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Lanny in AB

Dig, dig--miss, miss--Booyah!

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Posted (edited)

Where do I chase the gold?

Here's a few pictures, taken over the years, of one of the rugged areas where I chase the gold.

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And of course, the first picture, and the last picture, that's why I'm in those mountains; moreover, that's why I write the stories . . .

All the best,

Lanny

Edited by Lanny in AB
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Posted (edited)

Golden Bonanza Days, Part 4:

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My son and I kept at it, swinging the coils, gathering the signals, and depositing them in the pans. In retrospect, I adopted this “speed-panning” system a couple of years ago while working a target-rich area, and now I use it regularly if a spot proves good for continuing gold production; I no longer waste time isolating each and every target captured in the scoop.

On a related note, (in the fall of the year, or early spring) when the days are short, I don’t have much of an option to sort and sift targets as I have to quickly cover as much ground as possible to avoid the dark and the cold. So, every target goes from the scoop straight into the plastic pans. This approach allows me to maximize my time on site, which means that sometimes I’ll pan by flashlight or take the pans back to camp to process the next day. So, when I’m detecting alone, it’s an efficient time saver, but when I have someone to pan for me, I can maximize even more time!

To elaborate a bit more on the speed-detecting/speed-panning process, we weren’t ripping across the bedrock in race mode, we were carefully investigating every bump or whisper that broke the threshold. The only element of speed involved was how quickly we were able to collect and dump targets without having to isolate them.

A couple of times while swinging the coil, I heard multiple targets in one sweep (this happened to my son as well). Exciting stuff indeed when there’s more than one nugget in that coil pass! The best we did on that outing was three nuggets in one sweep. (Tip: I always use a super-magnet on an extendable wand to quickly eliminate ferrous trash, which saves even more time wasted on individual target isolation.)

To get back to my gold tale, my wife came walking carefully toward me cradling a gold pan, and what a smile! This is a good sign, and man you should have seen the nice nuggets, their gold colour sharply contrasted against the deep-green. Over the two days, she repeated this ritual numerous times.

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As I was using the small sniper coil on the Gold Racer, and having chosen a more traditional section of bedrock (a softer one the machines were able to work easier), the nuggets in my pans were smaller, nothing much over two grams, with the exception of on five-gram piece that startled me. However, my son’s pan had lots of beefy pieces, but nothing over seven grams. 


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After my son finished working his sloped cliff (that’s exactly what it was), he wandered down to detect the south end of the excavation where there were two pools of water, separated from each other by a ridge of hard bedrock. So, I jumped his claim by wandering over to his cliff-face honey-hole to detect for leftovers. Using my Gold Racer, I reached up as far as I could to swing the coil across a sort of rounded knob, one that bumped out slightly from the bedrock slope. That nasty little spot held a signal!

Well, this caused me lots of problems because now I had to see what the signal was. After pinpointing a small area just above the knob, I left the detector at the bottom and clawed my way up, barely hanging on by the tips of my boots. I saw a small V in the bedrock that held rusted, cemented material. (With ancient, intact material like this, it’s a great sign that gold may be present.) Swinging the pick, I would get a couple of shots in, but then the pounding motion would jar me loose from the precarious knob, and I’d undertake a controlled, downward crash. I did this over and over again, until at last I broke out a chunk of bedrock with rusty, cemented material attached.

So, that’s how I recovered a lonely 1.5gram nugget my son had missed. I kept at my crazy stretching to detect tactic, and coupled it with my sketchy footing routine until I’d captured six more small nuggets (from a gram to half a gram in weight). All of the were nuggets trapped in similar, small depressions. (I had to use a sledge and chisel to break out some targets, as some were cemented in, while others were jammed tight in cracks.) On a related note, I lost track of how many bruises I collected (I felt them all though for the next few days), and I probably left enough hide from my arms to do a skin graft! The crazy things we do for gold . . .

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As I was closing my gold bottle, my son gave a shout from the south end of the cut, and with my climbing days over, off I went to see what he’d discovered.

To be continued:

All the best,

Lanny

Edited by Lanny in AB
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Golden Bonanza Days, Part 5:

My son was digging like a wild man at a spot just past the bedrock hump that split the two pools of water. As I wandered over, I could see why he was working there.

On the right-hand side of the hump (facing west), working with the 25-inch Estwing, geo/paleo rock pick (that’s one fantastic pick if you’re looking for a pick that will go all day and never let you down), he was uncovering a long ledge of bedrock that stepped out about eight inches from the intact channel wall (the bedrock ran under the edge of the wall then rose up quickly [I could see places where the teeth of the excavator bucket had cut into the steeply rising bedrock where it angled off under the channel material into the wall]). The edge of the ledge of bedrock then dropped about another foot in the cut into a wide bedrock trough of a different color and hardness. The combination of channel wall, shelf, and trough generated the perfect conditions for the excavator bucket to skip from the wall, off the shelf, and down into the trough.

