The Pala Chief Digs are a unique opportunity to explore some of the old mine dumps from the Pala Chief Mine and the various nearby prospects. There are multiple dumps to go through, some recent, and some dating back to the earliest days of mining on the mountain. Unlike the Oceanview fee dig, this material has not been sorted of large rocks, and can come from any part of the mine--rich pocket zones or just waste material from tunneling. What this means is that you have a greater chance of finding nice matrix specimens on the Pala Chief Digs, as well as gems missed by the miners back when they were focused more on large carving-grade specimens. It's a different experience than the fee dig, and is great for the avid rockhound.
- What does the Chief Dig cost and who can attend?The fee for the Chief Dig is see DigForGems.com for our current pricing.. Because we can't run a credit card machine at the gate and we can't verify checks, we ask that you bring cash, ideally the exact amount so we don't have to try and make change. Being able to get people quickly through the gate is important to ensure that the dig starts on time. Due to the nature of the dig, we do not allow children under the age of 12. Because attendance is limited, and the digs are typically sold out, we don't offer any group discounts.
- How do I make a reservation for a Chief Dig?The Chief Digs are hosted by different people each time and are scheduled on an ad-hoc basis. As a result, we don't currently use an online reservation system. The dates for the digs and the person you need to contact to make a reservation are posted here in our Pala Chief blog and on our Oceanview Mine Facebook page. Do not try and contact the regular Oceanview fee dig staff for assistance with a Chief Dig--contact the designated host of your particular Chief Dig, as posted on the blog here.
- What times do I need to show up and how long does the Chief Dig last?The Chief Digs are held in the mornings. We start promptly at 8:30 with an orientation. Please make sure you arrive between 8:00-8:30am at the lower gate. You will be met by the dig host to collect your fee and if you haven't submitted it yet, your release form. The dig runs from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Please note: The gate will be closed and locked by 8:40am. If you're late, you will miss the dig. We have to do this to be sure that everyone get their fair time to dig.
- What equipment do I need to bring?Unlike the Oceanview Mine fee dig, we don't provide any equipment for the Chief Dig. You must bring your own gear. We suggest that you bring screens, two five-gallon buckets, gloves, a rock hammer and chisels (especially if you want to work on some of the open pegmatite faces we have available), a small hand-held garden rake (the small 3-clawed weeding rakes are ideal), and a small shovel with which to dig. We do try to provide some water at a few key places on the hill, but its not available everywhere. You should also make sure you bring bottled water to keep yourself hydrated. Even in the winter, digging in the mine dumps can be hot, hard work.
- What can I expect to find?The various mines and prospects on the west side of the mountain (where we hold the Chief Dig) have produced a wide variety of minerals. You can find tourmalines, aquamarines, morganites, triphane, kunzite and more. Quartz crystals are regularly found, ranging from smoky to citrine to optical-grade clear crystals. The tourmalines are a variety of colors, from black schorls to red and blue elbaites and nearly everything in between. Nice specimens of feldspar and cleavelandite are also regularly found.
- What can I take home?You can take home up to two five-gallon buckets full of material you have either collected or scooped into the buckets to sort through later. There is no additional fee to take the material home with you--what you find you keep.
- When is the next Chief Dig?