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Lanny in AB

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Lanny in AB last won the day on February 20

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About Lanny in AB

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    Prospecting/Nugget hunting/Dredging/Placer Mining/Scuba diving/Wilderness areas/Horses

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  1. Genuinely nice finds, congratulations! All the best, Lanny
  2. Lake Placers #2To get back on track with my lake placers stories, we fired up our detectors and asked the miners where we could start hunting. They laughed, and they laughed--loudly! They told us to have at it, but we’d get nothing but grief. They'd seen too many people get skunked in that goldfield over the years while trying to even get their detectors to operate at all, or to have it “squeak” on some gold (as they put it). Anyone who’d ever tried to detect had always been shut down by their severe ground.The reason for the failure of nugget shooters was the insanely hot bedrock. It ate detectors for lunch. (As they told us this, their comments were heavily dosed with colourful language. In fact there’s most likely a tapestry of profanity still floating over that lake!)Knowing I had a premium PI with me, and that they’d likely never seen one in action, I thought of trying to explain the good points of the Minelab, but I stopped myself and went hunting gold instead.In an earlier story in these placer tales, I mentioned the decomposed bedrock pockets peppering the big sheets. When I went to look at one closer, I found it was very wet. I wasn't sure how that would affect the detector, but I scanned a patch of it anyway, and right quick I got a nice mellow tone. One quick scoop and I had the target.I quartered the sharp little chunks of bedrock out of the scoop and soon had a sassy, 1.5-gram nugget. That find got the claim owner's attention! They said, “Come over here with that machine.” They then walked me over to another similar area and told me to try that spot. So, I tried it and got a signal right away. However, this time I never found a nugget but only one maddening false signal after another. They soon tired of watching, and shaking their heads in a “we told you so way”, they started mining again. Their body language said that the first find was nothing but a fluke. To them, the rest of my time would be wasted digging, as their black graphite schist bedrock was, once again, too hot for detectors.So, the miners left us to our detecting on the bedrock. Nonetheless, my mining buddy was frustrated with how useless his broken wrist was. It depressed him to be on virgin detecting ground while equipped with a machine that could handle the ground, but he could do almost nothing about it! Yes, he could swing the detector, but no digging, running the pick or sorting material in the scoop by himself.So, we worked together, he worked the coil, and I did the rest. By working together, we could help each other have some fun.We headed back to that loose bedrock where I’d found the gold. I’ve found through the years that if a trap worked well enough to grab and hold one piece of gold, some extra dedication on the same spot could produce another chunk as well.To describe the spot a bit more, the excavator had left a crumbled rise of about two feet. I started detecting up and down that little hump. Pretty soon, right near the top, I got a nice signal! It was that telltale Minelab, low-high-low tone. Although not as strong as the first signal, it was nice and sweet. With the signal close to the surface, it made it easy to get the target in the scoop. A nice, bumpy one-gram nugget was in the scoop.As I continue my lake placers series, I’ll reveal the beautiful things hidden in those solid sheets of red-hot bedrock, and later I’ll let you in on what we found in the miners’ test piles as well.All the best,Lanny
  3. Lake Placers #1(This story continues on after we heard the story of the giant nugget found on the rock pile just below the dam of the lake.)So, after we’d jawed with the rock-pile owner some more, we decided we’d better head up the trail to check out the lake placers. The gold runs up both sides of the lake, so we picked a side and headed on up.We weren’t in much of a hurry that day. My partner had a badly broken wrist, complete with a new cast plastered on just before we’d left home. So, we were taking it easy.While we hiked along, we enjoyed one of those gorgeously long, northern summer days: the warm, calm ones perfect for bottling, only to be opened much later on a frosty, winter’s day. Moreover, as it was summer, the sunlight that far north would last well after eleven or so, and then a lengthy twilight would continue after that.Enjoying that extended summer sun, we walked along the lake and saw the cutthroat, true ambush experts, rising in a feeding frenzy, hammering the various insects floating the surface of Nature’s fast food outlet. That healthy population of fish was likely why the locals had never un-dammed the creek at that place.As we continued up the lakeshore, a breeze periodically stirred the surface of the water, yet calmed quickly, allowing the trout to continue their feeding.Along the borders of the lake, the willows waited patiently for a new breeze to whisper up the shore the news of our coming.At last we reached the claims we had permission to hunt. There was evidence everywhere of shallow surface mining that had exposed the bedrock in great sheets. That bedrock was mostly iron-hard, as the D-8 Cat that had just finished scraping was only able to cut into small sections of rotten bedrock. The rest of the bedrock was a hardened nightmare. Even the excavator had skipped and skidded across most of it as well. This had frustrated the placer miners as the area was known for its coarse gold.To backtrack a bit, about a month earlier, I’d been on a gold-scouting expedition. I’d made the trip with an in-law of one of the miners. The bedrock spot I’ve just described was the first place he and I visited.The placer miners, a couple of brothers, were then working on one of the lake claims, but when they saw us, they shut down to chew the fat. That’s the way of the remote north, any visitors or news from the outside is a welcome break. So, we yakked and caught them up on events.As we talked, one of the brothers started to clean the header on the wash-plant's sluice. He lifted the screen off the box and scraped material into a pan.All at once he stopped his scraping, reached into the header-box and tossed something straight at me. I was caught completely off guard by the toss, and the only thing that saved me was reflex.Luckily, I caught what he chucked, and it was heavy! In my hand was an ugly black rock. And as I looked, I thought whatever that ugly was, it wasn’t gold, because who in their right mind would chuck a nugget to me while I was standing on a huge pile of cobbles, especially a stranger?I told the brother that whatever he’d tossed me, it sure didn't look like gold. Pulling me up short, he told me it was a gold nugget. I was stunned.He then took out a pocket-knife and very gently scratched away at one blackened corner. A gnarly black scale flaked off, and I was a believer! The glint of gold was unmistakeable. Furthermore, the nugget weighed in at over an ounce and a quarter, and it was solid gold, no quartz.As to how they cleaned the black gold from that claim, they’d put it in a vinegar bath overnight. The next day, some slimy sludge was all that was left of the black coating. The resulting gold was a beautiful, buttery yellow.In Lake Placers # 2, I’ll tell how we learned to hunt the nuggets on that claim.All the best,Lanny
