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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Gold Prospecting Videos

Let's see if this works. This is supposed to be an automated video player for gold prospecting videos. Hopefully they'll toss in some rockhounding and metal detecting videos among the dredging, sluicing, panning, etc, but who knows...?

Please comment below and let me know what it's playing. Like I said, it's supposed to be gold prospecting related.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A Day Detecting

Dredge season is over, so for me anyway, it's time to get out treasure hunting. Cool part is, I finally have a detecting buddy!

My old friend Trevor has picked up the hobby, and since I'm still a novice myself, we're learning to do the research, pick spots and work the detector. I recently picked up an ACE 250, and after half a day out with some older off brand unit (a Compass?), Trevor did the same.

Anyway, this last Saturday we first headed out to a town called Sodaville that was a rip-roaring soda resort in the late 1800s. It had three hotels, a livery stable, brothel, jail, etc. An old quote I found from an 1878 atlas described the hillside dotted with tents during summer months when paople crowded the area to enjoy the healing mineral waters. I thought the hillside sounded promising, so we checked it out.

It was almost exclusively private property, so we stopped at city hall and did some detecting. Found some old square nails, but nothing great and were about to pack up when a lady pulled up and asked if we needed any help. We got to talking and it turned out she was the city administrator and former mayor.

She said somebody had been detecting just the week before, but also told us all about the town's rich history, about how it had been destroyed by fire three times, where the jail used to be, the college, where they moved the women's dormitory, etc. She even told us where the soda spring was - right under our noses!

We also visited a couple schools and had a great day. Didn't find anything amazing, but had a blast. Next weekend it's a ghost town for us, then maybe the beach!

Friday, August 3, 2007

First Run With New Dredge

This is a pic of the gold found on the trip in my "New Dredge" post from a bit over a week ago. Not nearly as impressive as I'd hoped, but still a lot of fun to find!

The gold up that way is so so so so fine I was pretty stoked about the few larger flakes. That little picker is considered a nugget where I was...

Did another trip this last weekend down to Southern Oregon (will post soon). Again, didn't get a ton, but the gold was all closer in size to the flakes in this pic with almost zero flour gold whatsoever, and almost no black sands. Different streams, different geology and different gold... :)

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Gold Prospecting on the San Gabriel

Okay, I didn't just hop in the now questionable van and head down to Southern California to dredge the East Fork of the San Gabriel, but there was an interesting article in the L.A. Times recently that I thought you all might enjoy. It's been making the rounds a bit, but if you haven't seen it yet, check out:

It's a Lode on Their Minds

The map at right is also from the Los Angeles Times article and highlights what I believe is the section open to public gold prospecting.

If interested in doing a little gold panning, or more serious digging in the area, you might also check out the Southwestern Prospectors and Miners Association (SPMA). They have claims around Southern California open to members. I don't think they have a website, but they have a Yahoo Group at:


The GPAA also has a chapter down that way (and several others throughout the state).

For more places to look around California, check out Where to Find Gold in California and Gold Nugget-Teering in Northern California by Delos Toole.

If further north is your stomping grounds, the New 49'ers has a bunch of good claims open to members and seem like a good organization.

There you have it, a bunch of stuff on gold prospecting in California...from an Oregonian...

Feel free to add to the list (that's what the comments section is for).

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Dredge

Went out weekend before last with my new Proline 3" Dredge. It was a bit of a beast to get down to the water and set up (mostly on my own), but boy does it move material! Anything much bigger could take a finger off, I swear!

I got the T-80 compressor, but have to wait a bit before I get the air set up, so I used my crappy old snorkel (has a kink that closes off my air every once in a while). Should be getting air hoses, regulator, reserve tank and flusher nozzle soon.

My wife also got a new toy, a Desert Fox spiral panner, and has been running the cons. So far they look pretty good. Nothing bigger than the rice sized picker I pulled out of the top of one bucket yet, but we're hoping for a nice nugget in there somewhere. Plenty of fines showing up so far. The Desert Fox seems to work really well once you get it set up right. Watch the angle though and make sure the water is flowing into the capture cup. It just hangs, so at the wrong angle the water flowing through the center hole (and gold) can miss the cup completely.

