Clear Creek Mines, San Benito County, California
by Jay Bates, member SFGMS
April 29 to May 1, 2005
Last Friday I loaded up the heap, er Jeep, and headed out to Clear Creek. I got there early and saved a camping spot to the others to show up later. Clear Creek on the weekends is very busy with cross country motorcycles and 4 wheelers. The first day I poked around in the creek near the camp and found a few pieces of plasma agate and jadeite, nothing particularly exciting. That night as I usually do, I barbecued myself a steak. Steak and beer and chicken salad and I am in hog heaven.
The following day we headed up the creek and looked for jadeite, plasma agate, and uvaravite. Clear Creek is a premier location for finding many minerals and you are never quite sure what you will find. I checked out a yellow jade area but didn't find anything. I went back down to the creek with the others and found a beautiful 60 pound piece of plasma agate.
60-pound plasma agate
After thrashing around in the creek all day I headed back to camp for the potluck. After a great potluck with all the trimmings you would expect from a bunch of Californians, and sitting around the fire, I crawled into the back of my Jeep for a good night's sleep under rain threatening skies.
The rains did not appear, and the next day I headed out for the Clear Creek Mine with a number of folks to check out some green opal and cinnabar. To get at the cinnabar we had to break open several hundred-pound boulders with 20 pound and 30 pound sledges. Swinging a sledge of that size will quickly sap your energy.
We found several pieces of brilliant red cinnabar, some with small beads of mercury. We also picked up several pieces of green opal, mostly cracked, but some definitely looked cuttable. As a good omen a "sundog" appeared in the sky.
After lunch we headed over toward the Junnila mine, first stopping at a small creek to collect some magnesite nodules. We stopped at another location and I found a great 40-pound piece of jadeite, mostly white jadeite.
I also found a tiny piece of Joaquinite in a piece of naturalite.
Joaquinite in naturalite matrix
It was a very good trip, with an uneventful trip back to the Bay area, stopping in Hollister for a Mexican dinner.