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Lanny in AB

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

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10 hours ago, Lanny in AB said:

Can you smell the rice cooking?

I recall being far to the north in a historic gold field, and I had the opportunity to have a chat with a Sourdough (a seasoned miner from the area) about his claim. He took me to a spot one day and told me a most interesting tale.

However, before I relate his story, I’ll describe its location. It was far down in the bottom of a secluded valley. Steep, black-walled mountains rose on either side, and courageous growths of spruce and fur clung to the steep slopes, with birch, poplar and aspen peppering the evergreens lower down. Dark draws inhabited by deeper areas of gloom gave birth to swiftly flowing streams that emptied into the valley. From these gulches, the icy, ghostly breath of unseen currents of air rushed forth to randomly lift the hair, before chilling the neck and spine. Indeed, an eerie atmosphere pervaded that sullen spot of murky shadows where the long dead miners of some 150-years past had chased the gold to make their fortunes, or to lose their lives.

On a gentle slop above long rows and piles of cobble stacks, the remnants of a massive hand-workings, the miner’s cabin was situated. It was an ancient cabin, one in continual use since the original gold rush, the cabin perpetually maintained and rebuilt until it was later used by a member of the North West Mounted police as a retirement refuge. Later, it was acquired by Glen the miner. Heavy logs formed the base of the walls, with smaller logs progressing up the sides, and there were only two windows, one big enough to allow light to enter, and one small one which served as a lookout. The log ends were all beautifully axe cut to fit and lock together, and there was an addition on the back of the main cabin that housed a food storage and washing area. The doors were heavy and sturdily built as grizzly and black bears frequently visited the area. (I have a story somewhere about the attack on Glen’s cabin by an enraged grizzly, quite the hair-raising tale he told me of his experience that truly made my blood run cold.)

A path led down from the slope to a long draw that then led to a bedrock rise, with the draw, or gulch, continuing upward. On the other side of the bedrock rise a fast-flowing creek could be heard. The bedrock rise continued to climb as it joined the shoulder of the mountain. There was a trail that led up the non-creek side of that shoulder, and I headed off on foot to look the area over.

The first thing I noticed, as I looked down into the draw from the trail, were the sunken places. There were five large areas where the earth had slumped, with smaller areas running perpendicular to the gulch that were still at the original level. This of course spiked my curiosity.

When I returned from my hike, Glen the miner was at his cabin, and we had a chat.

He started in with a bit of history of the area. That the place had been extensively hand-mined I had already seen; that it was shallow to bedrock in many places was also obvious. What he filled me in on was that the early miners were after the easy, shallow gold, and they had done very well, with many ounces of coarse gold quickly gathered from the shallow diggings. But, as was the common case in the 1800’s, there was always the news of new gold rush farther to the north where the gold was equally shallow, easier to get to, so the miners that loved the quick gold soon left to chase other strikes. That left the deeper gold that required organized groups of people with the necessary capital to start up larger operations.

Then, he told me about the arrival of the Chinese miners in the area. They followed the gold rushes and came in after the other miners had had creamed the shallow gold and had either abandoned their claims or were looking to sell cheaply. The Chinese, he said, were not afraid of hard work, and moreover, many of them did not have a choice of whether they liked hard work or not due to being indentured laborers, a form of slavery so to speak, until they had paid off the Tong for their debt to the organization. Glen went on to explain how the Chinese used a lot of opium during their miserable existence, and he told me of bottle hunters that had come a few years before my arrival and of their efforts in trash dumps to recover the precious little bottles. He also told me of the tiny log huts the miners lived in, short-walled on purpose as they were easier to heat during the brutal winters. In addition, he told me of the superstitions the Chinese were bound to, mysterious ones that propelled their efforts.

Then, he took me on a walk.

The bedrock rise that I’ve already mentioned was where he took me, but he walked me over closer to the face where there was a bit of a fold, and that fold hid from view the entrance to a tunnel, but one that he had caved in with is heavy equipment as it led to a large area of unsafe underground workings, ones the Chinese had excavated by hand. I then told him about my upslope hike, and of seeing the collapsed areas, and he confirmed that all of that long draw was a continuation of the original Chinese workings. He elaborated that the Chinese had struck an ancient channel by cutting below it through the solid rock so they could hit the base of the channel where the coarse gold was trapped. A lot of trapped water had flowed when they punched through the last of the bedrock, but they had cut the tunnel on purpose so it would drain the ancient water down and away before they went to work.

