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    • Shoot, im all packed, just have to get the food together.....cant wait! Tom H.  
    • Nice piece. I can still remember    when I first started, I had to use a "tweezer" to pick em up from the pan after drywashing !  Anything you can handle with yer fingers is a "TROPHY" !  Hapy Huntn.
    • yup definitely a nice piece there
    • Dredging River Dance (or, how to almost die dredging). (This rather lengthy flashback of a tale is about one of my dredging misadventures, experienced while I was investigating what I thought was promising bedrock. [I will offer these stories up for as long as my wounded pride allows.])Well, here's a tale of summer's fun, more or less:One glorious day, I tried to cross the swiftest part of a river, located in a deep gorge, to get to the other side. I like to think of it (my attempt) in terms of the world famous River Dance as there are common elements: both of them require rapid movement of the feet, careful planning, and lots of whirling of the body, with accompanying vocal or musical tones that may or may not be melodious (when it comes to dredging, in particular).As I got suited up one pristine summer’s day to head into the dredge hole, I saw a cliff across the river at the base of a terrace of other cliffs, ones that marched up the mountain in a series of timbered steps, rising upwards for several hundred feet.Cut into the bottom of this black bedrock, there’s a wicked pool of water where the river fires a significant portion of its water through a bedrock chute. Just upstream of the chute, the river slams into the bedrock wall, cuts back on itself in a foaming suction eddy, then whirls on, completing a right angle turn before diving to create a channel around eight feet deep, yet with a width of only a couple of yards.To elaborate about the volume and velocity and volume of water rushing through that chute, the rocks and boulders in that hole perpetually shimmy and shiver under the relentless thrumming of the stream.Nevertheless, my giant brain had a feverish idea, a true inspirational melon buster of an idea (this often foreshadows some form of danger or disaster). I peeked across the river, and since I was already suited up for underwater gold hunting, my brain devised a way to get me safely to the other side to investigate.Now, remember, there’s a cliff on the other side, so holding on to that far bank isn’t an option. However, with the weather nice and hot, and the river level dropping day by day, it seemed a good plan to saunter over to the chute to take a peek underwater to see if any nuggets were trapped in its cracks or crevices. After all, it should be a simple matter to peek around over there so as to have a shot any visible coarse gold before the snipers cleaned it up later in the summer.As mentioned earlier, I was geared-up for dredging which works great for sniping as well. In fact, I had on two wetsuits, a 5mm shorty, and my Farmer-John 7mm, with a cold-water hood; my mask, and snorkel; and my Hooka harness with my regulator slung over my shoulder. I was ready.So, my pea-sized brain (notice how my brain shrunk from earlier on?) decided it would be a glorious idea to secure my arm around an anchor rope and then tiptoe across the river—all while keeping constant pressure on the line to maintain my balance in the stiff current. That was the idea . . .I’d work my way to the far side of the chute, gently lower myself into the river, and then let the sixty pounds of lead I had strapped to me do what lead does best. While it sunk me, I'd casually examine the bedrock for orphaned chunks of golden children in need of adoption, so to speak.That was the plan. That is not what happened.While the dredge motor purred contentedly to fill the reserve air tank, I stepped away from the Keene model 4505PH four-inch, three-stage model to work my way over to the chute to snipe for gold. (I was so excited to get into the hunt, it reminded me of my younger years as a boy getting ready to hunt pheasants with my gun dog.)Come to think of it, it’s too bad I didn’t have my hunting dog with me then, as he’d have absolutely refused to test the waters for the golden game I was after that day. Being a smart dog, he’d have looked at me like I was crazy, turned tail, shot back to the cab of the truck, hopping in with a smug look on his face as he bedded down for a safe snooze.Upon reflection, there’s something about dogs being smarter than me doesn’t sit well. Regardless, maybe some humble pie is in order, and I should wise up and pay dogs a consulting fee to save myself from future grief.Pea-sized brains, dog brains, and canine wisdom aside, I decided I’d quickly cross that stream, and I immediately stepped on a slippery sheet of slate. Not to worry, I told myself, for in addition to my weight-belt around my waist, I had ankle weights that would quickly stabilize my feet.Thinking back on it, there must be some science of river physics that my tiny brain hasn’t quite grasped. It must be a ratio or an equation that goes something like this: “river velocity times mass plus slippery rocks equals stupidity” all run out to the power of 10! And, if you divide that by gold-fever dimwit factor in action that day, you get a predictable result. For, with every misstep in the