Hunting for topaz on an ATV

Lynn Blamires
ATV Adventures
(LYNN BLAMIRES courtesy photo)
Tim and Syd Crockett descending the mountain in their Rhino.
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I am not new to hunting for topaz. I know that you can find pieces bleached clear from exposure to the sun in the washes at the base of Topaz Mountain near Delta, Utah. However, I wanted the specimens whose amber color had not been washed out from exposure. That meant getting to unexposed rock.

My son is a mining engineer with access to serious mining “stuff” so I told him of my plan to blow up part of the mountain and that I needed some dynamite. He said I couldn’t have any – Rats!

I talked to my friends who got excited about the idea of a hunt for topaz. After doing some research on the Internet they suggested that we look for small trees growing out of rocky areas. We could then use hammer and chisel to get to the booty. That sounded like a plan to me. I loaded my Polaris two-up and with my wife, we picked up our friends and their Rhino in Orem and headed for Delta.

We took the Santaquin exit off I-15 and headed west through Eureka and around the Little Sahara Sand Dunes. It was a sunny November day as we reached the Intermountain Power Plant east of Delta. Turning right, we traveled northwest f-o-r-e-v-e-r on a paved road that gets little use. We finally came to a sign pointing to Topaz Mountain.

Finding a good place, we unloaded and began our hunt. Dirt roads heading around both sides of the mountain left me wondering where they would end up. I quelled my interest and took a road that crossed the south face of the mountain looking for access points.

Toward the east side we found a fun two-track trail that pointed promisingly to the base of the mountain. We were disappointed to find that the trail ended in a circle around a campfire ring short of our destination. However, we were excited to find a treasure of a different kind.

We were looking at what is called a gallinaceous guzzler, wildlife drinker, or just plain guzzler. Hundreds of these devices dot the thirstiest parts of the state, their purpose being to provide water for wildlife in the nation’s second driest state. This one consisted of a corrugated metal rectangle set to gather rain and melted snow in a trough. A drain spout moves the water to a cistern underneath the apron ranging in size from 350 to 10,000 gallons. A pipe takes the water from the tank to a drinking trough regulated by a float valve that opens as the water level drops in the feeder. Guzzlers are built and regulated by the Division of Wildlife Resources and studies have been ongoing for 60 years to determine best placement to benefit the variety of bird and animal species in the state. We enjoyed finding this well-engineered device especially because their locations are not made known to the public.

Shifting our focus back to our hunt for mineral treasure, we moved back around to the west side of the mountain. We picked around the base of Topaz Mountain but that special plant that held the promise of buried treasure eluded us. We did find a pile of rocks that had been picked through but splitting some open, we found pieces with the right color. We found nothing of value, just a sample that showed what the color of the gem should be.

Planning to stay overnight and ride another trail, we drove into Delta and looked for a place to stay. Just as we were laying our credit cards on the counter to pay for rooms, the lights went out in Delta. Not wanting to watch TV by candlelight, we drove around town only to find that restaurants were closed as well. We headed home planning on coming back another day.

Delta is a good place to base for such trails as Amasa Basin, Burbank Hills Cricket Mountain, and Conger Mountain. The best time to ride these trails is spring or fall. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber-side down, and don’t bring any dynamite, you will just get in trouble.

You may contact Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

Lynn Blamires

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OGDEN NATURE CENTER

The Ogden Nature Center is located at 966 W. 12th St. in Ogden. For more information, visit www.ogdennaturecenter.org or call 801-621-7595.

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