I was actually over on the Sawtooth side, but most people recognize the Rye Patch. I consider myself a fairly rugged guy, but N NV in July is no place to be without some decent shelter from the afternoon sun and heat. A 10 X 10 Walmart quick shade seems to provide shade, but focus the radiant heat somehow making it hotter under the shade, if that makes sense. The afternoon breezes are hot and dry leaving my only thoughts to cold drinks. Cold beer was my last choice, Gatorade and water were the only solutions. I endured 2 days and found 1 tiny nugget with the Nox 800.
I rode my Rokon and explored way up an old "ghost road" on the afternoon of the first day. With field glasses I saw a couple canyons that had exposed bedrock and I aimed to hike them the next morning while it was cool. N NV climate is a funny thing, I woke up to 61 degrees, but temps would climb to 90 by 11AM. As I was gathering my gear, I had one of those nagging premonitions. I suspect we have them all the time, but only remember the ones that come true. Nevertheless, I packed extra water and my Garmin Satellite Communication device. I was merrily riding up the ghost road enjoying the refreshing morning air when, bang. I felt the Rokon torque converter explode into the protective fiberglass shield. Fortunately, I was only half way to my destination. I carry tools and some spare parts, but no amount of duct tape was going to fix this problem. I pulled all the unnecessary stuff out of my pack and started walking back to my truck. It was all downhill, with a decent breeze so I made good time before the unbearable heat set in. I packed my truck and strapped down all my gear for some tricky 4 wheeling to get back up there to the Rokon. Turns out to be 4.7 rugged miles. I loaded the Rokon and decided to head for home in sunny Yuma where it was only 116 degrees.
It could have been worse however; the Garmin device, in addition to the emergency SOS, has a feature where you can send free preselected messages to your family and friends. At the end of the message the device stamps your GPS coordinates so they know where you are. Since I do so much prospecting alone, I make this compromise so people worry less about me. For $30.00 a month service fee, it's cheap insurance and my family worry less. So, every night I send a preselected message of "Alive and Well" and they can plot my last location if something happens to me. Staying home where it's safe is not an option in my world.
I spent several weeks in early July, panning and sluicing on the N. Fork of the American River. I've been going to the same 10 mile section of the river for over 20 yrs. That part of the river is designated Wild & Scenic, so no motorized equipment and no claims. It's one of the few places in CA gold country you can access a free flowing river without stepping on someone's gold claim. Access is not easy, although there a a number of trails up and down the river. They're all rugged, often steep and always overgrown with poison oak. I have often encountered "locals" who at various times attempt to eke out an existence by panning and sluicing the river. Generally friendly and sometimes willing to share local knowledge of the gold. When I meet them I make a point to brew up a big pot of spaghetti and feed all comers. Many years ago, I met a guy my age driving a new Jeep Cherokee. He was socially awkward, but I learned he was a software engineer from the Silicon Valley and had taken up gold prospecting on weekends. He was not very successful, so my 6 yr old son and I invited him to come dig in a hole we had started. He sluiced a few buckets and declared that was more gold than he had ever found. Skip ahead 10 years, I found him living in a tent on the banks of the river having spent 2 years pursuing the golden dream. He was eking out an existence and seemed to be perfectly happy. Imagine a 6 mile hike uphill, just to reach a paved road, hope for a ride to town to get supplies then repeat the process back down. Supplies are limited to what you can afford and carry on your back. The local mining supply store pays 80 percent of spot, for good clean gold. This guy still had the math and engineering brain so he could tell me exactly how much he was earning per hr, although he did not factor that it was in fact a 24 hr a day job, living on the river.
Every now and then "flatlanders" discover the place and bring down a bunch of gear intending to strike it rich. They are soon disillusioned and I find their gear stashed in the woods. I've seen one sleeping bag stashed in the same spot for over 4 years, untouched. Buckets and digging tools get carried away by spring floods and I find them littered on gravel bars.
