Rockhounding Montana, Part II - Calcite Crystals

Another part of our Montana rockhounding trip was just as productive as the sapphire mine at Gem Mountain, although this part was much harder work! South of Bozeman is a cave, in a cliff, where bats hang out. There are a couple ways up to the cliff: straight up, which is difficult, steep and slippery, even for a mountain goat; or the switchback trail, which is more gradual...until the end.

Then, once you get to the cave, the climb inside is a bit of an experience in itself. For the trips in and out of the cave, my objective quickly became to do it without banging my head. We left the area before I completed my objective. (Imagine a cross-eyed emoji with the tongue sticking out.)


It's not a huge cave but was big enough for Jim and I, a couple friends and a sweet dog, Nellie...


...and a few other rockhounds. In fact, this young gentleman, Dom, was brimming over with enthusiasm. And, who can blame him? Thanks for sharing, Dom.


Oh, and did I mention the bats? They weren't there during our time in the cave but guano was abundant in areas. So, in some cases, for exploring the nooks and crannies and getting up close and personal with the rocks and dirt, it was better to prepare than to take any chances.


The work was hard, using chisels and sledge hammers to extract the crystals from the rocks or from being embedded in mud, surrounded by rocks. And, one was often in a very odd position while doing the work.

The yellow calcite crystals that were extracted proved to be quite worthwhile! Not only are there some beautiful specimens, some doubly terminated, but many of the pieces were quite gemmy so Jim brought home some pieces that are facet-grade.

Montana is a gorgeous state with nature and animal-life abounding. It's also a fun place for the rock hound! Here's wishing you some good finds on your rock hunting adventures.