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A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa
  
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Reinhardt van Vuuren




Joined: 10 Mar 2015
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PostPosted: Apr 14, 2017 10:24    Post subject: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

Recently, I went on a trip with a friend of mine and his wife, Albie and Mia Gibson to Ceres.

Our mission was to spend the week with Pierre Joubert whom I had gotten to know over the FMF forum.

Albie, Mia, and I set out on the Sunday afternoon just after 12:00 from Jeffery’s Bay and about 6 and a half hours and lots of mineral talk later we arrived at our guest farm in Ceres. Pierre was supposed to be there before us, so it came as quite a surprise when we arrived and there was no sign of this man. Having no signal, we decided to take a few kilometer drive to find signal, only to discover that Pierre has no signal either and is unreachable. Albie suggested that we head back to the camp site so I could start setting up. As we pulled into the farm for the second time low and behold here he is, we must have missed each other on the way in/out. There was a short meet and greet and light chat about the 6+ hours’ drive, Albie and Mia had decided to rather rent a cottage for the week so they went off in their direction while Pierre and I started popping up our tents.
My phone had lost all of its charge just before we arrived at our destination, so I had no way of notifying my wife that we had made it safely, after a few hours of charge I expressed my need to Pierre to contact my wife, by this time it was pitch dark and I was walking around with my headlamp searching high and low for signal. After a bit of a struggle Pierre finally realized that he would get no sleep tonight unless he took me somewhere I could get a signal, so he agreed that we could hike up this one hill just across from the farm. So the two of us set out headlamps on phone in hand up the dirt road of the guest farm, we crossed the road and started walking up the 300 to 400 meter curved path up the hill. It was pitch dark and the only light was that of our headlamps, as we started walking I started noticing the flashes of light bouncing back at me as small crystals and fragments lay on the surface, I soon fell behind as I stopped to pick up and inspect these facets winking at me. Pierre just continued walking, only stopping to persuade me to continue the ascent up the hill. This had to be repeated several times up the hill, thinking back I’m amazed at how patient he was with my constant stopping. We finally got to the top of the hill several small crystals in my pocket later. Finally I had signal and I could talk to my wife. As they say what goes up must come down so we took a hike back down, about halfway down Pierre saw a quartz vein and decided to venture into the short bush, You didn’t have to ask me twice and I was on my own little mission looking at fragments again, I stopped to look at a few sparkles and when I looked up Pierre was several meters away and had something to show me, so I started making my way to him, next thing out of the blue there was a sudden violent movement as I had startled a sleeping bird which decided to bolt off into the night sky, I have no idea who got the bigger fright (me or the bird) but I think it was me. After that excitement Pierre and I made our way back to camp to call it a night. I struggled to sleep as my head was full of crystals and excitement for the day and week ahead.

Day 1 to follow with photos.



Drive day loot.JPG
 Mineral: quartz
 Locality:
Ceres, Warmbokkeveld Valley, Witzenberg, Cape Winelands, Western Cape Province, South Africa
 Description:
Crystals and fragments I found laying on the surface during our night hike up the hill
 Viewed:  1541 Time(s)

Drive day loot.JPG


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Reinhardt van Vuuren




Joined: 10 Mar 2015
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PostPosted: Apr 16, 2017 14:50    Post subject: Re: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