The trough had been cut down into and cleaned well by the excavator as the rock there was softer, but the eight-inch shelf above it was tougher stuff, part of a transition zone, and being located at the foot of the wall of the face, it was still covered by intact material, but hidden by some slump that had slid down to bury the shelf. Moreover, the placer miners were not going any farther into the face as the bedrock was rising steeply to match the slope of the side of the mountain, so what was left of the channel would never be worked, no profit margin.

However, that little shelf was something else, and I was proud my son had found it on his own (he’d been detecting along, got a soft signal in what looked like ordinary, yellowish-orange channel material, but the pick soon hit solid bedrock underneath as he chased the target, so more digging exposed the shelf.

My son was working the spot by uncovering a section about two yards long, then he’d grab the Gold Bug Pro and scan the bedrock shelf, but also the junction where the bedrock joined the face. He was getting lots of small nuggets and pickers, some down in little gutters and cracks in that shelf, and some from the intact channel material at the foot of the wall where it was rising up, two pay zones. How can you beat that? Furthermore, by wife had moved over to one of the bedrock pools nearby, and he was throwing scoops of target-rich dirt into two plastic pans for her. 

That’s why he’d called me over, to see that little bedrock ledge of honey that he’d found, but I didn’t want to jump his claim, so I left him working his spot, and I wandered down to the end of the trough, following a good stream of seepage water that followed the gentle, downward slope of the trough until it met a hump of harder bedrock that rose up.

To be continued:

All the best, and thanks for tagging along,

Lanny

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Hey, Lanny;

would you adopt me and take me up there?  I am 69 but willing to work really hard for an hour or two every day...the rest of the time I could supervise...

just kidding, of course!

fred

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Fred, I'd adopt every avid nugget shooter if I could, and I appreciate your sense of humour as stated, "willing to work really hard for an hour or two every day...the rest of the time I could supervise...", loved it!

I have taken many people out that were new to chasing the gold, and I love it when they find their first bits, whether detecting or panning. It has such a riveting effect on those that get genuinely interested . . . 

All the best,

Lanny

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Posted (edited)

Golden Bonanza Days, Finale: (I will include some general tips in this section for those that are still learning about nugget shooting.)

A small stream of clear water ran down that gentle slope over small pieces of broken, black and reddish bedrock salted with medium pebbles and smaller stones. With no intact, original material remaining, the spot didn’t look promising; however, I’ve found nuggets playing hide and seek in settings like this before.

In retrospect, I remember way back, when I first started chasing nuggets, a successful Old-timer told me, “Lanny, water and gold are good friends.” (I really didn’t understand what he meant then, but I do now. Water follows trough and gutters; it drops into cracks and crevices, and it drains downward into low spots in the bedrock. Guess what else loves to do the same thing?)

Learning what he meant, I’ve followed running or trickling water back up into bedrock that was covered in channel, and it’s led me to gold. I’ve also followed water downslope as it hugs bedrock contours, and as it dives under intact material, all with the same golden results. To be frank, I’ve also followed it and found nothing, but that’s part of the experience too: success never comes for me without failures along the way. Regardless, learning that water and gold are good friends was a remarkable tip.

Knowing the relationship of water to gold on bedrock, I scanned the area with the Gold Racer. Knowing that gold loves the opportunity to drop in water when it’s moved by machinery, I’ve recovered quite a few sassy nuggets in this way, and I put two small nuggets (the biggest being just over two grams) into my jar. Moreover, the Racer screamed on both targets due to the thin layer of pebbles and broken bedrock.

I worked my way up from the low spot leaving the water behind, and carefully detected every transition zone of hardness and color change in the bedrock. Each little fold in the rock; every crack, crevice, and friable section; all slips and faults, including numerous gutters and troughs, got scanned. As a result, lot of signals went into my gold pans for my wife to work down.

At this point in the day, the sun was high overhead without a cloud in that alpine-blue sky. Tiny orange and brown spotted butterflies, with smaller squadrons of blue and white ones, were flitting back and forth from seeps in the dark bedrock. Large, lazy, black-bodied flies, with iridescent blue and green highlights, lumbered by us while performing slow, corkscrewing aerobatics.

No wind stirred the setting, and it was getting warm, so I stripped off a layer of clothing, and as I did so, my brain reminded me it was time for a break: muscle fatigue was setting in, my stomach was starting to grumble, and I was thirsty.

