On May 23 I left the San Francisco bay area for Nevada to dig some turquoise at the Royston Mine and to do some exploring. The quickest way to Tonopah and vicinity is through Yosemite. All the way to Yosemite we kept seeing signs that said that Tioga Pass was open. As we approached Yosemite things got gloomier. Using my Golden Age Pass, we slipped into Yosemite for free, feeling like a kid that had just gotten away with stealing some candy. As we approached Toulumne Meadows it began to snow. We soon passed some motorcycles that had stopped because it was too slippery. I was now in full time four wheel drive. Even so, I was slipping around a bit and decided it was time to stop for a break. Exuberancy ruled, and a snowball fight soon broke out.

I was hit by a snowball in a vulnerable spot by a sneaky female who claimed she was aiming for my chest. Beaten and unable to respond in like kind I retreated to my vehicle and continued the trek to lower elevations. When we reached the eastern side of Tioga Pass, we noted the pass was closed and we probably were the last to traverse it, saving many miles of backtracking if we had not made it.


We went on to the Monte Cristo Mountains to camp and set up our tents. We did not put the tents near the rocks although we built a fire next to the tower because our wood was wet and we needed to get out of the wind.

The heat did not bring down any rocks and we were able to stay warm. Randy and Monica had to improvise a shelter of tarps in the back of their pickup.

We went out to look for agates. The following picture shows the area where we collected in the Monte Cristos, mostly red black and white colors.

We found several and returned to camp to find the wind had destroyed one of our tents. Nevada and it's fickle weather gave us a taste of what it can be like, as is was cold, blowing and wet at times.

In the morning we struck out for a couple of locations find some blue, green and red rhyolite. I also found a couple big chunks of jasper/agate worthy of spheres. That evening we built a fire against the closed monolithic rock more or less out of the wind. It was bitter cold. One of my heroes, Jo Ann Walz and her husband from Yerrington Nevada stopped by to meet us and give us some tips on where to look for rocks in the Monte Cristos. I was very pleased to have chance to meet Jo Ann in person after having corresponded with her about the Black Rock Desert and the Monte Cristos in the past.

The following day we left for Tonopah and the Royston Mine, limping in without a spare, since a tire had suffered irreparable damage. No tire shops were open in Tonopah and the nearest place that may have been open was Fallon Nevada. After we crossed the Sierras, the only pass that was open was the Donner Pass on I-80 near Reno. At the Otterson's shop in Tonopah we met up with the main body of the SFGMS field trippers who had gone to some other sites, and headed to the mine with Dean Otterson and his family. Dean cranked up the cat and pushed some new material out to us to sort through.

Dean advised me that we could collect there as long as we wanted rather than going to the Broken Arrow varascite mine that day. The following is a picture of some San Francisco Gem & Mineral Society members going for the blue.

Ken Lai is holding up a big piece.

Mid-afternoon a rain shower blew in and everyone except the Whites, Bob Kozak and myself left. We stuck around and started surface collecting pieces of turquoise exposed by the rain. We did quite well finding rain exposed turquoise, even though we were treading on two or three inch lifts of wet clay attached to the bottom of our boots. We were in seventh heaven. The following is a picture of some of the turquoise that I collected that day:

The following day, Bob Kozak and I headed out toward the Broken Arrow Varascite Mine only to be turned back by rain and muddy roads. We drove to Reno, where I left for Wyoming with my wife and Bob Kozak drove my Jeep back to the bay area.