For the long weekend in June, we packed the car with everything we would need for the trip up the West Coast on our first Crystal hunt. From shelter to food and water, we had to take everything and make sure everything comes back home again. Pretty much as if you are going to go camp on the moon for a few days! Luckily this didn’t scare us as we’ve been to Afrikaburn a few times, and have some experience at needing to provide everything required ourselves.
We drove through a day early so we could avoid the 3am get up to make it to the gate by 9am from Cape Town.
On Friday morning, as we drove into the property, up to the locked gate, we could see the row of cars parked and waiting anxiously to enter this treasure trove! Indemnity forms were signed and a quick orientation for the newbies took place before we went down to the bottom of the quarry to set up camp. It’s worth mentioning that none of the experienced “diggers” set up camp at first, and started digging in holes right away! You see, digging is only allowed during daylight and no find is guaranteed.
We decided to set up camp first (this included tying guide ropes to huge rocks as tent pegs was not an option!), and we made our way to the rest of the group just before lunch. Poking and digging in holes while searching for a glimmer of something shiny. We soon realised that hanging to the side of the cliff face while digging into the side is not the most comfortable place to be in the hot winter sun, and decided to explore a while longer. We found a previous dig-site that looked likely and started removing rocks and sand. For the day, our find included only a hand full of tiny Quartz Crystals, which left us quite despondent in finding any treasures unless you know exactly where to look and what to look out for. That night around the campfire stories were shared about previous excursions where on some, not even one crystal was found while on others some beautiful Smokey Quartz pieces and even some Amethyst clusters had been found. With sore bodies, we decided to have an early night to try again the next day.
With a little more hope and armed with the pointers we received from everyone the previous night, we got up early with a mission in mind. We found ourselves a new spot (with a little help from some fellow diggers) where we continued removing earth and finally discovered some beautiful Rock Crystals, Smokey Quartz and Tangerine Quartz pieces. Some of them even containing Rutile growing inside and out of them.
Scooping out rocks and inspecting every hand full of sugary sand looking for a glimmer of crystal is quite a task. The crystals are covered with mud and if you don’t take note, you could very well be missing an awesome piece, or breaking a cluster up unknowingly. Carefully clearing around something shiny stuck in-between and half under yet again another pile of rocks and sand, you are anxious to see what you find. This whole mining thing is definitely addictive (and not for sissies)!
What is just behind that rock, or just 2 cm this way, or that way? Once you’ve taken something so old, beautiful and precious out of the ground yourself, you just have to see if there is more. You are the FIRST one to ever hold it. Pure earth energy!
Lurching around and lifting rocks, scooping mounds of sand is extremely tiring when you are not used to physical work like this, and eventually decided it was time to go when our backs couldn’t take the up and down anymore.
We woke up on Sunday morning to what must have been one of the coldest morning’s we’ve had in a while. Unfortunately we had to come back to Cape Town early, so didn’t get to go and continue exploring the nearly half a meter deep hole we dug the day before. We quickly packed up and stopped by the rest of the group to see what they’ve found and to say goodbye. Some fellow diggers continued scratching where we left off, and found a few nice beds just that 10cm further from where we stopped the day before! It just shows you, you never know what is just around the corner! They graciously donated a piece to us and we exchanged contact information with new found friends.
Big ones, small ones, all sizes of Quartz was found this weekend and no one went home empty handed.
We decided to keep some of the crystals for our own collection, and have a small collection available for purchase at the shop. This was definitely one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had, and look forward to the next outing with the Cape Town Gem & Mineral Society.