There is an old mining road ,overgrown, heavily rutted, washed out and frequently blocked by blown down timber. It currently takes me about an hr to travel just over 3 miles down that road crawling in 4 wheel drive low locked in 1st gear. At one time you could drive to within 100 yds of the river. There was a fabulous camping spot under a massive oak, with a spring nearby. In their infinite wisdom, the BLM blocked the road about 1.5 miles from the old camping spot. They brought in some heavy equipment and dug tank traps to block all future traffic down the road. For many seasons I hiked the rest of the way down on a variety of trails. A few yrs ago, my son, then strapping teenager and I started hacking an ATV trail around the tank traps. We spent a few hrs a day for over a week cutting a new trail. It's passable by ATV to this day, but you really have to know the danger spots or slide right down the hill. I've winched my own ATV up that zone many times.
More to come in Part II.....
By Jim Hemmingway
Abandoned Trails in Silver Country
Silver country represents a small part of a vast, heavily forested wilderness perched on the sprawling Precambrian Shield here in northeastern Ontario. Away from the small towns and villages, and widely scattered farms and rural homesteads, there exists a largely uninterrupted way of life in the more remote areas. There are uncounted miles of lonely country backroads, overgrown tracks leading to abandoned mining camps, innumerable rough timber lanes, and a virtually infinite tangle of winding trails that reach deeply into the distant forests.
Nothing in my experience has been so completely companionable as the soft forest whisperings and the beckoning solitude that reigns over this ruggedly beautiful country. This is where my carefree days of autumn prospecting have been agreeably spent for many years. We returned again this year to unbounded, satisfying autumn days of kicking rocks, exploring and detector-prospecting adventures, followed by evenings spent evaluating silver ores while savoring hot coffee over blazing campfires.
Irrespective of silver recoveries, the flaming autumn colors of the boreal forest are the real treasure of the season. They persist for only a few short weeks, reluctantly yielding to the autumnal yellows of the tamarack, birch, and aspen in sharp contrast to the deep conifer greens. Scenery as depicted below accentuates your enthusiasm to get into the field, and pretty much ensures that an autumn prospecting trip to silver country is a memorable experience.
Unprecedented, persistently wet conditions eliminated any potential for a banner season, but nonetheless we did manage to find considerable worthwhile silver. In addition to an assortment of rich silver and associated minerals, my friend and occasional partner Sheldon Ward recovered a large, very high conductive native silver ore that we’ll take a closer look at shortly. Most of my quality silver finds were fairly small, although a specimen grade silver ore at five pounds was found during the final week of the trip, and frankly I felt very fortunate to get it. Larger material was recovered, for example a 24-pound highgrade silver ore from the same area, but these invariably were mixed ores co-dominated by cobalt and various arsenides, most notably niccolite as illustrated below.
On a more positive note, we both found plentiful small silver generally ranging between one-half and ten ounces that added real weight to the orebag over the season’s duration. It is much easier to find small but rich, high character silver than is the case with larger material. Even so, specimen grade detectable silver in any size range is becoming increasingly difficult to find at many of the obvious, readily accessible sites nowadays.
The photo below is a pretty fair representation of the overall quality, although anything below a half-oz was excluded from this shot… such are not terribly photogenic beside larger samples. Some rich ‘nuggety’ ores were HCl acid-bathed to free the silver from carbonate rock, and all samples were subjected to a rotary tool circular wire brush to remove surface residues, followed by a dish detergent wash and rinse.
By way of a brief background explanation to readers unfamiliar with this prospecting application, we search for more valuable coin-size and larger pieces of silver. Natural native silver target ID is determined by physical and chemical factors such as silver purity, types of mineral inclusions, structure (for example, dendritic, plate, disseminate or particulate, sponge, nuggety or massive), size, shape, and the profile presented to the coil. Virtually all natural silver from this area will target ID from low foil up to a maximum of silver dime range. Only infrequently over the years have we found isolated, rare examples of our naturally occurring silver exceeding that range.
The specimen depicted below is a commonplace example of silver typically recovered here. It isn’t terribly large or particularly handsome, but it is mostly comprised of native silver by weight. Its target ID is a bit elevated from the usual, but consider that even small changes to some of the more influential factors listed above can significantly alter target ID. I tend to pay minimal attention to it when evaluating samples.
