Thursday, July 2, 2020

10 Years Ago Today

July 2nd found me exploring the creeks around the Red River Hot Springs. With the aid of my Yamaha ATV, I was able to explore 20 miles from camp in areas only an ATV could access. I sampled all the creeks I could find on a map and found no color willing to show in my pan. July 3rd was a repeat of the previous day with the same results in my pan. I set my mental alarm clock for a 4:30 Sunday morning wake-up, finished my whiskey, stoked the wood stove and hit the rack.
July 4th, I awoke at 4:32 am... only missed my mark by two minutes! I loaded the truck, bid farewell to camp and headed down the road to my next destination. 

Nixon Rock seemed to have a smile on his face...was this an indication of a better day of mining?

I met my guide (IdahoGoldGettR)and new friend at a local cafe for breakfast and a quick 'show-n-tell' of his collection of gold from the local creeks. Impressed? You bet I was and most anxious to hit the creek.

We set up camp, loaded the ATV and drove to the diggings. Upon arrival, I was impressed to see all the exposed bedrock with it's many fractures and cracks. My guide set about cleaning out the overburden in one spot while I took a sample from the tail end of an exposed crack. First pan showed no color. Wait, wasn't Nixon Rock smiling this morning? Ok, no big deal, I'll try another sample.
I loaded up my ¼" classifier stacked on my 1/8" classifier sitting on my Garret pan. I gave everything a good wash and inspected the ¼" classifier. Just overburden, so I tossed it off. Picked up my 1/8" classifier and low and behold, there's a half gram nugget sitting there smiling at me. I was awestruck and couldn't believe what I was seeing. I thought maybe my first nugget would show up in my pan, but this one never made it that far as it was hand picked right out of the classifier.

I worked a few more pans from that spot and got a few small pickers and then it ran out. I moved to another crack and cleaned out the bottom with a sucker tube. I worked the material in my pan meticulously as I didn't want to loose even the smallest of pieces. My guide got a chuckle out of my panning as he knows I've only ever worked the tiny flood gold found on the Clearwater River which takes a great deal of finesse to capture. About the time that I had only about a tablespoon of black sand left in my pan and still no color showing I sped up my backwashing a little. Figured if nothing is showing yet, then there's probably nothing hiding at the bottom of what little black sand is still there

Well, lookie there...them little varmits were hiding under the black sands and waited until I was about ready to flush the whole pan back into the creek before raising there heads to say hello. That's a pretty good lick of gold to come from one crack, of which I cleaned about a foot in length.
Meanwhile, my guide is working the cracks downstream when he calls my attention to a piece of gold laying in situ and would make a good photo opportunity. I grab my camera and one of his home made viewing lenses and slowly walk to his location, hoping not to muddy up the water.

With his finger pointing the way, I focus my camera on the chunk of gold, newly exposed to the world. Can you think of anything cooler than to see gold laying in situ and not having to work it through some type of machine first. Now I realize why he spends the whole day with his wetsuit, mask and snorkel...he gets to see God's gifts up close and personal.

I had the best mining experience I've ever had thanks to the help of my "guide" and new friend.
I promised not to use his name or location to protect his privacy.
As we were about to leave the diggings we both heard a loud POP as if a rock from above had fallen onto a rock on the creek bank. We both looked up the hill just as a 100' tall fir tree decided to depart ways with the earth. We stood frozen for a second trying to decipher it's downward path...sort of like a stationary panic. We figured we were safe so we watched it come crashing down, tearing limbs and debris from any tree that dare get in it's way. It settled back to earth a few yards downstream from where my friend was digging.
I have no doubt that when a tree falls in the woods and there's nobody there to hear it, YES, it does make a noise....a BIG one. For half a minute after it's crash, fine debris rained down on us like confetti or Chinese cardboard from a pyrotechnics display. It was an awesome end to a great weekend. I've arranged my gold as best I could to resemble a fireworks display. I thought it was fitting. 

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Deja Vu

Looks like the water level at Mother Nature's Sluicebox is at an ideal level for a little high grading. Seven years ago this week I was on the river gathering black sand & garnet material that had accumulated on the downstream end of raised basalt boulders. Check out my BLOG ENTRY from 2013 and view what I hope to discover again on my trip to MNS some time this week.  UPDATE: wife & I hit MNS today (2-21-20) and discovered frozen ground. The overnight lows are too cold so we will be waiting for a stretch of overnight temps in the upper 30's before returning to MNS.

