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Gold Nuggets 3500


Lanny in AB

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Hi there all,

It's been too long. I'm going to see if I can get a little time to post a few tales of hunting the gold this past summer. I got out with the 3500 and wrangled some nuggets. It's a fine machine, and I was impressed at how smooth and quiet it is, and the best part is I found some gold!

All the best,

Lanny

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Hello Lanny,

Glad yo hear from you. It's been a while.

A new 3500 eh'. I have fallen in love all over again after getting mine. :thumbsupanim

Take care, and we will be waiting for a great story to appear. :wubu:

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Say Largo--I didn't buy one, yet--but they are an awesome machine. I've still got the 2100, and plan on finding much more gold with it.

Thanks again for all you've done for me,

Lanny

Yes, Terry, it is. Absolutely beautiful country that still carries wonderful gold, and incredible people.

All the best,

Lanny

Brian,

You're very kind, and thanks for the thoughts.

All the best,

Lanny

Roger,

Thanks so much, and I can see exactly why you fell in love.

All the best,

Lanny

Bill,

Thanks for your kind comments, and you know I'll always remember your generous hospitality. You're a rare find, better than any nugget I'll come across.

All the best,

Lanny

The day was cloudy. The gold had been elusive. The chance to use a new 3500 was appealing.

My buddy had just purchased a new 3500. As most of you know, I’m still a die-hard 2100 man—love that machine. It’s found a lot of gold nuggets for me, and it still does, but; after all, I’d never have tried a 2100 for that fact either, because the old VLF’s had found a lot of gold too. However, I did try the 2100, and it blew the boots right off of my VLF detecting experiences—blew them right off, but that’s because the ground I hunt it very often openly hostile and red hot electronically—far too hot for VLF’s. Thus, my love affair with the SD’s, and the results have been splendid, and satisfying.

Well, we make summer-camp up in the Boreal Forests of British Columbia—Canada’s most western province. Its mountains dive steeply into the Pacific Ocean, thus ending BC’s dominance over the land. And, it is a magnificent province (we have provinces instead of states)—all kinds of mountains, rivers, lakes and breath-taking forests that seem to go on forever. All kinds of genuine wilderness as well, and I’ve seen lots of it in the United States and in Alberta too (British Columbia’s Eastern neighbor—Alberta has the world’s largest oil reserve to boot—mostly tied up in the Athabasca Tar Sands).

But, enough of that—on to the story. So, here was this nice, new 3500, and my friend kept begging me to try it out. After all, he’d been a true-blue 2100 user, then switched to the 3000, only to roll happily on to the 3500. In all fairness, I’d turned his machine on a time or two, just to listen to that unique threshold, and it was somewhat different, if not intriguing.

So, I scoured my mind for a place to try the thing out. On reflecting, I remembered a place that had always intrigued me, one that I’d hammered with the 2100, only to be rewarded with bits of blade from Cat tracks and blades, old bullet leads from the 1800’s, square nails from the same period, and other assorted bits of metallic odds and ends. It was not what could be termed an easy spot to hunt, as it bore many past dig marks, and the bedrock base underlay an old hydraulic operation—some parts had been worked right down to the bedrock in modern times, while others cradled crevices filled with rock-hard gumbo clay and rock. Not the friendliest place to hunt indeed.

But, the present day placer miners had been moving things about a bit—digging some test holes here and there, and they’d uncovered some interesting formations—ones where the gumbo clay was still tight on the bedrock in the crevices. Often promising sites for detecting. So, I fired up the 3500. The first thing I noticed was how quiet it was, and how soothing that new threshold sound was. In the hydraulic workings I’d always had my 2100 chirp like a bird gone mad, and I’d spend considerable time trying to quiet it down, with mixed results, and never what I would classify as “quiet” results. But that 3500 just acted like the pit was no big deal, and it had an attitude like, “let’s get on with this”. So, I did.

