By Steve Herschbach
This gold prospecting and metal detecting story takes us all the way back to the beginning - my beginning that is. I was fortunate enough to be born in the Territory of Alaska in 1957. Alaska was still very much on the frontier back in those days. My father was a farm boy from the midwest who headed for Alaska in the early 50's with not much more than an old pickup truck. He worked as a longshoreman offloading ships in Seward, Alaska for a time. He decided to get some education, and earned his way through college in Fairbanks, Alaska, by driving steampipe for the fleet of gold dredges that were still working there. He spent some time in Seldovia, Alaska, working the "slime line" in a fish cannery. He met my mom in Seldovia, the two got married, and finally settled in Anchorage, Alaska.
I came along in 1957. My father had taken a job as a surveyor but money was tight in the early years. I was raised on wild game and garden grown vegetables, and as soon as I was old enough to handle it, I was walking a trapline every winter with my father. Dad was a hard worker, and Alaska was having one of its many booms at the time - the construction of the oil and gas fields in Lower Cook Inlet. This was the Swanson River oilfield, discovered the year I was born.
The state was prospering, and my father along with it as a surveyor on the new Swanson Field. He got the bug for flying early on, and by the time I became a teenager he finally got his dream plane at the time - a Piper Super Cub, the classic Alaska Bush airplane. Super Cubs equipped with oversize "tundra tires" can land just about anywhere you can find about 300 - 400 feet of open ground. A great little airplane and the one I ended up flying to get my own pilot's license.
Super Cub N1769P parked on knoll in Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska
It was in this same timeframe that dad got me hooked on gold prospecting. In 1972 I saw an ad in a magazine "Find Lost Treasure" and had acquired my first metal detector, a White's Coinmaster 4. This must have got discussions going about gold, and my father did have some knowledge on the subject having worked around the gold mines in Fairbanks. He took me to a little creek south of Anchorage, Bertha Creek, and I found my very first flakes of gold! By the ripe old age of 14 gold fever was in the air, I had my first metal detector, and already wanted a gold dredge. My first dredge, a 3" Keene with no floatation, was on the way to me in 1973.
Keep in mind that the price of gold had only recently been deregulated from the old fixed price of $35 per ounce. In 1972 it was around $60 per ounce, and in 1973 made it to just over $100 per ounce. The money was not my motivation at all. I already just loved finding gold, and the connection to the prospectors of old and the historical quest for gold were more compelling than any dream of striking it rich. I just wanted to find gold!
My first metal detector and first gold dredge (my 3502 had the older aluminum header box & a power jet)
A young man with a new detector, new gold dredge, gold fever, and a father willing to fly him anywhere in Alaska on adventure. How great is that? Now there was only one problem - where to go? There was no internet then, so it boiled down to libraries and research. In short order I discovered the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.) bulletin series and the number one Alaska title of the series, Placer Deposits of Alaska, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 1374 by Edward H. Cobb. This one book and the references contained in it became my prospecting guide to Alaska. My desired target? Remote locations with large gold nuggets!
I read the book and certain places just jumped out at me. One was the Iditarod area and places like Ganes Creek and Moore Creek - tales told elsewhere. This paragraph of page 114 caught my eye:
"Placer mining in the Chisana district, first of creek gravels and later of bench and old channel deposits of Bonanza and Little Eldorado Creeks, has always been on a small scale with simple equipment. The remoteness of the area, shortages of water on some streams, and the small extent of the deposits all prevented the development of large operations. There has been little activity since World War II; the last reported mining was a two-man nonfloat operation in 1965."
Wow, that alone sounds pretty good. Nothing really about the gold however. The secret to the Placer Deposits series is not so much the books themselves, though they are great for getting ideas, like I did. The key is to use the references listed and in this case the main one is The Chisana-White River District, Alaska, U.S.G.S. Bulletin 630 (1916) by Stephen Reid Capps.
