Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Steve Herschbach

Steve's 2013 Alaska Gold Adventure

Recommended Posts

I spent a couple months in Alaska prospecting for gold in the summer of 2014. That adventure was chronicled as it happened here on the forum at Steve's 2014 Alaska Gold Adventure. It was a great trip and a great adventure, but when I told it I relayed the fact that it was actually part two of the story. Part one happened in 2013 and for reasons you will now discover I kept quiet about it until now.

Those interested in the logistics of making the trip to Alaska and details on where I stayed, etc. will find all that covered in the 2014 story so I will not repeat that stuff here.

2013 was a momentous year for me. My business partner and I had sold the business we started together in 1976 to our employees in 2010. My partner immediately retired but I stayed on a few years to oversee the transition. Things seemed to be going well enough that I announced my retirement to take place in the spring of 2013. My wife and I had purchased a new home in Reno, Nevada and so plans were made to sell our home in Alaska and move south.

At the same time, some partners and I had acquired some mining claims on Jack Wade Creek in the Fortymile country near Chicken. Alaska. My plan was to move my wife south then spend the summer gold dredging with my brother. The disaster struck. I screwed up the paperwork and the claims were lost. That mess was described online at Making Lemonade Out of Lemons and I even wrote an article for the ICMJ about it. I was not to be deterred however and made plans instead to go metal detecting for the summer. Unfortunately, my brother also had a change of plans and so was unable to make the trip with me. Just as well as I ended up having my hands full.

The house sale was in progress and time running out so I boxed and palleted everything we wanted to keep and shipped it south. Then I loaded my wife and dogs up in the car and drove them to Reno. Next I flew back to Alaska and had a last big garage sale. I sold everything I could by the afternoon and out a FREE sign on what was left. Worked great - the house was empty, I cleaned it up, and pretty much left it to the realtors at that point. Finally, on June 16th I jumped in my fully loaded truck and headed for the Fortymile!

On the way up just past the town of Palmer on the way to the town of Glenallen you pass Sheep Mountain in the Talkeetna Mountains. It is a very colorful, mineralized peak and it was a beautiful sunny day so I stopped and took this photo.

sheep-mountain-alaska.jpg

Sheep Mountain, Alaska

From the USGS ARDF file at http://mrdata.usgs.gov/ardf/show-ardf.php?ardf_num=AN080

Early Jurassic greenstone and minor interbedded sandstone and shale is intruded by numerous mafic dikes and at least one body of unmineralized Jurassic granite. Greenstone has been hydrothermally altered and contains at least 6 separate gypsiferous deposits in altered zones along joints and shear zones. Deposits composed of pods and stringers of gypsum, quartz, alunite, kaolin minerals, pyrite and serpentine minerals (Eckhart, 1953). The gypsum-bearing material averages 25 to 30 percent gypsum, with a maximum of 50 percent.

In addition also reported from same general area are: (1) small irregular quartz-calcite-epidote veins in greenstone containing chalcopyrite, malachite, azurite and possibly bornite and chalcocite (Berg and Cobb, 1967); (2) disseminated chalcopyrite in greenstone over 5 ft thick zone subparallel to bedding (Martin and Mertie, 1914); (3) trace gold in samples of pyritic greenstone (Berg and Cobb, 1967); and (4) minor anomalous concentrations of copper and gold associated with some of the alteration zones and nearby veins (MacKevett and Holloway, 1977).

Large area of south flank of Sheep Mountain is stained dark red from oxidation of pyrite in greenstone (Berg and Cobb, 1967). Oxidation of Cu minerals.

The gypsiferous material averages 25 to 30 percent gypsum, with a maximum of 50 percent. The six deposits indicated and inferred reserves contain about 659,000 short tons of gypsum material, of which about 50 tons of this material had been mined (Eckhart, 1953). In addition, about 55 tons of clay was mined for the manufacture of fire brick and boiler lining. Samples of pyritic greenstone assayed trace gold (Berg and Cobb, 1967), and nearby veins in alteration zones show concentrations of copper and gold (MacKevett and Holloway, 1977).