I worked the exposed bedrock and found lots of bits of steel, and more leads from the 1800’s, and modern buckshot, old squares, etc. You get the picture. I went and worked the crevices exposed by the test holes and found more of the same, and even found a door hinge tight on the bedrock under 15 feet of boulder clay! How it got there? It must have been driven in and then buried by the hydraulicing operation. So, I detected lower and got into some very interesting looking formations, but no gold. I even hammered the ground where my buddy had found a nice nugget just above the bedrock in the clay—no luck.

Hours had passed. You know how sweaty you get in the summer, and the sun was out now, beating a tattoo on my head and shoulders. I was getting somewhat jaded, nice threshold or not! I looked at some broken bedrock where they’d raked down an up-welling with the teeth of the excavator bucket. It hit it and was rewarded with the usual suspects, and hordes of them. I reached up above the scrape-down to above the bedrock where the over-wash from the hydraulicing merged with the bedrock, and I got a signal. It sounded like the tip of another square nail (for those of you that don’t know, those little tips of square nails sound awful sweet—like nuggets do), and because it was high up, and I was really stretching out my arm to reach the target, I almost didn’t dig it.

Now I realize that that kind of thinking is the height of gold-nugget detecting blasphemy, but it happens! You just get zoned-in to the thinking that you’ve been digging trash all day and so it has to be more trash, so why bother. Deadly thinking, but prevalent nonetheless. Well, I caved. I dug the target. It moved down the hill, and it was tough digging it, what with me hanging onto the hillside with my toenails and all. But, the target moved, so I reached up with my supermagnet and pushed the dirt around, fully expecting to see the tip of a square smiling back at me from the face of the magnet. No smile—no nail.

This is always when things get interesting, but not too much so, as I’d dug a lot of lead that day as well. So, somewhat pumped, but somewhat sobered, I reached up with my plastic garden shovel and tried a capture manoeuvre—of course I missed, and skidded down the broken bedrock, barking one of my shins. There’s still a tapestry of curses woven somewhere in that vast wilderness. . . .

Regardless, I went back up again, and this time captured the rock and dirt with the signal intact. I worked my way down to a level spot and started the sifting-detecting-casting out, resifting-detecting-casting out technique, and at last had a couple of tablespoons of material in the scoop. I gently started sifting material onto the head of the coil and “WHAP”, the sound no detectorist will ever forget, wonderfully assaulted my ears.

Now, we all know that lead makes the same sound, but something in the dim recesses of my brain told me this was not lead. I poked my finger onto the coil and moved the bits and pieces around until something howled in response to the agitation of primal gold-getting movement.

I picked it up and the weight was right. But, it was covered in clay. I used nature’s ever-present supply of instant water-like cleanser, a shot of saliva to remove the disguising clay—it was a nugget. Long, the sole-of-a-shoe shape, quite flattened, but massing in at about two grams. Not the biggest nugget I’ve found, no way. But one that brought a smile as I realized what a fine machine the 3500 was, as this ground had been hit many times by many others, myself included.

All the best, and the other nugget find will have to wait for another day,

Lanny

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Ahhhhh Yes Lanny,

What a post to wake up to this fine AZ morning and you made me feel like I was there with you! Yup you are right about those square nail heads and horseshoe nail heads sound much the same and can be anywhere in the desert :aw-shucks:

I totally agree with your findings on the GP 3500 and the machine is well suited for our nasty soils down here in the Southwest also and what a difference over it's predecessors. Is the soil you hunt highly mineralized also? If you stick a magnet in the ground in most of out placer areas it comes out with fur (iron minerals) on it.

Good hunting, Bill

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Ahhhhh Yes Lanny,

What a post to wake up to this fine AZ morning and you made me feel like I was there with you! Yup you are right about those square nail heads and horseshoe nail heads sound much the same and can be anywhere in the desert :aw-shucks:

I totally agree with your findings on the GP 3500 and the machine is well suited for our nasty soils down here in the Southwest also and what a difference over it's predecessors. Is the soil you hunt highly mineralized also? If you stick a magnet in the ground in most of out placer areas it comes out with fur (iron minerals) on it.

