Driving along Montana Highway 1, heading towards Phillipsburg from Anaconda, a beautiful mountain pass with gorgeous red tinted rocks grace the roadside with their dominating presence.
As someone with an obsession for rocks, moving from Washington state to beautiful Anaconda, Montana, has been nothing short of a dream. Now I don't know a whole lot about what to look for when it comes to hounding, only that when I see a magnificent, glittering rock, I tend to pick it up.
I have noticed that both granite and copper have a massive presence in Southwestern Montana. In fact, up behind my parent's house there is a beautiful wall composed of the igneous rock. Granite is composed mostly of quartz, followed by mica, feldspar, and other mineral composites. Depending on the other minerals present, this can give the granite a pink, red, grey or white hue to it. Copper, being the main source of income in Anaconda when the town had first started, is still found scattered about the surrounding Anaconda - Pintler Wilderness. Coming across a piece of metal that has been twisted and coiled around itself, green in color is nothing short of exciting.
Following granite, I live about 2 hours away from a wonderful little area called Crystal Park. Open to the public and full of beautiful quartz points ranging from dark smokey grey to perfectly clear, Crystal Park is where I've learned a lot about rock hounding. You absolutely need to have patience. You may not find anything your first time going, and that is okay.
Whilst walking around the park, I notice near the base of the trees that scatter the park dirt that appeared more organic, if you will. When I say organic, I mean it looked the way dirt does when you dig in it, however this dirt had not been touched yet. Looking closer, I spotted a few, very tiny quartz points. So I dug around the tree (never right up next to the base so as to not destroy the root system). What I found was a beautiful pocket of quartz points. What I'm getting at here, is trees can be (not all the time) a very good indication of what's in the ground around the tree. Due to the roots pushing up the soil as the tree grows, you get to see a little more of what Mother Earth is holding for us.
A few days ago, a close friend of mine asked if I wanted to go find some fluorite. To be honest, I didn't even know you could get fluorite in the state of Montana. So we drove. And we drove. Eventually we came across what used to be a fluorite mine. The mine itself produced quartz along with nickel and obviously fluorite. We ended up finding quite a few pieces of the stone, ranging from dark purples, to beautiful chlorine blue and everything in between. We also met a fellow rockhounder up there who was kind enough to give us some tips, and to observe him and his son while they dug. All in all, it was an incredible experience and one that I will be doing again before the summer ends!
Keep in mind, I'm not a geologist. Just a lover of what mother nature can do with a few minerals and billions of years worth of time.
Photo - Kryshelle Wittner