We did a talk radio show for many, many years at our company. The latest of several "radio personalities" to work with us on the show was Kurt Haider. He had expressed an interest in metal detecting so I invited him up to look for gold. I met him along the way just before we got to Glenallen and headed on to Tok for a bite to eat at Fast Eddie's. Then on to Chicken and finally Walker Fork Campground by evening. This is a very nice, well maintained BLM campground at the mouth of Jack Wade Creek where it dumps into the Walker Fork of the Fortymile River. The campground hosts this summer were a very nice couple named Pat and Sandy.

walker-fork-campground-alaska.jpg

Walker Fork Campground

walker-fork-capground-alaska-steves-tent.jpg

Steve's Camp at Walker Fork Campground

The next morning Kurt and I ran up the creek to find Bernie and Chris Pendergast. They were spending the summer camped along Jack Wade Creek prospecting and I was anxious to see how they had been doing. Not bad, they already had over an ounce of gold found before we arrived, and that got Kurt and I all fired up to go look for gold. I had told Kurt, a total newbie, that I had a sure thing. We were going to hit a bedrock area I had detected the previous summer and where I had found a lot of nice fat little nuggets. There was rubble and little piles of dirt, and I thought all it would take is moving the rubble and dirt aside and we were sure to find gold I had missed. We got started after lunch on a steep slope where it was easy to just rake material off and then check with a detector.

kurt-haider-looking-for-gold-whites-mxt.jpg

Kurt Looking For Gold With White's MXT Pro

The location turned out to not be very good, but Kurt did manage to find one little nugget, his first ever. He was real happy about that! We did not work at it all that long though with the late start, and Chris and Bernie had invited us over for moose stew. Chris is a fantastic cook so we enjoyed both the stew and a DVD packed full of Ganes Creek photos from the couples adventures there. Finally we called it a night and headed back to our camp.

Now time to get serious! Kurt and I grabbed the picks and rakes and spent the whole day tearing into some berms left behind by the miners bulldozers on the bedrock bench area. I just knew we were going to find gold for sure. We would both do hard labor for awhile, then I would put Kurt on the ground with my Gold Bug 2.

kurt-haider-looking-for-gold-fisher-gold-bug-2.jpg

Working Bedrock With the Gold Bug 2

We worked a couple hours. Nothing. No big deal, just need to move a little more. Nothing. More digging and scraping. Nothing! I would have bet $100 we were not only going to find gold there but do pretty well. The spot had produced quite a few nuggets before and I had refused to believe we couple possibly had cleaned it out. But by the end of the day it was a total bust. We finally just wandered around a bit detecting and I lucked into a little 3 grain nugget. What a letdown. No big deal for me but I was really wanting Kurt to do well and this was not working out anything like I had thought it would.

The next and last day for Kurt we decided to hook up with Bernie and just give it a go like we normally do. And that means hitting the bushes and tailing piles wandering around looking for gold. Kurt had his MXT Pro and Bernie and I our GPX 5000 detectors, so we had a horsepower advantage for sure. Still, I was hopeful as we put Kurt on the best spot that Bernie knew of from his extra time before us.

bernie-pendergast-gpx-5000.jpg

Bernie Pendergast and His Trusty Minelab GPX 5000

Very first beep, Bernie digs up a 3 pennyweight nugget! Yeehaw, we are going to find gold!! We all hunt away, with Bernie and I checking in with Kurt periodically. Kurt, it seems, just was not destined to have any beginners luck at all; Bernie and I each found a couple 1-2 gram nuggets by the end of the day but Kurt came up dry.

I was feeling kind of bummed out but Kurt insisted he was having a huge adventure, and come to find out he rarely ever got out of town at all, so this really was a big adventure for him. I just wish he could have found more gold, but he was up early and headed back to town the next morning. I was on my own now, so I rigged my GPX 5000 up with my Nugget Finder 16" mono coil and hit the tailing piles. All day. For no gold. However, just by myself that is really no big deal at all. It happens all the time and I do not think anything of it. If anything, the pressure was off trying to help a friend find gold, so it was a relaxing day wandering around.

