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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

Main building at Chicken Creek Gold Camp
Main building at Chicken Creek Gold Camp

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. Visit this link for more information. 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.


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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.

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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?

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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

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

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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

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Virtual road-trip!  Woohoo!

 

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

 

-mox

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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.

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

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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.

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      Gary scores gold and a gemstone - jewelry finds are very rare
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      Celtic "Votive Offering" fresh out of the ground!
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      New Minelab Equinox 15" x 12" coil helps make once in a lifetime find
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      Happy guy! Photo courtesy of Mindy Desens
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      Equinox and Celtic gold!
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      Celtic gold "votive offering" closeup
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      Lots of Minelab Equinox plus a Deus and CTX
      The next day we were back in the same general area. There was one small plot Mindy wanted to hunt and nobody else was interested, so I decided to hunt with her. I was at one end of the field and Mindy the other. I was hunting fast, trying to cover area, when I got one of those showstopper signals and dug a nice 1737 George II milled silver sixpence. I had no idea what it was - kind of looked like a Roman emperor to me and so Mindy had to take a look. I found I was best off not speculating on finds as I was usually wrong though I am learning. The "George" I know now is a dead giveaway that this is a "recent" vintage coin. A real beauty though and I was quite pleased with it.

      1737 George II milled silver sixpence
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      Mindy scores a Celtic gold stater - her 12th gold coin
      45 BC to 25 BC Addedomarus - Trinovantian tribe 5.58 g.16.90 mm
      Can you imagine, twelve gold coin finds, including a hammered gold noble, some sovereigns, and Celtic gold? Mindy is amazing. Here I am looking for my first gold coin and she gets her twelfth - now you know why this hunt attracts people. 
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      I went all the way to England to find a flake of gold!
      It finally came time to say goodbye to Mindy and the group and get handed off to the new group incoming with Chicago Ron. Ron is an incredible hunter with a real nose for making finds. I really enjoyed watching him - an artist at work. In fact there are many people on these hunts that are amazing detectorists (Scott and Scott, and Mike, I'm looking at you) and there is always something to learn by observing good detectorists in action. What makes Ron special is he just wanders around in an apparently random fashion, yet consistently wanders into some really great finds. He has one of the best noses for detecting I have ever seen.
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      Manningtree, England
      One pub in particular out with Ron and company was directly across the street from where the captain of the Mayflower lived. The history everywhere you look is just stunning.
      Ron like nearly everyone in his group is was swinging an Equinox, and early on one day of the hunt he made a find that is rarer than the gold coins - a huge 1653 Commonwealth hammered silver half crown (30 pence). This is one of the few English coins with no king on the front because England was a Commonwealth without a king for a brief period of years. How this 14.39 gram silver coin was still sitting in the middle of a hunted area is a mystery, but as we all know if you do not get the coil right over the spot finds get missed. The coin is 34.66 mm or 1.36 inches in diameter and 2.0 mm thick. I got a great photo of Ron with his first Morini Celtic gold on my last trip, and here he is again doing his magic. What fun!

      Chicago Ron and 1653 Commonwealth hammered silver half crown

      Ron's 1653 Commonwealth hammered silver half crown
      I added to my collection of hammered silver, 1700 and 1800 copper coins, and milled silver coins with the remaining time I had. I tended to wander off in oddball directions away from the group, doing the "go big or go home" thing by hoping to get into some little corner or hotspot overlooked by others. Given the size of these fields there are limitless opportunities for this sort of wandering, and it often means fewer finds. It is however how spectacular finds like a horde happen so I do enjoy giving it a go. It ultimately is my favorite type of detecting, being alone in some place wandering around doing my own thing. Gridding target rich zones is probably more productive, but it has a mechanical work aspect to it. Wandering is more freestyle and also more conducive to the sort of meditative mental state I achieve while metal detecting. I am one of those types that lives in my head and some of my best thinking is done while wandering around detecting. I get so into "the zone" that hours flash by in apparent minutes. Whether I make finds or not I find metal detecting to be wonderfully refreshing. For me at least there are few things more relaxing than metal detecting.
      The trip ended with a spectacular bang by another new Equinox owner who recently joined the forum. Tim was kind of frustrated with the Equinox when I met him, but I did what I could to help him gain confidence in his detector, and the finds started coming. The very last day he made a find that exceeded my own in some ways, but that is his tale to tell so I will leave it for now. It was so awesome again to be around when a major find was made, and come to find I had walked about 30 feet away from it the previous week. Miss it by a foot or a mile, and you miss it. Usually you never know what you miss, but in this case I got to find out. It may be hard for people to believe but I am happier that Tim made the find than me. I am getting a bit jaded these days whereas Tim nearly fainted from the excitement. I get a real charge out of seeing that in people and Tim is just a really nice fellow. He really worked hard for that find and it was an awesome way to have the adventure come to a close. I am sure we will hear the details about Tim's amazing find very soon.