The gold was coarse, and they took out a lot of good gold over several years, but then one day the horrific happened, the roof of the tunnel, off on one side excavation of the gulch, collapsed, killing several Chinese. They left the area . . . (This is not an isolated incident, and I have read about this in other gold rush accounts, bad Josh/Joss [bad luck] was something they didn’t mess with, and the area was forever cursed to them.)

When Glen first acquired the claim, he had gone into the tunnel mouth, and he’d taken samples from the floor of the tunnel. The buckets of dirt he’d recovered were full of pickers! To prove this, he gave a jar of the dirt for later panning, and it was indeed loaded with gold!!

So, his interesting tale had answered my questions about the sunken areas I’d seen on my walk, and I could see just how extensive the underground workings were that the Chinese had driven up that gulch from the size of the collapsed areas. Those determined miners had really got the job done, regardless of their motivations.

As we were leaving the tunnel mouth, Glen turned to me and said, “Can you smell the rice cooking?”

I said, “What?”

He said again, “Can you smell the rice cooking?”

I answered, “No, can you?”

He then told me that on certain days, when the wind was just right, he could smell the scent of rice cooking as it drifted down to the cabin from the gulch. He didn’t smile or joke in any way, and the gloomy setting of the area, with its accompanying tragedy, put nothing but a large punctuation mark on his story.

All the best,

Lanny

Nice story Lanny, just when I thought it was getting long, it just kept getting better.:)

AzNuggetBob

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On 4/20/2019 at 12:45 AM, AzNuggetBob said:

Nice story Lanny, just when I thought it was getting long, it just kept getting better.:)

AzNuggetBob

Thanks Bob, glad you enjoyed it.

All the best,

Lanny

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Lanny 
Its hunting season here in Az. I'm heading out on a bit of an off the grid new area. I do have at least three or four more stories about road finds that Id like to post. I learned a lot from them. :)
will post them when I get back. ya need to get down here Lanny. this is the time of year to hunt Az. be back in a couple weeks.
AzNuggetBob

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On 4/30/2019 at 11:35 PM, AzNuggetBob said:

Lanny 
Its hunting season here in Az. I'm heading out on a bit of an off the grid new area. I do have at least three or four more stories about road finds that Id like to post. I learned a lot from them. :)
will post them when I get back. ya need to get down here Lanny. this is the time of year to hunt Az. be back in a couple weeks.
AzNuggetBob

Thanks Bob, would love to, but still have my day job. When I'm done with that, not a lot will stop me.

The weather here was good enough to get up in the mountains last week. Saw some beautiful gold, hefted some sassy, weighty nuggets found by some placer miners I know, got my gold camp set up again for another season, rarin' to get after the nuggets again with the detectors.

Good luck to you, and all the best,

Lanny

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Gold Monster Outing

Went to the gold camp in the Rocky Mountains last week. The weather was gorgeous, all kinds of songbirds back, plus the flowers of the mountain meadows are in full bloom, purple crocus and shooting stars, yellow buttercups, multi-coloured Johnny Jump-ups, etc., etc.

At the camp as I was checking over the living quarters (camper and two travel trailers), a humming bird buzzed straight past my right ear! That snappy racket from those wings going a million miles an hour is unmistakable. So, we set out the humming bird feeders hoping to catch a glimpse of the beautiful and dazzling red to orange coloured throat of the Roufus variety before they head farther north, and we’ll keep an eye out for the beautiful iridescent green of the more common ones that sticks around all season.

My wife unpacked her shiny new Minelab Gold Monster, and for those of you familiar with the machine, there’s not much reading to do, but I watched a whack of user videos before we hit the mountains so I could give my little darlin’ some tips and guidelines as she set out to learn how to use it.

I picked a spot for her to try her luck on, an old fairly level place in a valley where some placer miners once had their wash-plant. The claim is now abandoned, last worked by some modern-day Chinese miners, but they left the area under a gloomy cloud, and I doubt they’ll ever be back.

I gave my June Bride some general instructions on how to run the Gold Monster (I’d never used one before, but the YouTube and other user-posted videos were a great help. Furthermore, I’d like to give a shout-out to Bill Southern for his wonderful educational efforts.). But, we figured the Monster out quite quickly, and that’s why I’m grateful to Steve Herschbach for recommending I get my sweetheart one due to its ease of use, and kudos to Steve and Jonathan Porter for their write-ups on the machine which helped me quickly get a handle on the basics; their input was invaluable.