Saturday, June 22 started out sunny with a few clouds. There were some tailing piles across the creek I had been wanting to detect. I had hit them a bit the year before and just dug trash, but had not put in more than a couple hours at it. Still, they looked real good and I had been thinking about them all winter and decided it was time to give them a go. I started out with my GPX 5000 but immediately got into some old rusted metal, like decomposed and shredded can fragments. I just was not in the mood for it that morning, so went back to the truck and got out my Fisher F75. The F75 had done well for me in the past hunting trashy tailing piles and was along on the trip for that reason.

I got near the top of the pile with the F75 and on getting a signal looked down and saw a dig hole full of leaves. I try to recover all my trash and get frustrated when I find holes with junk in them. The signal though was flaky, not a distinct trash signal, so I figured I may as well see what the other person left in the hole. I gave a quick scoop with my pick, and gold pops out of the hole!

I am not sure if the person was using a VLF and the specimen gave a trash signal, so they left it after half digging it, or maybe they were using a Minelab, and the signal just sounded "too big" so they left it for trash. Too big indeed, they walked away from a 2.37 ounce gold specimen! To say I was stunned would be a vast understatement. The trip had only just begun. The best part of all was that my expectations for the trip were very low. I had been hoping that a month of camping and detecting would get me a couple ounces of gold. That would be more than enough to cover my expenses and make a few bucks. Yet here I was on the sixth day of my trip, and I had already exceeded that amount. This was just great on several different levels, not least in pretty much taking every bit of pressure off going forward.

Here is that specimen from a more detailed account of the find I told previously at Fisher F75 Strikes Gold Twice in a Row!

fisher-f75-2-oz-gold-nugget.jpg

2.37 Ounce Gold Specimen Found With Fisher F75 Metal Detector on Jack Wade Creek, Alaska

I had to take a break and go show Chris and Bernie my good fortune. Then I switched back to the GPX 5000 and got with digging everything, including all those bits of rusted cans. Funny how a nice chunk of gold changes your perspective. That, and seeing what somebody else had left behind as trash.

I finished out the day finding three more nuggets, a 2.5 gram "cornflake" nugget, a 3.4 gram piece and and fat round 6.1 gram marble. First week, 2-3/4 ounce of gold, This was shaping up to be a really great adventure! To be continued......

jack-wade-gold-steve-herschbach.jpg

Steve's Gold From Jack Wade Creek, First Week 2013


This post has been promoted to an article
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the ride along

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your a dang good storyteller Steve. Looking forward to more!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you get a new 4 Runner for your trip? Thanks for the great story.

 

-Tom

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yea if I cant be digging gold I might as well be dreaming about it. Thanks for posting.

 

strick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have too many detectors Tom, so I can't afford new trucks! I bought that 1998 used with 50,000 miles on it around 2005 and drove it up until I moved to Reno. I replaced it with another used 4-Runner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great adventure, if i never get up there myself at least i can look at your adventures steve and its almost like being there myself. Love all the great pictures of Alaska,and the beautiful gold from there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if the person who left the 2+ oz'er thought it was a hot rock.  All dirty and shaped more like a rock than a nugget.  Anyway, a good lesson not to discount anything that beeps until it is thoroughly checked out.  If in doubt take it home.  I'm enjoying the story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The weather in the Fortymile area the summer of 2013 was really hot in June and July. Hot for Alaska anyway running in the 80's and into the 90's, and with the humidity it just gets a bit sweltering out there in the tailing piles. A lot of the stuff I was working was steep and bare sided. Lots of side-hilling with sweat dripping off me.

Jack Wade was dredged with a bucket line on the lower portion, but it was remined later with bulldozers. The upper valley was mined with bulldozers and draglines. There are just all sorts of different tailing piles up and down the creek. In narrow portions of the valley tailings are stacked and pushed high up against the valley wall. Here is a shot looking down from on top of one, with the creek below. The creek is running very low due to hot, dry weather.

jack-wade-tailing-pile-1.jpg

Working the piles can be a lot of work, with the steep sides and loose rubble. Here is Bernie working a pile with a Minelab X-Terra 705. The ground is not all that mineralized really and there is a lot of trash, so a good VLF can actually be pretty effective on Jack Wade.