      I could not be happier with my 2018 UK adventure. The weather this time was really great. I actually got a farmers tan while in England! Mindy and Ron and his wife Gretchen are all great, doing everything they can to insure people have a good time. The folks I got to visit with in both groups came from all over the country, and I could not ask to meet a nicer and more upbeat bunch of people. I really am going to have to give this another go because I finally came home without that gold coin. Even that is ok because what I did find is even rarer, and I made two gold finds on the trip. Eight years ago I went home with a pouch full of great stuff, but I think my pride was a bit wounded that I had found no gold. I am supposed to be the "gold guy"! I am constantly competing with myself at some level, and this trip really left a warm glow. Again, my thanks to all involved for making this one of the best experiences in my now very long detecting career. Just awesome!!
      ~ Steve Herschbach
      Copyright © 2018 Herschbach Enterprises
      Many more details and pictures later in this thread plus the settings I used so do follow along !
      Here is a partial selection of some of the finds I made on this trip. I won't be able to post a complete listing until I get the museum documents back - may be a year or more from now!

      A few finds made by Steve Herschbach in England, 2018
    • By Dig It
      Hi Folks, I've been on the road detecting Fairbanks/Richards district then on to Jack Wade & 40 mile area AK. and like I have said Watch out Nevada here I come.... Doctors said I shouldn't sit & watch football & drink adult beverages all winter so here I am on my way to Northern Nevada & I would like to hook up with anyone that's detecting. Have toy hauler & 6x6 and all the right tools. I am in Oregon right now trying to slow my roll, 112 @ my friends in Nevada so gonna BLM Campground for a couple weeks in Oregon unless someone says lets go. Otherwise will be working my way south as temps come down a bit, AC works in camper but not outside... Haha !!!! So will be bck. on site reading the news & stories again & posting some good summer finds, lets detect, Gold / Relics / Coins just want to swing a detector...….
    • By mn90403
      All of us travel to and fro to find gold.  Sometimes we find it and sometimes we don't.  If we are 'lucky' and look around us on the way to the goldfields we are surrounded by beautiful nature and geology.  One of my most surprising trips was taking Hwy 93 north out of Las Vegas, Nevada towards Ely, Nevada.  I was headed to the total eclipse in Wyoming.  There was quite a lot of water and wetlands around the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge which was a great surprise.
      I'm wondering what are the great drives that other prospectors feel are their favorites.  This could become a long thread or possibly a separate forum because it could include the drive, campsites, side trips and the like.
      I'm always reminded of JW's posting of his gold sites in New Zealand (makes me want to go) which are so scenic and I saw many vistas in Australia that still pop into my mind.  We all have 'hidden' off road trips and areas all over the world.  Let's see how the editor lets this one go.
      Mitchel




    • By Condor
      Week 3 started off a little slow.  It rained for 2 days, then a day of sun, then a 3rd day of rain.  You just can't drive the Aussie tracks when they're wet.  The camp held up well in the rain, no significant leaks.  Fortunately, I brought audio books and a Kindle so we kept entertained.  
      All the clouds put our power grid to the test.  We had to use Paul's generator a couple times to top off the battery.  I'm including a photo of our power grid, looks like a soup sandwich. We're running about 200 watts of flexible solar panels into a 100amp hr Li-Ion battery.  With full sun running only the outback refrigerator, our battery stays fully charged.  At night with charging our equipment we drop about 1/4 of battery capacity.   We should have thought more about charging compatibility, as it stands we need 110AC for the laptop and 2way radios, cigarette lighter plugs for lights and USB for phones and GPS.  What a mess trying to keep it all functioning.  I had to rewire our cigarette lighter outlet bank, the wires fried somewhere along the line.  I'm ordering a backup tonight.  
      We took the time to go into town and do laundry and take hot showers at the Caravan Park.  I ran my clothes through twice, I think the Aussie red dirt may be permanent on some of my stuff.  
      We've been out doing real prospecting looking for new patches along the "line of strike".  We've been off the beaten path and as a precaution punch in the GPS coordinates of the truck.  Like Daniel Boone, I've never been lost, though a might bewildered a few times.  Just when I think I'm in unexplored territory, I find and old timer's campsite or dry-blower tailngs where he sampled the same zone.  Our only luck has been a few crumbs off old dry-blower zones.  Modern mechanized prospectors have often run a dozer over the old timer's tailings and scraped things to bedrock.  If there is some of original caprock left, we have a better chance of finding something.  
      Paul has been off on a frolic of his own.  We don't expect to see him for another week, in the meantime Trent sold the caravan Paul was using.  Paul is homeless, I hope he doesn't repo his pop-up trailer that we're using.  Trent is thinking about moving our half of Camp Yank about 60k to the south to detect a new area said to have good gold.  It will be a challenge dividing up the campsite necessities and we'll miss nightly entertainment of Paul's crazy stories.  
      Sunset from Downunder.  That's all for now.
       



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