The next morning I got my headphones out and listened to rock 'n roll music as I watched the sun rise over the Ceres Mountains before having breakfast at Albie and Mia’s cottage. This became the daily ritual for the next week. After breakfast I walked back to camp to find Pierre up and ready for our first day of digging. He told me about an area that recently had a felt fire where there were several quartz outcrops, after getting our gear, lunch, and water ready, the two of us set off on a hike to said area. An extensive area had burned, and the entire hill top was covered with the skeletons of burned Protea bushes; all the small grasses and bushes had burned away leaving only orange unburned Protea seeds on the ground with a little ash and all the rocks were well exposed, ideal for our inspection. Pierre explained what he looks for and how he reads into the county rock. Before long we arrived at a quartz outcrop that Pierre felt was promising, so we set down our heavy bags and started inspecting and digging after traces of crystals. Pierre pointed to an area that he felt would be promising that I should start digging, and soon I started finding crystal fragments and promise for a pocket. After some digging, a few decent crystals started coming out. The spot where Pierre was digging had dried up and he was ready to move on, but my hole was still producing so we agreed that we would meet up at the next quartz vein. Pierre went off into the distance and I continued digging, after some time my hole stopped producing and I decided it was time to move on, so I closed up my hole and set out to find Pierre. The Ceres sun was blazing down and I soon discovered how harsh the terrain really can be for a city boy like me. Pierre was nowhere to be seen and I found myself alone on this desolate waterless landscape, the only sound was that of the wind and the water I had left in my water bottle. I hiked to higher ground to see if I could not perhaps spot Pierre from higher up but there was no sign of him so I hiked higher and higher up the hill. I must have hiked at least half a kilometer or more up a hill and still there was no sign of Pierre. For a moment it felt like a scene from the TV show “I shouldn’t be alive” of people who get stranded in places and find a way to survive to spite the odds. Now at no point did I think of drinking my own bodily fluids but the thought of saving my water as much as I can did come to mind. After a short rest I decided to hike back to a big quartz outcrop I saw on the way up the hill and thought I would put a marker there and dig in the area so that Pierre could find me. As I got to back to the big quartz outcrop I decide to climb on a big rock and have one last glance over the landscape and much to my relief I spotted Pierre several meters from me, turns out he must have been digging just out of sight on the hill side and I walked right past him. After a short reunion and explanation of my crazy solo mission up the hillside we decided to commence the rock hunt. I told Pierre of a spot that I felt was promising and went off in that direction while Pierre continued exploring the quartz outcrop that he was on.
There was a spot that I decided looked like someone had dug in before so I moved a big boulder out of the way next to it and soon started finding a few decent traces and a few nice crystals, this however soon seemed to dry up so I decided to dig on the opposite side of the assumed ex pocket. I pulled some of my best crystals from this new spot, eventually my bucket was full to the brim and by this time it had become late afternoon already so Pierre and I regrouped and stated our hike back to the camp site. Now Nelson Mandela wrote “the long walk to freedom” my book would probably be titled “the heavy walk to campsite” after all I had filled my 5 litter bucket and had more than half a bread bag full of crystals and had all of my tools on my back too, so the hike was a difficult one. Eventually I arrived back at camp and the agony was soon forgotten as I started cleaning my newly found specimens. Soon the night set in and it was time to have supper, shower, and off to bed.



P1240526.JPG
 Description:
first pocket on the one quartz vein
 Viewed:  1385 Time(s)

P1240526.JPG



P1240529.JPG
 Mineral: quartz
 Description:
Some signs of crystals
 Viewed:  1388 Time(s)

P1240529.JPG



P1240531.JPG
 Mineral: quartz
 Description:
in situ
 Viewed:  1386 Time(s)

P1240531.JPG



P1240536.JPG
 Description:
Second pocket after the long hot walk
 Viewed:  1374 Time(s)

P1240536.JPG



P1240544.JPG
 Description:
Sorting through the loot from the first dig
 Viewed:  1373 Time(s)

P1240544.JPG



P1240549.JPG
 Mineral: quartz
 Description:
Some of the best crystals from the day
 Viewed:  1374 Time(s)

P1240549.JPG



P1240554.JPG
 Description:
Base camp, my tent on the left and Pierre's tent on the right.
 Viewed:  1373 Time(s)

P1240554.JPG



P1240533.JPG
 Description:
Burned Proteas on the hillside
 Viewed:  1377 Time(s)

P1240533.JPG


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Pierre Joubert




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PostPosted: Apr 16, 2017 17:27    Post subject: Re: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

Hi Reinhardt, it is nice to relive the trip again. I must just ad that the company was great and Reinhardt was very much 'at home' in nature.
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Reinhardt van Vuuren




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PostPosted: Apr 24, 2017 01:11    Post subject: Re: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

The next morning Pierre decided he needed a bit of rest after all the digging the day before so we arranged to have me dropped off at my half worked pocket. It was Valentine’s Day so I first gave my wife call, then I the digging commenced. I soon discovered that I had in fact reached the bottom of the pocket, so I decided to dig in a different direction in the same pocket and soon crystals started coming again. Now the entire time while I was digging I was trying to figure out what is actually going on geologically with this crystal pocket. My initial theory was that it is just a normal pocket but the fact that the crystals seemed to come from several directions soon ruled out that theory. One thing I noticed was that the crystals seemed to trace down to a straight seam that ran parallel from the area where I first dug, over the area that I thought was an ex pocket and right up to my pocket where I was digging. Eventually the time came for me to pack up and meet Pierre at the main road. My second dig delivered about half a bucket of crystals so the hike down to the main road was an easy one. Back at camp site I figured I would catch up on some crystal cleaning and packing, late afternoon Pierre decided that he felt like he wanted to explore the burnt area some more. Pierre and I decided to dig in an area where he has found big fragments before in hope of a pocket but after some team work we soon cleared the area with no pocket. We did however find a couple of nice bits and pieces, Pierre decided to dig in the shade of an old now burnt Protea bush were he soon discovered the start of a pocket. I continued to search in other areas some delivered a few crystals and eventually it was getting late so we decided to call it a day. The sun seems to go down quickly in Ceres, one moment it’s nice and bright and the next you notice the shadows getting long and before you know it its dark and with the darkness came cold, making showering at night quite daunting for a heat baby like me.


