McRocks Ray Mica Mine Dig & Kyanite Hunt
Yancey County, North Carolina
June 26-27, 2008
Report by Mike Streeter

  Page 2

The plan for Friday was for me to lead a group from the Ray to the abandoned Mas-Celo Kyanite Mine by climbing up and over a steep ridge. Kyanite can be found in the spoil piles at the Mas-Celo and as float in the forest and roads surrounding the mine. Those who were not up to the strenuous hike stayed behind and collected at the Ray. Everett Harrington, Jim Stoops and Mike Kosicki from Boone, NC were the only three brave souls to follow as I headed up the steep incline.

Mike Streeter

All three managed to find some decent specimens, although Everett, having been there before, generously allowed the other two guys to find the most stuff, often pointing it out to them when he saw it.

Everett Harrington

Mike Kosicki

With help from Everett and me, Mike's backpack got heavier and heavier with each find. "Hey Everett, let's see how much the new guy can carry!" The following picture taken by Mike at home shows some of his kyanite loot.

Jim's canvas specimen bag was sagging as he found plenty of kyanite specimens, but the following picture shows a good one that should look even better when cleaned.

Jim Stoops

Jim Stoops' Kyanite

I hadn't planned to keep anything I found, but couldn't bear to part with following excellent kyanite in pegmatite specimen that I cobbed out of a boulder near the cut.

Click on each specimen picture to enlarge

We made it back to the Ray by early afternoon to discover several more groups of rockhounds who had found their way there after reading about the field trip on The Sali family from Ohio were spread out on a pile of loose dirt and rock that Everett and I had thrown out of our hole the day before. They had found a couple loose beryl crystals there.

Joe Sali

Cheryl Sali & Granddaughter

Melody Amber and her Mom from Florida were gushing about the specimens that they had found that morning. Mom's nice single crystal was recovered by scratching in the apron of dirt and rock extending downslope from Everett's and my aforementioned hole. The way that we had thrown out rock and dirt by the shovel full, it was not surprising to me that beryl could be found in our spoils with minimal effort.

Florida Girls

Beryl Crystal

In an act of rockhounding generosity earlier that day, Ernie Walker had turned over his well-established hole to Melody and showed her what to look for since she was a newbie. She was thrilled when she found a fantastic beryl in matrix specimen that Harry ably cobbed to perfection for her. Upon seeing just how good it was, I carefully wrapped the specimen in newspaper for Melody. Although I didn't have the presence of mind to take a picture of it at the time, take if from me, it is a good as it gets. Melody was so elated and grateful, that there were hugs all around.

The Salis' and Amber's excitement and joy renewed my spirit and I set about, with Everett's help, re-opening the hole that we had started the day before. Having seen the many crystals that had been recovered from our hole, Harry Polly decided to come over to inspect our dirt and rock as it was being thrown out. Harry plucked out certain rocks that we tossed and washed them in Joe Sali's bucket of water that he had left sitting next to the hole. After a while, the hole narrowed so Everett got out to work the top with Harry.

According to Everett, one particular shovel full contained a palm-size rock that hit Harry in the foot. They both looked down to see a flash of green, but before Everett had a chance to react, Harry scooped up the rock and gave it a quick bath. From the bottom of my hole, I could hear Harry react with excitement, so I got up to see what he had found. Yep, it was a good one alright, at least from what I could see from a distance and before Harry stuffed it into his pocket. I had to say pretty please and promise to give it back before Harry would let me hold and inspect his specimen. Harry even let me take a picture of it, but only where he could keep an eye on me. Where has all the trust gone??? LOL

Mike & Harry

Harry's Beryl

After Harry's find, he settled in for the duration. He and Everett formed an assembly line whereby Everett would inspect the rocks and dirt that I threw out of the hole and pass the good-looking rocks to Harry who would wash them in a bucket of water. As my hole got deeper and deeper, I could hear an occasional remark about finding another nice one from above - but would they let me see them all . . . noooooo . . . just that trust issue again!

When the damp micaceous dirt-covered pegmatite rock's angle of repose was exceeded for the 5th time that afternoon and I no longer had the energy or will to dig out the slumped in hole again, I dragged down any remaining overhanging loose dirt and rock and called it a day. Just before the final collapse, I pulled out the following nifty specimen and, with just a little bit of whining, Everett and Harry actually allowed me to keep it.

Click on each specimen picture to enlarge

I couldn't agree more with what bulging-pockets Harry said to Everett and me on our hike out of the forest, "It was a GOOD day at the Ray!".