It was detected adjacent to an abandoned mining track that leads directly to a former mill site at the mining camp scene depicted above. No treatment required other than a leather glove rubdown followed by a soapy wash and rinse, in fact it looked quite presentable fresh out of the dirt. The darker material you see is heavily tarnished native silver that I intend to leave undisturbed.
Ground conditions also play an important role in determining target ID, and refer to factors such as the strength of non-conductive magnetic susceptible iron minerals present, ground moisture content, proximity of adjacent targets, and disturbed ground. These factors sometimes contribute to good silver at depth producing a VLF target ID within the iron range.
Probably the best photo example available to me is a specimen found a few years back at good depth in tough magnetic susceptible diabase. It produced a predominantly iron target ID on the Fisher F75. It was detected in a fairly low trash area, the signal was suspect, and it was checked with the groundgrab feature. In this instance, there was no ground phase reduction to more conductive values as would be anticipated over rusty iron or a positive hotrock, and so the target was dug.
The general rule of thumb over questionable weaker signals, regardless of groundgrab results, is to remove some material to acquire a stronger signal and target ID readout before making a decision to continue digging in our difficult, hard-packed rocky substrates, or to move on. If there is the least doubt, we dig the target to learn what actually produced the signal.
The specimen depicted below was found by eyesight while hiking along an old abandoned rail track. In the field our rock samples seem more attractive or valuable than they do once we return to camp, where we tend to view them far more critically. If they don’t look to have good specimen grade potential, my samples are either abandoned in an obvious place for others to find, or given away to visitors back at camp. But that’s just me, most hobbyists are more resourceful with unwanted samples, they’re refined by some, subjected to treatments, or slabbed, and ultimately sold. In any case, this rock didn’t terribly impress me and was placed with other discards on the picnic table. But nobody other than my wife seemed much interested in it, and that is how it came to be included here.
In its original condition, it could only be described as nondescript, with very little showing on the surface prior to treatment. It did produce a broad solid PI signal, despite that the few surface indicators were non-conductive dark ruby silver pyrargyrite and to a much lesser extent what I suspect is the black silver sulfosalt stephanite. To see more, it was acid-washed to expose silver and associated minerals, cleaned-up with a rotary tool, followed by a dish detergent bath and clean water rinse.
Both these minerals produce a good luster that makes them a bit more difficult to distinguish from native silver in a photo. But in reality it is easy to see the differences and do some simple tests to confirm if necessary. The acid treatment revealed that the sample does have a good showing of dendritic native silver, a timely reminder that metal detectors see what we initially can’t see inside rocks.
Abandoned Trails, Minesite Tracks and Roadbeds…
Abandoned, frequently overgrown trails, mining tracks, and roadbeds provide convenient routes to prime detecting sites that otherwise would be much more difficult to access. But the important thing is that most such routes were built with discarded mine tailings to considerable depth, and contain good silver more frequently than you might think possible. Some snake through the bush to more remote areas, but the vast majority of these now abandoned routes were built to service existing minesites at the time. They were used to transport discarded rock to the tailing disposal areas, and silver ores to storage buildings and to mill sites, and generally to service other mining camp requirements.
We know from research and experience that silver was misgraded, inadvertently misplaced, or lost directly from spills to eventually reside on, within, or alongside these now abandoned trails and roadbeds. These mine tailings… frequently containing rich silver… were also used to build storage beds, minesite entrances, loading ramps, and as noted… routes to facilitate waste rock transport. All these offer excellent, obvious prospects to search with a suitable metal detector.
The nugget below, with several other pieces, was found in the tailings adjacent to the abandoned track in the photo above. Some good weather following a horrendous week of persistent heavy rainfalls prompted me to head out late one afternoon for some casual detecting. I had sampled those tailings earlier in the season but nothing by way of thorough searching. And while the silver was generally small, it had been surprisingly good quality. So I was looking forward to a few relaxing hours of detecting… nothing ambitious that late in the day… just happy to get out of camp.