On a down note, my prospecting rig horked up a lung on the drive home and had to be towed to a mechanic. One new ignition coil and $190 repair bill later and she runs again, ready for our next outing. I think we'll hit Southern Oregon next. Good gold down there just waiting for me to suck it all up...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Crevicing for Gold

Went crevicing for gold this weekend. Got some photos, so I'll keep the text to a minimum. :)

Here's my new prospecting rig. Okay, so maybe "new" isn't the best word to describe her, but she's got plenty of room for all my gear, a cot and my mountain bike!

Here's a view of camp from the creek. Notice the steep, rocky cliff...

Here's a few tools. First time I'd used the red crevice tool and I must say it came in very handy for scraping stuff out of cracks.

Here's my little dredge combo mounted on a truck innertube. The last couple times out I needed a bit more depth than the legs would allow for, so wanted to give this a try...

Doesn't the water look freakin' cold? Well, it was. My teeth are still chattering.

Swimming across with load #1.

Swimming across with load #2.

Now don't I look cold?! Like the see-through t-shirt action? Easy there ladies. Don't get too excited.

Remember that rocky cliff below camp? Well here it is again, only with a frigid me dragging a dredge (water logged miner's moss and all) up it. My legs were jelly by the end of the weekend...

And what do we have here? GOLD! Not getting rich, but not getting skunked either!

Happy hunting to all of you! Sorry if these images are slow to load...

P.S. I slipped and cracked the glass on my viewer, but no leaks so no worries.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Petrified Forest

Imagine finding an entire petrified forest on your property! A Washington man did just that while expanding his shop. The amazing part though is that the fossilized trees are all still standing upright, where most petrified "forests" found elsewhere are really just a jumble of logs.

Click for article

If you read the article you might first be drooling over the idea of such a discovery (petrified wood can be pretty valuable) and you may also have a few thoughts as to why the trees have no roots. Here's mine:

What if the forest used to be up-slope from where it is now. It used to sit up on a hillside, the trees covered in basalt and the roots resting in clay. Petrified wood is brittle and the roots weren't protected by the basalt cast, so eventually, over millenia, the lava covered hunk of forest slid down the wet clay hillside snapping off roots as it went until finally it came to rest where it is today. Easy enough to confirm or discredit by looking for petrified roots up the slope from the forest's current location...

Anyway, just a thought.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Underwater Viewer

A comment on my last entry asked for photos of an underwater viewer mentioned in the entry before that. I tried emailing, but blogger only gave me a "no-reply" address, so I'm posting the pics here.
There are a lot of underwater viewing scopes on the market, perfect for nugget sniping, watching your dredge partner, whatever, but here's a great viewer you can make at home from a camp fuel can. If you want to buy one, here's a good commercially available underwater viewer. If not, read on...

Sorry the photos aren't in great focus and the flash has washed them out a bit, but you get the idea.

First, start with a camp stove fuel can. One end of the can is removed with a can opener and covered in duct tape or something else to keep the sharp edges down (also good for holding the viewer in your teeth). The other end is cut about a third of an inch in from the edge so you have a shelf on which to seat the lens.

The lens itself is tempered safety glass cut to fit and sealed on both sides with aquarium sealant. Sealing both sides prevents water from getting trapped around the edge of the glass and rotting it out. The lens is just a bit deeper than its seat on the can end, so sticks out 1/16" or so. This prevents bubbles forming on the under side of the glass. My uncle made this one and I know he has his lenses cut for him, so I'd check a local glass shop.

Here are the pics:

I said they were out of focus.

Yes, I do need to clean the lens...

So there you have it, a home built nugget sniping scope, perfect for grabbing gold right off the bottom of the river.

Happy AU hunting!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Father's Day Gold Panning

My brother's family came down this last week and we all went camping this weekend. We went out to the Quartzville Recreation Corridor and found a decent camp spot a bit before Yellow Bottom Campground. It wasn't perfect for camping with two children aged 9 months and 1 year (son and nephew respectively), but it was a pretty good spot overall. Nearest other campers were around a bend in the road and the river was pretty nice where we were. Only real drawback was some idiots that kept racing a quad up the road.

