Last Summer, I went to British Columbia (BC), to collect quartz crystals at Foley Peak with Lloyd Twaites and Dave van Dieren. Unfortunately, the weather in the area that we wanted to go to was too poor to fly by helicopter so we had to postpone the trip by a few days. To see more about that trip that eventually happened, go to the "Articles" section of this website. In the meantime, Lloyd offered to take me to some of his old collecting haunts, particularly, the old Waterloo Mine on Lightning Peak and the brewsterite locality at Yellow Lake, near Olalla. Away we went! Here are a few images of our little collecting adventure.
A Friendly Grouse.
Well, I don't know how friendly this spruce grouse was but it certainly seemed curious! He/she checked us out for quite a while.
We thought we'd check the underground workings to see if there was any high grade in the ditch or anything good in the walls of the adit drift. No luck here either!
When Lloyd was last here, some 20+ years ago, he found his best pyrostilpnite and other sulphosalts in front of, and in, this adit. We dug around the muck but did not find very much this time. Seems like they were very efficient collectors years ago!
Rugged, Beautiful Country!
The interior of British Columbia is very rugged with valleys and mountains and very few flat spots except at the very bottom of the valleys. During my time in BC, the air was constantly hazy because of the smoke from fierce forest fires burning just a few tens of kilometres away
We were looking for silver minerals such as pyrargyrite, pyrostilpnite and silver, in this muckpile. There is lots of sphalerite and galena and once in a while you can find a piece of mineralization that has silver or silver sulphosalts in fractures. I did manage to find a decent little specimen of leaf silver but only uninteresting patches of sulphosalts.
I was constantly expecting to see a bear due to the proliference of berries. No bears! We did come across this big old porcupine. Sorry that I didn't get a better picture. I didn't have the camera ready when he we encountered him.
Lloyd and Mary's Trusty Old Land Cruiser
Lloyd Twaites has an old Land Cruiser that he and his wife Mary have used for many years to travel around the continent. It is a 1987 Toyota Landcruiser and has 415,000 km on it. That vehicle still has its original engine and clutch! I guess it is as much a testament to Lloyd's driving as it is to the quality of the vehicle. Served us well on this trip and is still going strong!
Silver, Waterloo Mine
Here is one of the two specimens of native silver that I found on the big dump at the Waterloo mine. Nothing too special bit it is a 13mm wide leaf of silver protruding from coarse carbonate associated with silver sulphosalts and a blue seconadary mineral in patches and tiny crystals, probably linarite.
Waterloo Mine Ore
The Waterloo Mine had a small milling facility (now long gone) to process the sphalerite/galena and silver mineral ore. Here is a sample of what seems to be typical ore; honey-coloured sphalerite, galena and occasional patches of silver minerals in carbonate veins.
I think the wild strawberries were the best I've ever seen them!
Waterloo Mine, Upper Adit
The Waterloo Mine has several adits. This is one of the higher adits and the one where the biggest muckpile came from. We didn't go in there.
Brewsterite, Yellow Lake
A small vug containing brewsterite. The largest crystal is 11mm long. For information only. Not for sale.
Brewsterite, Yellow Lake
This vug was full of calcite. I etched out the calcite with vinegar to expose very sharp brewsterite crystals. This cluster is about 10mm across. For information only. Not for sale.
Brewsterite, Yellow Lake
Another vug of brewsterite crystals exposed by etching away calcite. Largest crystal is 9mm long. For information only. Not for sale.
Christian Valley runs parallel to the Okanagan but a couple of mountain ranges over. Just farms. Very peaceful.
Besides berries, we were blessed with all kinds of views of wild flowers, wherever there was an open area.
What a nice lunch spot
One of the benefits of getting out collecting is the ability to see many beautiful places. This was our view during lunch one day -a beautiful mountain pond.
Southern British Columbia is one of the few places in Canada where we have "salt lakes", catch basins where water is caught and, after the water evaporates, deposits of various salts are left behind. Spotted Lake, or Kliluk as local aboriginals call it, a 38 acre lake, is just a few kilometres west of Osoyoos and is easily seen from a lookout beside the highway. It is a "lake" but is dry much of the year since the water that fills it in the winter and spring evaporates quickly in the extremely dry climate of this region, leaving the spotted mud flat that you see in the picture, the rest of the year. It was mined for various salts, in the past, including magnesium sulfate (epsom salts), calcium and sodium sulfates. The land is on private property and not accessible, at present, by the public.
Here is the stream that passed beside our tent. Look at that water -so clear and cold. I'll bet it is a raging torrent during spring melt!
We camped in the back country of Christian Valley. We had Lloyd's tent and were fully equipped for camping. This location was just off the road beside a pristeen mountain stream. Sounded great! During the whole time we were there, about 12 hours, only one vehicle passed our camp site. Very quiet(except for that stream!).
Yellow Lake Brewsterite Occurrence
The Yellow Lake occurrence is beside Yellow Lake just west of Olalla in the Osoyoos Mining Division. Here is yours truly chiseling away at the rotten basalt to obtain small plates of brewsterite from veins in the basalt. This is actually a road cut and RIGHT beside the highway. I figured that the police would run us off but none came along. Lloyd found a tiny wakefieldite-Ce crystal in a small vug from a cut further along. (photo by Lloyd Twaites)