Good hunting, Bill

furry magnets?...heh........sounds like most of the ground i hunt......i epoxied 3 supermagnets onto the underside of my SD digging pick, and man, i tell ya, that was a mistake...well, not really, but the area's i hunt are also so mineralized that one or two scrapes with my pick those magnets are totally covered with about 1/2" layer of black fuzz...HAHAHA.........not as hot as AZ or NV, but plenty hot enough to make a VLF machine beg for mercy..........

great story!

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Say Bill,

Thanks so much. Good to hear from you again. I still think back on the time you and I went out and swung the coils together. It was so nice that you took the time off to take a desert greenhorn out on a nugget hunt. Glad you enjoyed the story,

Lanny

Say NewGuy,

Nice to have your compliments on the story. I've had the old supermagnet come out like a bristly old hedgehog a bunch of times while hunting those pesky nuggets in gold country--that black sand likes to puff itself right up into amazing hairdo's.

All the best,

Lanny

By the way Bill, some extra information for you,

It's the very tips of those old square nails--the pointed end--that gives the sweet sound. I've had a lot of trouble with them, especially when they're in a jumble of clay--too wraped up for the supermagnet to get a good grab on.

Yes, some of the areas I hunt are what I would call extremely mineralized. I've hunted your desert, and it's pretty hot with minerals, but nothing close to the bad ground I hunt. It's not really the ground, but some of the formations--they're full of graphite, schist, and highly conductive minerals that just wallop detectors. My 2100 will only run on one side it's so hot. I hear that a salt coil will quiet them down in that awful stuff, so I'll probably have to break down and buy one sooner or later.

All the best,

Lanny

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Lanny,

Thanks so much for painting a picture of nuggetshooting in your neck of the woods. I know Alberta is very beautiful, I got to see a share of it on my return trip from Alaska last year. Wish I wasn't in such a hurry at the time or I would have tried to see more but was gone 2 months and ready to see home again. I also passed through BC and the Yukon on the way up, awsome places as well. I didn't realize how big or beautiful your country was till I drove from Vancouver to Whitehorse and on up to Anchorage. On the way up when I was crossing the border into Canada near Vancouver I told the Canadian customs folks I was heading to AK. They asked how long I planned to be in Canada and I told them two days. They just gave me a real funny look. :blink: I think after about 2 days in my slow #ss 4 cyl 4 runner I was just a little more than half way through Canada. :zzzzz: Again such beautiful country and full of wildlife. Well tomorrow it's supposed to get up to 75 here in NC so I may hit the beach with my detector with the new coil I just picked up if all goes well. Keep the stories coming, we all enjoy reading them.

The pic is of a lake I stopped at momentairly in Canada, probably Alberta to allow my dog Shadow and I to stretch our legs..

Terry

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Terry,

Thanks so much, and that's a nice shot you've got there--not exactly sure which mountain lake though. We've got lots of them, and I'd have to know what part of the province you were in when took the photo. Not that it matters, but I'm just a bit curious. Glad you had a pleasant experience, and a nice trip.

No wonder the custom's officer gave you a funny look--it does take a while to drive through, doesn't it. I wouldn't want to spook you, but if you think the drive up is bad, don't ever try the drive all the way across--I don't even want to think of tackling that one, though I've got friends that have.

I envy your warm weather, but I plan on being back in Arizona and Nevada in April, and it will still be plenty chilly here, but nice and warm there. I plan on getting out in the desert again, to try some more nugget shooting. I came awful close last time thanks to Doc, and his directions; as well as my buddy, and his directions!. Maybe I'll listen to the locals this time!!

All the best,

Lanny

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Well, here’s the story of the other nugget—close in residence, but a far different challenge.

After I’d worked myself into a gritty sweat finding the two gram nugget, I decided that the day wasn’t quite as long and wasted as I’d started to believe, so I made a decision to head down onto the level ground and detect the abandoned placer pit.

For those of you that have detected abandoned placer pits, well, it’s a mine all right—a mine of fine pieces of blade and track bits (the blade of the cat, and the tracks of the cat and the hoe)—hundreds and hundreds of them, and everyone of those pesky pukes willing to sound off in the ol’ headphones.