By eye-balling the old site, I could tell pretty close to where the Chinese had pulled out their wash-plant, so I used that information to gauge where I’d have my wife start to detect as there are always some “spill” areas that offer a better shot at finding a nugget or two. Having said that, it was easy to see they had bladed and bucketed the area carefully after they were done to gather any spilled material; those miners were no greenhorns.

I blocked off in a rough rectangle an area I thought might pay, and right away, my wife was hitting targets, but they were almost all ferrous, so she kept experimenting toggling back and forth between discriminate and all iron, learning the different sounds, learning how to make it easier to ID targets (to get them to sound off louder), learning how to read the little bar graph when it gave its indication of non-ferrous more than ferrous, as well as getting used to the sounds of shallow vs. deeper targets, and learning how to use the magnet wand to save time while sorting trash signals. (To elaborate, she’s a great panner, but a green, green rookie when it comes to nugget shooting.)

The thing about detecting an old wash-plant set-up is that it gets very easy to quickly tell where the repairs (welds, patches, etc.) took place, and the numerous bits of welding rod sure make for some interesting sounds, and curious readings on the graph! Having said that, the Monster’s discriminator sure came in handy, and yes, depth was lost, but by using the small round coil, target separation was much better, and I was impressed at how my wife was able to move slowly from target to target, separating their locations, as she dug out signals.

While she was test-driving the Monster, I was going for a comfortable cruise with my Gold Bug Pro. That is one hot machine, at least mine is. (I’ve heard detecting folklore that some machines leave the factory “hotter” than others, and I have no idea it that’s true or not, but the one I have is a firecracker for sure, super sensitive, and a true gold hound for sniffing out gold from tiny flakes to meaty nuggets.)

I started to hit non-ferrous targets in one slice of her search area, so I marked a few so she could check them out. Well, those miners had liked their cigarettes, and there were plenty of crumpled bits of foil from the wrappers as well as some other kind of lead foil with a gold-coloured outer covering that made for some increased heartbeat, but only turned out to be a bust.

After having dug some of those duds, she called me over. “Hey, what do you think of this signal?”. She was getting a great reading on the Monster, and it sounded sweet too. She worked the ground for a bit chasing the target around with her scoop (when a target runs from the scoop, it’s usually something heavy, as most ferrous trash seems to hop quickly into the scoop). Dropping the dirt from the scoop onto the coil, she moved things around and there sat a pretty little picker, about a quarter of a gram! Man, was she pumped!!

So, she kept on working that rectangle while I ranged farther afield with the Bug Pro, and I too found all kinds of cigarette foil, and that maddening, thick lead foil with gold coloring--craziest stuff I’ve ever seen, and I have no idea what it originally contained. I recovered a small aluminum parts tag, several electrical connectors, bits of lead, and pieces of broken brass likely from a bushing of some kind.

My wife gave another shout, and over I went. Her meter was pinning consistently in the sweet zone, the signal sound nice and crisp. Capturing the target, she threw the dirt in a gold pan. Next, she then used the Garret Carrot to chase the signal around the pan. She moved some dirt then cried out, “Look at this. Is this gold?” At first, it was hard to tell what it was due to a covering of grey clay, but using a bit of water soon revealed a sassy nugget! If I’d thought she was excited about her first find, it was nothing compared to her reaction on that one!

I can only come to this conclusion: The Minelab Gold Monster is a sweet machine that sure produces sweet results, because it’s so easy to use, and it makes my sweetheart happy (couldn’t resist punning on sweet, forgive me).

All the best,

Lanny

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Lanny,

Yet another great post, thank you for sharing your adventures with everyone!  It certainly sounds like you and your wife are having a sweet adventure!

Jeff

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20 hours ago, pairadiceau said:

Lanny,

Yet another great post, thank you for sharing your adventures with everyone!  It certainly sounds like you and your wife are having a sweet adventure!

Jeff

Jeff, I sure appreciate you dropping in to leave such a generous and kind note, much appreciated, and I guess I'm one of the lucky ones as I have a spouse that's truly loving to chase the gold as much as I do.