Hint, most peoples' idea of camping doesn't involve listening to you roar past their camp every 10 minutes, especially as darkness approaches and kids start going to bed. Next time I hope they bring a fishing pole instead...

The trip started a little late on Saturday. My brother and his girlfriend didn't make it to our place until around noon, but worse still - I forgot the keys to the trailer. I was ready to head back, but my wife volunteered to go back a ways and try my mother to see if she was going to make it out to meet us, and if so, could she stop at our place and grab the keys. She ended up going all the way back to the house. I owe her.

Big time.

After a while of socializing and playing with the kids I popped down to the creek to do some panning. I could tell the near side wasn't going to be any good, but in an effort to avoid freezing started there anyway. I was right. Loose gravels, not a speck of color, almost no black sand, etc -just wrong in every way. So I braved the cold water up to near my armpits and crossed over.


Okay, maybe not eureka, but tons of black sand and a little color in every pan, including one little sesame seed sized chunk. "Chunk" may be too big a word, but it felt good seeing that flash in the pan while working it down. Not long after my boy started fussing, so I crossed back over to relieve his aunt and uncle.

My wife arrived not too long after and I put up the tent-trailer, hooked up the electrics, turned on the gas and made sure we wouldn't roll into the river (not exactly in that order). The next day I did a little dredging in the morning without much luck. Later that afternoon I showed my brother how to pan for gold. He wanted to try the near side, but after several unsuccessful pans agreed to make the crossing.

On the other side we started having a lot better luck, especially the beginner's variety. I taught him where to look and he went and found it... He started working some cracked bedrock and started finding nice little flakes in every pan, flakes that made my sesame seed look small. He even pulled a decent little picker out of one pan. After seeing his first few pans I started working the area too and my first pan had two nice flakes and a lot of tiny stuff. It wasn't the Mother Lode, but it really was a great spot...until our wives got bored... I only managed a pan and a half or so from the good spot before it was time to pack up, but my brother had worked it for a little while and had some really nice gold to show for our two hours of panning.

I think we all had a pretty good time. The ladies got to lay in the sun. My wife took a million baby photos and a couple that may get entered into the ICMJ photo contest this year. The kids ate loads of Cheerios and rice pockets and got a ton of attention. My brother found some nice gold and caught gold bug. And I enjoyed some time in the sun on a gorgeous creek bank. Not a bad trip at all.

Next time I need to remember the keys and those yahoos need to leave the quad at home, but still a great time.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Quartzville Creek Gold

Finally got back to Quartzville Creek today. I've been doing a lot of panning closer to home since last summer, but was inspired to take a bit of a drive and hit up Quartzville again.

I took along all the gear I might need (more really), a sluice box, a couple classifiers (#4 and #2), pry bar, shovels, underwater viewer made from a camp stove fuel can, rubber boots, neoprene chest waders and my Proline 1.5" highbanker/dredge combo.

The battery on my van had died since last I drove it, so took the Subaru instead. I don't ever go crazy, but it can be a fun road to drive in a rally car. Too many drunks out there coming the other way to ever go fast, but it's one of those places where you can feel the car handling.

Anyway, I looked for one of the GPAA claims and found it, but it wasn't marked and the path to the water was arduous. I decided to just grab an obscure looking spot in the recreation corridor and have some fun.

I ended up running the Proline as a dredge and punching a little hole behind a big rock. I didn't get much time in the water, didn't make it to bedrock and had some plug up issues along the way, but I had fun getting more familiar with the equipment and found a little color (plus a pile of concentrates). Here's some of the gold from today's prospecting. It's not in perfect focus and you can't tell that some of it is pretty chunky, but it'll have to do.

I really need to sort out the plug up issues or get a bigger dredge. It's a great unit for portability and little creeks, but I could've moved a lot more material if I hadn't been dealing with clogs. A three or four inch dredge is somewhere in my future. I'll probably still go Proline, I just like their stuff, but a good used Keene could work too.