Our bottled water was cached in one of the small streams of ice-cold seepage water, so it was perfectly chilled. We ate our traditional mining lunch (meat and cheese sandwiches, a piece of fruit, some chocolate pudding for desert). After eating, we all had a nice rest.

TIP: The five-gallon bucket my wife takes along makes a great panning-pool seat that saves the back muscles: moreover, anytime there’s panning to be done, if a seat [rock, bucket, bedrock ledge, etc.] can be found, muscle stress and fatigue are reduced.

Why take a rest when there’s gold to be found? Taking a gold-hunting break lets the conscious brain rest, and then the subconscious fires up and quietly analyzes the day’s global input for processing. Next, the subconscious brain delivers suggestions to the refreshed conscious brain for recognition. (TIP: I can’t overemphasize how critical it is to take breaks to keep the mind alert: rushing without breaks severely compromises productivity.)

With a rested brain, my subconscious popped the suggestion to “Go low and slow” over the previously worked northern end of the excavation. I quickly realized the bottom of the north cut needed just that process. I would head back with the Gold Racer to scrub the bedrock floor. (My son was still working his honey-ledge, so my wife stayed to pan.)

The bedrock floor had dips and rolling rises of hard rock (some bull quartz too), with occasional flatter areas of softer formations. My son had already hit these areas with the Gold Bug Pro, after working his rich rise of bedrock, but he’d made only standard passes through the bottom.

Firing up the Gold Racer, I scrubbed the coil slowly across the bedrock. I soon had a signal. I kept repeating this low-and-slow scrubbing process which netted a steady stream of pickers and nuggets for my bottle, with most targets trapped in cracks and seams that held almost no accompanying material. After finishing the bedrock, I went to the crazy areas (the places where you’d have to be crazy to look), and picked up some nuggets weighing under two grams that were obviously been redeposited by machinery action. (This tactic has produced enough gold that it’s part of my routine now when I work disturbed ground, either that mined by the Old-timers or by modern methods.)

Using the same techniques outlined above, the next day produced more nuggets as well.

Hand of gold 1.jpeg



It’s true, this may have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and we certainly left with heavy gold bottles, but the wonderful memories of family fun over those two golden bonanza days was the greater treasure.

All the best,

Lanny

Edited by Lanny in AB
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what a wonderful adventure! 

The tip about taking a break is very potent...one's ears get tired, the mind starts to wander, the muscles get tired...and if you are in the water you will get hypothermic..

thanks the trip!

fred

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11 hours ago, fredmason said:

what a wonderful adventure! 

The tip about taking a break is very potent...one's ears get tired, the mind starts to wander, the muscles get tired...and if you are in the water you will get hypothermic..

thanks the trip!

fred

Thanks Fred, I see you've also learned the wisdom of taking breaks, and hypothermia sure is a scary thing: been there once, never want to experience it again, but that was a fishing trip, still scary. . .

All the best, and thanks for your appreciation of the story,

Lanny

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That was a great story, Lanny.  Also, I always enjoy hearing tips from other prospectors.  Some tips I may already know, while others might just be explained a little differently to make more sense than before.  Thank you for letting us share in your adventure.  :thumbsupanim

Andy

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5 hours ago, Andyy said:

That was a great story, Lanny.  Also, I always enjoy hearing tips from other prospectors.  Some tips I may already know, while others might just be explained a little differently to make more sense than before.  Thank you for letting us share in your adventure.  :thumbsupanim

Andy

Many thanks Andy for your comments, and thanks for dropping in to leave your kind comments. 

I'm glad you found a few things either helpful or interesting.

All the best,

Lanny

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Definitely fun listening to your adventures Lanny. Keep them coming.

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1 hour ago, nugget108 said:

Definitely fun listening to your adventures Lanny. Keep them coming.

Thanks for that, and thanks for leaving your kind comment.

All the best,

Lanny

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Hey Lanny ... When does the book come out? :inocent::old:

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4 hours ago, Mike Furness said:

Hey Lanny ... When does the book come out? :inocent::old:

Thanks Mike, hopefully I will get to it one day . . .

All the best,

Lanny

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Now, for something different, Flashback Friday Entry:

(This is a true story, although I have taken some liberties in enhancing some details, but I have not exaggerated any of the facts about the gold.)

Before I start this story, I’ll need to provide a bit of background. I was chasing the gold in the mid 1990-s one summer, in a wilderness area far to the north of where I currently live. While there, I worked with some large-scale placer miners, helping out whenever and wherever I could. In return, as the miners were a wealth of knowledge about the new-to-me area, they gave me valuable tips on where to look for gold in that heavily glaciated region. They also let me tag along as they excavated to bedrock so I could see firsthand the local variables of gold deposition. However, as any of you that chase the gold well know, even with tips from the locals, it’s still possible to find trouble while looking for gold, and that trip was no exception.