When I first started out chasing the gold, she wasn't that interested, but when I was dredging, she and my mother-in-law would pan my dredge concentrates. That was an eye-opener for her! (The mother-in-law got the nickname "gold grabber" as she'd always grab the nuggets and drop them in her jar!) After the dredge-concentrates fun, my wife really got into panning as well as sniping bedrock, and for the last few years, she's been my speed-panning expert (we throw nugget signals in plastic gold pans while we're detecting virgin bedrock exposed by placer mining [50-60 feet of overburden removed to access the ancient channels], as it saves us the time of ID'ing each individual target, and she pans out the nuggets!) Well, that also got her hooked on nuggets, and she's tried swinging the detector a few times over that virgin bedrock, and she's found a few too. (She hates the heavy Minelabs, loves the light VLF's)

Because she's got the fever now, that's why she wanted her own detector, and she wanted a light one that would be easy to swing, and a detector that had an easy learning curve, but one with modern electronics that would do the job by handling the ground better than the older VLF's. So, that's why she chose the Minelab Gold Monster, and she had success the first time out!!

I told her there's people out there that have had detectors for years, and they still haven't got their coils over gold, lots of trash recovered, but no gold, and she gets two chunks of gold the first outing, remarkable.

All the best, and thanks for being so kind as to leave some feedback,

Lanny

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Hydraulic Pit Gold

(I wrote this story a long time ago, but for the rookies, there might be a tip or two . . . )

I was detecting in a hydraulic pit one day, way back when I was using the Minelab 2100 full-time (still a solid gold-finding machine!).

I was finding little brass boot nails, copper wire, blasting caps, old square nails (of all sizes), mine tunnel rail spikes, dozer-blade shavings, cigarette package foil, bits of old tin can (AKA, can-slaw) . . . I was hitting everything but gold! 

I wandered over to a rise on the side of the pit where there were some white-barked quaking aspens. It was a sizzling summer day with the patented cobalt blue sky of the Rockies, and that shade in the aspens looked mighty inviting. 

From upslope, a cool breeze brought the fragrant scent of fresh, mountain pine.

Having been given the perfect recipe for some relaxation, I sat down and pondered what I'd been up to. The pit was huge, and I'd been hammering the exposed bedrock, and any places where there was any clay deposited tight on the bedrock. (I guess it was good that I'd been finding the junk, as it proved the area wasn't totally hunted out, but I wanted some gold, and I was tired of hitting only junk.) 

As I sat in the shade and took a break, I suddenly noticed lots of river rock around the base of the trees, a thing I'd failed to notice before. I looked at the rise above the aspens,  and I saw where river rocks were poking from the slope as well. Freshly inspired, I took my shovel and peeled off the surface material to expose even more water-rounded rock.

I fired up the detector and passed it over the rocks and worked my way along the edge of the rise. To my amazement, I got a signal! Of course, I automatically assumed it was another nail, as most of that hydraulic pit could have been refiled on a claim map as a nail mine! 

(To elaborate a bit about old nails, I've been fooled by the small tips of square nails before, sometimes they sound just like a nugget. )

Anyway, I dug down and cleared away some of that river rock. The dirt looked like original deposit, undisturbed virgin ground. Furthermore,  as I looked at the rise, it made sense. Where I was digging was obviously a small hump of intact old channel, a piece left by the hydraulic miners.  The only clue as to why it had been left was that perhaps due to all of the nails at the base of the hump, there must have been some sort of building there that they didn't want to take out with the water cannons. 

At any rate, I kept digging, and the signal got stronger. Pretty soon, about eight inches down, I saw bedrock. I passed the coil over the spot and the sound was nice and sweet. 

This was shale bedrock, with lots of fractures packed with clay, and lots of small river stones tight on as well as jammed down into it. I pinpointed the signal and carefully scraped down through the clay and small stones. There on the bedrock was a sassy nugget! It was very flat, but shaped just  like the sole of a shoe, about the size of a Barbie Doll boot, only thicker, and somewhat larger. 

Naturally, I decided to detect the area more, but I got blanked. 

But then came the thing that can stop a nugget hunter cold, the battle over whether to strip more overburden to expose the bedrock. (Was this a lone nugget, or could there be some pals somewhere?) 

I've faced this decision many times while throwing off hundreds of pounds of annoying rock, only to find nothing. But, the place had a good feel to it, plus the shade was a nice bonus, so I decided to tear into it. 