Happy hunting!

P.S. Some of the camp sites on the way up were trashed, literally. There was garbage strewn everywhere. That annoys the hell out of me. Probably drunken kids being idiots, but even drunk kids should know better...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Five Hundred Million Dollar Treasure Find!!!

Odyssey Marine Exploration recently landed in Florida with over 500,000 gold and silver coins valued at over $500,000,000.00!!! That's 17 tons of old coins!!! The wreck is believed to be near the English Channel, but Odyssey is keeping quiet for now.

Read more about the expedition that discovered the yet unnamed ship being called the Black Swan:



If you haven't cranked up your metal detector yet this season, get out there! The weather's great and the finds are pretty dang inspiring! I've got my eye on a Garrett ACE 250 (heard a lot of good things about them).

It's just so amazing to me that treasure ships like the Atocha and now the colonial era "Black Swan" ship are still out there to be found! And every day peaople are finding smaller treasures in parks, on beaches and in the woods all over the world. Just check out Today's Finds over at TreasureNet and you'll see why I'm getting a new detector next time I have some toy money to spend!

Happy hunting all, and good luck!!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dredge Season

I'm not a huge dredger, but I do have a little Proline combo and enjoy it quite a bit. I sent off my permit renewal fees and am excited for the first of the in-water work periods to start hitting next month. You can bet I'll be out there in the water looking for gold.

Finally got a set of neoprene chest waders which should be perfect for shallow water dredging. I don't have a hooka set up, so I'm limited as to how deep I can go. A snorkel keeps me breathing, but it also keeps me close to the surface.

I only got the unit last year, and so far have done better high banking than dredging, but I hope to have a much better season this year. I'm all geared up for a few extended trips and have some spots all scoped out (not saying where). In the mean time I've been doing a lot of panning and some sluicing, running last year's concentrates through my Blue Bowl and generally getting excited for the warmer weather and dredge season.

This year I also want to get out and do some more metal detecting and maybe even try my luck looking for sunstones.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More Sluicing & Panning

Went out yesterday to my apparently not so secret spot. Took my sluice box, a 14" gold pan, a 10" pan and a #4 classifier. I was in the midst of shifting a lot of loose rock to make a channel to set up my sluice when two guys showed up with a box of their own.

They had some nice gold from last time they were there and asked if I had been the one digging by the big rock. Yep. Most of my other holes were filled in pretty good, so only the surface scrapings by the rock were visible.

They helped me set up a nice wing-dam and I loaned them a little cooler tray with 1/4 inch mesh (they had forgotten a classifier) and we had a good day digging and shovelling. First time I've met up with other prospectors out in the field and worked in and around each other. Had a good time just shootin' the breaze while we worked, almost like a common dig. Maybe I'll see 'em again, as it was their "secret spot" as well.

Eventually they headed up river and I finished out the day testing different spots for next time. Found some decent color, got a load of concentrates and had some fun in the rain and sun (weather couldn't decide what to do).

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Arrested for Gold Panning in South Africa

A lot of people complain about the mining regs over here, but take a look at the number of people arrested in South Africa for gold prospecting without a permit. All of my permits have been pretty easy to get.

My biggest complaint over here is really the lack of clarity and/or consistency, even in a given state. Federal regs differ from BLM to Forest Service and State regulations differ from stream to stream, and county property (under bridges on county roads) seams to have its own rules.

Then, when you finally get the regs figured out and are ready to go find some gold, figuring out what is already claimed is damn near impossible. LR2000 is helpful, but not up to date, so the BLM says to check with county records first. County records are like sifting through split pea soup. There's software out there, but I've not seen anything, anywhere that essentially marked what was claimed and what was not, and was actually current, with ALL the claims.

If we're so heavily regulated, you'd think somebody in that overbearing beurocracy would know what was claimed and what was not - today, when I'm looking for the information. Then again, if I did stumble upon somebody else's claim, from everything I've read, nobody will do anything about it (unless of course, the claim holder fires a few shots at me).

