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Handstacking tryouts


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I had a chance today to get out with a guy I work with who's a total gold newbie and has been showing interest in prospecting. He's a hard worker and a smart guy so I figured I'd take him out drywashing and test his worth with a shovel and my Keene 140. If this works out we could be contenders in the next handstacking nationals representing Northern Arizona.

We hit a spot I know has yellow but I haven't been there for over a year and man how things had changed from the monsoons. 10+" of overburden had been deposited on top of what was 10" to bedrock last year.and the ground was pretty moist all the way down so I would rather have moved on, but we had no plan B and limited time so we went for it.


New guy (Cory) got a quick lesson in handstacking and went for height with his walls but came up with some would be penalty's. A collapse, encroachment, and bumping the riffle box while running material would be frowned upon by the national's judges. Overall a very strong showing for a first timer.

I showed some great effort with no collapse's or hourglassing, but would have been docked points for a poor location chosen and losing count on buckets ran.

We were only able to run about 30 buckets because of the massive amount of overburden removed first and we also ran those 30 buckets through twice because of the moisture content. I beeped the bedrock after vacuuming and only came up with a BB.

I'm sure our recovery rate sucked considering the damp soil and first time with the 140. But, I think there might be a new handstacking team on the horizon. We didn't end up with a lot, but in the end did have some color to show for it. Looks like the training will continue.



Little tiny picker out of the riffle tray from the first cons empty.


Edited by Alwaysdirty
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The good, the bad and the ugly. I really appreciate these "true" stories as nobody hits the motherlode very often. Lots of hardwork done in your school of hard knocks and it sure seperates the boys from the men....and us ol'farts too :old: If I shoveled 30 buckets I'd be on the way to the ER with my trouble prone back. Kudos great pics/story thanx-John :brows:

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Way to Go Shay :)
Hopefully you found a kindred spirit there to team up with and do some dry washing.

Great story! :)
GL to you

Tom H.

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I want to show a handstack that stood the test of time, at least an entire monsoon season. I dug three feet of overburden to get this handstack.


Edited by chrisski
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Interesting, Chris.. I would think that should point you in the direction where the better values lay..

Only exception I can think of would be it's 'uniformly' thin throughout and the location you sampled

just happens to be where it all settled out but hadn't yet worked its way to the bottom..

The monsoons giveth and the monsoons taketh away.. Thistlesinmyskin 14, 5..


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I think that at that spot the place I sampled was where it "concentrated." After working several days on that wash, I ended up getting about $1 per ton worth of gold, far not worth any production run. That wash does have pockets though. I know that it had been worked from old maps showing prospects and at least four stone pile claim markers a couple hundred yards downstream. I don't see signs that this place had been worked this far up. Could be because the old timers did not find it worth their time and left, or could be because they did work it and in the last 60 years there's been an "epic" flood that washed away their handstacks and other evidence.

Most of the bedrock in that area is so soft and cracked, sometimes I've dug a couple of inches into it before I realize I'm at it.

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A buck a bucket indeed..!

$44 a Mt is a great return if one is processing multi 200 yard capable dumptrucks per hour day in and day out but only ehhh to ok when doing it the most efficient dry way by hand possible in a somewhat high-graded location as well.. A perfect example would be you, BD, and adam.. Discounting everything except actual vacuuming and drywashing time I'm fairly certain the two of you would put $44 return from 44 buckets run into the "Dude why are we even working here?" category..

Now let's look at chrisski's situation: First claim, I'm guessing.. He did his research, knows it's produced gold in the past, but still most likely a fringe location because everything nearer the higher-yielding area(s) are claimed up.. The kicker is due to his work he has hardly even begun investigating his claim, just made a stab or two at a couple likely looking spots months to well over a year ago..

There's two completely different methodologies taking place.. BD & adam have years of experience and are roaming BLM land looking for potential new hot spots while also working past producing and nearby locations.. Chris is much newer to the sport, is limited to a finite amount of space and really just in the beginning stages of discovering what his claim may hold in store..

While it's great, amazing in fact, to revel in the ongoing saga of BD/adam, I'm also quite interested in following the story of chrisski's process of discovery and growth.. Keep on keeping on all of you..!


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My problem is also time. I can only break away from work a day a week when I'm in AZ. I'm away 10 and half months a year now. I've been limiting myself to an hour drive from the West Valley Phoenix.

My breakeven point is $40 per ton.

I change jobs in May or June and I'm looking at a few places that would need me to stay a few days.

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