July 10-12 Rick and I spent the nights camping at a nice temperate 6500 elevation in Idaho(home had been a fry pan for a week even Before all the fires filled our air with smoke )
Dismal Swamp has been famed for many decades for yielding "normal" to Very dark smoky quartz crystals,clear to pink topaz and rare brilliant aquamarine.Also swarms of deer flies!
Hylundr posting on my "Any Luck?" thread lower down this page shows the exceptional aqua that the skilled and experienced can dig!
For my first real "go" at digging there for smokies,I did better than average too,but for ONE reason:a 17(I think he said) year old PRO (7 years experience!!!) told me exactly what to do. Thank You Robert!
Without his advice I would have come home with 3 little thumbnails but that would have been IT!
Even so,it took until late our second full afternoon,with me laying IN the creek and peering into undercuts and scraping out Just the right layer before I was rewarded with a VERY nice crystal! Even then,I'd half cheated by taking over a hole Robert and his friends had left when they had to go home!
Rick picked spots and dug and dug but wasn't able to crawl and peer at the layers like I did to focus his work. He only found one at the "old swamp" diggings.Mine were from the newer "creek" diggings.The whole place(either of them) are a riot of holes and piles and roots and deadfall and live bushes and forest ALL over the place with some stagnant water and some live water passing through.It's such a huge MESS that some analysis is required to sort it all out before one begins! If any of you go there be prepared for initial sensory overkill and just give yourself some time. My next trip I'll know Exactly what to do and what type of spot to look for.Even so there's no guarantee of these treasures showing up!
The retail value(not that I'd Ever sell one- ) of 40-60cents Per CARAT at Kelly's in Featherville,shows that these rare-location babies are worth the labor of the determined and intrepid rockhound!Kelly's has a nice display and crystals for sale too!
Did I mention the REALLY bad roads yet? Getting out there some are the roll-over-huge-humps and trenches at 5 mph variety.
Big one is 2 1/2 inches.......
Well,I've never worked so hard or hurt so much after,and it's taken me days to "recover" but I am SO happy. I've wanted to get a crystal from this tough spot for over a dozen years so I really achieved a long term goal this time!
Well,I am having an absurdly hard time getting reports written this season so I wrote a bit here to start! I DO have a lot of great pictures coming for you all later tho-! KOR,Rhonda
You had a great trip Rhonda and this is a very good account of it!
What is it that makes "smokies" so special? I love them but have never found anything but shards.
Bumpy roads,layin' in a creek findin' smokies,,,,,,How can ya beat it!!!!!
Thanks and I can't wait to see the other photo's.
It's good to see that all your hard work paid off with such fine crystals. Sore muscles heal, but you'll have those nice specimens for life. Your great report is getting me fired up for my trip to the UP in early August.
You did very well Rhonda. No skunk apes in the Dismal Swamp?
Dean D. Welter
Awesome Smokies ya got there Rhonda! It just shows how much intestinal fortitude is worth in the end. Thank you for sharing with us!
Those are some purdy looking crystals you got there - way to go!!!!! I'm always glad to see when hard work and perseverance pay off, especially for those most deserving!
Hi Rhonda WOW those are nice. I hope to get out that way in the next few years. Thank you for the report and picture.
KOR Carl in NC right now
Clouds of deer flies . . . laying in cold creek water . . .stagnant water . . . Sounds like FUN! How to go Rhonda, that is a nice crystal.
To paraphrase an old saying, "Time flies like an arrow, Deer Flies like a rockhound". Don't they take a chunk outta you though.
Nice to see that there were some friendlies up there to help you out. Dismal is one of our favorite places in the world.
We left there the weekend after the 4th with 32 lbs. of smokies, 28 pieces of Topaz (from 1/8 to 2in.) and one nice Aquamarine. Hope to see you there!
Thank you so much Jim,Denise,Dean,Carl, jj, & Mike for cheering me on!
Tom,that "value" thing must be based on rarity of location and the VERY dark Natural state of the smokies(the ones in rock shops this dark are almost always irradiated)....it also applies only to the glassy "gem quality" ones.Broken pieces are cabbed and faceted and Idaho folk are VERY proud to wear them! The guy in the store pushed my Biggest 74 gram prize crystal back at me saying "Oh,that's JUST good for a Specimen"...WELL GEEZE...A little hound like me can LOVE a specimen as much as a gem!!!
Anyhow I understand your query as I remember too when a water clear McEarl optical crystal from Arkansas was 25 cents(now $25.00 and up for an inch or two).Rocks cost a LOT now days! Nothing beats Finding them!!!
Now Jay, "Skunk Ape" is the Florida term isn't it,hahahah,I think our BigFoots would be irritated by all the activity in This swamp but I betcha they were there BEFORE all the rockhounds! Definitely a perfect environment! Your brother Lee would like it too I think,unless he's just a desert rat?