The truth is, the filing fees on a claim don't even cover the cost of processing the claim, let alone administration, law enforcement, etc, so we get a bunch of other entities with their own agendas and regs. Personally, I'd pay more in fees if it meant more clarity and protections for claim holders.

Anyway, here's the article. Found at news24.com:

Zim magistrate caught panning 28/02/2007 12:09 -

Johannesburg - A Harare magistrate and seven other people will appear in court before the end of this week for allegedly prospecting for gold without a permit, Zimbabwe's Herald Online reported.

The magistrate, who borrowed a friend's car to go on an illegal gold panning mission in Mhangura, was arrested at the weekend.

He is reported to have run away from the police who pursued him for about eight kilometres before finally catching him. He was arrested together with seven other suspects.

The arrests were made when a team of plainclothes police officers visited the area to assess the situation prior to a raid.

It is alleged that four officers approached the magistrate and started chatting with him, pretending to be gold dealers.

While discussing strategies to evade police - who are currently conducting Operation Chikorokoza Chapera/Isitsheketsha Sesiphelile to clamp down on illegal mining activities - a group of uniformed officers suddenly appeared.

"The magistrate, who was holding a panning rod, a pick and had folded his trousers knee-high, dropped the equipment at the sight of the police officers and took to his heels," police spokesman chief superintendent Oliver Mandipaka said.

"The magistrate and seven others are all being charged under Section 392 (A) as read with Section 392 of the Mines and Minerals Act Chapter 21:05. This means they were prospecting for gold without a permit," he said.

Mandipaka said the suspects were expected to appear in court this week.

He said since the commencement of Operation Chikorokoza Chapera last November, police had arrested 31 509 people who were found panning for gold without permits.

Did that really say 31,509 people arrested for panning for gold without a permit since November?!?! The missing comma is a little confusing, but proper grammar is different from country to country, and the article is from South Africa.

That says to me, either (or any combination of the following):
  1. There's a lot of gold in South Africa
  2. The Magistrate gig doesn't pay much
  3. Permits are freaking tough to get
  4. The people are poor, poor, poor
  5. The mining companies run the government and don't like competition from the little guys

I don't know the political situation over there, nor have I been prospecting in South Africa, but that's an aweful lot of arrests. All I had to contend with yesterday was sleet, rain, wind, high water and a lack of a good spot to set up my sluice. Hate to have to keep an eye over my shoulder for the cops the whole time too...

BTW, anyone know what a panning rod might refer to?

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Doubly Terminated Quartz Crystals in Victoria, BC

Interesting article from the Times Colonist in Victoria, BC:

Sure, it looks like a diamond, but don't be fooled
80-million-year-old quartz crystals found on Duncan hilltop appear fancier than they are Sandra McCulloch, Times Colonist
Published: Monday, February 12, 2007

They're as old as dirt, and not worth much more, yet quartz crystals found high on Mount Tzouhalem near Duncan are attracting significant attention from rockhounds.

Development on the 500-metre hill on the north side of Cowichan Bay has unearthed quartz crystals that are about 80 million years old and that look as though they've been hand cut in the same fashion as diamonds.

"They look very similar (to diamonds) if you're not into mineralogy. It can be very difficult to tell the difference," said Brian Grant, a geologist with the provincial government.

The crystals are six-sided and "doubly terminated," meaning they have a sharp pyramid at each end. "It looks like a diamond ... there are several different crystal shapes for diamonds but one of the forms is a double octahedron, which is two little four-sided pyramids."

These types of crystals look so much like diamonds, the most famous ones are called "Herkimer diamonds," after a New York town close to where they were found.

"The thing about the Herkimer diamonds in New York is the quartz tends to be especially clear and sparkly," while the ones found on Mount Tzouhalem are darker in colour, said Michele Heath, former president of the Cowichan Valley Rockhound Club.

Quartz crystals have been found all over the world, and usually form in cavities in rock. "You have silica-rich water that leaches into these cavities and gradually deposits the silicon. If it deposits it slow enough, you get these crystals," Heath explained.