Story Title: Gettin’ High On Placer Diggin’s

Sorry in advance to those of you into illegal or licensed substances, or those of you hardy enough to have actually smoked gold, or had it ground finely enough to inject or snort, because this tale does not deal with banned chemicals, licensed stimulants, or hallucinogenic substances. (Except I do think I have hallucinated while dreaming about gold in the past, especially during our long winters.) This story deals with the mind-altering effects of a metal. However, this prospecting tale itself is nonetheless mind-altering and reading it is not without risk.

One summer, when the snows had melted and the swollen rivers had dropped enough to allow travel, I headed up North to the gold-fields. Up north means a sixteen-hour drive from my home. But, why drive sixteen hours when there are other gold fields much closer? 

Well, there’s far less people that’s why, and there’s coarser gold. As for population, there are less than thirty souls. As for the gold, it’s chunky and knobby. On a related note, some of the local boys dig test-pits right in their front yards, then shovel the dirt into a small high-banker onsite, and they get good gold.

But, I digress again, and as you'll see, I'm pretty good at digressing. 

So, to summarize, less people, that’s good, right? But bugs? Bad! There are tens of millions of nasty, blood-sucking, winged vampires! There’s no way to hide from, or to outrun them. The bears, by comparison, are less of a concern, mainly because they can’t fly. But, because the bears are huge, smelly, and can be cranky (kind of like me after too long in the bush) they do deserve some respect.

In retrospect, I was in an area of low mountains with fresh, crystalline streams, surrounded by thick stands of deep-green boreal forest. In the low places, mysterious swamps nestled into the hollows and were bordered by countless mounds of glacial till, leavings from the miles-thick ancient glaciers that once bound the land in perpetual winter. 

The moving glaciers generated havoc, and the ancient, glacial meltwater produced numerous, titanic rivers, and some placer excavations have exposed seven or eight overlapping and intersecting stream deposits. In contrast, the frozen glaciers were dozers on insane steroids, cutting deep down or deep into the original bedrock, then pushing sections of channels helter-skelter, or orphaning sections of channel high above the present streambeds. It was one of these orphaned sections that this story is written about. 

One day, I was sitting near the wash-plant fixing a broken six-inch pump. Having been at it a while, I took a break. Looking across the river, I noticed something high up on the opposite slope. A line of boulders and river rock ran in a well-defined line along its side. The line indicated an ancient riverbed resting atop the underlying black slate bedrock. It was roughly sixty feet above the modern-day river, and sections of that high channel had sloughed off, exposing a bit of face. 

Because of this, I scanned the area with my binoculars to gather more information. Clearly, the channel rested on a bedrock rim, while the river-run itself was covered by eighty or so feet of boulder clay, which was then topped by thick forest. 

All at once, my pea-sized brain was hammered by a giant, golden brainwave . . . I had to cross the river to sample that channel!

No argument or thought of personal safety holds me back if there's a shot at getting gold! As hot fever had fired my resolve, I had to act.

I grabbed a five-gallon (20-liter) plastic pail, shovel, pry/digging bar, and a small sledge; these items all fit neatly inside the bucket. Next, I shouldered into my prospecting backpack. (I keep all of my essentials in the backpack for easy transport. Nonetheless, when fully loaded, it weighs just a tad under a fully loaded B-52 bomber.) However, rather than worry about the gear in my backpack, I should have chucked it out and made room for a back-up brain instead. As will be seen, a spare brain would have saved me a lot of trouble that day . . .

Regardless, all packed up, I made my way down to the river. Now, in Canada, even in mid-summer (which it was), the rivers that far north in B.C. NEVER get warm. In fact, if you dunk your head, you get instant brain-freeze! Ignoring rational thinking, I had the clever idea to delicately pick my way across the stream in my rubber boots, and ballet-like, I flitted from rock to rock. Yet somehow, I lost control. Disaster struck! Prospector, pail, and pack plunged below the surface. (Any comments uttered after surfacing will not be printed here in order to protect the innocent.)

In spite of being wet and cold, I fully enjoyed the rest of the crossing (that’s a huge lie!). I felt somewhat refreshed (another whopper) after dragging my cold, soggy carcass out of the water. On a brighter note, after dumping eighty or so pounds of ice-water from each boot, it was easier to walk.

So, threading through the poplars and aspens beside the river, I then headed up the slope until I hit a new obstacle: boulder clay. This is the stuff I mentioned earlier, a nasty mixture of tan to yellowish clay liberally dosed with boulders that was abandoned whenever and wherever the lazy glaciers wished. 