For those of you that don’t know what a placer pit is, it’s a large excavation made where placer gold is supposed to reside. Now, finding the residence of gold is something people have been trying to discover for millennia, and today, it’s no different. Anyway, a placer pit is started, in my neck of the woods, most usually by digging through anywhere from ten to eighty feet of boulder clay. For the uniformed, you generic, run of the mill boulder clay is the lovely obstinate jumble of mess and discard that the glaciers got tired of packing around during the last ice age.

They simply hadn’t the time or the energy, or perhaps the will, to carry all of that gumbo and goo, and weighty rock-infested trash around anymore, so they dumped it. Often, no I think every single time, it was dumped haphazardly in a most slovenly manner, and often part of that haphazard nonsense involved covering up absolutely fine and wonderful gold bearing streams! You must remember that some of those glaciers were miles high and many miles long and wide, and so when they dumped, well, there was a huge dumping problem. (Makes some of today’s environmental dumping seem like tiny, infetisimal potatoes, not the cliched “small potatoes” we hear about all the time!)

At any rate, those inconsiderate glaciers dumped multiple, and most annoying tons of clay, boulders, broken bedrock, etc., on some very pristinely prime gold locations. So, today, you’ve got to get through that awful stuff to get to the old channels, and sometimes you get all the way down through that obstinate stuff only to find that a prior glacier, pre-dumper so to speak, scraped all the way down to bedrock and took everything—gold, stream material, all! But, on those rare occasions when you find intact river-run, then the fun begins: scraping and digging up the stream wash to see if there’s any gold in it. Sometimes there is, sometimes . . . well, you get the picture.

(As a side note, boulder clay made great stuff for tunnelling, as far as holding up—supporting itself—that is, awful stuff to pick and shovel through for those poor placer miners chasing the yellow metal by drifting: finding a shelf of bedrock, or estimating where the bedrock most likely was and then drifting along horizontally on the bedrock to get the gold. I could tell you quite the stories of some of those drift mines I’ve seen exposed by modern mining methods, but that’s a tale for another day.)

However, this particular pit, whose formation I’ve been rambling on about had been gold-bearing, at least the one corner I was detecting had been productive, and so it had been worked hard, most resolutely, with the resultant pesky metallic state of the aforementioned bedrock—all liberally salted with buzzing bits of hot steel. A detecting nightmare you understand, but sometimes it helps to be positive: not only positive that you will go crazy dealing will all those little bits, but positive that if there’s lots of targets left, the place can’t be worked out, yet. So you soldier on, making the ol’ supermagnet look like a hedgehog on steroids—all that lovely iron hair going out in a dozen different creative directions, with the hairdo only getting larger and more elaborate as more detecting and magnet work is done.

Regardless, I finally got to a place in the pit where there reposed a pile of clay. Those of you that have worked with clay know that it just seems to have a lasting value, and it always keeps turning up, no matter how much of it you get rid of. In fact, in old placer pits, or hydraulic pits, it keeps creeping and oozing its way back down into the pit—taking it back over again actually. It’s relentless stuff. Tenacious to a fault.

But, I decided to swing the coil over the clay, and it was amazingly quiet. Actually, my ears enjoyed the break! So I decided to stick with it, and went around and around the area—it was about the size of maybe two yards of material. All at once I got a screamer—a real screamer, and so my brain said, “Square nail, dummy.” And you know what? It was a square nail—in great condition for a hundred and thirty year old survivor. But just the same, nothing but an old nail.

The clay got quiet again and then a hit. It was rather harsh sounding, and it proved to be the head of an old square—nasty little imposter it was, nothing more. I kept working the lumpy clay and then I got a disturbance in the threshold. Not really a target—just a disturbance. I almost left it alone as the electromagnetic influences around the pit are notorious for generating false signals, but I decided to dig off several inches of clay and swing again. Just a sweet little signal now—very soft, yet distinct.

For those of you that hunt gold with the SD’s, or with the 3500’s, know that those soft, sweet sounds are almost always only generated by the upper-class metals: copper, brass, silver, lead, gold—not the nasty false chirpings of the iron and steel trashy counterfeit metals. Anyway, the signal was distinct and soft and sweet. So, I didn’t think it was another false trail leading only to the aforementioned counterfeit metals.

