By Jim Mellos

I met a group of 25 members and friends at the Pala Casino, after signing the necessary wavier forms and some confusion with counting the money (25 people, 24 paid).  After counting the money several times and and going over the receipts, we found the non-payer asleep in his car (overwhelmed by the excitement), got his money, and we were on our way.

Once we got to the mine site the owner gave a brief talk and tour after which everyone dispersed to look for treasure.  This collecting site is on a hillside covering many acres of land, and visitors are free to go wherever they want and seek treasures however they please.  There is really nothing like the Pala Chief Mine in East San Diego County.  It is a true rockhound experience.  That being said, it was a tough day.  At first everyone was doing quite well, with several fine pieces of kunzite, tourmaline and quartz crystals being found, but as the day wore on the sun began to take its toll and all the easy pieces had been found.  To do the work required on such a hot day was not practical, and one by one people began to give up and go home.  By 1:00 pm, the last of the overheated rockhounds were pulling out and heading for home, trip over.

Our last two trips have been cut short by the weather – the heat made it impossible to enjoy the outdoor experience, and not only that, the rocks were too hot to pick up and they burned your tongue when you licked them, so this year I will postpone and or re-schedule trips if it seems likely that the heat will be a factor.  So, everyone needs to watch the weather closely and stay in contact with me.

The first trip of the next season is planned for a return visit to the Pala Chief Mine.  I've got my eye on the first or second week of November.  The heat ruined this trip last time, but it is such a great destination, it really deserves another look under better conditions.  During the last three months of the year, we'll spend some time in the desert with time and dates to be determined.



Shown on home page and above:  miners at the Pala Chief Mine, 1903; inset photo of a triphane: © Jeffrey R. Hapeman,



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