Boulder clay sloughs or oozes down hillsides when it's wet, and later it dries into bomb-proof concrete, though not quite as soft as concrete. As well, getting a toehold on it is the devil. Regardless, I somehow cut some steps with my shovel, and through stubborn dedication, I progressed a third of the distance upslope finding a v-shaped wash filled with cobbles and larger rocks, ones birthed from the channel and boulder clay above. The v-shaped wash held a nest of ill-tempered branches, dead limbs, and exposed roots that blocked my way. However, even with my squishy, soggy socks and boots, I navigated Mother Nature’s hazards. 

I continued upslope and worked my way into some sheltering pines. At that elevation, the smell of the pines is a wondrous thing; it's a smell I'll always associate with the true sense of freedom only to be enjoyed in the mountain environment while out chasing the gold. 

At last, I reached the high placer diggin's, the coveted bedrock rim with its ancient channel. Eagerly, I went to work. (I need to provide a little description of the worksite here: Imagine how tricky it is to rest one rubber boot on a three-inch ledge of bedrock, as the other boot powers the shovel, all while trying to maintain enough balance to avoid a tumble down the mountain. Imagine as well using the pick and bar in such tight quarters, while trying to carve out an excavation, one running three feet into the face of the boulder clay in an attempt to expose the bedrock.

Success arrived when I exposed the underlying black slate of the high channel. Then, pulling my sniping tools from my backpack, I cleaned every little crevice, cranny, and dip or gutter in the slate and dropped the collections into my bucket. In addition, I added indsaf some oxidized reddish-orange dirt to my bucket as well.

Not relishing the long haul down to the river with a small load, and wanting a good test sample, I loaded that bucket as heavy as I could in case I only made one trip. So, with the bucket filled, I tossed my tools over the edge to a landing of sorts, lifted the bucket, and turned around. Instantly, I realized something shocking; that return slope looked a lot steeper than it had on the way up! What mind-altering substance had possessed me to get where I was anyway?

Clearly, some moron had deluded himself into scrambling to a place no sane person ever would. Moreover, I get myself into such fixes by denying the existence of the laws of physics, and probability, etc. I override and defeat all laws, and any stored wisdom when I'm gold crazy. Yet, I carry on in happy oblivion until I realize far too late what I've done. Regardless of my denial of scientific laws, etc., one law never surrenders to my delusions, and that law, as we shall see, is the irrefutable law of gravity!

So, there I was, faced with a problem. I had to go down, no option, because I couldn't go up a vertical wall of boulder clay regardless of how high I was on gold-fever delirium. Deciding on a better course of action, I took the first step down. (This in spite of my brain trying too late to warn me of some impending doom. Come to think of it, I often override my brain's warnings to court danger while chasing gold.)

However, the first step really wasn't that bad. I just leaned into the hill and put all of my weight back on my boot heel. Miraculously, it held me in place, and the eight-thousand-pound bucket of gravel and I took another step forward. (Could it be that the bucket was so heavy because of its high gold content? Or, was I just an idiot that had severely overloaded it?)

I kept at it, leaning and stepping, and soon found myself in the branches and cobbles that littered the earlier mentioned wash. I took several more steps but then a malicious root or scheming branch snagged my boot. Well, that bucket just kicked out in front of me like it was rocket-boosted. (At about twice the speed of light, Sir Isaac Newton’s law had instant and complete control.)

Immediately my brain switched to its salvation-panic mode as I yanked myself back as hard as I could, the bucket jerking back toward me. 

However, the problem was, my feet no longer cared what I was doing, as in trying to right myself, they chose instead to betray me by heading down the mountain. The effects of gravity increased increased in intensity as I picked up speed.

Now, when viewed from the other side of the canyon, it must have looked as if someone had shot and wounded a strange forest creature, some ugly beast, a raging bull-moose perhaps, or some other smelly, cantankerous critter (a classification I could easily qualify for after weeks in the bush!). It also must have looked as if that crazed creature was hurtling down the slope to a certain and speedy demise.

The real truth, however, is that instead of being out of control, I was magnificently in control, in fact, most supremely so. Even with my rubber boots throwing off more smoke than an Alaskan smudge fire, the accompanying smoke was a planned effect to keep the bugs at bay. However, keeping the smoke pouring from those hot boots while simultaneously attempting to apply my brakes among the boulders proved too tricky. In addition, the fact that the three gold pans in my backpack were absorbing more shock than a crash-test-dummy at impact was only a minor annoyance. As well, bashing off the face of the boulder clay was merely a slight test of my prospecting mettle, so to speak.