That particular spot formerly housed silver storage beds, and was now replete with large rusty nails. I should have used a VLF unit, as things would have gone much more quickly. VLF motion all-metal detection depth in that moderate ferromagnetic substrate would pretty well match Infinium equipped with the 8” mono, with the further advantage of target ID and groundgrab features to assist with signal evaluation. If conductive pyrrhotite hotrocks had also been present, I would have switched over to my F75 or MXT to take advantage of target ID.
But I stayed with the Infinium primarily because I enjoy using it. By comparison it is slow going, but that isn’t such a bad thing over potentially good ground. It silences what can be described as VLF ground noise, in addition to sizable non-conductive mafic hotrocks in this area. It also has some limited high conductive iron handling capability, for example elongated iron such as drillrods or rail spikes at depth that VLF units using iron discrimination modes misidentify with perfectly good signals and non-ferrous target ID readouts. More information on this subject can be found at… http://forum.treasurenet.com/index.php/topic,384975.0.html http://forum.treasurenet.com/index.php/topic,385640.0.html
Nearly all the signals proved to be nails, plus one drillrod with a perpendicular profile to the coil. The silver below produced a low-high signal in zero discrimination and a good high-low signal in reverse discrimination (maximum available pulse delay setting) at maybe eight to ten inches depth. The exposed silver was unusually tarnished and the remainder partially embedded in carbonate rock. It was acid-bathed to free the silver, cleaned with a rotary tool silicon carbide bit and circular wire brush, followed by a detergent wash and rinse.
While searching one such abandoned route with his Fisher F75 equipped with the stock 11” DD elliptical coil, Sheldon Ward found a large highgrade silver ore comprised of a thick calcite vein containing massive dendritic native silver. The vein material weighs about 25 lbs, and was attached to a mafic host rock. It generated a moderate but broad signal from several feet depth, requiring an hour of hard pick and shovel work to recover it. It possesses an unusually elevated target ID in the silver quarter range. After 30+ years searching this area recovering numerous silver ores and nuggets, I've seen only a small handful of silver produce a similar target ID.
On site we obviously have the benefit of closely examining the vein material, but it’s more difficult for readers to evaluate the silver based on photos only. Outdoor photos do tend to make native silver look much like grey rock, and unfortunately this one is smudged with dirt. I’ve added an indoor photo from Sheldon that displays the vein material after it was separated from the host rock and cleaned.
Sheldon if you happen to be reading along here, congratulations on your many superb silver and associated mineral recoveries over the past year. Nothing that your dedication and persistence achieves in the years to come will ever surprise me. WTG!!!
Persistence Pays Dividends…
Let’s wrap things up with a tale about the rock sample below. It was recovered at the edge of a tangled overgrown trail near a former millsite just a few years ago. Its recovery exemplifies that the more you work towards your objective of finding silver or gold, the more likely your probability of success will correspondingly improve.
I’d been searching that particular area for two days without meaningful results while evaluating a newly purchased Garrett Infinium for this application. The second day had again been filled with digging hard-packed rocky substrates for iron junk, worthless or otherwise unwanted arsenides, and plenty of conductive pyrrhotite hotrocks. As the sun was reaching for the western horizon, I decided to make one final effort before heading elsewhere the following day.
Methodically working along the old track towards the mill, lots of old diggings were plainly visible. But previous hunters had ignored an area with a scattering of large, flat rusty iron pieces and other miscellaneous modern trash. I moved quickly to clear it away, because daylight was fading fast beneath the dense forest canopy. My Infinium soon produced a surprisingly strong high-low signal that practically vanished in reverse discrimination… a promising indication of naturally occurring ores. I dug down a foot before my Propointer could locate the signal.
Probability says that it could have been any number of possible targets altogether more likely than good silver. But fickle Lady Luck was more kindly disposed towards me that evening. The rich, finely dendritic piece depicted below was in my gloved hands just as twilight was stealing across that lonely abandoned trail in remote silver country.