It turns out I had stumbled over the location of the last actual gold rush in Alaska in 1913. It was a small rush and did not last long, but it did mark the end of an era. The world was on the brink of war and the age of gold rushes was soon to be history. The history of the area is covered in the report starting on page 89. It is fascinating reading, but it was this note on page 105 that really sealed the deal:
"The gold is bright, coarse, and smoothly worn. The largest nugget found has a value of over $130, and pieces weighing a quarter of an ounce or over make up about 5 per cent of the total gold recovered. The gold is said to assay $16.67 an ounce."
Gold nuggets a quarter ounce or larger make up five percent of the gold? And that $130 nugget at $16.67 an ounce? Somewhere over seven ounces. That's all I needed to know. Very remote, worked by simple means, and large gold - I wanted to go to Chisana in general and Bonanza Creek in particular. Even the creek names scream gold - Bonanza Creek, Big Eldorado Creek, Little Eldorado Creek, Coarse Money Creek, and Gold Run. Now all we had to do was get there. But when I said remote, I meant remote. Chisana is practically in Canada 250 air miles from Anchorage.
To be continued.....
Chisana, Alaska location map
A fresh, new beginning. That is what we are all hoping 2021 brings after the wild and crazy ride experienced in 2020. When I learned of a large metal detecting event called Florida Hunt 7 being planned for February 2021 in Florida, I thought “what a perfect way to start the new year!”
A little additional research revealed that Florida Hunt 7 wasn’t your standard gathering of metal detectorists. The event was hosted and organized by the folks at Camp Freedom, just outside of sunny Melrose, Florida. Camp Freedom is the base camp for Soldiers Freedom Outdoors, a non-profit organization founded in 2012 dedicated to serving our active-duty and retired service veterans by providing an eco and equine therapy retreat, encompassing several hundred acres, designed to help heal the hidden wounds of war.
As a veteran myself with more than three decades of service, the knowledge that all entry donations and proceeds would be invested back into Camp Freedom made my deliberations on whether to attend a “no-brainer”…I had to be a part of this experience and give back to our nation’s veterans!
A quick call to the awesome folks at Kellyco, for whom I am a VIP Test Team member and an affiliate, confirmed that the Kellyco staff team planned to have a major presence at Florida Hunt 7. Not surprising given the core values of Kellyco. Founded more than 60 years ago by Stuart Auerbach, a U.S. Army soldier and a veteran himself, Kellyco’s focus remains solidly on course with Stu’s vision of helping the community, bringing families together, preserving history, and sharing the metal detecting hobby with the world.
Before The Hunt
Planning began in earnest. This was to be a road trip in my Reawakening History customized 4×4 Relic Rogue detecting vehicle, outfitted to the hilt with equipment and gear for any condition or weather eventuality. The 11-plus hour trip from my home in the Williamsburg, Virginia, region would take me through five states, and from mid-30 degree weather to mid-80-degree weather…a mid-Winter challenge I was more than willing to accept! Little did I know the level of the challenge awaiting me, however, as a severe ice storm rolled into Virginia at the very hour of my departure, making the first few hours of my trip a slippery, treacherous maze of avoiding salt trucks and vehicle accidents! Sadly, the storm ultimately resulted in tens of thousands without power for days, but it did not stop my mission to reach Florida Hunt 7!
My arrival in the Sunshine State was met with balmy mid-80-degree temperatures and sun…what a difference from just a few hours prior! The parking lot of my Gainesville-area hotel was already filling up with other detectorist’s vehicles, many emblazoned (like mine) with decals declaring their love of the hobby and brand affiliations. Clearly, I had chosen the right hotel! Next came unloading of my gear, organizing, ops-checking all electronic components, and making notes along the way that would help document my Florida Hunt 7 adventure. A quick check of the Florida Hunt 7 Facebook page indicated that more than 200 detectorists planned to attend this hunt, traveling from as far away as California and Washington State! Vendors and sponsors were also coming from far and wide, to include (but not limited to): the Kellyco team rendezvousing from both the central Florida and Tennessee offices/showrooms, Minelab, Garrett, First Texas Products, Adventures in History, Detect America, Gold Digger Metal Detectors, Shooters and Prospectors, and Nokta Makro flying all the way around the world from Turkey!