I scraped off a couple more inches and the signal was getting louder—but not harsher—still nice and sweet. This is a definite blood-pumper: when the signal stays soft and sweet as you get closer. I dug around the signal carefully and popped out a chunk of clay. I checked the hole, and there was still a signal. I detected the chunk, and there was a signal in it. I was thinking, “What the . . .!?” So, I placed the chunk aside and kept digging—the sound got louder and harsher, and there was a rusty, bent old saucy-looking, gum-boot ugly square nail sitting tight on the bedrock. Rotten thing.

However, I still had the clump of clay to detect, so I picked it back up just to verify with my brain that there really was a signal in it, and that it just hadn’t been the nail farther down that had somehow tricked me. Well, the clump still had a signal, nice and soft. So, I started breaking off pieces and passed them under the coil until I got a chunk that had a signal—the remainder was quiet. I took the clay and started to break it up in my scoop. Then I sifted it out onto the coil, and “Whap!” that solid sound cuffed my ears for the second time that day.

“Well, either gold or lead” I thought, as no previous passes with the magnet had produced any attractive effect. So, I pushed the stuff around on the coil till one object growled back— great little beauty of a sound it made. I cleaned it off, with my previously revealed secret technique, and there smiling back at me was a sassy little 1.5 grammer—almost square in shape, and sporting quite the attitude. (It most likely had something to do with the fact that I’d disrupted its clay-castle residence—who knows.) At any rate, I had the little chunker, and I rattled it around in the bottle with the two grammer, just to hear that lovely, rumbly, golden noise—a noise I’ll never tire of. As far as the noise from all those other targets detected that day, well, you can flat-out have all of that racket—I’ll gladly keep the golden rumblers.

Good hunting,

Lanny

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  • 3 years later...

Here's a fisherman across the river, but close to the area where I found the nuggets in the aforementioned tales--you can clearly see all of the exposed bedrock. A lot of it has iron in it--some of it is so hot with heavy concentrations of iron that pieces of it will jump right to the super-magnet! You'll notice a claim-post to the left of the fisherman, and piles of cobbles and boulders to the right, with more exposed bedrock above him that continues well up the mountain--bedrock that was extensively hand-mined in the 1800's. Moreover, because the gold was shallow to bedrock, there's a party atmosphere custom made for nugget shooters--the party being one of playing and having a real good time with countless pieces of decomposed tin can; bits of lead, copper wire, iron wire; brass boot and shoe eyelets, brass and steel boot tacks; bits of blasting caps, drift-mine spikes, nails of every description, bullets and shot of all calibers--you get the picture. However, there's still beautiful gold too--I've had nugget-shooters wade across and show it to me! And of course, it's still there on my side of the river as well.

post-278-126368634583_thumb.jpg

All the best,

Lanny

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Hi Lanny,

I have been enjoying reading all your recent AND past posts. Your stories ALMOST make the adventure

as good as being right there!

What great detecting country in the photo...!

~LARGO~

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Hi! Lanny, I used to go up there all the time, to Alberta, Haul lots of stuff up to FT. McMurry to Sun COR. and haul many oil rigs up there also, when the oil bussiness went bust in Texas. We had a treminal in Edmonton. Pretty conutry for sure. Grubstake

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Hi! Lanny, I used to go up there all the time, to Alberta, Haul lots of stuff up to FT. McMurry to Sun COR. and haul many oil rigs up there also, when the oil bussiness went bust in Texas. We had a treminal in Edmonton. Pretty conutry for sure. Grubstake

Hey--nice to know that someone's familiar with the country. You saw a whole lot of rolling hills, brush, some stands of Pine Birch and Aspen, and maybe even some Elk, Moose, bear or possibly a wolf I'll bet.

All the best,

Lanny

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All of the aboue Lanny, even got over to BC to see the big horn sheep and I was married to a gal from Alberta for 3 years, I took her to Texas. Grubstake

Wow--it sounds like you came awful close to being an Albertan! Took some of the blood stock to Texas anyway I see. I often see the Bighorns on the way in to the mine. Last season we saw a three-quarter's and a full curl ram on a cliff right next to the logging road! I've yet to see a Cougar, but there's groups that hunt them with Red Bones, and there's lots of other prospectors that have seen them.