(As a side note, my buddy invented a slick rock fork that I had with me that day. He took a manure-fork and heated the tines and bent them about halfway down their length at a right angle. Then he cut the sharp tips off, leaving safe, blunt ends. This is a dream tool for raking off river rock from hillsides and bedrock, the long handle making the work easier. Plus, any heavies like gold will fall through the tines and stay put.)

Using the repurposed fork, I found that the overburden varied from about six inches to a foot, and the rocks varied from cobbles to watermelon-sized boulders. 

At last I'd cleared an area about the size of two half-ton truck beds. It took a lot of work, but I'd produced a nice patch of exposed bedrock that had the same covering of clay and small river stone as the previous spot that had given up a nugget. 

I ran the coil over the area and got no signal at all! I slowed down and ran it perpendicular to the way I'd detected it the first time. This time I got a whisper. I hauled out some sniping tools, went to work, and the signal was slightly louder.

I used a stiff-bristled brush and scrubbed the bedrock. I detected the spot again, and the signal was nice and repeatable. I got out a bent, slot screwdriver (end bent at 90 degrees), and I worked that bedrock hard. It started to break off in flakes, and small sheets,  and my efforts exposed a crevice! I dug down deeper and the crevice got a bit wider, then little stones packed in a wet, dark-stained sandy clay started popping out; this can be a very good sign, even with a crevice being narrow.

I ran the edge of the coil along the crevice and the sound was definitely crisper. I took out a small sledge from my pack and a wide, thin rock chisel. I cut down on either side of the signal in that bedrock crevice, then I slanted back toward the heart of the crevice itself, breaking out the rock and exposing the contents of the little pocket. I scraped all of the material out of the crevice and put it in a plastic scoop. I ran it under the coil and was rewarded with a nice smooth, crisp sound. 

I sorted the scoop's material under the coil to reveal a flat nugget, its body still wedged in between two pieces of bedrock. Moreover, because that little rascal had been standing on its edge, that was why it had been so stealthy in the crevice! 

I cleaned along the rest of the crevice and found two more nuggets, smaller than the first and second nuggets, but nice to have nonetheless. 

I went back to the same spot a couple of weeks later and really cleared off a large section of that hump. You'd have been proud to see the rocks fly that day; nonetheless, I found no more gold.

Isn't that the way it goes? 

All the best, 

Lanny
 
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Lanny me boy you are quite the yarn spinner! Great story. As for the lesson learned ... NO ... it is not that going back a second time is not worth the effort as some might think ... but that the extra effort does indeed payout over time.

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On 5/28/2019 at 5:24 AM, Mike Furness said:

Lanny me boy you are quite the yarn spinner! Great story. As for the lesson learned ... NO ... it is not that going back a second time is not worth the effort as some might think ... but that the extra effort does indeed payout over time.

Mike, you speak with the wisdom of the truly experienced, and thanks for dropping in to leave your nice note about the stories, much appreciated.

All the best,

Lanny

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Hi Lanny, I've been catching up on your thread and enjoying your adventures. Something you wrote about blundering into the h2o fast lane while trying to cross a river while dredging reminded me of something I did years ago when I was able to spend my summers in the Sierra's.

There is a lot to be said for spending 10 hours a day in a river during the heat of the summer, I know you can relate. One of the things that happens is that you get extremely comfortable being underwater. This particular morning while my partner was still finishing breakfast in his camper I decided to get an early start. I walked the quarter mile downriver to where our dredges were tied up. There I stood on a huge outcropping of bedrock as I changed into my 3/8 inch farmer-john hooded wetsuit, pulled on my boots, grabbed my gloves and mask and walked down to where the dredge was tied off. There I started up the twin engines, struggled into my weight belt, popped my mask on and jumped in. In a cloud of bubbles I settled twelve feet down in a moderate current, moon-walked my way over to the dredge nozzle and went to work. There was a nagging question at the back of my mind but it wasn't bubbling up so I went on continuing to enlarge the hole we had started a few days earlier. Then with a sudden shock I realized what was bothering me; I had not put on my harness or my airline. I had been on the bottom for almost two minutes before it dawned on me. I hurriedly dropped my weight belt, shot to the surface and paddled over to the outcrop. My biggest worry was not about my safety but, much more importantly, that my partner might have seen me. Mercifully, to my relief, he was still downing that last cup of coffee up at camp. 