  4. Prospectors One and TwoHello to all, just a quick little story from a past prospecting adventure.Two budding prospectors visited the claim one sunny day. (Both show quite a bit of promise as they both have a knack for finding gold.) They were working a patch of fractured bedrock that had produced consistent flake-gold and pickers the previous summer. Moreover, they had spent time with me on previous trips at that spot, and they'd learned a few tricks about how to find the gold.Well (I’ll refer to them as number one and number two), number one really went to town cleaning off the overburden on that bedrock: the cobbles, the clay, the boulders, the gravel; he went hard at it, working a couple of feet right down to the bedrock. It was a lot of sweaty work with chunky boulders jammed tight into bedrock pockets. After he'd removed all the bigger stuff, and had scraped the bedrock down, he ran his dirt through a little sluice. He had a nice catch of bright-yellow flake gold, with a few chunky pickers.Not long after that, prospector number two came along with his detector, and he asked number one if he could detect the bedrock he'd just cleaned off. Number one said he had no problem with that, as he'd carefully cleared the cracks and scraped everything clean. He told number two to go ahead. So, number two ran his detector along the bedrock and got a nice signal that really screamed! It was a sassy nugget, right on the bedrock’s surface, covered in some muddy clay.Well, number one really worked the bedrock hard after that. He cleared off another four feet of bedrock, really making the dirt and rocks fly! He took his time to make sure the bedrock was super clean, as well as removing any clinging clay. As he’d done before, he had a nice take of gold in his sluice-box. Prospector number two came along yet again with his detector and asked permission to check out the new workings. Number one, confident he hadn’t missed any gold, let him detect.Prospector number two ran his detector over the bedrock and got a nice soft signal in a crevice. Number one was getting nervous. Prospector two got out his pick and broke off some perpendicular sheets of bedrock and scanned again: the signal was much louder. He cleaned the crevice out, popped the signal on the coil, along with a little water to remove the clay, and there was a buttery-yellow, pumpkin-seed-sized nugget! To say that number one was not a happy camper is gross understatement (things went flying, dark words exploded with vibrant colours, the wild animals fled, etc.). Nevertheless, prospector one was a good sport about it, and they both had some great stories to tell back in camp that night. (Prospector one invested in a metal detector soon after that.)All the best,Lanny
  5. The Stretch NuggetNow, this is a nugget story that’s a bit different from the average hunt. It took place in a steep canyon with a black slate bedrock rim. The top of the rim was about eighty feet above the cold, glacial river.As for nugget hunting in that location, the pitch of the canyon walls is about sixty-five to seventy degrees. In contrast, trying to climb rock walls of forty-five degrees is risky, but when an even steeper slope is littered with loose, jagged bedrock slabs and cobbles, it’s worse. So, if I had to climb that 65-70-degree slope, it would be mighty sketchy.A bit earlier in the day, I’d been detecting a bench above the rim and had found a pile of square nails, along with some rarer targets: big bore black powder rifle slugs with grease grooves; and round, rifled, black-powder pistol balls. But, no gold.However, even without any gold, the day had been exciting. I’d been spooked twice by the loud snapping of twigs close behind me: the first time, two mule deer, and the second, a cow moose.The day was hot and sunny. It was a glorious summer day with a gentle mountain breeze that let the pines and firs gossip lightly back and forth in the deep greens of the forest. Breaking the spell of calm, an angry squirrel scolded me for being too close to his tree.Refocusing on my detecting, I took another look at the ground I was working. Stretching before me was a massive area of hand-stacks left by the Old-timer’s from the 1800’s. Piles of cobbles and boulders littered the bedrock in every direction. The bedrock itself was heavily fractured in places, but in others, it was smooth and iron hard.Having already worked some of that fractured bedrock next to the lip of the canyon, I knew those traps held things very well, like the trash I’d found earlier. So, hoping to find some gold, I poked along the rim detecting some more. As I worked, I noticed areas where the old-timers had pushed overburden off the canyon edge, probably while setting up sluice runs. Suddenly, it struck me that stray gold might have either been pushed or washed over the edge as well.However, I couldn’t detect my way down that steep slope to look for targets. That slope was a minefield of loose material and razor-edged slabs of black slate. So, I walked along the rim to where I knew an abandoned road would take me down to the river.Hitting the river bottom, I strolled along inspecting the cliff face. I noticed high up a patch of river-run clinging to an out-thrust of bedrock, not far below the rim, directly below where I’d worked earlier.Detecting my way upslope, I came up with the usual trash as I tried to get to the out-thrust. I constantly slipped and slid in that loose, steep material. At one point, after losing my footing, I reached out with my free hand as I rocketed downslope, only to get a quick gash in the meaty part of my palm.However, I kept at it and cut some steps into the slump below the bedrock out-thrust, and at last I had a toehold. Taking advantage of it, I arced the detector around as far as I could from side to side. I hit a couple of targets, but they were junk: the head of a large square nail, and the tip of a smaller one.Hacking more steps, I moved ever higher. Then, to help me reach the rest of the way to my chosen spot, I extended the detector shaft to the max to get my little mono coil as high above me as possible.At the top of that stretched out swing, I got a scream that sounded a lot like iron close to the surface. But, to see what it really was, I hacked some new footholds and moved up a bit more.Stretching carefully, I soon had the signal in my scoop (only several tablespoons of material were in it), the dirt taken from some crumbled bedrock hanging onto that out-thrust.After a bit of shaking, quartering, and sifting, I had a sassy 2.25gram nugget in my hand. It was quite flat, yet curved and crinkled all along one edge (likely why it made such a racket). That piece of gold, my stretch nugget, was just the right shape to get itself flipped up and over the riffles of a sluice.All the best,Lanny