At last, still breathing (though hot and ragged breaths those breaths were), I came to a sudden stop. Some friendly tree branches gracefully halted my ballet-like plunge. (It's rumored a visiting Russian judge, observing from across the river, gave me a 9 out of 10!)

Now, for those with a sense of the divine in nature, this was the perfect moment. The moment that finds the human at one with the mountain (and miraculously still alive). However, more remarkable than my survival was that the dirt had not spilled from my bucket! Yes, that is the wonder in this high placer tale—not a stone was lost from the bucket, not a single grain of sand! 

So, with pay-dirt still intact, I somehow made my joints regain function, more or less (more pain and less function!). However, with renewed confidence, I set off once again. The only obstacle remaining was the sullen boulder clay.

At some point, you'd think the brain would revolt, refusing to power to the muscles required for descent, especially after a such a brush with imminent extinction, all perpetrated by some ambitious idiot bent on chasing dirt! But no, the brain can always be overridden! I've located the master switch to disarm it. I've used it many times to stop logical thought, yet I have somehow survived to tell this tale. (This is proof that life is full of mysteries, ones not easily solved by rational thought.)

At any rate, about a dozen steps down, the clay, somewhat wet from a seep, remembered one of its admirable qualities, the slicker than greased Teflon quality, and off I went again. This time it was only a playful, sort of jarring bashing, with the odd bone-numbing wallop thrown in for variety. It lasted for a mere twenty or so feet, then I came to a feather-like stop on the gravel below, the contents of the bucket still intact.

Although amazed at the miraculous luck required to save such a valuable cargo, I took a break and picked a pan full of golf ball-sized gravel out of my mouth. Next I pushed several teeth back into their sockets, then replaced my left eyeball. After that, I checked to see what the crooked protrusion was that seemed to be attached to my head. Finding that it was my neck, and finding that it was still attached to my shoulders, I set off to the river to pan the dirt!

Three flakes, in five gallons. . . . You can't make this stuff up.

I guess there's a lesson to be learned here, but far be it from me to get preachy, or to force my hard-earned wisdom on any of you. I'll let you figure out the drug-induced dangers of gettin’ high while chasing placer diggin’s.

All the best,

Lanny

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Lanny,

I believe this was one of if not the first writings penned by you I ever read a few years ago and by far one of my favorites, written well enough I was tripping and sliding down the slope with you!

Your writings always brings to mind Robert Service and one of his writings seems to me to fit you very well.....

“Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.”

 

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17 hours ago, Au Seeker said:

Lanny,

I believe this was one of if not the first writings penned by you I ever read a few years ago and by far one of my favorites, written well enough I was tripping and sliding down the slope with you!

Your writings always brings to mind Robert Service and one of his writings seems to me to fit you very well.....

“Yet it isn't the gold that I'm wanting
So much as just finding the gold.
It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.”

 

What a kind compliment you have given me, much appreciated, and to be in any way connected to a memory of Robert Service, kind indeed.

All the best, and thanks for dropping in to leave a comment,

Lanny

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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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Bugs, Blood and Gold: Tales from the North. 

(This is prospecting humour, with mild fiction, but sadly, based in reality.)

I have to talk about a perplexing, maddening phenomenon that occurs ever year in the summertime: hundreds of prospectors line up to donate blood! On the surface, this appears to be quite humanitarian. However, this is no lineup at a medical facility to give blood, but a gathering that happens only in northern forests, far from the soft, cultured masses of pampered urban dwellers. 

This annual, rather insane event must serve as a ritual cleansing, one rooted in superstition and myth, for it is part of the pilgrimage that gold-seekers make during the warmer months. The cost of the trek is not tallied in cash however, but it is paid in blood, donated so to speak to the winged vampires of the north.

In contrast to this savage blood-letting, try to imagine an area of consummate beauty, a peaceful, tranquil region where pine, cedar, tamarack, fir, birch, aspen and balsam trees flourish. Imagine as well a forest floor lush with the softness of mosses and undergrowth. In the mountain meadows try to see hummingbirds and butterflies flitting from flower to flower, try to hear a choir of songbirds singing their age-old symphonies. In addition, visualize a place where crystal streams run free and unhindered, where lakes teem with trout, grayling, and arctic char. Moreover, by gazing into the distance, try to comprehend the endless rolling carpet of mountain greenness that undulates until it blends with a perfect blue horizon. 

Against this dreamy backdrop however, a dark, dizzying cloud forms the minute anyone exits their rugged 4x4’s. This previously pristine setting is marred by an evil cloud that hides the Great Northern Horde. (Gengis Kahn’s horde, by comparison, was a puny force.)

