To seek is to find. To dig is to discover.
Each Spring and Fall, I take the two hour drive from my home in Little Rock, Arkansas out to the Ouachita Mountains to dig up the quartz and quartz crystals that I'll be using for my jewelry in those coming months. The adventure never disappoints!
Whether we're hiking up remote trails, or heading up the mountain in a rugged truck, the ascent is always a fun one. In this particular spot, there is about a mile hike that raises 300ft. in elevation -- 900ft. at the trailhead to 1200ft. at the summit. Schleping up the mountain with buckets and gear is not ideal so thankfully, that roomy backpack holds my bucket, trowels, and water that I'll need for mining. I was thankful on this dig to have my husband with me so that he could wear the pack down the mountain... it's awfully heavy once it's fully of quartz and crystals!
In the pictures to the right, you can see what looks like a blast of ice is actually quartz in the mountain side! Although it is not a personal preference of mine to chunk smaller pieces out of larger ones, it is pretty cool to wiggle your trowel into the mountain and see what loose pieces are ready to fall out. Many rockhounds do, however, like to dig in and chip away at what they can. What they leave behind I like to take with me to pair as earrings.
Here, you can see what crystals look like buried. I've pointed arrows to them to help you spot them. In the ground, when you spot something blackish/bluish, you know you've found some clear quartz crystals! Pro Tip: Go digging after a rain. It clears the clay away enough from surface lying crystals that they'll sparkle as they reflect the sun.
Although it's not too difficult to find quartz and crystals all over the Ouachita's (after all, these mountains are one of the worlds largest natural quartz veins), you can rest easy that none of the stones used in made. jewelry are taken without permission. Whether we pay admission into someones commercially licensed mine or we're digging in a spot allowed for gathering from the US Forestry Service, it's important to us that we help protect our forests and that we encourage others to do the same. If you are in the southwest Arkansas area and are interested in going on a dig of your own, shoot me an email to email@example.com! I always love sending new prospectors out into the mountains.