Custom Search

Monday, March 31, 2014

Gold Prospecting in Drought Areas

California is currently considered a drought area.  I'm convinced that over the next few years droughts will become ever more present.  Global warming will cause all of us to have to adapt to ever changing climates and conditions for prospecting for gold.  Perhaps we might consider this a renewed opportunity to find that rare nugget that we read about from time to time.

First let me say that I know little about prospecting in desert conditions, but I have experimented with metal detecting in the high deserts of the Northwest.  I feel that metal detecting will be the most effective means of prospecting in drought conditions.  Couple that with good geological research and you just might hit the big one.  There are a few metal detectors that are made specifically for gold.  They operate on a different frequency than the normal detector.  Usually they are quite expensive when compared to the norm.  I find that my $400 detector is quite adequate for dry detecting even though the signal for gold and iron overlap. 

Use of the metal detector in dry streams is probably one of the most effective ways to prospect.  This would be especially true in California where power dredges are not allowed on any streams.  Where there is no water even the non powered equipment is of no use.

Streams that are very low with some flowing water are excellent candidates for prospecting.  The lower water allows you to reach places that are normally not available because of deep water.  Here normal prospecting equipment can be used.

Obviously I am no expert.  Any input that you might have would be greatly appreciated not only by me, but by my many readers.  Drought conditions are something that all of us will probably have to face in the near future.  So leave a comment and your suggestions.  Thank you.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Skunked Metal Detecting

The reality of chance in metal detacting finally caught up with me.  During the last three years I have never come away from a day metal detecting without finding something of value whether it be a current coin, fishing gear or some piece of costume jewelry.  This January taught me a lesson.

I went to a popular fishing beach which during good weather is also populated with sun bathers and picnicers.  I spent the entire day swinging my metal detector side to side and found only beer cans, pull tabs and nails.  There was nothing in my path that made my heart speed up a bit. 

The day was not a total waste.  I was able to enjoy fresh air and a walk of nearly two miles.  The scenery renewed my need to be out in nature and lifted my spirits.  I would not give up my adventures in metal detecting and gold prospecting for anything.

My advice to all of you is be patient and don't give up.  There are so many benefits of the two hobbies to say nothing of the excitement of the hunt.  Reality says that there will be days with nothing found except a renewal of the body and spirit.  Have fun and keep at it.  I am!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Discovered - 2 Gold Mines + 1

This last summer we got off track from our usual placer mining. One day while waiting for my car to be repaired at a dealership I found myself talking to a retired state employee. He told me about a gold mine that was located under a bridge on a well-known highway. I was familiar with the bridge in the highway and questioned him about the geography of the location to verify that this was just not some tall tale. He gave me accurate descriptions and made statements that said he had been there. I was intrigued to say the least.

I decided I would investigate the story for myself to see just exactly what was there. The bridge spans a canyon that is 300 to 500 feet deep from the road grade. The slope of the walls of the canyon is 60° or greater all the way to the bottom of the canyon. It takes safety ropes and extreme caution to descend the canyon walls. I discovered in my dissent that in fact the mine was where he said it would be.

A cursory inspection showed that the mine was unsafe and unworkable. The mine lies directly under a high traffic major highway. This direction under the highway follows the same path as the highway above. It became obvious that the vibration from the highway would eventually completely collapse the mine itself and make any continued work absolutely unsafe. Though it is an interesting discovery there is nothing that can be done to revive the mind or even further explore its depths. It will always remain a mystery as to who put it there and what lies within.

The discovery of the mine did pique my curiosity. I looked for some record of the mine in old claims and even some local legends. Nothing could be found. I then began to think that there might be more mine locations for which there was never any claim filed and only some verbal legend about an abandoned gold mine. So it was that another conversation took me about 35 miles away. Next to a small stream that fed another stream I discovered piles of tailings. I could not find any opening to a mine so it is undetermined whether this was a placer operation or an actual hard rock mine. The location can only be reached by foot and the onset of winter has made access to the site very difficult. We will be exploring the site more thoroughly during the spring and summer of 2014.

There is another unrecorded gold mine that we have known about since we were children. My partner once went into the mine as a child. Now as adults we plan to go back to the mine and survey its condition. The mine was started and worked by a distant relative of my partner around 1910 to 1920. It was his family's stories that led us to the mine as children.

There is a fourth mine worked by the Indians of the area in the early 1800s that we would like to find. We have a description of the geology rather geography surrounding the mine that we have been trying to match to a location. Time will tell whether we will ever find this one.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

What's Coming from the Idiot Gold Prospector

Since my disaster with losing all of the 2012 video I've updated my video equipment with new cameras and editing software.  I'm going to be testing new equipment, introducing a new invention and testing new approaches to using equipment.  Now how crazy can that be?

I'll be testing the Gold Hog mat system for both sluicing and dredging.  I've converted the plastic California Sluice to the Gold Hog mat.  Gold hates plastic and the California Sluice was proof of that.  Subsequent tests of the plastic sluice showed that it was completely useless.  I'm eager to see the Gold Hog in action.

I'll be testing a dual power system for small dredges.  It may or may not work, but I want to know if it helps prevent blockages that just waste time.  If it works it could help many of us.

I've invented a means for the aged (very mature) hobbyist and those with some kind of disability to enjoy dredging without a wet suit.  I get such a kick out of the hobby that I wanted to make it accessible to everyone.  In theory my invention would even make dredging possible for those in a wheelchair.  

So that's my plan for this summer.  Dredging season starts in just a few days and I can't wait to get out on the streams.  Keep checking back for reports on all my crazy ideas and tests.  Now go get some gold and enjoy the thrill of the find.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nature Is Moving the Gold


Today I'm sitting here at my computer with sunshine and warm air pouring through my open window. This is the time when I become most eager to get out there and start prospecting again. Meanwhile I keep wandering out to the garage and checking all of my equipment once again. I have made major modifications to my 2 inch dredge which should give me greater use of it during the upcoming season.