The evening prior to the first hunt day a meet and greet social event was held at a restaurant in the Gainesville area called Hurricane BTW. In addition to nearly the entire Kellyco staff and test team, many detecting personalities were in attendance, including Tim “Ringy” Saylor, “King” George Wyant and Steve Moore from Garrett, Butch Holcombe from American Digger Magazine, Shawn Sgts Discoveries Sherrill, and many, many others. The turn-out was phenomenal and a great time had by all.
Florida Hunt 7 – Day 1
Florida Hunt 7, Day One. The first day of the event started with a whirlwind of activity. Vendors and sponsors were on-site first, setting up their booths and displays literally just as soon as the sun began to rise, backdropped by the beautiful Camp Freedom grounds and resident therapy horses. A wide range of metal detecting wares were available from across the spectrum of vendors and industry, making it an incredibly fun and appealing venue.
As the sun continued to rise, the seemingly endless procession of vehicles made their way into Camp Freedom, a cornucopia of license plates from all over the country, representing the widespread scope and appeal of the metal detecting hobby in the United States. Detectorists immediately began gearing up and heading for the vendor area, sampling the wares, and engaging in friendly conversation with fellow detectorists, meeting old friends, and making new friends. Today also saw the arrival of two additional detecting personalities, Michael “Nugget Noggin” Bennett, and Britain Lockhart of Depths of History.
Before the hunt commenced, Florida Hunt 7 organizer Gregg Papallo and a few others provided opening remarks.
They also shared humbling perspectives of personal and related life challenges and tragedies experienced by this country’s brave veterans and their loved ones, and how Camp Freedom through Soldiers Freedom Outdoors has served as a resource to help those in need. For this detectorist, I have not experienced a more sobering and yet heart-warming feeling at the beginning of a group metal detecting event, knowing I was helping the Camp Freedom effort in some small part.
And then it began…the hunt was on! The mass of dozens upon dozens of detectorists headed off in different directions, guided by either the research they had performed ahead of the hunt or by simple gut-feeling of where the treasure lay awaiting!
I was in the former group, having done my IPB “intelligence preparation of the battlefield” research and identified locations of potential 19th-century activity on the property. My first destination was nearly a mile hike into the thick Florida brush, so I geared up accordingly with plenty of tools and resources to not only get the job done but to stay healthy and hydrated. The morning could not have been more perfect. Having been cooler and rainy the day prior, today the clouds had cleared to welcome a solid blue sky and bright sun. And even better, the forecast for the remainder of the day and Day 2 of the hunt was even more pleasant!
Armed with my primary detecting soil assault device, the Garrett AT Max affixed with the Garrett 5×8 DD PROformance coil, I started my hike to my first target destination. I chose the 5×8 coil not only because it is my success-based default coil for the AT Max but owing to the dense Florida under-brush and vines.
I expected that the smaller more streamlined footprint of the 5×8 coil would allow me to snake in and around all the dense undergrowth more agilely and allow access areas where larger coils could not tread. That strategy and coil worked very well over the course of this hunt.
Other daily-carry gear that I used on this hunt included the Garrett Pro-Pointer AT (aka, Garrett carrot), a Predator Piranha root-slayer shovel, a (NEW) Kellyco Sifter Finds Pouch (bottom of the main compartment is mesh, allowing soil/sand to sift out away from your finds…works awesome!), an MLTools Hori Hori Japanese Digging Knife (this hand tool is super sharp–easily cuts through roots on its own!), and of course my Kellyco camo ball cap to keep my fuzzy crewcut-topped head from sizzling to a crisp in the Florida sun!