When I was a rookie, I often wondered about bugs. How bad could they be? Well, any northern prospector worth his salt has tangled with the “threshold vampire” (so named because it sounds like the buzz of your detector’s threshold), aka, the mosquito. And what prospector has never had an encounter with a galloping horse fly, or a prancing deer fly? Or, how about getting bit by the teeth that fly? (No-see-ums, nothing but flying teeth) Yes, bugs indeed . . . 

Well, I stepped forth into just such a cloud of bugs, but luckily my survival instinct overrode my dim brain. Without thinking, my arms began a furious wind-milling action as I carelessly launched my detector through the air, the astronomical price I’d paid, an insignificant, annoying memory. As I ran back to open the truck door to escape the winged-bullies, I was horrified to find my partner had locked the vehicle! Moreover, he had the only can of bug spray outside of the truck. (Later, he swore up and down that he never used the stuff, didn’t even need it that day he said. Then he carried on with some nonsense about how a real man would never fear such tiny creatures, some back-handed comment to me about insect repellent being a wussy cop-out, something not worthy of the northern prospector’s stripe.)

So there I was, stranded, and somewhat bug-eyed (no pun intended). Frantically, I pressed my sweaty face against the glass, hoping perhaps the other door was unlocked, but defeated, I then saw what I’d left on the seat, my first line of defense, my ultimate weapon: the potent, DEET-laced concoction known as Bug Dope! Impotent rage filled me as I ineffectively swatted and slashed at my attackers.

Then, relentless panic filled every cell of my entire organism, accompanied by merciless, shredding terror. The panic’s sheer volume widened into a chasm of unspeakable horror. Sensing disaster, while icy fingers of doom clawed the back of my neck, I turned to face my agonizing fate, a living cloud forming a rising black wall of the famished, northern horde.

Instantly, I was engulfed by a buzzing, hissing mass of wings and slashing teeth, ones perfectly adapted for blood-letting. (Vampires, by comparison, are thousands of years behind on the evolutionary scale.) Next, I conquered some of my tormentors by cleverly breathing in an entire squadron. (Or, was that simply a reflexive gasp of stricken terror?) 

Nevertheless, by reducing their numbers, I’d dealt the beggars a costly blow. (I wish!) Next, some of the stealthier bug ascended my pant legs, on the inside where their malicious intent was hidden. This, assault was led by the black demons from some cursed other-world. They were indeed the dreaded blackfly, casually referred to in Webster’s dictionary as “any of various small dark-colored insects; esp.: any of a family of bloodsucking dipteran flies”. Dipteran?! (What a gentle misnomer for such incarnate evil.)

Updating their tactics of savagery, some blackflies even practice camouflage now, by dressing in orange, yellow and red. Moreover, they’re getting bigger now. For example, I saw a cloud the other day packing intravenous poles for easier blood transfusion as they assaulted and overwhelmed some wretch trying to bathe in the river!! Am I using hyperbole, a form of extreme exaggeration? Well, in all honesty, I am exaggerating as the person had only gone to the river for a drink, and when he saw the horde, he dove head-first into the river. So, yes, guilty of exaggeration as he was never there for a bath at all. 

So, what happened to me, the dope caught without his bug dope? (Which reminds me, I’ve often pondered on that puzzling name given for that powerful spray, but the answer came to me with lightning clarity as the name refers to the idiot that leaves his locked in the truck! [Any resemblance to the story’s protagonist, or to myself, is purely coincidental.]) 

(To digress a bit, the blackflies’ march up my pant-legs would not be discovered that day, for they carry anesthetic in their toothy kit of devilry. I discovered the bites later that night, while trying to sleep, but, sleep never came, as the bites itched longer than it took the dinosaurs to go extinct. Moreover, scratching the bites was much like taking a sharp knife to my throat, because after I’d scratched them, I wished I’d had a sharp knife to take to my throat for being such a jack-wagon to scratch them in the first place!)

To return to my tale of being bitten by the horde, my ears started to itch, but not on the outside, no, deep down on the eardrum. Some of the little beggars do not follow the rules of war (The Marquess of Queensberry rules of engagement for war? Why, they only revere him as a possible blood donor!). Moreover, the flying sadists have the power to attack in unmentionable places, enough said!

To digress a bit more, I referred to horseflies earlier, and on that trip I went after some of them with a rope, but not to try to drive them off. I wanted to try my hand at lassoing them as some of the resident sourdoughs had bragged to me of saddling the smaller ones, then using them in their bizarre northern rodeos. These rodeos consist of letting the mosquitoes out of a cattle shoot, hazing them with the horsefly, then hog-tying them to try for the fastest time. (On a different note, not related to rodeo at all, some of those blowhards tried to trick me into believing I could shoot the mosquitoes up there with a shotgun. This is absolute nonsense! A shotgun will absolutely not bring them down. However, a lucky burst from a 20mm cannon has been known to blow off a wing, or part of a leg now and again.) 