P1240570.JPG
 Mineral: quartz
 Locality:
Ceres, Warmbokkeveld Valley, Witzenberg, Cape Winelands, Western Cape Province, South Africa
 Description:
One of the bigger matrix specimens has a few detached crystals on it but the size is not bad.
 Viewed:  1158 Time(s)

P1240570.JPG



P1240571.JPG
 Description:
where the crystals are coming from.
 Viewed:  1164 Time(s)

P1240571.JPG


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Reinhardt van Vuuren




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PostPosted: May 02, 2017 00:54    Post subject: Re: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

The next morning Pierre and I decided to rather stay at camp as I had so much catching up to do with regards to crystal cleaning and packing and he felt like playing some electric guitar and taking it easy. We decided that we would go for another round of burnt mountain (yea it has a name by now) Albie decided to join us on the dig so the 3 of us set out. Pierre went back to his pocket as it was still far from empty and I decided to go back to my big crystal hole. Albie was scratching around but I knew that one would have to move a few heavy rocks to even find a possibility of finding a pocket here were I was and Albie is not today’s child so chances are he would not find much worth his while. There was a spot where I first started digging and found a few crystals before I started working the area I was at the time and I knew there had to be more crystals there since I did not have the understanding of the pocket before so I encouraged Albie to dig in that area. After explaining to Albie how I experienced the ground on my side he started digging and soon he had a good number of decent crystals. It was quite enjoyable digging and chatting with the occasional pause to show what popped out of the ground this time. Eventually Pierre decided that he would continue with his pocket on another occasion and we headed back to camp.


P1240564.JPG
 Description:
Albie and I at the quartz pocket
 Viewed:  976 Time(s)

P1240564.JPG



P1240568.JPG
 Description:
Albie and I at the pocket
 Viewed:  981 Time(s)

P1240568.JPG



P1240569.JPG
 Description:
The dig continues
 Viewed:  979 Time(s)

P1240569.JPG



P1240573.JPG
 Description:
small quartz cluster
 Viewed:  973 Time(s)

P1240573.JPG



P1240561.JPG
 Description:
The phantom pocket dig
 Viewed:  971 Time(s)

P1240561.JPG



P1240577.JPG
 Description:
Pierre's pocket opening up nicely
 Viewed:  971 Time(s)

P1240577.JPG



P1240558.JPG
 Description:
another view of the phantom pocket
 Viewed:  972 Time(s)

P1240558.JPG


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Reinhardt van Vuuren




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PostPosted: May 05, 2017 00:58    Post subject: Re: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

Pierre decided that we would go and visit his house to see his setup and some of his treasures and also meet his greatest treasure (His wife Riana). We took a few minutes’ drive and we were in the town of Ceres, so for the first time in days I was back in civilization. There were shops and people and readily available cellular reception. It wasn’t the big city I’m used to, but it was a little bit of familiar far from home. Our first stop was at Riana’s parents place at the care facility. Pierre felt that he needed to introduce us to them since they form such an important part of their lives. They were very hospitable and kind people. Pierre’s mother-in-law even offered him for sale to us in exchange for some of the best crystals we found in this week’s crystal dig, what a bargain!? After that we went to Pierre and Riana’s home, and after a short meet and greet, the men all went to go look at crystals while Mia and Riana started chatting. They really seemed to get along well which was beneficial to the three of us as it meant we could see more specimens from all over. Each specimen was more amazing than the next. Pierre showed us some of the things that the two of them had self-collected in Ceres and the Freedendal area, the latter were some of the most amazing big crystals I’ve seen and it was unbelievable that such amazing specimens were self-collected. Pierre also showed us some of his stock from Namibia and surrounds that they sell both on their website and that they plan to sell from a retail shop they plan on opening soon. Boy, I was like a kid in a candy shop, one specimen caught my eye and that was a rather large crystal from Jan Coetzee copper mine, after some negotiation, Pierre and I agreed on doing a trade for some specimens that I had at home. We enjoyed some tea, coffee and delicious quiche that Riana had baked. There after we bid our farewells before heading off. On the way out we stopped at a hardware shop since Albie and I both needed some gloves and I had been going through a pair a day and was already through 3 pairs by this time. After the quick stop it was back out to the wilderness. That afternoon Albie, Pierre, and I went to go and dig in a different area than before. There were a few smallish crystals here and there, and I think Pierre found one interesting included crystal that he gave to Albie but we did not find much on this occasion. Eventually it was time to go back to camp.

