Petersen Mountain Commercial
Recovery Operation
(Washoe County, Nevada), 2006
A sunrise overview of the mountain and mines at Petersen- Jon and I are actively mining near "The Monolith" 
Our camp is also visible near the center, on the dumps 
 Picture taken on June 20th, 2006-

    For 30 years, my good friend Jon Johnson has been the owner of a Nevada claim on the world-famous "Petersen Mountain" amethyst Quartz scepter deposit.  This deposit straddles both Nevada and California.  Only at the 2 claims located in Nevada can heavy equipment be used for commercial recovery operations.  Jon's is one of them.

Please note that the entire mountain is claimed
and watched
.  Unauthorized collecting is NOT allowed.

    This year, Jon generously offered me the opportunity to work with him commercially on his claim.  This was a dream come true for me and I knew that we were going to have A LOT of fun!!  So, I dropped everything else that I was doing to commit to this adventure
(I called it my Sabbatical).  We would spend much of May, June and July, committed to this project.  For me, this meant that I would be living on top of the mountain for over a month (most days and all nights).  

    Anyone who has been to this place knows how violent the weather
can be up there; Continuous wind gusts averaging 20-40 miles per
hour, with rare gusts over 80 miles per hour, dust storms, heavy rain
and snow, and of course the 100+ degree days, burning sun and freezing cold nights.  Jon described it well by saying: "You can get heatstroke and frostbite on the same day, on that mountain top"...

    But, before we could even begin our mining adventure, a lot of preparation would be needed.  First and foremost, I had to take the federally-required, 2-day MSHA safety course.  The closest class I could find was in Elko, Nevada.  This class took place on the 1st and 2nd of June.  I then immediately drove back to Reno on the evening of the 2nd, to get ready to be on the mountain by the evening of the 3rd.   

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29 May, With the cats
freaking out, I prepared for
a month on the mountain-

3 June, Immediately after returning from the Elko MSHA safety class, I got my truck packed. The cubby hole in the back is where I slept, while on the mountain.  Thank goodness for a comfy
air mattress!  Afterwards, we headed for the grocery store, and then up to the mountain.

4 June, The morning after near disaster-  While driving up at 11pm the night before, John Cornish lost traction going up MF Hill (A VERY steep and slippery climb required to get to the mine).  His camper kept him from rolling all the way down.  I was at the top of the hill in my truck, watching it all. Thankfully, John wasn't injured.  Jon was already at the mine, so we drove up, leaving the truck until first light.  At dawn, Jon drove his dozer down the hill to where John's truck was at.  We then used 2, 20-ton come-a-longs (and 2 heavy chains) that I had in the back of my truck, and righted his truck with them using the dozer as an anchor point.  Jon then carefully towed it down the hill.  In the end, John had a hell of a scare to remember this trip by.  The damage to his truck wasn't too serious and he was able to drive it home
(with minor repairs) after the dig.

8 June, Camp is set up, and we get the "angry chair" working!  It took 4 tries to get Jon's camper up MF Hill!  Now, we wait for final approval from MSHA and BLM to begin commercial mining.  In the meantime,
we do some needed
reclamation work.

8 June, A beautiful Lenticular sunset over
the backhoe!  Some nights
it cooled off so fast and so much that we would have
to put on our jackets
by sunset, after roasting
in the hot sun all day!

11 June, Here is some early reclamation work in progress. We couldn't mine new rock until our mining permits were issued, which would take a few more days to get-

11 June, As we moved
old tailings, we started to
see hints and signs of
pockets at the beginning
of the weathered
granite bedrock-

12 June, FINALLY!  Our permitting is complete and we can now mine!    HURRAY!!!    Here, we find our first worthy pocket, with a few very nice matrix plates of the gemmy smoky quartz!

15 June, Like I always say- I know how to cook 2 ways; BBQ'ing and pushing the button on a microwave oven!  There ain't too many microwave ovens on the mountain, so I guess BBQ'ing steaks and chicken and ribs and crab legs and lobster and shrimp will have to do!  ;-)

A view from our front porch.  John and I would switch off every hour working with the backhoe, so we could take turns going back to camp to cool off, while keeping up with the cleaning and sorting of
all the new specimens, as we dug them.

16 June, We found
this nice scepter today!
A scepter with a very rare oxidized pyrite inclusion.

16 June, We're starting
to see some amethyst!
This one measures
about 8cm (3+ inches).

Another nice amethyst head measuring about 7cm (~3 inches).

16 June, 9:30pm, the
end of a long day, with
dinner ready.

17 June, Being we are in a desert, there are lots of desert critters, like lizards and more-
This big boy scorpion was
about 5cm (2 inches) long!  Many rocks on Petersen hide scorpions underneath...

Here are the sights on our way up to the mountain top,
from Reno, after visiting the grocery store-
The mountain becomes
visible in the distance-
A closeup of Petersen Mountain
Part of the ritual; going thru one of the cattle gates, as a small lightning-started fire burns on the mountain in the background.
A look up the mountain-
Petersen is on the right,
while MF Hill lurks to the left.
The view from
the first ridge, looking
down at an access road-
A look up at the mine, with Foster's mine tailings at the top right and the access road to the upper left-
In a hanging valley near the top, sits these curious granite monoliths. The one to the left is commonly credited as appearing
like a mother holding her child-
Another view-
Through the last canyon, the mines can be seen!

17 June, Back from the store.  I figure that we went through 70-80 gallons of bottled water (not including container water), 200-300 pounds of ice and at least 140 pounds of charcoal briquettes for BBQ'ing, during our 39-day stay on the mountain!  We also used over 70 rolls of toilet paper just for wrapping specimens to take
off the mountain!

18 June, SCORE!!  A new zone we called "Ami-Land" starts hitting!  

This fine amethyst crystal
measures 12cm (5 inches) and is unusually gemmy for it's size!
Another look at
this beautiful piece-

18 June, Here is another claim owner (my friend Mark) on the hill showing 2 very large and rare goethite-after-pyrite pseudomorphs he hand dug from his mining
on the California-side of the deposit.  The biggest pseudo is 5cm.

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