Steve Herschbach

Steve's 2014 Alaska Gold Adventure

125 posts in this topic

Edit: I chronicled this trip to Alaska first, and then told the story of my earlier 2013 Alaska Trip after the fact. I did well enough in 2013 I did not want to tip anyone off to what I was up to until I had a chance to return in 2014. Therefore this story got told first, as if the other had not happened. And then the years story was told at the link above.

My history with the Fortymile Mining District of Alaska began in the 1970's and has continued off and on ever since. Last summer I spent considerable time in the area and have decided to return again this summer.

Here is the basic plan. I leave Monday to drive from Reno to Alaska. I am stopping a day to visit family in Olympia then will continue to Anchorage, where I will pick up my brother Tom who is flying up from the Lower 48. Then we will backtrack to Chicken, Alaska and pitch a tent site at the Buzby's Chicken Gold Camp http://www.chickengold.com

Last year I mostly camped around but did spend a period of time at the Buzby's operation. When I was out and about I had to activate my satellite phone to stay in touch because there is no cell phone service in the Chicken area. The nearest cell phone access is a couple hours back along the road at Tok. There is WiFi access at several locations in Chicken however, one of them being at Chicken Gold Camp. The WiFi access is included in the price of staying there. I am getting a dry camp site for $14 a day (6 days get seventh day free) but it saves me $300 activating my satellite phone, and WiFi allows me to keep on the forum and stay in better touch with my wife than the sat phone. Bottom line not activating the sat phone ends up paying for nearly a month of staying at Chicken Gold Camp. Right now I am booked from June 15 until July 20 but may extend.

Since I will have pretty much daily Internet access for the entire trip I am inviting you along via this thread to see how we are doing plus to perhaps answer questions for anyone planning to visit Alaska. The Internet access in Chicken is not the greatest even at its best, as the satellite dishes point straight at the horizon just trying to get a signal. That being the case plus I will be busy I will not be posting on other forums for the duration. If you know anyone who might be interested in following this point them this way. I will report in at least a couple times a week and probably more often as time allows or something interesting happens.

My brother and I will be commuting to various locations from our base camp in Chicken, with a lot of attention paid to Jack Wade Creek about 20 minutes drive up the road. I have access to mining claims on this and other creeks in the area, but we will also spend considerable time on the public access area on the lower 2.5 miles of Jack Wade Creek. See http://www.detectorprospector.com/gold-prospecting-public-sites/sites/alaska-jack-wade-creek-public-goldpanning-area.htm This area is open to non-motorized mining and we will of course be metal detecting.

I have detected on Jack Wade a lot, and I can tell you it is an exercise in hard work and patience. It is all tailing piles full of nails and bullets. The nuggets are very few and far between, with even a single nugget in a day a good days work. However, the nuggets are solid and can be large so can add up if you put in a lot of time. Or not as luck does have a bit to do with it. You could easily spend a week detecting Wade Creek and find nothing. So do not be surprised when I make lots of reports indicating nothing found on a given day. We fully expect that to be the case but hope we hope a month of detecting here and at other locations will pay off.

I plan on relying mostly on my GPX 5000 but will also be using a Gold Bug Pro for trashy locations or for when I am tired from running the big gun and want to take it easy. I usually run my 18" mono coil on the GPX unless in steep terrain or brushy locations and dig everything. And that means a lot of digging! The Gold Bug Pro eliminates digging a lot of trash and is easy to handle in thick brush. My brother will mostly use my old GP 3000 he bought from me years ago. I am also bringing along the Garrett ATX kind of for backup and also to experiment around with. It also will be easier to use in brushy locations than the GPX. Finally, I hope to possibly have a new Minelab SDC 2300 get shipped to me somewhere along the way to use on some bedrock locations I know of that have been pretty well pounded to death.

Chris Ralph will be arriving in Fairbanks on July 8th so I will drive in and pick him up. He will be staying with Tom and I until I return him to Fairbanks on July 21.

High on the list is to visit with Dick Hammond (chickenminer) and other friends in the area.

The road to Alaska is just another highway these days, with the only real issue being the lack of gas in northern Canada in the middle of the night. The pumps there still do not take credit cards so when the gas station closes you are stuck there until it opens in the morning. Do not try to get gas at Dot Lake at 2AM! I will drive to Olympia to spend a night and day with my mom (12 hours) then on to Dawson Creek/Fort St. John (16 hours), then to Whitehorse (15 hours), and then to Anchorage (12 hours). Four days driving, about $500 in gas for my Toyota 4-Runner. Pick up Tom and some supplies and then back to Chicken (about 8 hours).

