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I met up with forum member Condor on Thursday and as promised he took me for a heck of a hike in steep terrain. We got in and pitched camp and that was it for the day. Friday through Monday we shinnied up bedrock chutes and bushwacked through the hills trying to get to old mine workings. This high Sierra 1800's stuff is well grown over and I am learning just how impenetrable the vegetation can get here. Alaska it can get slow going but there is nothing that will actually stop you dead in your tracks. Looks like I need to get a mini chainsaw.

We basically detected in the morning and evening with a little siesta in the main heat of the day. Those old pits can be like big dry, dusty ovens. Only real issue was that Condor had a new SDC 2300 and a new charger system and batteries and there seemed to be issues with the batteries. I had my three pre-charged sets of rechargeables and a couple sets of alkalines. Between what I had in extras plus what he could get charged off his solar panel we did just fine and had power to spare but he needs to sort out what is going on with his batteries. I found a set of my batteries easily got me through a day and maybe a little more so I see no need for me to deal with solar charging unless I am out for more than five days, which honestly I doubt I will be doing.

The gold was sparse and scattered but I did finally hit a mini patch of a few chunky nuggets on the edge of a small pit where material looks to have sluiced over a small bedrock outcrop. My largest was a couple pennyweight and I ended up with 11.2 grams or 7.1 dwt for four days of detecting. I'm happy with a couple grams a day average so I am pleased with the result. Condor got a bit less due to my hitting that little patch. Main thing was hooking back up with old friends, seeing new terrain, and getting my gear sorted out. My boots, sufficient for normal terrain, let me down in hours of near vertical. My toes kept cramming into the ends and I will not be surprised if I loose both big toenails. I have good Alaska mountain boots but they are probably too hot for most of this stuff so a new pair of boots may be in order. Other than that I was fairly happy with my setup.

The SDCs once again proved their worth. Man, this ground was hot!! Serpentine bedrock, with patches of red soil on it that must have been at least 50% magnetite by content. The SDC would want to groan if moved too fast but that was easily remedied by simply doing what we are supposed to and going slow. Worse was when getting what appeared to be a faint signal, and then after scratching off the surface the ground would light up with many faint signals in the disturbed magnetite. It was like it was magnetically aligned resting undisturbed in place but once disturbed the ground responses became mixed. A VLF would be totally dead in this stuff. It actually was a bit like what Chris Ralph and I ran into in a couple very small places and in this case it was more widespread. That all said, I generally was able to easily hunt in sensitivity level "3" very effectively and smoothly, with only small foot or two square areas making me slow way down and see what was up.

Tons of bullets, piles of nails, and basically no sign of prior detecting to speak of. I can see why between the terrain and the ground conditions. It really was a kind of textbook case for having the SDC 2300.

Thanks Condor!! Great little trip, great hanging out with you and catching up on our lives. See you again soon!

My Minelab SDC 2300 takes a break

A look at the ground

My mini gold patch

11.2 grams or 7.1 pennyweight

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It was indeed some tough conditions for man and machine.  My pack was upwards of 55 lbs but decently balanced.  Those rock hillsides collect the heat and the brush blocks the breeze.  There were a few times I just couldn't bear to dig one more square nail.  What's even worse we had to live on food and water, no cold beer.  We were lucky enough to camp by a spring, so we had cool water without hiking down to the river.

The SDC is really a great little machine and can definitely find the small stuff rivaling my Gold Bug while still handling some very hot ground.  My biggest nugget was just shy of 3 grams, the smallest too small to weigh.  As has been pointed out else where, the headphone jack is way too fragile and the headphone cord way too short.  I took the extra measure of wrapping the headphone connection with parachute cord and typing it off to the armrest so as not to bugger it so far from home.  

My 12 volt charger and foldable solar panel seemed like a good idea, but left me lacking.  I charged two sets of batteries and got about 2 hours use out of them.  Fortunately, Steve brought spares and saved the day. 