On approach to a possible 19th-century homesite I had researched, my AT Max sniffed out a bit of historical evidence indicating I was heading in the right direction. The ornate thin, hollow multi-piece brass item was certainly a decorative adornment of some type, perhaps to the top of a set of fireplace andirons, or maybe part of an old oil lamp shaft.
The very next target was another keeper, although defied identification at every turn. Some said thimble, some said a cap of some nature, another thought was the clipped end from a metal cigar tube. In any case, it was a further artifact from history and indicated a pattern of life in the area.
As the day progressed more finds were made, and more detectorists encountered who shared their recoveries and what they were experiencing. There was no hesitation whatsoever in their willingness to provide descriptions of where they found each item, and what others were finding in the area. Florida Hunt 7 was a team sport, a small, close family getting together for a common purpose and cause.
Toward the end of the first day, the hunt organizers held an immense raffle. So many wonderful items were given away that it was literally impossible to keep track. Numerous metal detectors were given away, endless bags of vendor/sponsor-donated goodies, tickets to events, and many amazing hand-crafted items created by folks with amazing skills. This was one of the most robust raffles/giveaways that I have ever witnessed at a metal detecting event. Having said that, I found that a reciprocal give-away was equally incredible. Several vendors/sponsors to include Minelab rallied together on the spur of the moment and donated a dozen metal detectors to Soldiers Freedom Outdoors for veterans to use while at Camp Freedom–something the camp never had before. With the donation of these machines, in addition to hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding, the veterans will now also be able to enjoy metal detecting over the several hundred acres of Camp Freedom.
Florida Hunt 7 – Day 2
Day 2 of Florida Hunt 7 brought even more beautiful weather, more finds, and more comradery amongst the detectorists and visits with the vendors. There were no planned events for Day 2, so the day was purely allocated to detecting the massive acreage.
Along a sandy roadway, my AT Max hit upon a solid yet bouncy signal. I run my AT Max consistently wide open…in Zero mode, no discrimination, no iron audio so that I can let the detector’s tones tell me every facet possible about a target’s composition and shape. The tones from this target told me it was probably irregularly shaped, but almost certainly composed of a more non-ferrous metal.
That assessment turned out to be right on the money! About six inches down I was able to recover all three parts of a very old lady’s hand purse/clutch clasp frame. Of course, the first thought that went through my head (aside from “how cool!”) was, ok, I wonder if the contents of the purse are also in the hole! Unfortunately, that was not to be the case in this instance. It definitely conjures up images and thoughts, however, of how and why this lady’s purse came to lie in the brush overlooking a Florida lake, without its contents. Was it children playing with one of the mother’s old purses and left forgotten at their play site? Or was it a robbery, and after the valuables taken and non-valuable contents tossed asunder, the purse discarded while on the run? This is part of the mystery and lure of metal detecting…and Reawakening History!
In the end, nearly all Florida Hunt 7 detectorists saved a wide array of relics. It was great to be able to share what I found and see some of the other incredible finds made over the course of the two-day hunt. These finds will of course be cased and displayed as a small window into Florida life from generations past.
As Day 2 drew to a close, we all said our farewells to our Florida Hunt 7 hosts and friends from far and wide. Some detectorists were heading back home that evening, some planned to depart the next morning, and some had other plans in the Florida area in the coming days. The latter was my situation…as I planned to begin Part 2 of my Florida adventure, a trip to Kellyco’s Florida showroom!
The next morning, I pointed my Relic Rogue south and set off for Casselberry, Florida, the site of Kellyco’s Florida offices and showroom. As a personal aside, during this two-hour trek I was able to catch my first glimpse of Florida alligators in the wild! A 10-plus foot monster and another 5 to 6-foot alligator was chilling on the side of the highway in a water-filled median, not 20 ft from my vehicle! How cool! Wish I could have taken a photo, but safety first…the mission was to get to Kellyco!