  6. Beautiful chunk of sassy gold! Nicely done, and all the best, Lanny
  7. Be Careful What You SaySome years back, my mining buddy and I were working our off a mountain side in a 4X4. We scraped bottom with the Dodge diesel a few times, that’s how deep the holes were in the road, but as we reached the river at last, we spotted a fat Black Bear hightailing it over a hump of brush and trees on the bankTo cross the river, we threw the truck into four-wheel drive and danced across the river; the river dance where the wheels slip, the truck bounces up, then jerks down, then squirts itself sideways off the bigger rocks in the river, over and over again.Before I continue with this story, I’d like to flashback to a place I visited on this same river where there was a whack of exposed bedrock that was being reclaimed by the brush and forest.During an earlier river crossing in the same area, a mining buddy of mine pulled his truck over when we reached the opposite bank, and when we got out, he told me to tag along as he hiked up to the previously mentioned bedrock. He strolled up a little gulch, took out a screwdriver and went to popping coarse gold right out of crevices in the bedrock! All he had was a screwdriver!! (On a return trip, I will detect that bedrock very, very carefully.)To get back to my original story, having crossed the river, we crawled up a rough, winding logging road on our way tom some bedrock bench claims we had permission to hunt, claims that paralleled a little trout-filled lake. The lake was man-made where the Old-timer’s had dammed the creek at a pinch point so they could flume the water to various downstream sluicing operations. After the gold rush was over, the dam got left in place as it made a great little fishery.Walking around a bit, we discovered that during the Great Depression many squatters camped beside the lake, and foundation pits are still visible, as well as some old plank-cabins.In addition, we saw faint signs of cabins from the 1800’s, nothing but overgrown indentations in the ground. Sadly, I was too dumb to detect around them while I was there as I was in a rush to get chasing the gold. So, I've always wondered what artifacts or coins I could have found.Just down the lake from the old cabin sites, there was a huge rock pile. As I walked over to eyeball that rock pile, one of the miners working the adjoining claim stepped out of the brush right in front of me! (Their outhouse was located inside that brush in a little clearing.)He asked us what we were up to, and we told him we were heading to the lake claims to nugget shoot. Hearing that, he laughed. He didn’t think much of hunting for nuggets with metal detectors, having seen too many people get skunked. He told us the ground was far too hot for finding gold that way. But, I didn’t want to tip my hand about the super-technology I was packing that could handle such ground, so I let him keep talking.Then, he told us a story about his rock pile. It was a dragline operation, many, many years past. The former owners had worked that dragline up the narrow canyon right through the stream bottom, all the while building a huge pile of river run and broken bedrock at the head of the works. The operation was successful, and they’d netted a lot of coarse gold.He told us that some years back, a prospector had come along and begged permission to climb his rock pile to look for specimens. As dragline rock piles are home to some of the rarest and heaviest rocks torn from the bottom of old stream channels, he gave the prospector permission. The only condition, he had to return to show and tell about what rocks he was taking with him. The rock collector was free to keep anything he found.Now just imagine the miner's surprise when around suppertime the rock hound showed up with a nugget! Furthermore, the claim owner’s jaw hit the ground because that nugget was huge! Grabbing it to take a look at it, the miner couldn’t believe what he was seeing, or the weight he was hefting. For, even though the nugget was only a ¼ to a 1/3rd of an inch thick, it covered the back of his hand from the base of the knuckles to his wrist joint!! And, it was solid gold, no quartz. Why was such a nugget sitting on the rock pile? Well, being flat, the nugget had made skipped over the punch-plates and screens of the dragline’s gold recovery system.The miner went on to tell us what a tough day it was to follow the “You can keep whatever you find” promise, but he kept his word indeed.The next couple of stories to follow talk about working the lake-shore bench placers, but those stories are for another day.All the best,Lanny
  8. Clay and Detecting For GoldWell, here's the follow-up story to the last nugget find, the one found in the hydraulic wash, but this hunt presented a different challenge.After finding the two gram nugget, and pumped by it, I decided to head for the level ground of the abandoned placer pit below the bedrock rise.It was the late afternoon of a beautiful day. A cobalt bowl of blue sky roofed the mountains to my right and left. The air was still warm, and tiny butterflies sipped water from a fresh-water seep where vibrant green moss clung to life.For those that have hunted abandoned placer operations, the challenges are familiar. Abandoned placer mines are mines indeed, mines that produce metal shavings, and each and every one of them sound off in the headphones.For those that don’t know about placer cuts, they’re often large excavations into old, buried channels. To open a placer operation, where I hunt, the miners excavate down from ten to eighty feet into boulder clay or glacial castoff. For the uniformed, boulder clay was left behind by glaciers during the last ice age, all of it peppered with beefy boulders.So, to mine the buried placer, the boulder clay/glacial castoff must be stripped. But while working with clay, it’s obnoxious, sticky, and it gets everywhere. It clings to everything, smears on everything, and if its wet, it will pull your boots off!Nonetheless, the pit I’d chosen to hunt had been hammered hard by nugget shooters, yet a department store full of metal bits remained on its bedrock. As mute witness to this fact, my super-magnet looked like a hedgehog on steroids from checking my dig holes.Nevertheless, I worked my way to a brownish-yellow formation of clay. Nothing but trash.Detecting the small, clay area, I swung over a screamer of a signal. This in spite of the area having been heavily detected. The recovery however was a buts; it was a deep, square nail.Pounding the area some more, I heard a slight break, a tiny bump in the threshold. I just about didn’t investigate, as the EMI in that area generated a lot of false signals (the newer detectors now are better at silencing EMI, but not back then). However, I carved off several inches of clay and swung once more. A sweet, repeatable signal, soft, yet distinct.Scraping off several more inches of clay, the signal definitely grew. I dug around the signal and popped out a chunk of clay that held a signal. Checking the hole, there was still a signal there as well. I placed the chunk aside and kept digging. The sound got louder, but turned harsh, and I recovered a bent, rusted square nail.Returning to the lump of clay, I scanned across the coil then started breaking off pieces, passing them under the coil until I isolated the signal. Sifting and sorting, I dropped bits onto the coil, and, "Whap!", the same happy sound for the second time that day.It was nonferrous; the magnet had proven that in the early sorting. So, probing the dirt on the coil, one object finally growled back. I cleaned the clay off and had myself a sassy gram-and-a-half piece of gold, almost square in shape. I rattled it around in the bottle with its two-gram partner, and they gave off a lovely, golden rumble.Clay is nasty stuff to work, but sometimes it holds the gold for that reason.All the best,Lanny