A Final Word…
A special mention to my friend Dr. Jim Eckert. I hadn’t seen much of Jim recently, but happened across his trail late one overcast afternoon in the outback. I was about to hike into a site when this fellow came flying down the trail on a motorbike, and despite the riding helmet I recognized him. We had a good long chat about this and that…
Later in the season, one bright sunny afternoon at the site of my short-lived testhole diggings, Jim stopped around to show me a recent specimen find comprised of native silver and crystalline stephanite. We talked mineralogy and other interests many hours until finally the sun was going down. These were highlights of the trip, and I want to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated having that companionable time together.
Thanks to everyone for dropping by. We hope that you enjoy presentations about naturally occurring native silver, particularly since it is different from what many rockhunters normally encounter in their areas. All the very best with your prospecting adventures… perhaps one day it will be our good luck to meet you in the field…………………… Jim.
Reposted July 2018
Detector Prospector “Rocks, Minerals & Gems”
Hi guys, Well as you probably know now, Phrunt (Simon) is the proud owner of a GPX 4500, & proud he is. Can't wipe the smile off his face. He has been gagging to get out in the hills for a spin with it. He ordered & got a little Coiltek 10 x 5 joey mono coil before the weekend as the two coils that came with his 4500 were both DD's. So Saturday morning my door bell was ringing at 7.10 am. Was supposed to be 7.30. He must have left home at about 6 am & didnt speed as the last weekend he got a speed camera fine. I was just having my breakfast & a coffee, so I made him a coffee as well. I had sorted out an external speaker for him since he is allergic to headphones. Coffee done & we were off. I took him back to the spot where he got his two bits with his Gold Monster as there are heaps of workings up there. It was a hell walk in & not one I look forward to. Only the one old pack track access in & out.
The proud 4500 owner standing on the pack track. To the right of his left shoulder the track winds its way up & through that gorge & somewhere up in the clouds beyond the gorge is our destination.
Around the corner & into the gorge.
We stopped for a breather & a short detect on some very shallow bed rock & some small workings. I thought it might be good for Simon to have a play here with the joey mono & to get our breaths back. I went a wee bit further targeting a bit deeper ground. I had not used the Zed on this spot at all. But had done well with the Gold Monster on tiny gold. I got rigged up & started detecting & I saw Simon somewhat alarmed. He had charged his battery over night & it read 8 volts when he fired it up. He plugged the external speaker into it & all of a sudden the detector died. Down to flat battery & 1.9 volts. WTF.... I had given him another battery of mine incase his one didn't last the day. Tried that one & the exact same thing happened. We were both baffled. More so Simon as he had been playing with the detector over the last few days & all seemed fine. Got all the way up here & no go... He tried factory presets. Turned it off...back on....& just straight to flat battery...on both of them. Pulled the cable out tried plugging it in again. Still no joy. I said to turn the cable around & try. Still nothing. Nothing happening at all. I said we may as well have a coffee, I had brought a thermos, & then head back down to my place & re group & re think our plans. So we had a coffee & were just dumb struck as to what the problem may be. Hopefully not the detector. So after our coffee Simon tried once more & bingo 8 volts & up & running. Whew....game on. Thank goodness for that. Never missed a beat all day & all on the one battery.
So we were both off detecting. Simon was getting signals but none were gold. But he was happy at the small stuff the joey was hitting on. Just had to walk over some gold. He was poking & proding in all the right places but the gold wasn't coming his way. Somehow we swapped around & I ended up trying the Zed over the shallow bedrock where I had done well with the GM 1000. Not thinking for A second that the Zed would get anything here. got a very faint signal.
That little bit of a scrape between the coil & the scope & out popped this.
I couldn't believe it nor could Simon as he combed over this bedrock with his GM 1000 last time up here & I would have gone over it with mine as well. It was down maybe a little bit out of reach of the GM. We did have a lot of rain the night before & I fared the weather would be crap for the whole weekend. But as I have said before & I will say it again, I believe the wet ground helps out in getting better depth & more sensitivity. Note the wetness on the coil.