I was able to spend several awesome hours with the Kellyco team talking about metal detecting in general, upcoming events, and products, to include all the products in their well-appointed showroom! All major metal detecting brands were represented, displaying detectors, pinpointers, shovels and digging tools, sand scoops, finds pouches and travel bags of various styles, foldable seats, attire, and even gold panning systems with practice bags of dirt that actually contain gold!
A Visit To The Kellyco Florida Showroom
For those that are local to the Florida Kellyco showroom or the East Tennessee Kellyco showroom in Knoxville, TN, they even have an array of metal detectors that are available for rent by the day! The available detectors for rent may vary by location, but generally include the Garrett AT Max Metal Detector with Z-Lynk, Nokta Makro Simplex+ Metal Detector, or Minelab Equinox 800 Metal Detector. All rentals also include a pinpointer and a trowel, allowing a first-time detectorist, or perhaps someone on vacation in the area without a detector to dive right in!
In addition to numerous other Kellyco-branded products, they also have their own metal detector carry bags. These newly redesigned travel bags are a huge upgrade, engineered with robust materials and zippers to ensure reliable, long-term use.
The latest addition to the Florida showroom is a metal detecting test garden designed by Carolyn Yohannes, Vice President of Community Outreach and Sales. When you mention testbeds or test gardens, to most detectorists they probably envision an outdoor test area that is cleared of all extraneous metal and then sample targets buried to test the performance of various pieces of equipment. However, with Kellyco’s testbed, you can test equipment indoors without concern for the weather, and it is especially helpful if you want to test a particular piece of equipment before purchasing! Pretty cool!
A visit to the Florida Kellyco showroom would not be complete without checking out the display of various finds in the showcase.
The finds, some donated but most recovered by Kellyco’s own staff detectorists, are pretty cool to peruse!
About the New Minelab GPX 6000
In addition to all the other amazing aspects of this trip, I lucked out and was able to get my hands on the brand new Minelab GPX 6000! Debbie Simkoski from Minelab was visiting Kellyco on this day, having also driven down post-Florida Hunt 7, and was kind enough to share her time demoing and explaining what the GPX 6000 brings to the table. I cannot disclose all the details I gleaned, yet, since the detector has not started shipping from Minelab…however, suffice to say the package is impressive!
The GPX 6000, designed as a gold detecting machine, is a significant reengineer from previous GPX machines. The system is fully collapsible, and with its carbon fiber shaft…very light, exponentially lighter than most GPX units I have ever experienced. The 11″, 14″ and 17″ coils are waterproof and the control box itself is splash/rainproof, so no more control box raincoats or covers. The GPX 6000 is wireless, coming with ML100 pat™ Low Latency Bluetooth™ headphones, and has a new Geo-Sense-PITM technology that rapidly suppresses interference and unwanted signals via three overlapping feedback systems for superfast detection.
I am definitely looking forward to seeing and hearing much more about the GPX 6000 and other advances from Minelab in the near future! Huge thanks to Debbie and Minelab for sharing the time and insight!
As they say, all good things must come to an end, and thus did my visit to Kellyco. I cannot say enough good things about the team members I was able to meet, from the President of Kellyco, Jeremy Floyd, to Mark Tymensky, Vice President of Affiliate and Vendor Relations, Carolyn Yohannes, Leilani, Dave, Shelby, Nathan…and the handful of staff I wasn’t able to catch up with…y’all rock! This small, incredibly knowledgeable, dedicated, and enthusiastic 10-person team is the heartbeat of the world’s largest award-winning supplier of metal detectors direct to customers…that is Kellyco. Stu formulated the recipe for success from the beginning…personalized care and superior support to the customer, unparalleled expertise, highest quality products…and those values resonate throughout Kellyco to this day.
Until the next time…keep your coils low & level…happy hunting!