Anyway, you are all invited along at least via the internet to share in the adventure. You have any questions about Alaska in the process then fire away.

2 people like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Should be quite the adventure, and should be something to show most days. We will have three guys working when I am there and you will have two before I arrive, so each day will have more targets dug than if just one guy was working - more chances for gold finding. 

Right now I am leaning toward using my Fisher T2, but may do the GB Pro - they are so light, I may bring both with one to use as a back up.  I will also bring my Whites TRX pinpointer - the faster the target is out of the hole, the sooner you are on to the next one. Most trash, bullets and nuggets of any size will be no problem to the pinpointer, though smaller stuff may be tougher.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just looked on Google Maps - I hate driving for 2 hours - what a trip.

The road to Chicken looks pretty curvy! Is it paved?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Taylor Highway to Chicken is paved but unpaved from there on over into Canada. They grade it regularly but it can be a mess during heavy rains and dangerously soft shoulders. Constant stream of tour buses, huge RVs, and motorcycles making the loop all summer. Our daily commute to Jack Wade will be on dirt roads.

I've made the trip something like twelve times now but still look forward to the drive. Beautiful scenery and if you hit it right tons of wildlife; bears, bison, sheep, goats, deer, elk, etc. I promise you also if you ever get used to driving 16 hour days a two hour drive will never seem like anything but a short hop afterwards!

Muncho Lake, British Columbia, Canada. I took this photo spring of 2010. The green color of the lake is attributed to the presence of copper oxide leached from the bedrock underneath. Yet the lake is home to lake trout, arctic grayling, bull trout and whitefish. What was that again about copper mineralization being deadly to fish?

muncho.jpg

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Best of luck to all on this adventure. I am looking forward to seeing pictures and updates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another great adventure...hope you guys get some big ones and little ones...or, as i tell people i take prospecting; these are my Rules,

I want the first, the last, the biggest and the most. You can have the rest. That seems ever so reasonable to me.

 

fred

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Virtual road-trip!  Woohoo!

 

Keep the pics coming!  Oh yeah, and good luck up there!

 

-mox

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll be out of internet service this upcoming week, so will have to catch up when I get back, seems like we are both on our own adventures just at different parts of the globe. One of these days I'll have to come over and see what all the fuss is about, those mountains looks massive!!!!!'

Take care Steve and Chris, looking forward to when we can all catch up again.

JP

PS I owe both you guys an email, will get back in touch when I have internet again. :-) Gold is coming in steady this year so far, I've got a good feeling about 2014.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good luck JP and be safe! You know you always have an open invitation on this end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Whew, glad I got that done! 4-Runner is packed with camping and prospecting gear and three weeks supply of food, will resupply in Fairbanks when I pick Chris up in July. Got some extra stuff for my brother and Chris so it ended up being all I could shoehorn into the rig. Hit the road in the morning for Olympia so this forum will be about the only place I can be reliably found for the immediate future. The getting ready part is stressful so I will decompress when I finally hit the road.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Similar Content