stream, the river exerts an ever-increasing degree of control over the flailing foreign body that’s trying to stagger across it (NASA should consult me on bizarre test theories involving impossible encounters with physics when they get stumped!).Well, the playful river started having fun almost immediately when my left foot, moving forward, slid down the slippery slate, the accompanying force mashing my big toe into a boulder, thus causing the formerly cheerful dredger (we’ll refer to this numb-skull in the third person, on and off, for the next while, to keep things simple . . .) to weave a tapestry of glorious, colorful words that blued the mountain air, said words accompanied by melodious tones (Well, all as melodious as a roaring boar grizzly sounds while attacking a cougar with newborn kittens is melodious, I guess.).This verbal explosion of excited speech created a momentary lapse in sanity, causing said golden boy to move his right foot to avoid the hammering pain of his left foot's big toe. Furthermore, the river current promptly seized said bozo’s right leg at the exact moment when the right foot slid down a submerged incline.This in turn caused the doomed dredger to twist his back, generating some sort of physics wonderland where the the dredger's broad back now acted like a garage door trying to navigate the river perpendicularly. Yet, the dredger resisted this irresistible force by trying to keep his body upright!This exponential force utilized the might of untold millions of gallons of glacial melt water moving at roughly Mach III (this is only a rough estimate as I had no calibrated instruments for measuring water velocity with me that day). These enhanced forces took vengeance on the dimwit as he porpoised back and forth across the river (yet the same dimwit kept a death-grip on the safety line).I must call a brief pause here to reflect on the annoyance of having a smug dredge buddy, one that watches you thrash about helplessly in the grasp of a raging river. It's not annoying that your buddy is watching. No. What's annoying is the jackal-like, high-pitched laugh that terrifies or frightens off any man or beast, within three miles, capable of helping in any way with a rescue.But, not to worry, after several ballet-like corrections on pea-brain’s part, he righted himself with the safety line, nearly . . . For, pulling back hard on the safety line to come upright, his garage-door-like body, now played the part of a super-rudder and rocketed him back across the river, bouncing him playfully off the boulders as it launched him downstream toward the dredge. This frolic in the water started a barrel roll, spinning the attached twit around on the safety line like a tailless kite in a hurricane.Oh, did I mention that his Hooka regulator was hanging across his shoulder as he artfully (more like really bad art than anything else) stepped into the stream? Well, with his regulator streaming straight behind him, and no snorkel like a water-main, he began his attempt to breathe the river dry.Oh, desperate drinking it was! For, after his head plowed underwater furrows, he’d burst forth, shaking his hooded-head side to side, smacking his lips loudly as he bellowed unpronounceable syllables (ones likely banned from Viking drinking songs, ones sung after drinking steadily for two days!). Nevertheless, he soon floundered (both eyes looking as if they were the squashed and compressed eyes located on the distorted face of the flounder) his way up the safety line. He then stood waist-deep in the placid river, magnificently in control, feet firmly anchored once again.Yes, rest from insane turmoil was finally his. However, then came the shameful task of trying to explain his aquatic antics to his mining partner . . .Nonetheless, after a witty explanation, the dope on a rope cautiously proceeded to the chute on the other side. Once there, he launched himself into the slack water behind a lip of protruding bedrock that guarded the head of the chute.With regulator in place, he stuck his head under water only to see that the bedrock's surface was as smooth as a bathtub for most of its length . . . But there, just off to the right, was a small crevice, and in that crevice was a chunk of sassy yellow gold.(Oh, it was magnificent and glorious, the bright sunshine winked off it as it sparkled and shone.)Therefore, the dauntless dredger once again ignored his ever-tinier brain and tried to reach the golden prize, forgetting all lessons learned as he abandoned the shelter of the bedrock outcrop.This unexplainable act launched him yet into another River Dance. Clearly, this performance was not in any way connected to the one that played on the world stage for years. No, this was a river dance accompanied by colorful and strangely explosive, yet disharmonious tones instead of the lively, upbeat music of the world-famous production.At last, the soggy dredger, much refreshed after finishing his two auditions for the River Dance team, returned to his still purring dredge, stuffed his brains back in through the openings originally intended for his ears and nose, reoriented his eyeballs, popped his shoulder back in, and then quietly returned to a boring day of uneventful dredging.River Dance, indeed.All the best,Lanny
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