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11 hours ago, FlakMagnet said:

Hi Lanny, I've been catching up on your thread and enjoying your adventures. Something you wrote about blundering into the h2o fast lane while trying to cross a river while dredging reminded me of something I did years ago when I was able to spend my summers in the Sierra's.

There is a lot to be said for spending 10 hours a day in a river during the heat of the summer, I know you can relate. One of the things that happens is that you get extremely comfortable being underwater. This particular morning while my partner was still finishing breakfast in his camper I decided to get an early start. I walked the quarter mile downriver to where our dredges were tied up. There I stood on a huge outcropping of bedrock as I changed into my 3/8 inch farmer-john hooded wetsuit, pulled on my boots, grabbed my gloves and mask and walked down to where the dredge was tied off. There I started up the twin engines, struggled into my weight belt, popped my mask on and jumped in. In a cloud of bubbles I settled twelve feet down in a moderate current, moon-walked my way over to the dredge nozzle and went to work. There was a nagging question at the back of my mind but it wasn't bubbling up so I went on continuing to enlarge the hole we had started a few days earlier. Then with a sudden shock I realized what was bothering me; I had not put on my harness or my airline. I had been on the bottom for almost two minutes before it dawned on me. I hurriedly dropped my weight belt, shot to the surface and paddled over to the outcrop. My biggest worry was not about my safety but, much more importantly, that my partner might have seen me. Mercifully, to my relief, he was still downing that last cup of coffee up at camp. 

I enjoyed your story, and yes it brought back memories as whenever a repetitive motion or action is carried on over a continuous period of time, things get forgotten.

I do a lot of scuba diving, and especially on a live-aboard or on a two-week land-based package, I'll sometimes forget to put my weight belt on, or to put the regulator in my mouth before jumping off the deck, etc. 

I can totally relate . . . and as for your brief terror when you realized what you'd forgotten, completely understandable, glad you made it to the surface safely, also nice your partner missed the whole event.

All the best,

Lanny

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(NOTICE: No gold found on this outing. Read on only if you enjoy reading about the adventure.)

Deep Canyon Ghost Camp

We’d heard rumours, but we’d never followed up on the information . . .

We were told to head down the logging road until we saw a large area off to the left side that had a designated winter pull-out for vehicle parking. After we’d found the spot, we were supposed to check the forest behind the pull-out for an old trail, and by following the trail, it would lead us down the mountain into a steep canyon where the Old Timers had taken out lots of chunky gold, and all of their work was done by hand as the gold was shallow to bedrock; shallow diggings, the Old Timer’s bread, butter, and cream. Furthermore, there was supposed to be an old cabin where a highly successful miner had been found dead. His body was discovered during the deep winter snows, and only located weeks after he’d died, but his cache had never been found. So, it seemed like a good spot to investigate.

We grabbed a couple of detectors, some bear spray, a flare gun with bear bangers, some sniping tools, a couple of pans, and off we went.

Not far into the trees we found an old cabin, but it wasn’t quite old enough for the stories we’d been told, but it did have some cool items in it; however, there were no other structures, and we’d been told there were “cabins”.

We carried on, picking up the thread of the trail, but we got crossed by some deadfall. Working our way through, we were soon on our way downslope. In short order, the steep trail dropped in pitch even more, and the surrounding forest was extremely quiet, which was unexpected.

We were in an area of dense growth, but no buildings were visible anywhere. As we rounded a bend in the trail, we saw a collapsed roof, and under the roof, the drooping remains of a log structure. Off to the right at about a 45-degree angle, there was a building that had obviously been a workshop at one time, as lots of cast off materials and machinery parts surrounded it.

In front of us, right off the trail to our left, was an old root cellar, and someone had been digging behind it, throwing out all of the old cans and bottles. To our immediate right was a building and part of the roof was beginning to collapse. What was interesting is that under an intact portion, there were still many cords of cut firewood.

As the steepness of the descent increased, we came upon a large, long log building, one that had been re-roofed in more modern times. To elaborate a bit, the cuts of the logs where they were fitted at the ends had been beautifully done by some master builder in the past. Those logs were securely locked; it was built to weather any kind of severe force. To the left of the long building, there was a house, the roof over the porch collapsing, and when we went inside for a peek, someone had done a lot of work to cover the rooms in every ceiling with tin, and that was curious.