Exclusive Insight to Florida Hunt 7 by Eric Reed originally appeared on kellycodetectors.com
So it was my yearly visit to talk and basically train some new field school students about metal detecting. I do this pretty much every year and it's just some basic training and some hands on digging and pinpointing. Just very basic stuff. This year's students numbered about 20 from all parts of the country, and I must say they were a pretty enthusiastic bunch. Nice to see the youngins showing some effort. 😄 This is one of my favorite spots to detect, as it is a Native village site that dates to the 1630's and happens to be one that the English attacked on their withdrawal from Mistick Fort on May 26, 1637. This place just keeps giving up artifacts and by the time we are done there, it should give an extremely detailed account of how they lived and worked. Of course everything is documented by archaeologists and added to the collection and we keep nothing (except 22 bullets 😡). Hey free lead 😁 I didn't get pictures of all the scrap brass I found that day but did get this picture someone took of a signet ring I found. Almost looks like some kind of bird (or Thunderbird?) of some sorts. Any ideas anyone? It's not a beach, but still fun to detect.
I am fortunate enough to live close to Steve H when he was otherwise engaged in pressing business, so he loaned me the only existing US GPX 6000. I loaded up the Toyhauler, RZR, girlfriend and doodle dog for a week or so of detecting at Sawtooth. Lundy dropped by for a swing or two and we gave the 6000 a pretty good go on some heavily detected patch areas.
GPX 6000 - I won't repeat all the other information already shared by Steve H and Lundy on their views of the 6000. I had the time to do a little more testing of the other features.
14"DD Coil- I spent most of one day running the DD in the saltiest, most reactive ground I could find. I found 2 tiny nuggets, depth not more than a few inches. One thing I noticed on these small targets is too much swing speed and you will flat out miss them. I'm talking patch cleaning speed, not patch hunting speed. I'm sure swing speed would not be as critical on bigger nuggets, but these are in the .1 or smaller pieces and a fast swing speed loses them entirely. It handles the hot ground like a dream, especially if you use the Auto Modes. There are only 2 DD modes, a cancel EMI mode and a cancel Salty ground mode. It seems you still have a normal and a difficult setting as well, but I'm not sure of the effect. I couldn't discern any difference in my short time.
17"Mono Coil- I think most people are going to want a bungee and swing arm. It's not the weight particularly, Its the repetitive motion on my feeble joints I felt the most. The swing arm from my 7000 really takes the pressure of that shoulder joint. The 17 should do great in normal soils and handled the salty ground remarkably well especially with the Auto features. I spent another whole day patch hunting with the 17 and I think that back in the Yuma ground it would be the go to, assuming it can handle the EMI from the fighter jet traffic.
The Speaker- For whatever reason, as has been discussed by JP, the external speaker loads up with EMI noise. It seems to get better after 30 minutes of run time, but gets annoying initially. I normally hunt with Ear Buds and the 1/8 connection fits perfect in the 6000 headphone port, but you lose that wireless feature. I tried the Aventree wireless neckband, it connects and pairs nicely and works great, just not my comfort style especially in the heat.
Auto+ plus Threshold- I was watching one of the Aussie videos and learned that in Auto+ you can press and hold the Difficult mode button and get a threshold tone in the otherwise silent (Bogenes setting) auto mode. I'm not sure what if anything this accomplishes, hopefully JP can give us a little more insight.
I found gold, nothing big and nothing deep. I spent a great deal of time in areas that just don't have deep nuggets, and the GPZ's had already cleaned out the big stuff. Then I spent a lot of time trying to find a new patch, always an iffy endeavor. Despite having the machine for over a week, I probably didn't get more than 30 hrs of pure detecting time. First was the weather. I hit N NV desert just in time for a cold front. One day I was wearing shorts, the next day it was snowing. One day I saw the storm brewing and tried to outrun it back to camp only to get hit with sideways blowing hail. I had taken the windshield off the RZR to keep the dust vortex to a minimum, and sure regretted it that day.