Bill, That version of the old joke is PERFECT! I use that joke whenever I can but didn't think o that! For those who don't know it the original version second line is "Fruit flies like a banana"
Mike,here is a kindred spirit picture for what you easterners were doin!
Guys like jj who get many pounds are the ones with the muscle to remove allll that overburden and REALLY dig in deep and far! not me,snif, Rick says he's gonna bring tools for serious overburden removal next time though!(possibly a gad to pry it off roots before shovel ling,etc etc)
I'm holding the biggest one I got,the "only a specimen" mentioned above... Like I said before I'm ecstatic to have done this well on a first try and I call this my shyteatingrin picture!!! KOR FOREVER! Rhonda
Ok-Here's the "total take" picture, not counting a couple of matrix specimens with partials and a third bucket of extra quartz I brought home cause some of it was big eroded crystal pieces and some look dark enough to have a cab or facet area...
Now I shall TRY to get a full Field Trip Report at least started!!! R.
Thanks for sharing your epic experience in the wilds. Those deer flies can sure hurt when they decide to take a chunk out of you. To make things even worse they itch like crazy after wards for a few days. Your reward came in finding some very nice crystals. The collecting area still looks a whole lot better then the Garnet area there in Idaho. We never went to the Dismal but tried the Star Garnet area once in our wanderings out west.
I'm waiting for the weather to break here in Peeay. It's either too hot or too stormy and mostly both the last few weeks. Ninety degree heat that you can cut glasses of water out of the air isn't for me and those lightning storms just aren't conducive to having metal tools in your hands.
Thanks again for sharing your memories with us.
"I'm waiting for the weather to break here in Peeay. It's either too hot or too stormy and mostly both the last few weeks. Ninety degree heat that you can cut glasses of water out of the air isn't for me and those lightning storms just aren't conducive to having metal tools in your hands."
Common Joe,,,,You know it aint gunna happen!!
You know the saying,
If ya don't like the New England weather just wait a half hour!!!
It's so muggy here I have the central air on and a 3 gallon dehumidifier I have to empty 3-4 times a day that's just for this one room!!!
Put on the oxygen mask,grab a few gallons of water and go for it!!!
Ps:Let me know how it is cuz I aint movin from here!!! LOL
Hey we just got home today, july 19th from dismal swamp, and I wish I had researched it before we went. We thought the roads were good except that 41 miles of washboard going back into Boise. We only dug one afternoon, just next to where others had been digging, and I found three smokeys and my wife found one but it was almost the size of a coffee cup. I will try to show a picture later.
well i dont know how many carats her crystal she found at dismal swamp is, but it weighs two pounds, but its kinda dark and smooth by water flow.
I was told carats don't count unless the crystal is glassy clear and facet quality.
Those big ones are a great prize though. The guys camped across from us got several.
Yeah those are rugged vehicle roads alright! And a trip for rugged people too!
There is no new info on the place that I could ever find.That was why I got this thread up. But no one answered with anything useful last year! NOW rockhound can decide not to go or to go Very prpared to deal with all the elements and labor.Up-To-Date information was absent until now! Thanks for contributing! KOR,Rhonda
So all the replies I have seen are many years old, I want to try and get a 2017 post.I started looking for smokies sometime around 2006 or 2007. It is now 2017 and this year my wife and I finally figured out how and where to find the very large crystals. Although I won't give out my (secret) spots, I will try to give out a few ideas for your consideration. Especially for new comers to dismal swamp.
First of all and what I think is most important, you don't need to go right down to where the two main digging areas are. I have found crystal from Rocky bar on over to the Trinitys. However I have found the largest crystals down in the dismal swamp area. By largest I mean 6+ inches and big enough that you can't put your hands all the way around them.
Over the years I have searched all over the swamp and digging area's. I think I have been a little more fortunate than most. It has taken a ton of work. I have found many just walking around the area. I like to get on the steep ridges. Each year more seem to wash out of those area's with the snow melt.
There is no rhyme or reason as to where they wash out.
I have found my most and biggest around large boulders. Get in and do some digging looking for vogue which will hold many crystals. I have pulled 50 to 75 crystals out of one hole at times. I now now have hundreds of crystal that are absolutely stunning to display. My wife found some old wood boxe that have glass tops. We have to lay the large ones down but stand all the others in an up right postion. This takes care of two issues. First you have a beautiful way to display your treasures. Second it protects your crystal from dust. After we started getting a large collection, it became a pain to try and dust them all. As a side note, it also protects them from company that like to hold them. That may not always be an issue for you but for some it is.
I have 4 grandkids at this point and they liked to hold and play with them. I have watched as one of my really nice crystals was dropped. I was ready to cry before it hit the ground and that was not from the grandkids
So good luck and know that it does take work but itis worth it when you pull a large Smokey out. Also as a side note. This year I have found some VERY nice Topaz, pink and clear. Most have been around 30 carts. A couple larger and a few smaller.
Thanks for the excellent up to date information. Mike