(The next day)

The day before Pierre decided that he would take us to his special phantom pocket, we set out with both vehicles and proceeded to walk up a steep hill. Eventually we got to the site and after a short explanation of how Pierre experienced the crystals to occur here we started digging. Soon we found good clumps of crystals and some had nice phantoms. There were two kinds of phantoms: one was grey and the other green, but they were the most lovey crystals we had found on our trip. After a few hours we had enough rough to work through for now and headed down back to the car. After lunch we decided to do a last dig in our pockets on burnt mountain. By this point Albie and I realized that we would have to start becoming a bit more selective of what we took or we may have to send Albie’s wife on the bus to fit everything, the other alternative was to leave the spare wheel behind, this was often joked about on the trip. In spite of our joking we still collected more crystals from our pocket. Pierre’s pocket was just as productive and time would absolutely fly on burnt mountain. When we got back to camp I had double work since I had phantom pocket crystals and now more burnt mountain crystals although this was enjoyable work.



Day 4.jpg
 Description:
From left, Pierre Joubert, Albie Gibson, Mia Gibson, Reinhardt van Vuuren at Pierre and Riana's home. (Photo Riana Joubert)
 Viewed:  828 Time(s)

Day 4.jpg


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Reinhardt van Vuuren




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PostPosted: May 08, 2017 01:08    Post subject: Re: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

Day 6
Pierre decided that the two of us should go and check out a new area that he felt looked very promising, the two of us took a drive and stopped at a farm house, the hills was full of white rocks that appeared to be quartz. We spoke to the foreman at the farm and got permission to take a hike up the hill. Escom had recently installed power towers so we managed to take a hike up the dirt road they had built leading up to the tower which was half way up the big hillside. Much to our dismay these white rocks were not quartz. We did however find Leavarite which we did. There was also some hematite in the form of steel bolts the workers had dropped when they built the tower as well as some aluminium wire that I collected for use in the lapidary workshop back home. Licking our wounds we hiked back to the car. On the way back to camp we stopped to go scout another quartz ridge that Pierre had wanted to go to. A few hours later we had a return visit to the phantom pocket for a last few crystals. Eventually the time came for Pierre to pack up his tent hand head back home while I continued cleaning and packing phantom crystals.
Day 7
We decided to pack up early since we wanted to stop at a few places on the way home. I was amazed at the fact that I had collected more than a crate of material that still had to be properly cleaned and sorted through. The drive back seemed much shorter than the drive to Ceres and yes it was still lots of mineral talk all the way back. When we got to Albie and Mia’s home Albie showed me his personal collection, it is always interesting seeing what others collect even more so since both Albie and I collect micromounts and cabinet specimens. I was so excited to see my wife again when she came to collect me and I had to tell her all about my trip on the way home.
Now a month later I’ve finally had time to do this wright up and clean up all of my specimens.
Thank you very much Pierre and Riana for all your hospitality and for sharing your amazing crystal sites with us. I was truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will not forget.

(More photos to follow)



P1240586.JPG
 Description:
View from the top of the hill
 Viewed:  673 Time(s)

P1240586.JPG



P1240583.JPG
 Description:
Me, showing off my aluminum wires I collected.
 Viewed:  675 Time(s)

P1240583.JPG



P1240587.JPG
 Description:
Unusual plant we encountered
 Viewed:  674 Time(s)

P1240587.JPG



P1240598.JPG
 Mineral: quartz
 Locality:
Ceres, Warmbokkeveld Valley, Witzenberg, Cape Winelands, Western Cape Province, South Africa
 Description:
Albie's best specimen from the dig.
 Viewed:  673 Time(s)

P1240598.JPG



P1240606.JPG
 Description:
same crystal, nail brush for scale
 Viewed:  677 Time(s)

P1240606.JPG



P1240602.JPG
 Description:
Mia and I inspecting Albie's treasures
 Viewed:  670 Time(s)

P1240602.JPG



P1240599.JPG
 Description:
Quick glance at some of Albie's finds.
 Viewed:  675 Time(s)

P1240599.JPG


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Pierre Joubert




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PostPosted: May 08, 2017 02:20    Post subject: Re: A crystal collecting outing to Ceres, South Africa  

Reinhardt and I planned this trip over a long period of time and, as we all know, things do not always go as planned. In the end, things worked out much better than expected; we made lasting friendships, had good chats; found lots of crystals and enjoyed good (hot) weather. The first day we both suffered from sunburn, even though we tried to cover as best with sunblock. The only disappointment for me was discovering that the new area had no significant quartz.
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