All in all a good trip and a good test of the SDC and my 60 yr old body.  The SDC was a joy, though my 60 yr old frame left me lacking at times.   I hike an hour every day, so the legs were willing, but that good life has left me too round in the middle.  Sleeping on the ground gets old quick.  After a soak in the hot tub and a good nights sleep in a bed, I'm ready to go again. 

I want to reiterate some of things Steve and others have said about the SDC.  Frankly, it is awfully expensive.  It is not the do all and end all of gold detecting machines.  It isn't going to rival the 5000 for power and depth on large nuggets, but no one is trying to claim that it will.  It's got a few flaws that are irksome, but not beyond reason.  Unfortunately, I've hammered my known gold producing areas, and I've about run out of big nuggets until I find some new ground.  An 8" coil would not be my choice for trying to cover as much new ground while trying to find new patches, but that's what we got, I'll work with it.    I like to go detecting, and I especially like to find something worthwhile.  Some people will pay for their machine in the first year.  Me, probably not, but that's not my priority.  I just want to be out there banging away and digging new targets.  I'm chomping at the bit for some cool weather in the desert so I can get back out there.  If you're on the fence and money is tight, don't buy it.  If you're like me and just want to enjoy your detecting experiences, give one a try. 

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I am quite content with a couple grams a day average. That is enough to keep me at it waiting for those oh so rare exceptional finds to come along. Most people will go their entire detecting careers never finding an ounce a gold in a single day let alone a one ounce or larger nugget. And the odds are getting worse, not better. Sadly, the glory days of electronic prospecting are already behind us. Success is still possible and great finds remain to be made, but going forward it is going to be all about patience and persistence. Those that are in it for quick, easy finds will not last long.

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On 9/3/2014 at 7:52 PM, Steve Herschbach said:

Sadly, the glory days of electronic prospecting are already behind us.

I totally disagree Steve. There are literally 100's of thousands of acres of prime gold bearing ground here in the SW, and many other places around the world that has never seen a pick, shovel, or a detector. That I know for a fact! Think about it… why do you think some of these companies are all of a sudden coming out with compact type (backpack friendly) detectors?

Having said that… have all the places been hammered to death where a guy can drive the family car to, hop out and hike a few feet and swing his detector? Yes… in those cases I agree with you that the pickens are getting pretty darn slim, and patience and persistence would definitely pay off if you plan on hunting those types of areas.

Personally… I'm not into the tourist traps and hunting anybody's former diggings. Sure a guy can get a little gold here and there, and might get lucky and pull a few whopper nuggets that were missed by the previous miners. However… I much prefer prospecting in areas that not many people (if anybody) have ever prospected before. It's more the thrill of the hunt for me. I like studying the geology, topography, planning my routes, researching any old articles (mostly about the Indians or the cattle ranchers) on the areas, and anything else that might give me an edge once I'm actually out in the field. If I never find any gold, it's no big deal. It's the thrill of hunting and riding in new and unexplored country that's the fun part for me. Finding gold is just be an added bonus.  B)

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Hey congratulations on the finds, on the subject of desert boots I would recommend the converse non metal desert tan 8" after 12years of prospecting in the Arizona desert I can truly say I have tried every brand and style I can think of but the converse is the only one I wear, I have found that it does not matter how good of shape you are in, when the feet give out you are done, I can put a pair of boots through the torture test, so when I found a pair of boots that can keep up with me I keep going back to them. Just my opinion, but they have never disappointed me.

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Hard to believe you guys are actually confessing to lifes aches and pains??  Never thought Steve would confess to such things. I am hurtin every day just in normal life and recently strained both forearms pulling my little 2 inch dredge over rocks in the Wabash river in Indiana. Feels like a bad case of carpal tunnel in both arms at once now....had to go in for Physical Therapy last 2 weeks and more to come. So,much for using the Brute force method !! will be using my bazooka sluices and shovels next week instead. Might even just sit in a lawnchair and relax a day or at the creek instead of digging.

  Nice looking gold. You guys deserve a rich reward.


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