  9. Don’t Give Up; Chase Those SignalsT'was the summer of '05. The day was cloudy. The gold had been elusive.To provide some background, we make our summer camp in the Boreal Forests of British Columbia, Canada's most western province. Its mountains dive steeply into the Pacific Ocean, and a chain of outer islands continue the province's seaward extension. B.C. is a magnificent province (we have provinces instead of states here in Canada), with all kinds of mountains, rivers, lakes and breath-taking, endless forests. Moreover, vast tracts of genuine wilderness remain. Nevertheless, while chasing the gold, I've seen lots of wilderness in the United States and in my home province of Alberta too. To elaborate, Alberta’s eastern neighbor is British Columbia, and the two provinces share the Rocky Mountains. Yet, the province that dips its toes in the ocean has the lion's share of the gold.Now, onward with my gold tale.I headed off to hunt a challenging spot, one pocked with dig marks. My chosen place had a bedrock base which was the foundation of an old hydraulic operation, and nugget shooters had recently worked over the bedrock. However, there were still crevices filled with rock-hard gumbo clay, and stones.So, taking this as a good sign of some undisturbed material, I fired up the detector and worked the exposed bedrock only to find of bits of steel, lead bullets from the 1800's, as well as modern shotgun pellets, old square nails, etc.I went and worked the previously mentioned crevices but found only more of the same, until I found a door hinge wedged into the bedrock under 15 feet of boulder clay! How it got there remains a puzzle I couldn’t decode. Perhaps it was driven into the bedrock by the Old-timers for some reason, only to be buried by the later hydraulic operation.I continued detecting lower down in the strata and got into some very interesting bedrock formations, but no gold. (That happens quite frequently.) I even pounded the ground with my detector where my buddy found a nice nugget in some sharply rising bedrock, but, no luck.Hours passed. The sun was out, beating a relentless tattoo on my head and shoulders. I was hot, tired, and getting jaded! However, I saw some broken bedrock where someone had raked down and up-welling of bedrock with the teeth of an excavator bucket. I detected it only to be rewarded with the usual trash. I reached above the excavation cut far over the bedrock to a place where some over-wash from the hydraulic operation merged with the bedrock.I got a signal.Nevertheless, it sounded like the end of a square nail (for those that don't know, square nail tips sound sweet, like nuggets). Moreover, as it was high and hard to reach, and as I had to overstretch to get my arm to the target, I almost didn't dig it. Not the best plan sometimes.Clearly, not digging a target is nugget hunting blasphemy, but still, I’m guilty at times. To clarify, while depressed by digging nothing but trash all day, new targets simply seem to be more of the same. So, why bother, right? This is especially true when I’m hot, tired, or have overexerted myself.Nevertheless, I resisted the urge to quit and dug the target. I dislodged it. It moved down the hill, yet I was in a sketchy fix as I barely clung to the wall by the tips of my toes. Ignoring my predicament, I reached up with my super-magnet and pushed that dirt around, fully expecting to see the tip of a square nail on the magnet.No nail.Ruling out ferrous always makes things interesting, but I didn't allow myself to get too pumped, having dug a lot of lead that day as well. Yet, somewhat juiced, I reached up with my plastic scoop, but missed the target. Next, I skidded down the broken bedrock, barking one of my already tender shins, prompting a tapestry of curses that must still be woven in that vast, blue northern sky.Remaining determined, I climbed yet again, and this time captured the signal. I worked my way down to a level spot to sift and sort the signal in the scoop. I then trickled material onto the coil and, WHAP! I heard that electronic, metallic growl.Everyone knows lead makes the same sound, but some sixth sense prompted me this was not lead. (Ever had that sensation?) I trickled material onto the coil and poked the bits and pieces around until an agitated growl responded.I picked the target up. The weight was sure right. Yet, it was clay-covered, looking unremarkable. I used the only liquid I had, a shot of saliva, to remove the stubborn clay. There it was, a sassy nugget. Long, in the shape of the sole of a shoe, quite flattened, but almost two grams of golden goodness. Not the biggest nugget I've found, but one I found because I didn’t give up.All the best,Lanny
  10. The Golden Rooster and His CornThis is an unlikely sounding title for a gold tale; however, it really is a gold story, even with its puzzling name.To back up some, twenty-four hours before any gold trip begins, the first eight hours are the usual tasks: organizing grub, bedding, tools, fuel, equipment, firearms, and other essentials to sustain life for several weeks in the unforgiving, deep northern woods.After our supplies were packed, we loaded the mechanized equipment on the flat-deck trailer: a small wash plant, a variety of pumps, various lengths of hoses, and a small home-built backhoe.As with any remote mining expedition, we'd packed a white canvas wall tent for living quarters. Furthermore, we packed the wood-burning stove with its lengths of stove pipe. For, even in summer, there’s ice on the water in the fire bucket some mornings.In the back of the ¾-ton diesel, we stowed the pack boxes of food, the duffel bags of bedding and clothes, and the chainsaw and axe. All items were snugly arranged around the four-wheeler in the truck bed.A bit more about our transportation, I have always loved the sound of that Cummins engine; its throaty song was comforting and reassuring; its performance and reliability, uncompromising; its very sound a symbol of summer gold hunts in the immense wilderness.To elaborate, there are places where topping a mountain, there is nothing to see but deep-green soldiered ranks of pine, fir, and cedar in undulating waves of