As for bear--I see them often--too often in fact. Last season we got carefully examined by two young Grizzly's that had just been kicked off their momma. They'd come from way up the mountain where things are incredibly isolated, wild, and wooly. They were out to see the world, so to speak. They came right up on us as we were running pay-dirt through the trommel.

They stood off about twenty-five feet and just looked us over. I hopped on the 4-wheeler and gunned the engine thinking they'd bolt out of there. Not!! The bigger of the two came closer (I think it was a brother and sister--the bigger one being the male), so I quickly shut the engine off. The engine on the trommel was still running, the spray bar hissing out loads of water, and, most likely, they just wanted to see what the heck was going on.

They weren't the least bit aggressive for bear in the six to seven hundred pound range. Finally they moved off to the left of our operation and I thought that they were gone. But, then the male stood up on his hind legs and had one more of those looks where they wind the air and snake their head around and kind of sway to some mysterious internal scenting-rhythmic motion.

Brother, if you think a bear is big on the ground, wait until they stand up that close to you!! Anyway, they finally left and we never saw them again. I believe they were just out to see the world and they were just passing through, taking in the sights and sounds along the way.

All the best,

Lanny

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's a story I posted years ago on another forum:

Gettin’ High On Placer Diggins'

Sorry in advance to those of you into illegal substances, or those of you hardy enough to have actually smoked gold, or ground placer gravel finely enough to inject, or snort it, because this tale does not deal with banned chemicals or hallucinogenic brain-rewiring substances. However, the effects of this prospecting tale are nonetheless mind-altering, and worthy of deep reflection.

One summer, when the snows had melted and the rivers had receded, so that the roads were finally passable, I headed up North to the gold fields. Up north means a sixteen hour drive from my home. Why drive sixteen hours when there are other gold fields much closer? Far less people that’s why. In fact, the local population where the pay dirt hides out is less than thirty souls.

Furthermore, it’s the irrefutable truth that some of the local boys have test-pits dug right in their front yards (where they run little sluices to wash the precious metal from their domestic gravels), because their cabins are built on good gold bearing ground.

But, I digress again, and I'm pretty good at digressing, but before you start distressing, I'll get to my story. Anyway, there are far less people up north, and tens of millions of bugs—a very healthy population in fact—nasty, awful, ferocious blood sucking and miserable beasts-with-wings they are. The bears are of a lesser concern by comparison, mainly because they can’t fly. But, because many of the bears are of a huge size, and possessed of an overly cranky and often smelly nature, they deserve honorable mention—one worthy of a healthy respect from any sane prospector.

However, to continue this high tale, the gold field setting consists of low mountains, lots of streams, thick northern boreal forests, multitudinous swamps, and countless mounds of glacial till. Moreover, because some of the ancient glaciers were miles thick and thus generated multiple rivers as they melted, some of the local placer pits contain seven or eight different stream deposits, ones that intersect and overlay each other at different stratographic levels. Furthermore, the glaciers really made a mess of the watercourses by dramatically and regularly changing the watersheds, often stranding streams far above those of the present day. Which brings me to my sterling story of mining enlightenment.

I was sitting at the wash plant one day, fixing a broken six-inch pump, when I looked up the mountainside opposite the placer operation. I noticed a line proceeding along the side of the mountain. That line denoted an ancient riverbed that was perched atop the bedrock, about sixty feet above the existing stream channel.

In places, sections of the deposit had sloughed off. I took out my binoculars and scanned the hillside. I was definitely viewing an old channel, on top of the bedrock, but that old riverbed was resting under about another eighty feet of boulder clay, further topped by thick forest.Therefore, my pea-sized brain, seized upon by a giant, yet golden, brainwave was not to be denied. I was going up the mountainside to sample that channel—no arguments acceptable!