It didn't end there either. I got another signal that had me getting down into this hole in the schist.
You will notice that crack dropping down the face of the schist to the bottom of the picture still packed with material.
I got a small piece of gold out of that hole & there was another very faint signal coming from that vertical crack. I ended up scrapping that crack as much as I could with the pick but I couldn't get to the signal.
I went up to my smoko bag & got out my pocket knife. Where was my screwdriver that I normally have in my backpack? Raked the crack out with the knife.
A small piece of gold popped out .
But it still wasn't over.
It was just crazy. They kept coming
Two bits from the one dig.
There was a third but once I moved it I lost it & no high frequency VLF to sniff it out.
That was my lot from the bedrock so I moved onto an old pile from the old timers where I had got a few bits with my 4500 & the NF 12 x 7. Couldn't believe it but I got a good signal with the Zed. There was a bit of depth to it in just a loamy soil & no bedrock.
Well bugger me
Before backfilling I got another very faint hit. And another tiny bit of gold.
Simon in the meantime was still goldless but getting tiny bits of rubbish. Just has to swing it over some gold. We moved on. I had some more major workings to take him to & let him unleash himself on. Got him up there & left him to it. There was lots of very promising ground for the little coiltek joey mono. I headed back to a spot where I had got quite a few little bits in deeper ground & where Simon had got his two bits with his GM 1000 on our last trip in here. I had not finished detecting the area to my liking so wanted to finish it off. Long story short. I got nothing where I really thought I would. No matter how hard I tried. I headed to a most unlikely looking spot. On the top of a spur with deep loamy soil & no bedrock in sight.
Found an old broken spade.
An old timers riveted shovelhead.
Got a signal that had junk written all over it. Signal out & no bedrock in sight.
But gold it was.
This pic is taken from the spur I was standing on & similar to that next spur over. Up high from the gully floor. Glacially pushed & deposited gold...has to be. No water worn rocks on this spur. There was higher up where Simon was detecting.
I then got a good hit that was right on the edge of a bit of a drop off. Dug down onto it & again it was just this loamy soil. But it was getting deep. So I got the pointy end of my pick & drove into it. Crunch...the pick hit schist. I thought that if the signal carries down to that then I am in with a good chance of a better piece of gold....or not.
The schist was to the right of the scoop but then the schist dropped away & I was back into the loamy soil & the signal in that. Again I drove the pick into the soil hoping to here the crunch of schist again. But no joy. Bugger...going to be rubbish. Then the signal was out.
The best bit of the day.69 of a gram.
I got three more small bits after that one . It was starting to get dark. I got a txt from Simon to say he had got none. I was surprised we had coverage in here. I replied but he wasn't getting all my txts. I was in a bit of a blind gully but I was telling him we needed to make a move. Luckily we had head lamps & we needed them. I got into a better spot & phoned him. Along he came & we were out of there. Pitch black by the time we got back to the wagon. We were both leg sore from that. I couldn't believe Simon got no gold. Later he told me he had not been digging the real faint ones. I said they are the most likely ones. He was just so used to the VLF's screaming out on shot gun pellets.
Mrs JW had gone up north for a week so Simon stayed at my place that night & we had an attack on another spot the next day. We went in Simon's car & I left my phone in it so have no photos of that days mission. Simon did & he is going to take over a post on his day. So I will leave it over to him. My result that day was 5 small bits.
So on the left of the coil is Saturdays finds & sundays on the right. total of just over 2 grams. Have I ever said how the Zed continues to blow me away on its small gold finding abilities??