    • By Norvic
      Ok NursePaul touched down in OZ, picked him up on Saturday, but in his excitement to get over here he forgot his ports with clothes, Z, etc etc. no no regardless of what he says about Airlines, that`s my story and I`m going to stick to it. 
      We are having a lot of trouble communicating, I don`t know what version of English you Yanks use but tis French to me for sure............ So here we are waiting for his gear coming via Pony Express-Cobb & Co and I`ve got the best excuse I`ve every had as to why I`m not finding gold.....................But the xxxx is good yes/no..............and we are sort working out sign language, although judging by the smoke coming out his ears I think we will switch to smoke signals...............
    • By LuckyLundy
      All Winter/Spring in Rye Patch this year was a tough deal fighting the ground noise.  We knew we had to wait till Summer for the ground to dry out for some spots that hold the deep gold.  Robin & I, were on and extended road trip that started for a few days in Laughlin, NV and a hunt out in the gold basin area.  Then a short drive to Las Vegas for a couple days and then ending up in Reno stopping here and there for a hunt on placers along the way.  During this time, a couple Buddies where sending me pictures of their Rye Patch poke.  Braving the heat and with night hunts fighting off the Rattlers with some impressive pokes!  While in Reno, they told me to checkout weather for the upcoming weekend!  What Spring time conditions in June! 😳 We made our hunt plans.  I got home and unpacked Robin's Jeep and tossed my Detecting gear in my truck and the next morning bright and early hit the road with some heavy rains on the California side of the hill on I-80.  Rains, gave way to partly cloudy in Nevada...new speed limit East of Fernly, NV is 80 mph, what!  My hunting partners Rudy & Steve caught me in Lovelock filling my truck up and off we went...arriving at Rudy's last spot of deep nuggets at 11:00 am.  Rudy, deployed out of Steve's pickup like a seasoned Veteran and was on his little patch as Steve and I, was still gearing up!  He had two nuggets before we hardly had our detectors tuned, each around a foot deep.  I knew the area and gave Rudy a wide berth respecting his 23" biceps 💪 as he swings and extra large pick with rocks flying in all directions on each swing of his pick.  I soon, popped two deep nuggets and Steve yanked out a fabulous 2 dwt Chevron.  We had to run back to the trucks as a heavy downpour of rain gave us a break for a late lunch.  Soon after, hit it again, or should I say Rudy with a couple more nuggets before we headed back to camp.  Next morning, was more of the Rudy show!  He called me over to his chewed up 20 ft long deep nugget Patch for a listen of a target!  I stuck my coil into a 6" scrap and heard the classic nugget tone...we both smiled at each other as I gave a head nod of approval 😀.  We now began a 30 minute dig through the shale.  Rudy's pick at 15" had to give way for my special bedrock pick in the back of my truck.  At 20" this target was screaming bloody murder on the GPZ, but so does a 2 dwt'er!  Many breaks later and another 4" deeper we knew we were close.  Rudy's pen pointer was pointing at the crevice in the bottom of the hole.  Steve, finally works his way over to see what we are doing on our bellys with our heads in a big hole!  I give way, as I heard his bench made pocket knife open up and Rudy moved his giant finger away from the pointed spot.  A couple scraps and out pops the fruit to the effort of the dig!  Over 8 dwts nugget, is sweet in any gold field new or old diggings.  Steve and I, bowed to Rudy as the King of the short hunt weekend as he added a couple more before he finally let us pick up the scraps in his mini patch.  He was laughing at our misfortune sipping a cold one in a lawn chair for a couple dinks! But, it's the hunt, the thrill.  What a great hobby to keep your blood pumping...over 18 dwts on them coils.  The trip home with a cold I picked up from Robin, hit me hard and so did the surprise snow storm on top of Donner Pass.  Home safe and nursing my cold and wishing I was on the hunt, before the heat comes back to the high desert!  Until the next hunt
      LuckyLundy
       

    • By mn90403
      Ok, it is not the kind of flakes you normally think of when you think CALIFORNIA.
      We had a 'cold snap' in the west the last 3 days and that gave me a chance to go out and detect the hot deserts of Southern California.  
      The cold snap came after a Wednesday fishing trip.  It started off slow for the white sea bass and the yellowtail.  We didn't get any so we went after the rock fish in deep water.  This was my first trip of the year and it was a lot of fun.  I went over my limit (10) but there were others on the boat that got my extras.  At the end of the day we were near the island and managed to get our version of a barracuda and another fisherman got a white sea bass.
      So I left out for a 3 hour drive to our most productive nugget patch.  Last summer we were working it pretty hard and found most of it but Swifty has been finding new patches so we went back.  My last 4 trips had resulted in skunks.  I was beginning to question my technique and settings.  I was finding shots, lead, wires and hot rocks but NO GOLD.  My headphones were sounding scratchy and losing the signal when trying to pinpoint.  I bought a new set of headphones to make me feel better.   (Superlux HD668B Dynamic Semi-Open Headphones)  These were recommended on my other post about 'What Can You Hear?.'
      Now I know what I can hear!  I heard all of the same trash but the sound was smoother than my worn out headphones.  They were also comfortable (until the very end of the day).  So I'm going along with the normal signals and a bit 'long in the tooth' attitude and I heard another hot rock.  Even the 7000 and the 2300 find hot rocks in this field.  Sometime in the late morning a hot rock was not.  It was the rough flake nugget.  I saw it in my scoop and could barely see any gold as it was covered in caliche.  After a bath in my mouth I knew it was a skunk breaker.  I also knew it was thin so I logged it in to my findpoints as .5g.  It is really .82g.
      Friday I had gotten to the field at 4:00 AM and it was a full moon.  Sunrise was 6 AM but you could see around 5:30 AM.  Sunday's trip was similar but I got there at 5:00 AM and the wind was blowing about 25 mph and the temperature was under 50F.  I was cold and went back into the car for a nap.  Once the sun was up about an hour I got out and braved the wind until about 2:30 PM.  Along the way I found the second corn flake that is 'smaller' but weighs more at .92g.
      It is a lot of work having fun sometimes but someone has to do it, right?




