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Old Stream Layers at Crow Creek - 7/10/99
Sluice headed up cable
I finally got my dredge
completely out of
Crow Creek canyon this weekend. Water conditions in the
canyon forced me to don my drysuit; I did not feel comfortable trying to
cross the creek in waders while carrying a six foot long sluice box over
my head. I was tempted to leave the last items until the water dropped in
the fall, but I already had a buyer for the dredge, and so had to get it
out. After carefully fording the sluice, suction hose, and other gear up
the canyon to the base of the cable pullout, I stripped out of my drysuit.
Then came numerous trips in and out of the canyon, attaching gear to the
pulley system, then climbing up and pulling it out. By the time I finally
got it all out to the parking lot, I was ready for a break.
The pictures below explain why I dredge Crow Creek in the
early spring and late fall. It has been a dry summer, but since Crow Creek
is fed by a small glacier and snowfields, it remains at flood stage all
summer. The water is fast enough to be barely crossable, and is gray with
glacial silt. Compared with the slow moving, clear water of spring and fall,
it is simply not worth fighting the season. In particular, the inability
to see the material means more worthless material is dredged, and more frustrating
hose clogs occur. Still, there are those who work the creek in the summer
and do well; they simply have more patience than I have.
Crow Creek on July 10, and back on April 24
I decided I had to find
at least a little gold before I went home, so I grabbed my trusty metal
detector and headed up the creek. Mine owner Sean Toohey was working with
a backhoe up the creek grooming a place for a GPAA mining party the next
weekend. He was also scouting for a place to mine in the future.
Old streambed layers
A rather obvious (to my eye, at least) layer of cobbles
was cutting across a bank exposed by floods a couple of years ago. A looser
cobble layer rests on a finer grained, and much tougher lower layer. The
fine-grained lower layer is much older, and formed a false bedrock surface
for the more recent upper streambed layer. At one time Crow Creek itself
was running up at this higher point, and the cobble layer represents the
bottom of this now high and dry deposit. Remnants of older streambed material,
perched above and parallel to the existing steam are referred to as "benches"
or "high bench deposits". Often a flattened area on the banks
above the current creek can indicate a bench deposit, but often times material
sliding downhill from above bury the deposits so that they are not immediately
obvious. Such is the case at this location.
I checked the exposure with my detector, and was not too
surprised when I had found three small nuggets in less than ten minutes.
They all were at the base of the cobble layer, on top of the fine-grained
layer. They were also of a chunkier character than the gold found in the
canyon downstream, having been subject to less stream action since being
released from the gold veins upstream.
Small nuggets from the old stream layer
The two larger pieces are 4 grains each, while the smaller
piece is a 1 grain nugget, for a total of 9 grains. Not much, but not bad
for ten minutes. Sean promptly declared the location "Steve's Bench"
and made plans to expose the hillside with the backhoe in the future. Chances
are the deposit is limited in extent, but one never knows until a little
digging is done. In any case, the area bears more attention from metal detector
users and others.
~ Steve Herschbach
Copyright 2000 Herschbach Enterprises