After poking around the surrounding buildings for a while, and after snapping some pictures, we worked our way along the edge of the cliffs to get down to the creek.

One of the first things we noticed was a hand-stacked rock wall on the opposite side, one expertly crafted on the bedrock of the creek to rise up to then intersect the cliff face. Someone went to a lot of work to stabilize that spot.

Visible above the rock wall and the cliff were countless hand-stacks of cobbles, evidence of the gold rush where the miners were working the shallow diggings to get to the easy placer. (Later on, we met a modern-day miner, and he told us there were lots of nuggets recovered in the two to three-ounce range!) As the canyon was so steep, and due to the shallow deposits, it had never been worked by mechanized mining.

My son fired up his detector and set off to see what he could find.

While he was hunting for targets, I set up to provide over-watch: we were after all in the land of the grizzly and the black, as well as the territory of the cougar.

As luck would have it, there were no encounters with apex predators, and it was a beautiful afternoon with the forest lit by golden shafts of soft sunlight that filtered down from high overhead. However, the normal symphony of mountain songbirds was absent, as were any signs of hummingbirds or butterflies, all my normal companions while chasing placer. In addition, no mountain flowers were present, reflecting the scanty soil conditions of the canyon.

As I kept watch, I moved around and noticed that every place there was any kind of a gut or a draw the miners had tossed out the cobbles to reach the bedrock bottom. In fact, I couldn’t find one place where they hadn’t excavated any likely-looking spot. Furthermore, as I looped above the area where my son was working, I came across numerous trash pits with all kinds of interesting old cans and containers, rusted evidence of either former food or fuel needs.

My son called me down to the creek where he’d isolated a target underwater, but it turned out to be a small part of an old square nail, which for whatever reason always sounds off like a good find on the pulse machine. He kept digging the rest of the afternoon and recovered countless trash targets: square nail tips and sections; intact square nails of various sizes; bits of can-slaw; a chunk of punch-plate; various pieces of wire of differing compositions; as well as chunks of lead, etc.

What he didn’t find was any gold, but that’s the way it goes in the nugget hunting game; buckets of trash get dug before the gold gets found. In retrospect, I don’t even know how many buckets of trash I dug before I found my first nugget, and I think that’s what kills most beginning nugget shooters. They give up after the first palm-full of trash or sooner. Nugget hunting requires serious dedication and patience, but when that first sassy nugget is finally in the palm, there’s nothing like it, nothing.

We gathered up our gear, took a few more pictures of the cabins and buildings on our way out, and then hit the switchbacks as we slogged our way up out of that silent canyon.

We will go back, but with a different focus this time. We’ll move some hand-stacks from some likely looking spots to give the underlying, undetected bedrock a sniff. I mean, two to three-ounce nuggets? Something had to have been missed in a crack somewhere . . .

All the best,

Lanny

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Thanks Lanny 

buckets of junk before the first nugget, I identify with that!

In the late eighties I lived in Chino Valley, Arizona. I was frustrated and George Med  told me to stop by for some mentoring, so I did...

He watched me tune and use my Garrett. He looked through my junk and said I should be finding gold as well as anyone...

nonetheless, I continued to find anything except gold!

so it went for a while longer .

ps. George was a very successful gold hunter at time..may he Rest In Peace 

fred

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9 hours ago, fredmason said:

Thanks Lanny 

buckets of junk before the first nugget, I identify with that!

In the late eighties I lived in Chino Valley, Arizona. I was frustrated and George Med  told me to stop by for some mentoring, so I did...

He watched me tune and use my Garrett. He looked through my junk and said I should be finding gold as well as anyone...

nonetheless, I continued to find anything except gold!

so it went for a while longer .

ps. George was a very successful gold hunter at time..may he Rest In Peace 

fred

Good stories and a great reminder to us all, especially those just starting out. Digging up trash shouldn't confirm what your insecure subconsciousness is trying to convince you of, (that you're never going to find gold) The experienced conscious mind understands that every piece of thrash dug is just one step closer to success . . . digging up a gold nugget (and holding it in your hand) :yesss:

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14 hours ago, fredmason said:

 

ps. George was a very successful gold hunter at time..may he Rest In Peace 

fred

I knew George as well. What a terrible accident.

RIP George

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