    • By Condor
      Last week we had a brief cooling spell in sunny Yuma so I took the opportunity to get out with the Deus again.  I was scouting a new area wearing my typical Yuma attire, shorts and T-Shirt and had not yet put on my gear and most regrettably had not put on my knee pads.  I was pushing up through some steep terrain with loose gravel and big rocks.  I took a wrong step and had one of those slow motion thoughts about this not ending well.  It seems that gravity has some fairly predictable adverse effects on short, chubby, 62 yr old detectorists traversing tricky ground.  I made roughly 3 rotations on the way down, coming to rest against some nasty rocks.  As I lay there gathering my wits and waiting for pain to alert me to any major injuries, I wondered, not for the first time, why I do this, especially all alone.  Nevertheless, I picked myself up and found I was bleeding pretty good from a puncture in fat part of my right palm.  Then, I felt a searing pain from my right hamstring across my butt cheek to my scotumus maximus.  Not cut mind you, just internal wrenching.  I assume that's what the NFL calls a "groin strain".  So I hobbled to safety and set about to stop the bleeding in my palm.  It was only then that I noticed my left knee bleeding pretty good as well.  I got some wound wash and squirted the knee clean, muttering "that's going to leave a mark".  Since I didn't have the services of our favorite medic VANursePaul, I figured I better let the professionals at this one.  I had my son take me to Sunny Yuma Regional Medical Center ER.  Fairly quick work, XRays all negative, hand, knee and hip.  10 stitches in the knee, a script for Vicodin and I was on my way in just over 2 hrs.  I'm pretty sure you're not supposed to mix my favorite analgesic "Dago Red" with the Vicodin, but the words "alcohol my intensify effect" seemed to suggest otherwise. 
      So, last night I removed the last of the stitches and the knee feels fine, if not a little tender.  The palm wound is still really sore and the "groin strain" is a killer.  I walked a 1/4 mile this morning on flat blacktop in my neighborhood and the hamstring feels like an ice pick punching through my butt cheek to my nether regions.  I'm losing my mind being hobbled and not outside outsmarting some gold nuggets.  We have a bit of a cooling trend over the next few days, highs in the low 90's, so I'll be back at it, albeit a little slower and a little more careful. 
      Hopefully, good news later this week on the rescheduled outing 4 with the Deus HF.  So until then, as Sgt Esterhaus on Hill Street Blues used to say,  "let's be careful out there". 



    • By Jakepilot86
      After an unfruitful couple days in NorCal (only a couple specks), heading down to Crow Creek with the GPAA guys for 5 or 6 days and hoping Steve left something behind! It's the only place I've found anything worth talking about so far, so here's to doubling it! GMT, ATX, Sluice and Pan...any other suggestions?
    • By Steve Herschbach


      This is an interesting dredge. I was really into subsurface dredges for portability. Keene for a brief time sold a set of inflatable pontoons, so I got a pair and in 1999 put this 5" subsurface dredge together. The frame was homemade out of stock aluminum, and the pontoons were held in place with plastic drums I split in half length-wise. The tube was a standard Keene 5" subsurface dredge tube of the time. The old black marlex version was a pain because the tray clipped on at the forward end. I had to reach into the middle of the assembly to release the clips, and then the tray would drop down in front. In current this was a problem for sure as the current would want to grab the tray and knock it down. The later granite gray marlex tubes were improved with the release clips at the rear, which were easy to grab from the back of the dredge. The rear of the tray would drop down and was easily slid out to the rear. Much better. 5.5HP Honda powered Keene P-180 pump with 5" suction nozzle. Nice dredge, very compact and light-weight.

      This was on the Mills Creek Cooperative claims on upper Mills Creek on the Kenai Peninsula of Alaska. We got a lot of nice gold in the stretch in the picture as a narrow canyon widened out at this point. Bob(AK) is a member of the forum, and he also did very well here.

      Another couple photos of the dredge taken with the crappy digital cameras of the day while being built in my back yard.