forest that march ever onward to rugged peak after endless ridge, until the distance melts all and blurs it into one surreal horizon.This endless view contains no sign, no hint of human disturbance or occupation. No power-lines, no cat-trails or cut-lines, no excavation scars, nothing but the vastness of untamed nature. The sight always leaves me feeling insignificant, yet equally awed by its savage beauty and unspoiled majesty.All packed, and after a sixteen-hour drive through the night and continuing well into the next day, we arrived at the gold fields of North Central British Columbia. The black flies, the No-Seeums, and the mosquitoes were having a banner year. So, before stepping from the 4X4, I grabbed the bug dope, ready to hose myself down as soon as I hit the ground.I also tucked the bottom of my pant legs into my socks, then sprayed dope on my shirt cuffs, collar, and the hair on the back and top of my head. Next I sprayed my hat brim and put on a pair of gloves. It’s the only way to keep the bugs at bay.After protecting myself, I grabbed the Minelab and fired it up. It gave a reassuring hum, telling me it had survived the brutal last leg of the trip. (The last leg takes five hours, all over unforgiving logging routes: roads wash-boarded, pocked with holes, and mined with obstacles. Said obstacles include moose, elk, deer, black bear, grizzly bear, wolverine, bits and pieces of lost freight, and of course, logging trucks.)My detector was outfitted with the standard eleven-inch DD coil, and my headphones did nothing but annoy the bugs by denying them a taste of my tender ears! Furthermore, on an earlier trip, I’d learned to keep my mouth shut to avoid a meal of flying protein.Making my way to an abandoned site, I discovered exposed bedrock. There was a small shelf that stepped down from a larger formation above. This was a minor site, one deliberately worked where the bedrock had faulted. Black graphite-schist met a harder iron-red formation, and the wall behind it was a combination of piles of slump, along with sheets of broken, black slate all tumbled from the canyon-wall above.The sentinel pines topping the wall were oblivious to our efforts. The songbirds among the pines filled the air with their ageless melodies. Mountain flowers gently tossed their heads in the slight breeze at the foot of the pines as they scented the air. An iridescent humming bird zipped past my head to feed on the blossoms.What a glorious place to look for gold.I was eager to detect where the two bedrocks met. There was folding and faulting to create gold traps. This site, abandoned but a day earlier, was a small piece of a Tertiary channel, one composed of virgin bedrock from dim eons past. With slim hopes, due to its small size, I slid down some slump to start detecting the bedrock. The lower portion of it was already covered with water, seepage from an unseen spring slowly drowning the site.I scrubbed the coil over the bedrock, and after only two sweeps, I had a signal. However, I've learned over the years that detecting old workings may promote madness, the madness from dealing with unwanted signals: bits of blade and track; the head, tip or entire body of a square nail; rusted bits of can, chunks of wire, brass from bushings, bits of lead, etc.Regardless of past disappointment, I scanned again, still had a solid response. I scraped the bedrock, scanned again, and got a sweeter signal. I couldn’t see anything exciting, so I drug a super-magnet over the bedrock to check for ferrous, no friends. Swinging the coil again produced a nice, low-high-low sound. My pulse increased.With sniping tools, I chipped carefully around the signal. I broke out a piece of cemented bedrock, baseball-sized. The signal was in the chunk of rock! Tapping it carefully with the flat side of a hammer, a golf-ball-sized piece broke free. A nice, steady signal hummed from it. By hammering carefully, out popped a nice nugget that looked like a rooster's head, complete with a comb and beak! It was a five-gram piece of Mother Nature's finest craft.I scanned the area again while expanding my search. About a meter away, another nice signal, this one longer in its length. An old square nail? I scraped but found no such thing. Then a slightly stronger signal on the next scan, though not as strong as the Rooster nugget. This tone was softer, yet still mellow. I chipped along the bedrock and discovered a crevice. The compacted material was not cemented, but it was the exact colour of the black bedrock. I took out a bent sniping tool and drug it the length of the crevice to where that crevice connected with a drop in the bedrock. Out popped four quadruplets: four identical kernels of corn. They weighed in at almost a half a gram apiece, making two grams of corn for my Rooster nugget.With not much bedrock left, I scanned on, but no response. I put on the 18-inch mono and slid it around the entire area. It was considerably noisier than the DD, and I had trouble balancing the detector. Yet, though all the noise, I heard a faint something, with no idea what I was hearing. I'd never heard such a whisper, nothing but a tiny break, a mere bump in the threshold amidst the clatter, and all because that big 18-inch mono was seriously hammering that graphite schist into submission to give up its secrets.Intrigued, I took out the chisel and carved off about an inch of rock. I scanned again, but now a faint, repeatable signal. I worked off more rock, scanned again—this time a louder signal. Breaking out a piece of bedrock, I gently crushed it, and out slid a smooth golden slug—four grams of hammered gold, no character, no definition.The take for the day? A golden rooster with four kernels of corn, and a lonely orphan of a slug.All the best,Lanny
  11. Small Bedrock BonanzaI was on a prospecting walkabout one midsummer day. The sky, a perfect cobalt blue was accompanied by the deep warmth of a blazing sun. Happy to get a break from several days of either cold drizzle or pounding rain, I checked out some old workings near a creek almost strangled by thick stands of Alder, deep green ranks of horse-tails, clumps of butter-cups, and tall meadow grasses.The heat from the sun made it humid by the little creek, with no breeze to lift it. However, this combination made things perfect for an attack by a living wall of black flies, mosquitoes, and no-seeums. The air was so thick with them that I was forced to breathe through my nose and keep my mouth closed or I got a mouthful of flying protein! So, I whipped out my can of nuclear grade Deet and gave myself a solid spray. That done, the flies backed off and spun angrily about four inches out.With enough bug paste in my mouth to last a lifetime, I cut up the creek bank into the much cooler darkness of a stand of hundred-year-old pine, the floor carpeted with freshly dewed ferns. I wound along through the timber, then turned parallel to the creek, heading about thirty feet upslope. At this elevation, there was a gentle breeze blowing that sent the bugs back to the creek.The signs of old 1800’s workings were everywhere, with more modern excavations from the 1930’s. Exploring the old