anywhere between us and the non-Goddards Ledge quarry. Under the leaves. In between two rocks. Anywhere. And it was getting dark. Smooth move, Doug.

So back up the mountain and about halfway up I saw a glint. The keys !!! Really? The keys !!!

They had fallen out of my pack when I was skidding up or down a glacial erratic. God must have had mercy on me that day.

So some of the rose quartz at Goddard's Ledge in Rumford is genuine, if you don't get too over enthusiastic. And when fashioned en cabochon it does display 6, 8 and 12-star asterism, as Phil Morrill said in 1958.

But keep an extra set of keys under the car wheel. Just in case.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Getting Lost at North Twin Mountain, Rumford, Maine

North Twin Mountain is just a few miles to the north of Black Mountain near the Rumford/Andover line in western Maine, south of Maine Route 120.

Swains Notch is a split in the mountain chain, marked by a pond, where Phillip Morrill et al. (1958) described large quartz crystals in the 'dirt.' North and South Twin Mountains are historically documented as having unmined beryl pegmatite deposits on their shoulders.

In 1998 on a very rainy June day I got antsy around the house and drove 50 miles to 'attack' Swains Notch and North Twin Mountains and force them to divulge their secrets. What a mistake.

First, it was pouring out. Intermittently, but still pouring 15 minutes of each hour.

Second, I had not even a good USGS map to direct me; just the old Phillip Morrill quads from the Winthrop Mineral Shop.

Third, I had no idea where I was going, except to the end of 'Swains Notch Road' off the road leading to the Black Mountain quarry.

But what the hey. So I got out, shouldered pack, hammer and went uphill. Uphill seemed a good direction to go.

After about an hour of steep climbing, in intermittent yet pouring rain, I did find some unmined, glacially scoured pegmatite outcrops on the southern shoulder of North Twin Mountain. And rough but large beryl crystals were exposed in the pegmatite, if you ripped giant carpets of moss off them and coated yourself in mud. But hey. Edmund Bailey did it at Black Mountain in 1880. But maybe not in the pouring rain.

So I've climbed 1,000 feet, am totally sweaty and totally soaking wet and it is pouring out, did see some in situ beryl but its getting toward 3 or so, not that I have a watch. It just seems 3 or so. Better get off the mountain. Start following logging roads.

But they seem to be heading in endless zigzags. There is no 'down'; just a down followed by an 'up.' Where am I? I have no clue.

On a clear day I could climb a tree and get my bearings from Black Mountain, or any high spot, I know the terrain and landmarks fairly well. But it's pouring and foggy. Visibility is about 300 feet and no sign of it lifting.

I'm totally soaked now, 4 layers of clothes, it's pouring and I'm watching a ruffed grouse who is not so worried as myself. I know from my mental map (no compass ! idiot) that if I walk off the east side of the mountain I will not hit a road for about 5 miles, the Isthmus Road and it will be long past dusk. But I also know that my car is only about 1.5 miles away at most -- if I walk in the right direction toward it. And I have no idea and the logging roads are all doing curlicues and cul de sacs.

But then, in a birch grove, near a brook, a breeze ... a smell ... coming from downhill ... badly cooked cabbage and clam flat gas! Rumford. The smell is my compass!

There was a while I was a bit scared because I had never been so thoroughly lost before. But like a monkey with a typewriter I randomly moved toward the door and downhill and took a correct turn and saw Swains Pond, which I had never seen before, but I knew it was the right way. And the rain started to let up. It was just kind of misty when I popped out of the road at the end of the pond and after another half hour found the car.

It's quite a beautiful place.