bernie-works-the-tailings.jpg

The piles in the wider portions of the valley are piled up but can also be pushed into huge relatively flat areas. Here is one long pile I worked pretty hard a couple times. I got a number of nice half to couple gram pieces out of it. These piles are large and it can take a couple days just to work something like this halfway well.

jack-wade-tailing-pile-2.jpg

Since I was in this for the long run my days varied a lot. There is pretty much more daylight than a person can stand, so some days I might work in the morning, take a break for lunch, work the afternoon, break for a quick meal, then work a few more hours in the evening. Other days it was just so hot I might take a break mid-day and pick up again later when it cooled down. Or just quit early. Afternoon thunderstorms were common. This second week was lots of hours and not a lot of gold showing up. I try to average a couple grams a days and I was just barely doing that. Here is my journal entry from June 27, a particularly hot, muggy day:

"Hunted Bernie's Pile for four hours with Minelab, dug tons of targets, sweat pouring. Muggy and a fire someplace making smoke in the air. Shot the BS with Bernie at lunch, it rained a bit. Then hunted two hours on Steve's Hill with 18" mono. Got a few deep nails and a can so felt good about that, but no gold. Lots of interference in the afternoon, no gold. Quit early and took a dip on the creek. Brrrr!! ice cold but felt good! Ray from California came over when I got back to camp, had me sign a copy of ICMJ article I did for his buddy Ron"

We end up naming various tailing piles, often after the first person to find gold on them, or some location based name. It helps as you talk about stuff "oh, yeah, I was hunting Dead Caribou pile and found a nugget" is a typical comment. Steve's Pile was one I had found gold on with a smaller Minelab coil and rehunted with the larger coil. My comment about feeling good about finding nails and a can is not sarcasm. I was happy it was coming up with targets missed previously. Any one could have been a nugget. You do not like digging junk, this is not the game to be in.

Ray was a guy up from California I met in the campground. He was there by himself, then met up with some buddies who drove up, and then alone again after they left. Nice guy, hard working, mostly shovel work though. He was getting decent but not great gold considering how hard he was working, but I think he was having a good time just being in Alaska.

Here is an example of a more typical flatter type tailing area seen in wider portions of the creek.

jack-wade-tailing-pile-3.jpg

Here I am below in my typical get up, though this summer saw a lot of days with me in a t-shirt. Note the lack of head net. The hot dry conditions meant minimal bugs, a real treat in Alaska. I am packing a little snub nosed .44 here but ditched it for most of the trip when it became apparent bears were few and far between in the area. There was a lot of caribou kill around from hunters the previous fall and I would get nervous stumbling on the carcass but everything was long since picked over. Never did see a bear there all summer though they were there. Some scat here and a track there made that evident.

I was running a Minelab GPX 5000 with a Nugget Finder 14" x 7" mono that JP gave me when I was in Australia. Just loved that little coil, great for working in the bushes and rubble. Then I would use another JP gift, the Nugget Finder 18" mono now and then if I thought an area worth the effort of digging deep junk. The pick is a Walco pick that I put a hickory sledge hammer handle on, very handy as a walking stick on those steep hillsides.

steve-herschbach-hunts-jack-wade-tailings-2013.jpg

Here are a couple typical nugget finds from week 2. The little round slug is a classic Jack Wade nugget, gold from ancient high river deposits already well rounded before Jack Wade cut the old channels and rolled them around some more. Who knows where the source is, probably long since eroded away.

small-jack-wade-nugget.jpg

jack-wade-picker-nugget.jpg

The whole time I was prospecting my house was for sale in Anchorage. I had my satellite phone and would call my wife every day in case the realtor had called her. We had one deal early on that fell through, and now I found out a second deal had come apart. The market in Anchorage was hot and our realtor was certain no problem selling the place but it was still kind of hanging over me the whole time. The second week wrapped up with only smaller nuggets found, but total was now up to 3.37 ounces in two weeks. I was still basking in the glow of the big nugget found the previous week and really just enjoying myself at this point. Here is a different bit of Alaska gold to finish up the second installment of this tale.

fortymile-flowers.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Similar Content