Detecting time also gets consumed by domestic duties, handling the BBQ, entertaining the dog etc.. It's good the have the family along, but you have to make a few sacrifices and pure detecting time is one of them.
When the weather forecasts looked unsettled for the upcoming week, it was time to take the girlfriend and dog home which precipitated the misadventures. By then the dog was limping, having gotten a fair share of foxtails stuck between the pads of her front paws. A quick look showed hot swollen patches where the foxtails had embedded themselves in her skin. A trip to the vet and $200 later she's on the mend.
I thought I would load up the whole works and try to beat the weather, nope! My toyhauler is a 5th wheel and relies on 12 volt landing gear for leveling and hitching. The internal gear started slipping so I added the manual crank and broke off the main drive shaft. Internet research reveals this is a common problem, way undersized gears and drive mechanism for that much weight. New dual motor landing gear ordered, that's more expense. I left the trailer and brought girlfriend and dog home, then returned to Sawtooth the following day. I arrived just in time for 2 days of cold wind and rain.
I waited it out and got 2 more days of detecting for exactly zip, nada, nothing. Ground was wet and sloppy in places, the 6000 handled it fine by the way. I just couldn't get the coil over any yellow stuff.
So, I surrendered and loaded up to come home. I used some MacGyver tricks to load the trailer. My hitch is an Anderson conversion and not a true 5th wheel hitch. It has an adjustable ball height mechanism connected to a bed mounted Gooseneck hitch. I dug out wheel trenches to get my truck under the trailer's hitch with the truck ball at it's lowest height, once centered I persuaded the ball up into the connector with a few hammer blows. Once the ball was pinned to it's highest level, I used an inflator to fill my truck's load leveling air bags to their highest point, about 2 inches. That was just enough lift to take the weight off the landing gear and free the extensions up and out of the way. I fear this kind of functional fixedness may be lost on the next generation whose skill seems to be finger dexterity and computer games.
I took the long way on Jungo Road to Winnemucca because it is really well maintained for all the HyCroft mining traffic. I hit the freeway heading for Fernley and a couple times felt an odd vibration. I was facing a stiff headwind and the trailer was making that diesel engine work just to maintain 55mph. I got an error code for excessive engine boost and noticed the transmission temps heating up more than engine coolant temp. Then stuff happened. The truck started bucking and hard shifting as I tried to slow down. The emergency lane is no place to be on Highway 80, when the speed limit is 80mph and triple trailer rigs are zooming by. I limped it to Rye Patch road and limped down to Dan's Gold Digger Pizza place. Dan had no trailer space with hookups, but he let me park it in the back lot. My girlfriend drove out from Fernley because she has the AAA card and I was going to need a ride home anyway.
I had the truck towed to the only place in Winnemucca who could look at it within the next 2 weeks. Car Care Clinic near the Walmart, great bunch of people in there. Anyway, it seems I broke the right rear axle and it was hanging on by a thread. The repair tally hasn't arrived yet, but it's sure to be further eroding my discretionary funds account earmarked for a GPX6000.
I try to think positive. It could have been much worse. The weather is clear and warm, I'm still upright, the dog is good as new and I'll have a brand new axle. That dinosaur GPZ 7000 is going to have to carry me through a bit longer.