I grabbed my 20-liter plastic pail, my shovel, and a digging bar and small sledge that all fit neatly in the bucket; then, I shouldered my way into my prospecting backpack. I keep all of my essentials in that behemoth, so it weighs just a tad less than a fully loaded B-52 bomber, but, as will soon be obvious, I should have packed a back-up brain, or some other fail-safe lifesaving device.

My first obstacle was to ford the river. Now, in Canada, even in mid-summer, which is what time of year it was, the rivers that far north just NEVER get warm. In fact, if you plunk your head anywhere under that water in any part of the stream you get an instant and excruciating case of freezer-brain. But, I had the clever idea I'd just pick my way across the stream in my rubber boots, lightly hopping from rock to rock, with airy, acrobatic maneuvers. That worked quite fine, thank-you, until I put all my weight on a nice slippery cobble, and then prospector, pail and pack took a spectacularly frigid dunk in the river.

So, now that I was wet and cold, I didn't mind the rest of the crossing nearly as much as I’d predicted. In fact, it was quite refreshing in a somewhat masochistical way, because it felt quite wonderful when I finally drug my soggy, slightly blue carcass out of the water. In fact, it's downright amazing how much easier it is to walk after you've dumped eighty or so pounds of ice water from each boot as well.

Regardless, feeling fresh and sassy, and smelling remarkably better as well, I was now ready to tackle the slope. But, at the base of the slope was a new obstacle. Remember the boulder clay I mentioned earlier, that stubborn mass of glacial-dumped boulders mixed with acres of nasty clay? Well, it has an obnoxious way of sloughing down the hillside when it's wet. It solidifies to the consistency of the LA-X runway.

Moreover, it's dandy stuff to try to get a foothold on. But I was prepared—after all, I had my shovel; I began to cut steps into that stern impedimenta. I worked my way up about a third of the slope this way, but then there proceeded to be a bit of a wash, generously supplied with many smaller boulders disgorged from the boulder clay, and an ample nest of scheming, broken tree limbs. I managed to fight my way, regardless of the exceptional and alarming non-traction of those still squishy rubber boots, up the slope amongst nature’s clever hazards.

At last, I arrived at the high placer diggin's, the site of the lofty ancient riverbed. It's quite the trick to perch one rubber boot on a three-inch ledge of protruding bedrock, and carve three feet into the face of the boulder clay overburden, while the other boot powers the shovel. Anyway, I did it.

I exposed a nice patch of bedrock forming the bottom of that channel. I got out my sniping tools from my backpack and cleaned all of the bedrock cracks, took some nice looking material, then placed it in my bucket. Since it was quite a haul back down to the river, and because I had no driving relish for a return trip, I figured I'd load up as much gravel as I could.

Sometimes my brain tries to warn me beforehand of imminent danger, but I happily override and outwit it while I'm in my prospecting delirium. In any case, I packed up all my stuff, and turned around. That slope had gotten a lot steeper, now that I was facing a trip back down it! How the heck had I even got up to where I was? Had it been an out of body experience that deposited me where I was?

As a matter of fact, that's one of the marvels of prospecting lunacy, getting in to places you have no business getting into. All the laws of physics and probability just go right out the window while I’m searching. But not the law of gravity . . . oh no, it maintains an iron, tenacious grip on reality.

Well now fellow adventurers, I had to get back down, because I certainly couldn't go up. You can't climb a boulder clay cliff, no matter how high on prospecting, or any other heady northern stimulant, you are. So, I took my first step down.

It actually wasn't so bad. I just leaned back into the hill and put all my weight on that still-squishy boot heel. Miraculously, it held, and I took another step forward with that bucket of gravel. It was incredibly heavy and felt like it was mostly gold! Or, I was just an idiot that had severely overloaded it, but no matter; this was going to be much easier than I thought. I was now in amongst the smaller boulders, the ones that had dogged me on my dicey uphill climb.

I took several more steps and then one of those aforementioned lurking tree branches snagged my boot. That bucket just kicked out in front of me like it was on rocket-assisted autopilot. Well, Newton sure was right about gravity—that nasty property grabbed me right then and there. I don't know the mathematical formula for what happened, or the principle of physics that took over, but it all occurred at about twice the speed of light.