Cheers & best of luck out there
Last Saturday Phrunt (Simon) turned up at my place at 9am. I had the Zed all packed up & ready to go. Simons "new" GPX 4500 hadn't turned up in time so he was taking along his GM 1000 & Gold Bug Pro to compare the two. On our arrival at the car park area we were the only vehicle parked there. We had a bit of a hike to get to where I wanted to take him. We broke the hike up with a detect at some old workings that I hadn't been to for ages. I had never had a VLF over them & as there was a fair amount of shallow ground & sheet bedrock I thought it was as good a spot as any for Simon to swing his VLF's. I think he started off with the GM & was making a hell of a racket with signals every other step. Using no headphones & just the internal speaker, gezzzz your a noisy bugger I said to him... He was just getting shotgun pellet after shotgun pellet & no gold. I had been over this area quite few years ago with my GP 3000 & little Coiltek 10 x 5 joey mono & done pretty good. The wild thyme bushes had taken off & trying to swing the Zed's coil among them was impossible to get down to the ground. So I headed off to the side of the workings & targeted the sheet bed rock. I was walking up a small gutter covered in grass growth when I got a good hit. Turned out to be a fragment of tin from an old tin matchbox. Moved on a few feet & got another good solid hit. Thinking it was just going to be the same I was surprised when the signal lived on down through the gravels to the schist bedrock.
scrapping the bed rock the signal finally moved.
A sassy little bit of gold. Ye Ha
.69 of a gram
That was a loner though as no more came to light. Nothing for Simon either. So after maybe a couple of hours I made the call to carry on with our hike.
After probably another hour of walking we came to the workings that I wanted to get stuck into. Well bugger me. On getting there there were two other chaps in there detecting. One with a Zed & the other with what Simon said was a GB2. They weren't overly talkative & were probably pissed off that we had come along. Bugger I said to Simon. We moved up the workings a bit & dropped our packs & detectors. I said to Simon, lets just go for a walk over to the next gully & have a look. Did this, came back to our gear & these other two had packed up & were heading off further up. They had ridden up here on Electric mountain bikes & they were gone in a flash. I had contemplated an Electric mountain bike a few years earlier but the price of them put me off. Seeing how easy they just rode off up the hill did impress me. So I am looking at them now 6.5 & up to 12 grand is pretty daunting though. Few ounces of gold there. Any way....they were gone so we jumped "their" spot. I then noticed another chap walking up the hill with a detector. Bloody hell I said to Simon....check that out. 5 of us up here detecting. Never have I come across so many. I don't normally see another soul. He walked right up this gully & I moved off detecting to avoid him but he bailed Simon up & must have gassed to Simon for an hour. Wasting valuable detecting time. Simon said he kept trying to get away from him but he just kept on going. He had a 4500 so I think Simon may have picked his brains a bit. So it wasnt all a waste of time.
Mean while I was getting a few rubbish signals & no gold. When Simon finally got into some detecting he just picked up right where he left off...with shot gun pellets ever step. I finally got a faint mellow signal.
It lived on down a bit, more so than pellets , I did get my share but nowhere near as many as Simon. It was a small bit of gold.
.09 of a gram
I walked up past Simon, who had been targeting old turned over throw out piles. In this pic he was swinging the Gold Bug Pro & still getting more than his share of pellets. You will see his GM to the right lying in the thyme bushes & my Zed hard center left. After taking the pic I headed to that pile of stones back this way from Simon. Left click once to enlarge the pic. Let it refocus & left click again & it will go full screen for better detail.
I got a faint but definite signal. I called Simon over & marked the spot with a light boot scrape. Said to Simon to try there. He got a faint hit. I scraped at it until it had moved. Simon pinpointed it for me & it was a tiny shotgun pellet size piece of gold.
.06 of a gram
Unbelievable. But that was it. I went off elsewhere leaving Simon to explore around there. But I got nothing more. Dark wasn't far off & l wondered back down using Simons noisy racket from his continued shotgun pellet signals screaming out from his GM as my homing in pigeon to locate him . Told him we had better make a move as we had a bit of a walk to get back to the car. Got back just on pitch black. Wouldn't have wanted to have been any later. There was a bit of stumbling & lurching as it was towards the end. Unfortunately Simon got skunked on the gold but made a fortune in lead. Three for the Zed for not even 1 gram.
Simon now has his 4500 & a new Coiltek 10 x 5 Joey mono coil is on its way to him. Look out this Saturday. Cheers.
Good luck out there
By Steve Herschbach
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
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.
This post has been promoted to an article