I've always said gold miners are some of the smartest and most ingenuitive people to make their way into the wild west. Just seeing the old workings, mills, flumes, ditches, ect that they built in order to find their fortunes never ceases to amaze me. I believe in order to be successful still today takes a bit of this same smarts. This story starts last fall. While out detecting a small ravine with previous working for the better part of a day, I found myself missing the plastic bolt and nut to my coil on my GB2. I searched for about 15 min, but the grass and pine needles made it impossible to find the little black pieces. It was close to the end of the day anyway so I called it early went home cracked a cold one and ordered myself 3 sets of bolts and nuts to make sure i had extras for when this happens to me again. Now flash forward into last weekend, I found myself in the same predicament. Thinking, AHA! im prepared! I found myself tearing my backpack apart, but alas, they were not to be found there. Since this was the beginning of my day, and I had hiked 2 miles over two ridges 500' high through a maze of fallen tress to get to this spot on a drizzling day, I started brainstorming. Reaching into my inner MacGyver, I start looking at the ground around me, I figure there must be a twig that could fit just right. After attempting several different twigs, I found one that fits just right. Its snug to get in. I believe its gonna work. My partner with me shakes his head and goes off detecting as the previous two twigs were too small and my coil was just floppy. I pick up my detector and go off and start swinging. Seams to be working, in fact, because the twig is snug, the coil is not floppy and is working great! Several hours pass, my partner gets the first piece, ~0.25g piece. Cool now we know there is detectable gold here. another hour passes and my twig is holding in there, I hear a good sounding signal. Babam! my piece for the day! and its a bit bigger (bragging rights! 😁) We finish the day out not finding any more pieces as the rain was starting to wear on us. We hiked our way out happy that we proved gold in another location.
I have since been out twice for a couple hours and my twig is still holding on in there. I could just put the new bolt and nut on but im curious to see if the twig last longer 😆. Maybe it can be the stock inventory item for the Gold Bug 2! This just shows you, even though its no engineering feat like an 18 mile long flume or a mine shaft that sinks 1000's of feet, it pays to not give up and to use your smarts!
Just another story from one happy prospector
Last weekend I made the drive from Anchorage up to the Taylor Highway and past Chicken to the Jack Wade public gold panning area. Look up Steve’s excellent posts on the area for more descriptions and pictures of nuggets, no gold on my trip.
It’s still pretty early so Chicken wasn’t even open yet and some ice shelfs were still along sections of the creek. Got great weather, just some passing downpours but in a T-shirt with no mosquitos most of the time. I did take waders to cross the creek,as it was running a little high with snowmelt.
This was the first trip I dedicated a lot of time as a serious search for gold and was just as much about learning the detector. Mostly I have worked beaches, campsites, a few roadsides, so I know it can find the tiniest bits of melted aluminum can, bullets and coins.
As expected I dug a lot of trash, but I did find some interesting nuggets that are definitely not gold. Most are iron based, magnetic, but a couple look very noduly, and one is not magnetic. The others are probably just rusted bits of iron. There were some sparkles I thought might be pyrite but I think is just dust from the surrounding shist as even the nails and bits of wire sparkle under the right light. Take a look at the pics and see what you think, maybe just welding or torch cutting remnants. They were all in the same area.
The area has been heavily worked by detectorists with lots of dig holes around. Equally lots of unexplored tailings but many so overgrown that swinging a detector is impossible. I put in about 16 hours of exploring and detecting on the tailings. Covered a wide variety of terrain and tailings, new, old, tall, short, and along some bedrock sections.
On to the Equinox: I tried both Park 2 and the Gold 1 settings. Obviously, my ear is not tuned to the Gold 1 program, it was providing way more chatter than I could process, even with sensitivity turned down to 15 or so. I would have turned it down more but I could run in Park 2 at 20-22 sensitivity and thought I may miss more in Gold 1. I was using the 11” stock coil.
Is it normal to have to run at a much lower sensitivity in the gold modes?
Most of the time I ended up running in Park 2 with -7,-8,-9 turned off, which may have been a mistake. With how worked the area is, the best chance is probably digging all the iron and hoping for a nugget that might be masked by the trash.
In one area I did have some trouble with hot rocks, they would sound as a fairly small but round 12 with iron nearby but after digging out would end up as a -6 hot rock. Was curious why it read so high.
All in all a great trip. No gold, and not much wildlife but got a nice shot of a Short-eared Owl on the drive out the Taylor Hwy. Photos of finds, handful of magnetic nuggets, close up of the non magnetic nugget (maybe lead or silver?)