diggings, I found some exposed bedrock. It appeared that a small operation had stripped off about ten feet of yellowish boulder clay (stubborn clay and boulders dumped by glaciers) to expose an old channel tight on bedrock, one that cut back under the steeply rising boulder clay.The cut was about twenty feet wide and about sixty feet long. It ended where the shoulder of the mountain thrust through at a place where the old channel took a sharp turn to dive back under about fifty feet of boulder clay. Clearly, it was far too much overburden for a small 1930’s operation to work.I headed back to the exposed bedrock, dropped my pack, and pulled out my sniping tools and my gold pan.I scraped around for any low spots that still held accumulations of original channel, containing small tightly packed river stones and dark-gray clay. I found some spots, cleaned them out, then headed to the creek to pan: almost no black sand, and no gold. I went back up to the workings and sat on a flat boulder. I took a long look at the topography. I noticed a spot where the bedrock rose sharply from the exposed sheet, then levelled off as it ran back under the boulder clay. I also noticed the bedrock located there was covered with two feet or so of clay slump.Personally, I'd rather not dig if there's good exposed bedrock to work, but as the bedrock was unproductive, I surrendered and took my shovel and cleared a spot about four feet square. The bedrock here was all uneven, with lots of irregular little pockets. I cleaned a few out but got no satisfying results. Ready to leave, I hesitated, then dug under the boulder clay where the bedrock started to dip beneath it. I was surprised to see a cumulative drop of about a foot, but then it leveled off again. However, what interested me most was the composition of the material between the boulder clay and the bedrock in the pocket I’d uncovered. It was a gray colored sand atop a packed clay and rock mixture that contained small pebbles. That material really lit me up! In that area, it’s the kind of stuff anyone hopes to find. It's a sure sign of virgin ground.What I had opened up to find the pocket was the bottom edge of the face, the portion exposed in the 1930’s. As a result, I was working intact ancient channel, possible placer countless years in the waiting. The series of irregular holes I'd cleaned right before hitting the drop-off were encouraging. However, this was a bigger pocket, about a foot across, a great looking trap. Pumped now, I cleared several pans of material to bedrock, then lugged them to the creek. No gold! What was going on here? Everything was so perfect. I pulled out some lunch and took time to reflect.After eating, I went back to examine the hole. The air had dried the moisture from the bedrock, and I was staring at some reddish bedrock, not black-colored slate like the other bedrock behind me. Regardless, that was not what caught my attention. The bottom of the hole was laced with what looked like a network of blood vessels, twisting purple veins sharply contrasted against the red rock. Never before had I seen such a geological result. Nevertheless, I took a screwdriver and scraped at the veins. Shockingly, they were nowhere near as hard as the rock. In fact, they were more like a purple clay, and I soon discerned they were sealing cracks in the bedrock! On fire, I dug and scraped and soon had about a tablespoon of material.I hurriedly took it to the creek and sunk the pan. The bugs were back, but I didn't care. The blood I’d donate to get a look at something so interesting was insignificant. As I mashed the material under the water against the bottom of the pan, the water turned an ugly purple color. The panning water had been crystal clear, but I couldn't see the bottom of my green pan. I sunk the pan flat in the creek and continued to let the creek carry off the discolored water. The water was now clear, and in the crease were very dark, heavily stained BB-sized stones. This was something new. I tipped the pan back to pick out some of the stones and saw the yellow flash of sassy gold emerge. There among the black BB’s were three chunky pickers, no fine gold whatsoever.I flew back to the hole. I gouged as far as I could into the cracks, but very little material remained. I took out an awl and probed the crevices and was rewarded with a soft resistance at the junction of two veins. I pushed harder and the awl dropped three inches. I twisted the probe in the opening, and it spun in an ever-widening circle. Having found a bedrock pocket that was fed by those gold-bearing crevices, I worked with a chisel and opened a hole to get the bent handle of a spoon inside. In this manner, I gouged around and drug out about three tablespoons of wet, purplish clay packed mixed with sand, and small stones. With no material left in the hole, I don't think my feet ever touched the ground on the way back to the creek.I got the same result as earlier, a cloud of heavily dyed material from ancient, oxidized sediments. The stones were slightly larger than BB's when I could finally see them in the crease, but this time the gold poked through nicely! A clutch of pickers in the quarter to half gram range, and every piece was rugged with character.I never found any more gold at that place as the bedrock dipped again, stopping me from chasing it under the boulder clay. But I did walk away with over ten grams of beautiful gold from my small, bedrock bonanza.All the best,Lanny
  12. Invisible Gold in Plain SightIn the past, I’ve talked about finding difficult gold: gold that is wedged deep in crevices; gold that is cemented in a matrix the exact color of the bedrock, hiding any cracks or crevices that were once there; also, I’ve commented on gold that is held fast in naturally occurring cement, looking like innocent concrete.Therefore, the focus of today’s story is on some hidden gold I chased while nugget shooting in the far northern gold fields, a place where thick forests blanket the mountain slopes, where wildlife is plentiful, where apex predators like grizzlies and cougars still rule the kingdom. As well, eagles and ospreys haul thrashing trout and grayling from crystalline lakes, and moose, elk or black bear can be seen lazily crossing open, green spaces.One cool morning, I crawled out of my outfitters tent to a clear, blue sky; the rain from the previous day had left a crisp freshness in the air, the scent of pine and fir sharp. Grabbing my things, I headed off up the canyon to a place I had permission to hunt.I was off to detect the exit ramp of a deep placer pit/cut where the miners had removed a lot of overburden to get down to the ancient channel beneath. However, I wouldn’t be detecting in the pit itself as the face was a wet, unstable wall that kept sluffing sections of itself into the pit below. Clearly, water seepage was a serious problem at this location and likely had been for the 1870’s old-timers that had worked the area back then.The placer cut itself sliced through the remains of at least seven ancient stream-beds, all crisscrossed one on top of the other at an ancient junction. The deposits were the result of long-dead