My brain frantically went into disaster-salvation-correction mode, and I promptly, yet gracefully yanked myself back as hard as I could, yanking the bucket toward me. The problem was that my feet had already headed down the mountain, and all I did with my serene corrective maneuver was succeed in launching both feet further away from my point of most-precarious equilibrium.

At a distance, say from the other side of the canyon, I'm sure it looked like someone had shot some strange, forest creature on the side of that mountain: some ugly beast, a raging bull-moose, or some other type of smelly obnoxious varmint (any of which category I easily qualify for after three glorious weeks in the bush), but nonetheless, it must have appeared that some tortured savage form, in the last of its death-throes, was now hurtling down the slope to certain destruction.

The real truth is that I was magnificently in control, supremely in command. The fact that my rubber boots were throwing off more smoke than a good smudge fire was only my clever attempt to keep the bugs at bay--it was simply an afterthought that I desperately tried to find my brakes amongst the boulders. The fact that the three spare gold pans in my backpack were absorbing more shock than a crash-test-dummy doing mach V into a concrete wall was only a minor annoyance, a brief test of my invincible prospecting mettle.

At last, much more battered, but still breathing (though hot and ragged those breaths were, I can tell you), I came to a sudden stop. In fact, it just so happened that some far friendlier branches, much more amiable than the evil one that had originally tripped me up, had halted my avalanching, yet quite ballet-like, plunge.

For those with a sense of the divine in nature, this was the penultimate moment—the human at one with the mountain—and somehow still alive. Yet, more remarkable than alpine survival, none of the dirt had spilled from my bucket on my downhill boogie. Yes, that is the true heroism in this high placer tale—not a stone lost from the bucket, not a single grain of sand!

However, rearranging all my joints took considerably longer than I thought it should have, but soon, with all parts more or less functioning, I was on my way again, with renewed confidence in my abilities. This time it was only the enigmatic boulder clay, quite laid out like a sinister lava flow, but boulder clay nonetheless.

Remember, I had carved steps into it to safely guide my feet back down again. At some point, you'd think the brain would revolt and refuse to command the major muscles in an instance of temporary insanity like this, especially where the whole body has just faced imminent extinction at the hands of an ambitious idiot bent on sampling some nondescript dirt, but no, the brain can always be overridden. Oh yes, I know where the master switch to disarm it is—I've used it many times, and still, by way of a minor miracle I live to tell this tale. This is proof that life is full of mysteries, not easily solved by rational thought, or by rational, predictable theories.

At any rate, about a dozen steps down, the clay remembered one of its admirable qualities, the slicker-than-Teflon one, and off I went again. This time it was only a gentle, sweet-tempered pummeling and dainty bashing that lasted a mere twenty feet, and I came to a feather-like stop on the gravel below, the contents of the bucket remarkably undisturbed.

Nevertheless, after I picked a pan full of golf ball-sized gravel out of my teeth, replaced my left eyeball, and checked to see whether the protrusion from my shoulders really was my neck. And when I'd checked that said neck was still attached to my head, so that I could cleverly nod yes and no just in case I'd lost the power of speech, it was off to the river to pan the dirt!

Three flakes, in twenty liters . . . .

I guess there's a lesson to be learned here, but far be it from me to force preachy dogma, or didactic doggerel on any of you. I'll let you figure its mysteries out all on your own.

Later,

Lanny in AB

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Hi Lanny,

I have been enjoying reading all your recent AND past posts. Your stories ALMOST make the adventure

as good as being right there!

What great detecting country in the photo...!

~LARGO~

Largo--I don't know how I missed your post--but I did. Sorry about that. I understand you may be heading out a bit later to try to rustle up some of them there desert nuggets? Well, good luck, and I only wish I could be there with you hammering some of that red dirt, or one or two of those desert dry warrshhes. ;) Thanks so much for your compliments--it makes it all worth the telling.

By the way, one day I hope to be lucky enough to get out there and swing a coil with you--I saw on one of your other posts that you've done some riding on the horses as well--you and I have more in common than you know!

All the best,

Lanny

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