    • By mn90403
      I began this Rye Patch trip on Thursday morning about 2 AM.  It was time to go meet Dig It and see how he was doing there.  This time it was a normal trip without the burning satellite re-entry I saw on one trip before.  I was treated with a full moon on my way up 395, 6, 95 and I80.
      We met up without a problem and I headed out to places where I wanted to look and some places where I had found nuggets in the past.  I'd say at least half of my trips to Rye Patch get me on a nugget and the other half don't.  This is my first trip up here since Australia so I'm wondering what I gained from all that swinging.  Anyway, it was good to meet up with Ken, have a chat about his escapades and try to help him understand what little I know about Rye Patch.
      We parted and I expected to see him again the next day.  I have a bit of an open schedule and he warned me that it was going to be warmer than we planned.  I went on to near the burn barrel and spent one of those glorious nights of sleep I get after doing an all nighter.  I had no sleep the previous night and I can stretch out in the 4Runner and enjoy a night of no city or neighbor noise!  Planes are constantly landing at LAX and if they are from Asia they fly over Santa Monica.  No planes at Rye Patch.  haha
      I went to bed at dark, watching the sunset out the front and watching the moon rise in the back!  I captured the sunrise the next morning.

       
      Rye Patch is full.  I've been here many times when all of that area was dry.  It was a nice, clear, cool morning.  Time to get going.
      I headed in a direction to take advantage of the morning.

       
      Before I got to my spot I had my first target of the day.

       
      I dug around and in the early light with my sunglasses on and dirt on the target I thought it was lead.  There's lots of trash in the area as I found out later.  I looked and looked and finally gave it a mouth wash and I saw the color!  Yeeee haaaa ... a nice nugget.

       
      I've cleaned it up by soaking it in vinegar.  I don't know the weight yet.  I'll edit this post when I find out.  I think it is my best Rye Patch nugget. 

       
      Lucky Friday the 13th full moon nugget.  I gridded that area for half the day and only found trash.  I don't think I would have that nugget now if it had been in the reverse order.  I found the clue early and gridded.  If I would have found trash, trash, trash without a clue I probably would have moved on.  I discovered a couple of things while looking for more in that area but they will be put into another post.
      It is my only nugget of the 3 days so far but I'm seeing some new to me patches.  More travel tomorrow while the temperature is up.
      Mitchel
    • By mn90403
      There is a lot of meat in this article!
      https://www.popularmechanics.com/adventure/outdoors/a20066497/shawn-ryan-ground-truth-gold-rush/
    • By Steve Herschbach
      I am primarily a gold prospector but I do enjoy all things metal detecting. The thing is I really like finding gold (or platinum, silver, etc.) so my focus is always on precious metals. That being the case relic hunting has not particularly appealed to me, especially given the laws surrounding finding true artifacts in this country. Many relic hunters are at least technically in violation of federal law if they are recovering items 100 years or older and in many places 50 years or older can get you in trouble. I don't need that kind of trouble in my life and so even though the actual risks involved tend to be overblown, it is not something that excites me. I have the law firmly on my side when prospecting for gold on land open to mineral entry.
      Eight years ago some friends suggested I might enjoy hunting ancient artifacts and gold in England. The UK has laws regarding the recovery of antiquities that are far superior to ours. They actually support metal detecting and have proven so successful that museums are being overwhelmed by the numbers of exciting finds being made.
      I always wanted to find a gold coin anyway. My friends suggested the operation that centers around Colchester, England. Colchester is the site of the earliest Roman occupation in England and has history extending far earlier. The Celtic tribes in particular were active in the area, with many Celtic gold coins found by detectorists. The gold coins found span the millenia though including hammered gold coins and milled gold coins of more recent vintage. Just browse the website finds page for an idea of the types of finds made every day in this area.
      All photos in this story may be clicked or double clicked on for larger versions.