We hit MNS today (2/27/20) and ventured downstream. It was very difficult for me negotiating the basalt minefield so I decided it wasn't worth taking a chance of stumbling  and falling. When I had full vision it was difficult enough but with only partial sight I just don't think the gold is worth the struggle. We'll concentrate on our Elk City claims this summer and stay safe while chasing the color.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Back at Mother Nature's Sluicebox

I haven't been here since 2016 and I did pretty well that day.
Since that day I've experienced a 2nd stroke, a heart attack, a pacemaker implant and a stents in my heart to open a couple pinched arteries. That last stroke took all left side vision in both eyes so I don't drive and walking on uneven ground is a challenge. Well, I decided to challenge myself the other day and returned to Mother Nature's Sluicebox. It was a bit tricky walking down the slope from the highway so I decided to try a spot (circled in the picture) not far from our vehicle..
I've always worked the basalt minefield a hundred feet further downstream but for the first time back here with modified vision I just wanted to test myself and find a little color.
I picked a random spot and removed the top beach sand until I hit some red and dark brown clay about 16 inches down.
At 24 inches down I hit the same level as the river and my hole started to fill. Glad I brought the Milwaukee Vac with me.
This is what the pay dirt looked liked after vacuuming out the hole. All my buckets are 3 gallons so if I happen to fill one to the top it won't weigh 60+ pounds.
I used my Pyramid Pro Pan to concentrate the mud down to a half cup of cons to clean up at home.
And here is the obligatory money shot from the 2 gallons of mud. 

I feel that after this trip I think I'll be OK venturing downstream to work my usual area. My 3 foot long pry bar will be my walking assist so I don't stumble into the river. The river level will remain good for working the Sluicebox until mid or late February so all I need now is a sunny warm day.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Milwaukee gold

We took the Milwaukee 18 volt vac back to our previous diggings and cleaned the crevices. Sorry for the shadows filling the crevice but it was still early morning.
We had left this gold previously by using only hand tools so the Milwaukee got it all.
Yup, it's small but there's  lot of pieces for such a small area cleaned. 
This next picture is the bigger gold a few hundred yards downstream at mother Nature's Sluicebox.
Check out my last visit to Mother Nature's Sluicebox back in September 2016. I was working the water's edge and found some interesting looking basalt structure.I can't believe it's been 3 years.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Clearwater Fly Specks

Wife & I hit a spot just upstream from Mother Nature's sluicebox the other day. The sluicebox is still underwater so we were forced to work high up on the shore line.

The gold is really tiny way up there but we did find some decent bedrock.
We scraped one gallon of material from the crevice for testing purposes and then headed home before the temps reached triple digits. I classified the material through a 20 mesh classifier and ran the material through my recirculating clean up sluice in the comforts of my garage.
This is a 10 inch pan so you see what I mean by "tiny" gold. Heck I could have classified down to 50 mesh. Next trip to this bedrock will have us with pry bars in hand so we can wiggle & pull the basalt chunks like bad teeth. I've always had good results doing that. Will also bring my Milwaukee 18 volt shop vac for pulling the pay from the deep cracks. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Bottom Feeder (update)

Back in 2014 I built a hand pump I called the Bottom Feeder. It's got a 2" PVC pump body. 
The piston rod is 1" PVC with a 2" plumber's 
adjustable rubber test plug as a piston.The cap at 
the top of the pump body has 4 holes drilled into 
it to allow air to vent on the upstroke.
From the 2" PVC Tee at the bottom of the body I placed  "2-1½" reducers
on each end. Into these reducers, I added the 
1½" True Union Swing Check Valves.
These valves have screw on / off ends for easy 
cleaning so I secured 7' of  1½" suction hose and
4' of discharge hoses to each valve end. I have a 45 on the tip of the suction hose and a straight tip on the discharge end.

 I fabricated a header / spreader for pumping directly to a sluice box.
from 2" PVC. I cut and glued two 5" pieces of PVC pipe into 
the ends of a 2" PVC Tee. That gave me 15" total width.
I cut an 1½" wide x 12" slot into PVC then glued the end 
caps in place.This header spreader is supported over 
the sluice legs with aluminum brackets and eye bolts..
Into the other end of the 2" Tee, I placed a 2-1½" reducer.
I did not glue this in, since there is no pressure. I then glued 
a 45 in place. With the reducer not glued, I can swing it into
any position.  A quick test with some ¼" to 1"
tailings I had around the garage proved my design idea.
The header / spreader dumped material across the entire
12" wide sluice flare. The pump volume is right around .4 gallon per stroke.
here's a short video of the bottom feeder last used in 2015.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

New Digs

Last fall, my mining partner (wife) and I sampled  a little creek and small river with plans to file a couple 10 acre claims this year. Two twenty acre claims would have been overkill since a majority of each 20 acre claim would have been mostly forested and not placer ground. One 10 acre claim covers over 1300' of river and 75' of creek and the other 10 acre claim takes in over 900' of river. Plenty of placer ground for a couple in their late 60's to sluice and worry the bedrock.

This is a Google Earth capture of an interesting curve on the upstream claim.
The following pic was taken this week downstream of the above Google Earth capture. We walked both claims to study the low pressure areas during the spring's flood stage. I took lots of pics that will help during the low water mining season. 

This is where we want to see the water level on the river in order to mine.

This a July pic of the small creek that feeds into the river. We will hit this creek some time in June when there is more flow for sluicing with my new Gold Hog Stream Sluice. Now we suffer the long wait for the high water to subside.