"They're not attached to the wall of the cavity so both ends can form crystal faces. They're laying loose in the cavity rather than being attached to the wall of the hole."

While the mineral basis of these quartz crystals have nothing in common with diamonds, which are carbon-based, Heath says they are often mounted into jewelry because "they look as though they've been hand-cut and the quality of the quartz is really good."

Still, discussion of the naturally formed crystals draws a yawn from most geologists, said Grant.
"For people who have a hobby of collecting rocks and minerals and things like that, yeah, there would be a definite interest in them. Value-wise, they're not particularly rare or expensive to buy."

The crystals are much easier to find than diamonds, added Heath.

"They're often in places accessible to amateur rock-collectors and I think that sort of adds to the hype about it."

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Gold in Tajikistan

I may start trying to capture news like this here. Hopefully I'll have some input, etc, but it's interesting reading regardless. Have fun!

Two Gold Deposits in Tajik South to Be Developed Soon
2007-02-16 BBC Monitoring Central Asia
The development of two gold deposits in southern Tajikistan will begin soon, the Tajik news agency Asia-Plus reported on 14 February.

A gold-prospecting company, Tacom Gold, will soon begin extracting gold in the gold deposits of Sariob in Danghara District and of Bandisariob in Tavildara District in southern Khatlon Region, the agency quoted a source at the Tajik Ministry of Energy and Industry as saying.
The gold reserves of the Sariob and Bandisariob deposits are estimated at one and a half and five tonnes respectively and the Tacom Gold is planning to invest 5m dollars in the deposits this year, the report said.

According to data from the Ministry of Energy and Industry, last year 1,730 kg of gold was produced in Tajikistan, which is up by 530 kg year on year, the agency added.
"Reports from of the Main Geology Directorate under the Tajik government say that currently about 30 gold and silver deposits are known and the total volume of their reserves amounts to 400 t of gold and over 60,000 t of silver," it said.

(c) 2007 BBC Monitoring Central Asia. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gold Demand Up, Supplies Down

According to an article in the business section of theglobeandmail.com:

Demand for gold hit a record $65-billion (U.S.) last year, propelled by both investors and the jewellery industry, according to statistics compiled for the World Gold Council by GFMS Ltd.

But the supply of gold and tonnage sold declined.

I'm curious what this will mean for gold prices in coming years. They hit $721.50 an ounce in May and averaged $607 for the year. Will we be seeing that fabled $1000 an ounce mark in 2007? They've been talking about it for years.

If so, who will be getting rich in the resultant rush back to gold fields? Will it be the prospectors, the multinationals, the bankers, the traders, the guys selling shovels & mules, or will it be the folks selling mining claims on eBay?

Personally, I hope it's me, but I think I'd need to up the amount I'm finding each time out to have a hope at that. You never know though. A nugget the size of my head might be waiting around the next corner.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Pack Out Your Trash

I was reading in a recent Gold Prospectors Magazine and there was a brief little commentary about canteens that filter water as you drink. The auther was talking about how, even way out on remote streams, it's a good idea to filter your water before drinking "...because you never know what's upstream."

Good advice.

To make his point he described hiking into an isolated spot and finding a used diaper sitting by the stream. Then he said something along the lines of "...if you can carry a baby into a remote spot like that, you can certainly carry a shovel", as if burrying the diaper would've been okay!

Just what I want to find in my classifier, a dirty diaper!

I'd like to correct the auther and say, if you can pack it in, you can pack it out. This includes diapers, beer cans, candybar wrappers and anything else you carry in. I hate finding diapers, wads of tangled fishing line, broken glass, used batteries, bottlecaps, old tires and other junk while I'm out, and digging it up would be no better than finding it laying out in the open. More than the gold, I'm out there for the environment - the natural beauty, peace and quiet, etc. I don't think I'm alone in that, but it seems like a lot of prospectors are so angry with environmentalists that they ignore common sense about the environment. I mean if you need to filter your water because of idiots leaving trash, don't suggest bringing a shovel to bury your trash.