Mother nature is busy right now moving placer gold into the streams and rivers where we can get at it.  The winter rains caused most of the streams here in the Northwest to swell to their near high water marks and move the gold downstream to places that are accessible to prospectors like me. Now comes this spring snow melt coupled with spring rains that begins washing new gold out of the mountains and into our streams and rivers. This natural erosion is probably the prospectors best friend. The new placer gold deposits would not be possible without this natural cycle. I just have to wait out the high water and watch the streams begin to return to their low levels of summer. Every year brings new excitement as fresh gold is available.

I have all of my locations mapped out and my required permits in place. My equipment is all in excellent condition and I can't wait to start loading the trailer for the first trip. My short boots and hip boots are sitting in the closet ready for action. My cameras are all set for the many stills and videos to record this year's adventures. Now all that is left is the waiting for the waters to recede.

Last year I had recorded several hours of video to post on this site and on YouTube. When I tried to upload all of this video to my computer I did something wrong and all of it was lost. Hopefully this year I'll be able to post new videos for everyone's enjoyment and maybe you'll learn something from my mistakes. Leave a comment and tell me what you want to know or what you might suggest that I do this season. I would really appreciate hearing from you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

2013 Permit Jungle for Gold Prospecting


The permits for recreational mining seem to get more complicated each year. The permit from the state Department of lands is the simplest to obtain. Next comes a permit from the department of environmental quality which is a landmine ready to explode. The permit itself is rather simple and is coupled to a $25 fee until it comes to location. The DEQ permit requires a location stated in Township, range and section. If you are a prospector such as me you usually would have no idea where you are going and cannot limit yourself to one location. The true prospector is going to look at multiple locations as I do.

I was tempted to list all of the locations from my notebook for the 2013 season which numbered between 20 and 25 just to see what would happen when the application was processed. I finally decided that it was just too much work to try and identify each location by Township, range and section. So what are we to do? My solution for this year is to ignore the DEQ permit unless I find a producing location that is worth filing a claim. I would suggest that the DEQ design a new permit for generalized use of the recreational minor. That would eliminate all of the prospectors who do not wish to conform to the law and label them as true violators. As it stands now we are all in violation of the law if we do not have the DEQ permit.

My partner and I were planning a trip to another state to do what we thought would be exciting prospecting. We looked up that states regulations for recreational mining permits. It turned out that the fee was almost prohibitive being three times that of a state resident. Then a curious thing happened. We began looking at the claims in the area we wanted to go to and found that all of them had been canceled by the state. The state in its ultimate wisdom had closed all the rivers and tributaries to recreational mining in the area we wanted to go to. So there goes our trip.

I would advise all weekend prospecting warriors to thoroughly search your states regulations for permit requirements. It is better to be safe and avoid any tickets or penalties which in some states can be severe. Don't forget to check federal Bureau of land management and federal forest service regulations for permits required on their lands. Good luck and good prospecting.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Preparation and Survey for the 2013 Gold Season


Every year my prospecting partner and I take what we feel are necessary steps to prepare for the new prospecting season. My business education tells me that I should do everything possible to ensure success and leave nothing to chance. It is impossible when you are prospecting for gold to leave nothing to chance, rather it is a philosophy of leaving as little as possible to chance. So here is how we prepare for the upcoming season.

First we spend several hours using Google Earth to locate probable areas with streams or rivers that appear to have the right geology and topography to produce gold. We also purchase an overlay for Google Earth that shows us all existing gold claims in our state. When we go into an area where we know there are gold claims we have kept records of the GPS boundaries of existing claims so that we do not infringe on anyone's claim. We organize all of this material in a notebook which we will use when surveying our perspective territories.

Our second step is to begin surveying these prospective territories as winter is winding down and spring is on its way. In each location that we have targeted as a good prospect we survey the location looking for bedrock, minor waterfalls, bends in the course of the stream or river and places where there is a transition from rapids to slack water. We stop at each of these locations to see how much bedrock is exposed and what the winter flow of the water is or has been. We then walk the area looking for moss which has the same characteristics as miners moss in your sluice or dredge and in fact often times grind it in our hands and pan out the dirt that falls out to see if there are any indications of gold. We then take our metal detectors and walk rocky areas and sandbars to see if there is any pattern to ferrous mineral deposits. This gives us a fairly good idea of where to dig for gold during the upcoming season. We keep all of this information in a notebook which we will refer to as we seriously begin prospecting for gold.

Outcropping of Bedrock
Moss on Bedrock (We,ll work the cracks as well)

My partner tracing high water flow while I record the notes for this location.

We now have enough data on different locations that we can begin planning our trips during the season. In short we have a plan of where we will go and once we get there where we will begin our prospecting in earnest. This year we have documented through our surveys 10 different locations within our state. We have also planned a 10 day trip to a location in Montana that had been hydraulically mined nearly 100 years ago. That same location has two streams on either side of the mining operation that look promising for gold.

Now you can see how we have developed a plan for prospecting that improves our chances of locating gold. The only thing left is to go through all of our equipment making sure that it is in good condition and won't let us down out in the field we service the engine for the dredge, renew any miners moss that has lost its usefulness, service the engine on our portable vacuum and check any new equipment that we want to test. This year we will be testing an invention of mine to be used by infirmed and elderly people for dredging. I'll talk more about that in a future post later this summer.

It's not too late to apply our methods for planning your prospecting year. Try it and you may find that you are much more successful than in past years in finding that elusive gold. I wish you well for 2013 and let's all get as much gold as we can.