glacial streams, left where two mountain canyons met. To clarify, these canyons were special. The high, black slate rims had protected the gold in those channels from being scoured out and carried away by what the locals called “robber glaciers”.There was evidence everywhere of the workings from the 1800's where the overlapping channels were probed by vertical shafts, then horizontal tunnels probed onward until the gold ran out. Then, deeper shafts were dug, more channels explored, and so on, with the work heading all the way to bedrock.The modern diggings were where they were because the miners had discovered a roomed-out section of bedrock on their claim, one worked by hand in the 1800’s. This is why they opened a cut and extended the area of that room. (After all, who tunnels and clears a large section of bedrock with pick and shovel unless the gold is good?) Moreover, the original room was excavated on what turned out to be a large, continuing shelf of bedrock. But, as the modern miners worked off to one side of the original room, the shelf ended (perhaps a fault), with the channel material dropping into a deep sump filled with large boulders. Furthermore, the exposed wall of that sump is what I’ve already described above.So, there I was detecting the top of the exit ramp to avoid being crushed by a collapsing wall. As for the detecting conditions, the bedrock was red-hot electronically. So, I used a PI detector, with a double-D coil, but back then it was only sensitive to nuggets of one gram or larger. While swinging the coil, I was getting lots of chatter from the ground. But, between the pops and snaps, I heard the faint cresting sounds of possible goodness in the threshold.Hitting a broad, repeatable signal, I scraped off the overburden of gumbo that covered the black and purplish bedrock, the bedrock itself laced with quartz stringers. Yet, however hard I looked, I couldn’t see a crack or fissure in any of it. I went back to scrubbing that severe bedrock with the DD and was rewarded with a strong series of sharper tones that rose above the background chatter.Tracking the electronic path indicated by the coil, the targets trended diagonally across the ramp, and then continued downward with the dip of the bedrock. It dawned on me I was likely following invisible crevices, ones once connected with the long-gone bedrock of the drowned placer cut. Therefore, knowing that the detector wouldn't lie, I got out my crevicing tools and carefully chipped the signals from the bedrock, exposing the hidden crevices. However, unlike an earlier find at another location, this material was not solidly concreted. It was more of a crumbly composition; nevertheless, its colour imitated the bedrock material perfectly by hiding those long-lost crevices.Next, I drug the material upslope from one of the diagonal cracks into a plastic scoop. I passed the scoop under the coil and got a cracking tone. I shook the scoop, settled the heavies, and sorted the material in the scoop.There were five nuggets in the scoop. None were over a gram and a half. But later on, I found two more hidden crevices using the detector, catching more of those small, sassy nuggets of gold.Personal confession, after catching nuggets, nothing lights me up like the rumble of chunks of gold as I roll them around in my gold bottle. I really don't know why, but I really get a kick out of that sound.But, at this point in my story, you can brand me just plain dumb, as the mistake I’m about to reveal is one I've made before. It seems I always get preoccupied with the nuggets and then forget to check the surrounding material from the crevices. (A bit slow sometimes, I guess.) Anyway, my partner, bless his soul, did not forget the importance of that surrounding material. He gathered it all in a pan and took the works to the creek (under some murky premise that other, smaller gold will often travel with nuggets).Man did my eyes pop when I saw how many smaller bits of good grams of gold there were in that pan!I learned that day the value of having a detector that could find gold hidden in plain sight as well as the value of listening to my detecting buddy.All the best,Lanny
  13. Detecting For Nuggets The Hard WayArmed with my detector one balmy, late-summer weekend, I set off to find a nugget or two.As a nugget shooter, I sometimes stupidly fail to appreciate the difficulties associated with hunting nuggets or the low level of compensation that might be the reward.So, I set off to work a spot where a tiny creek intersected a famous, gold-producing river.The Oldtimers had worked the area heavily; their hand-stacks of cobbles and boulders lay piled on a bench of highly fractured, black slate bedrock. However, I realized that moving all of those boulders would require far too much work. Therefore, I chose to hike instead along the river banks to detect the low-water levels of exposed bedrock.Square nails, blasting caps, a coin, lead fishing weights, .17 cal. lead pellets, pieces of disfigured iron junk were my only rewards. However, during my excursion I noticed two rookies panning across the river. Staggering and stumbling among the cobbles and boulders beside the stream, they entered the stream and flailed the water to a white foam in their steel pans. (Carefully concentrating heavy material, specific gravity? What’s that?) Regardless, it appeared they found no gold, as nothing was put in a bottle. (At the time, I wondered if they had even put dirt and rocks in their pans, giving them a better chance at finding the gold—just kidding. Regardless, their technique was awful, almost exactly like mine when I first started out.)Forgetting about the rookies, I looked up the bank and stared with no eagerness at the washtub-sized boulders and melon-sized cobbles stacked on the bedrock above. I knew the hard work ahead to detect any gold missed by those Oldtimers, ones who often worked swiftly, and sometimes sloppily, before sprinting off to the next gold rush farther north.Using a massive steel pry bar, buckets of elbow grease, and convoluted body positions any contortionist would avoid, I finally uncovered the bedrock after sending the rocks into the river.This was accomplished while simultaneously terrifying the aforementioned rookies across the stream. (Maybe chucking all of those cobbles in every direction, while generating colorful, explosive expressions had an impact?) Those rookies were somewhat shaken as well by the thunder produced by those rolling boulders, and the fountains of water generated as everything plunged into the twenty feet of fast flowing water that separated us.To calm the rookies’ fears, I stopped tossing and rolling rocks, and detected the bedrock instead. Nine targets were quickly identified. All turned out to be tiny bits of rusted tin can . . ..Quite demoralized, I sat down to think up a new strategy. Meanwhile, across the river, the rookies abandoned their pans, and they now attacked the bedrock on their side of the river. Cobbles filled the air, and boulders were rolled into the river—colorful expressions filled the air. Afterward, they scooped newly uncovered material into their pans, then foamed the water yet again, but still, they captured no gold. (At least, I don’t think they found any gold, because they kept throwing everything from their pans back into the river! However, perhaps they were members of that new, environmentally conscious breed of "catch and release" panners.)Knowing I wasn’t getting anywhere, I abandoned my diggings, waved a quick goodbye to the rookies across the river and fled the scene.As nuggets prefer clever hiding spots, I had a giant brainwave to drive a short distance to a veritable abyss. At its bottom were a series of exposed bedrock outcroppings. Being not so foolish as to hunt such easy pickings of bare bedrock at the bottom (although the next day, a wiser nugget shooter took an eight gram nugget out of said bedrock outcrops, #@$!