Pack out your trash. Gold prospecting is a right, but if you can't leave the stream with the same stuff you brought to the stream, including your own trash, you don't belong out there, so maybe it's not a right you ought to keep. I'm not asking anyone to hug a tree, just be responsible. Pack out your trash, make sure your campfire is completely out before you break camp, fill in your holes and so on. It's not that hard...

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Sluicing for Gold

Went out sluicing this last Sunday. Some folks watched the Super Bowl, but blah! Who wants to be cooped up in front of a tv? My Mother felt the same way, and had a new sluice of her own to try out, so weather permitting planned to join me. The sun was shining, so...

Holy crap! A semi-truck just blew a tire in front of my house! Sounded like a cannon going off!!!

...heart attack aside and back on topic... Phoned up Mom in the morning and she was ready to hit the stream, so headed up I-5 towards my place. I had most of my gear packed already - my little shovel, mattock, buckets, boots, pans, classifiers, new Lectra Socks (battery powered heated socks - happy birthday to me) and of course my sluice box - but wanted to make sure I had a few extra buckets just in case she didn't bring any, so had some dirt and sand to shuffle about and make some empties.

Anyway, ahe arrived and we packed my stuff in and hit the road. Not saying what stream we hit, but it was a new one for both of us. I spent a lot of time this last summer on river downstream from this one, and had done pretty well. This one was supposed to be richer and there are some old mines further up in the National Forest, so we figured it was worth a shot.

Driving out we passed a lot of private property, owned by what must be the most paranoid and/or anti-social people on the planet. Every tree, fence post, mailbox and rock had a "No Trespassing" sign of one variety or another. I wouldn't be surprised to see a house out there using "No Trespassing" signs as siding!

On the other hand, it might just be that the people who visit the area are a bunch of fence jumping, bike thieving, goat shooting (there was a reward sign posted for info about some goat killers at the local market) miscreants this side of the Pecos. Either way, it didn't feel all that friendly, so it was a relief to hit forest land.

We found a spot to pull off, and though it didn't look too promising, I wanted to try a couple test pans. The first area I tried was under the spread out roots of an old fir stump that had been undercut. I figured the fir had been growing for a long time and may have kept the ground underneath from getting worked back in the days when the area was likely worked pretty good. My first scoop panned out a few small colors.

Next I tried an area a bit further downstream. There was a contact zone with old river gravels laying right on some decomposed bedrock. This was right in the bank with the bedrock extending in a shelf out into the stream. The water level had recently dropped and I was hoping the receding water had left some paying material along the edge of that contact zone. If so, I might be able to dig into the bank along the zone and find more. My first scoop panned out 6 or 8 little colors. It wasn't much, but it was gold.

Mom had tried a little further upstream and didn't do so well, so we set up where I was (yeah, I know, coulda' done a lot more testing). She was running a 30" Proline sluice box from BlackCatMining.com and I was running a 50" Gold Gem I got off eBay from Tee-Dee (I think they sell as teedeecacti or something). It was the first time for the Proline, so we were both really curious to see how it ran.

The weather was gorgeous. I think sun lead to our choice of spots as much as the test panning. It was freezing in the shade and t-shirt weather in the sun. Even in the sun though, the water gets cold on the feet when you're in it for a while, so I broke out my heated socks. They worked fine. My Mother wasn't so likely. She had picked up some cheap-ass rubber boots from Wal-Mart last season and after only a few uses, one had sprung a leak!

Is this a weather report? Anyway, I used my pick to break up the hard-pack along the contact zone and and scooped and classified to 1/2" then again to 1/4" before running the material. Mom used a garden trowel in a different part of the bank.

Both boxes worked well, and she seemed to have a pretty easy time doing the clean up on the smaller Proline without any assistance needed. I mean she's not that old, but still a gran. My 50" might be awkward for her to lift out of the stream when loaded with black sands. We also liked how the riffles are hinged at the top and just fold out of the way. Anyway, they're both good boxes...

All in all, we didn't get rich, but came away with a fair amount of fine flour gold and a bunch of concentrates. Gold aside, just had a nice time out on the stream in the sun (in February no less).