Regardless of my digression, in my mad dash from the bugs, I finally saw my friend. He was leisurely swinging his detector over a patch of exposed graphite-schist. However, my friend’s head suddenly snapped up when he heard a low moan, followed by a screeching sound, followed by yet another low moan. Perhaps he thought I was hunting with an external speaker and had stumbled on a good target? 

However, imagine his shock when he realized the sound was coming from me, his partner, squealing and moaning as I burst forth from the swarming wall of insatiable northern vampires. 

With the flies in deadly pursuit, I raced toward my partner, but slowing before I reached him, the cloud-like wall outstripped me. (On a side note, that was one thick wall of bugs. How thick? Well, I took out my Bowie knife and cut a square hole right through those bugs to be able to see my partner.) After my Bowie knife tactic, and with a wild, glazed look in my eye, I dove through the hole, knife outstretched. By way of reflection, I think my partner thought I’d lunged straight for his throat with my knife. However, I only wanted to shred the pocket of his jacket, to quickly get at the Bug Dope. Then, I disappeared into the trees.

Now, this whole tale may seem farfetched, perhaps light-hearted, and somewhat unbelievable. Indeed, I confess to having invented more than a few details. However, I assure you, it was quite a serious matter, most stressing in fact. 

But, what happened to the protagonist of this tale after he fled the scene with the can of bug spray? Why, it’s rumored he’s still holed up somewhere deep in an abandoned placer mine, a location that is dark and cold. A place far too cold for bugs, but not too cold for dopes.

All the best,

Lanny

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gnats flies and mosiqutoes are like the BLM, they leave me alone.

me native who only drinks water, with raw cider vinegar, molasses and some drops peppermint oil. been drinking 1-2 gallons per day for pass six years. in Minnesota last July slept in me tahoe, no problem.

nature has a cure everything, she provide's the best education entertainment

and support income.

natives seeking to do no harm require no government.

lanny's writing are very entertaining, makes one feel like being there with him.

 

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Lanny you are one of the best writers I've read in a long time. your stories and photo's are great. but I have to ask, have you ever heard of a guy named Preston.

AzNuggetBob

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16 hours ago, wet/dry washer said:

gnats flies and mosiqutoes are like the BLM, they leave me alone.

me native who only drinks water, with raw cider vinegar, molasses and some drops peppermint oil. been drinking 1-2 gallons per day for pass six years. in Minnesota last July slept in me tahoe, no problem.

nature has a cure everything, she provide's the best education entertainment

and support income.

natives seeking to do no harm require no government.

lanny's writing are very entertaining, makes one feel like being there with him.

 

Interesting tip on some natural repellents, thanks.

All the best,

Lanny

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4 hours ago, AzNuggetBob said:

Lanny you are one of the best writers I've read in a long time. your stories and photo's are great. but I have to ask, have you ever heard of a guy named Preston.

AzNuggetBob

Hi Bob, no, I haven't heard of Preston. What is the reference?

All the best,

Lanny

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12 hours ago, Lanny in AB said:

Hi Bob, no, I haven't heard of Preston. What is the reference?

All the best,

Lanny

Lanny the reason I made reference to Preston is that your writing style reminds me a lot of his writing style.
Preston and I used to hunt together years ago.he would write some great stories while we were doing some of those mind-numbingly 
long drives from one gold area to another.

From what I've heard he went up north to prospect and writes books on poetry and stories in 
some of the prospecting/treasure hunting magazines these days.
Anyway keep the great stories and photo's coming.

AzNuggetBob

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1 hour ago, AzNuggetBob said:

Lanny the reason I made reference to Preston is that your writing style reminds me a lot of his writing style.
Preston and I used to hunt together years ago.he would write some great stories while we were doing some of those mind-numbingly 
long drives from one gold area to another.

From what I've heard he went up north to prospect and writes books on poetry and stories in 
some of the prospecting/treasure hunting magazines these days.
Anyway keep the great stories and photo's coming.

AzNuggetBob

Thanks for your wonderful comments on my stories Bob, truly appreciated.

What is Preston's last name, or his first name (if that's his last name?); I'd like to read some of his stories, can't ever get enough stories about chasing the gold!

Once again, thanks for your generous comments, and for all of the input and advice you've given me; I'm honoured by your kindness, and all the best as always,

Lanny

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