*!), I chose instead bedrock covered with cobbles and boulders.After a leisurely two hours of hot sweat and ragged pain, the area was cleared to hunt. After numerous passes with the detector, a tiny whisper emerged as the coil gently scrubbed the sharp, steeply angled slate bedrock. After chipping and chiseling, the signal was slightly louder. Next, I turned the mono coil on its side and pinpointed the signal. Working with hammer and chisel around the signal, I popped out a quarter-gram nugget. (Well, back then pride [whose slave I sometimes am] demanded I call it a nugget! I mean, after all of that work, what else could I call it?)With a calm, yet horrifying recognition, my dim brain was forced to admit that never, with the exception of a near-death trip down some slick boulder clay, had I ever worked so hard for far, far less than minimum wage!Nevertheless, to lift my spirits and put me in a playful mood, I now had to plan how to pack sixty pounds of equipment up a mostly vertical, scree covered slope . . ..All the best,Lanny
  14. A Lonesome Nugget Tale Flashback to the the summer of '99, and I was swinging the SD2100 up in Northern British Columbia. We four-wheeled up an incredibly bad road to get to the site. The road was so bad that one of the other mining operations had dropped a big four-wheeled military surplus truck into one hole, and the unit sunk down far past the axles. After fetching a Cat, they finally got it out. So, this was the same road we had to negotiate, with the same hole, and we moved very carefully around the edges of it, as well as around other nasty water traps until we finally made it to a small creek in the high, northern mountains where the road turned into a rough trail. Being muddy and slick, the truck started to slip off the road, and we had to stop, walking was the only way forwardI got set up, made a lot of noise to alert the Grizzlies in those thick pines that we were in the area, and then I set off to do some detecting. It was a sunny day which meant the bugs were bad, but there were butterflies, songbirds and beautiful, iridescent humming birds at work on the alpine blossoms. High overhead, thin white clouds drifted on the mountain currents. Bordering the side of the trail, there was a long stretch of exposed bedrock that the Old-timers had cleaned off in the 1800's; however, as I detected, all I found were various sizes of square nails, bits of old tin cans, and tiny pieces of wire. A bit later, I spotted the remains of an old cabin farther up the trail. I scouted around it and tried some detecting, but there was so much trash under the moss beside the building that I gave up after a short while. I marched over to the creek and was confronted with piles of Old-timer hand-stacks, ones left where they'd worked the creek bed. However, all I found was the regular trash plus bits of lead from tin can solder.I worked my way back down the trail to where the truck was parked. My buddy was slugging it out in the brush while swinging his 2100, and he was in a serious war with the bugs, and the bugs were winning! In retreat, he came blitzing back to the truck for bug dope, and off he went in a different direction. So, that left me standing alone by the truck. I'd already detected all of the exposed bedrock I could find, but I'd noticed a curious spot earlier back up the trail where someone had dug a test hole and piled a big mound of muck beside the road.Since I had nothing else to do, and since my buddy was eagerly donating to the Northern Bug Blood Bank, I wandered down to the test hole. I detected all around the bottom of the hole and only found a few bits of tin, and two square nails. On the sides of the hole I found more nails, but these were round nails, so obviously this was an area that was worked in the 30's. To elaborate, there were more miners active in this particular goldfield in the 30's than there were in the 1800's gold strike.At the far end of the test hole, there was a large boulder. I scanned it, and the whole thing was a hot rock! I'm no geologist, so I have no idea what kind of rock it was, but the 2100 constantly sounded off on it no matter how I configured it. However, just to the side of it was a little dike of dirt, one pushed up from the test hole. I climbed up on top and started to detect it. The ground was very slippery, and the next thing I knew, it had caved off and down I rocketed into the muck and water in the bottom of the test hole. (Zero points for grace.)After that slippery adventure, I was ready to head back to the truck. I was muddy, wet, and tired. It had been a long unrewarding day, yet that far north there's still daylight at eleven p.m., so my stubborn streak kicked in, and I decided I'd claw my way back up to detect the top of that wall of dirt once more. And that's the thing, the material was dirt--no river run in it, just a bunch of black clay and goo (in retrospect, the black should have tipped me off that it came from deep down near bedrock). I walked along more carefully this time, came to the break in the dirt I'd made when I slipped off, and I gingerly slid the coil across the gap. Almost instantly I got a nice sweet signal. This one was nice and smooth, no harsh iron growl. I worked my way across the breach and set up shop. I passed the coil over the signal again, approaching from a different direction. Still a nice smooth sound and very clear. It sounded like it had to be shallow. I dug down with my plastic scoop and scanned again. The hole was silent, but the scoop had a nice rich sound when I scanned it. I processed the dirt in the scoop, and then dumped the remaining bit in my hand and passed it under the coil. The signal was definitely in my hand. I dropped the dirt onto the coil and, thwack! The object hit the coil. All I could see was that black dirt. I moved the lumps around and one of them squealed when I moved it. I picked it up and rubbed off the dirt. The golden glow confirmed its identity. It was a nice, sassy five-gram nugget.I detected around the rest of the dirt, but no more luck. When my buddy came out of the bush and saw my nugget, he gave the detected the spot as well, but no luck. My lonesome nugget was the only one that came to play that day.All the best,Lanny
  15. Yes, thanks, doing great. I appreciate your comment. All the best, Lanny
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