      Just one field of several at this one location. I could have spent the whole trip here.
      The hunts are limited to a couple times per year when the farm fields have just been harvested or planted, so Feb-March in the spring and Sept-Oct in the fall. The limited timeframe and limited openings means it is hard to get your foot in the door with this club unless you apply a year or more in advance. 2019 is already filling up and people are booking 2020 now.
      Long story short I made the trip for two weeks back in 2010 as told at Metal Detecting Ancient Coins at Colchester, UK. I refer you there for more details especially photos of all my finds. The hunt was amazing with finds ranging over a 2000 year span. Finds that would be world class in the U.S. are not only common but considered "new" by comparison to the finds I made almost every day I was in England.
      Yet I did not score that gold coin. There are many found, but when you consider the number of people hunting 12 hours a day the reality is that you have to be very lucky to get your coil over one, even given a full two weeks. I came away better educated on that reality. It was a fabulous trip but I was in no great rush to return knowing what I learned, plus it rained half the trip, and UK farm field mud is as sticky as it gets. It is far easier to find gold nearer to home and I went back to prospecting and jewelry detecting as my main focus for finding precious metals.
      Nostalgia does creep up however, and as time passed I thought I should give it another go. I booked a slot with two of the hunt managers, Minnesota Mindy and Chicago Ron, figuring that I had a shot at maybe at least one of them. I had never met Mindy but we knew of each other from Ganes Creek days, and Ron I took a photo of making his first Morini Celtic gold coin (see story above). A year went by and then suddenly Mindy had an opening, which I jumped on immediately. Just a few days later Ron had an opening. I was going to decline, then saw by some miracle his week started when Mindy's ten days ended. I really hate making trips of any magnitude for less than two weeks. This is low odds stuff and the costs also do not justify short hunts in my mind. I booked with Ron also and suddenly had seventeen days in England on my calendar for October 2018. By sheer coincidence it turned out that a forum member unearth (hi Gary!) was booked for Mindy's portion.

      Field with view of the River Stour
      I got a ticket with United for $1250 round trip to Heathrow from Reno, NV. It is a pretty easy flight really. Afternoon flight out of Reno to Los Angeles, and then 11 hour overnight flight from LA to London. Overseas flights coach class is more like domestic first class, and if you can sleep on planes you can sleep most of the journey away and wake up in England. My return was the reverse but routed through San Francisco with a longer layover in order to deal with customs on re-entering the U.S. No real issues for those used to navigating large airports. It could be exciting for novices however but just relax and ask for help the minute you have any problems.
      The trips to a certain degree are like an all inclusive vacation with most everything covered, but may include nights out at English pubs for dinner. I did none of that my first trip so looked forward to seeing a little more local flavor this time around. I must be mellowing with age because it is not all about the hunt these days - I am making more effort to smell the flowers along the way and just enjoy. Accommodations on the trip are in barns that have been converted to apartments, which is why these types of hunts are referred to as "barn hunts" but there are other options.

      Rooms are normally shared - my room for the first ten days. Art was a great roommate.
      I got far more lucky with weather this time much to my relief. It makes everything more pleasant for all involved. Groups consist of seven or eight people including the host, who busses the group to different fields each day or twice a day. All morning hunting takes place on one farmers fields. The hunt may continue on that farmers land in the afternoon, or switch to another famers land. The farmers are paid by the number of people on their land each day so for logistical purposes it is one or two landowners per day. The amount of land available is mind-boggling vast. There are fields that have been hunted for the 16 years the club has been in existence, and good finds are still being made. This is part due to the sheer size but also the fact that the famers deep plow and turn the land. Targets that were too deep or on edge get brought up or reoriented, and so areas thought dead come back to life on a regular basis. I proved that myself this trip. New fields are also added on a regular basis for those who like that feeling of being on less hunted ground.
      I took two Equinox 800s on the trip, one outfitted with the new 15" x 12" coil that arrived just before my departure. This is a fantastic coil, very light for its size, and just the ticket for covering huge areas. There is a depth bonus also on most targets but to me that is just a bonus. That extra 4" coverage per swing is far more important in improving the odds for finds than another inch of depth. I will get more into my settings and how they evolved during the trip as a follow up post. United wants $100 for a second bag, and I was able to bring two complete Equinox and everything I needed for three weeks on the road in a single 40 lb bag plus small satchel carry on. Nice!
      I could drag this out as a blow by blow accounting of each day but let's cut to the chase. Just a couple days into the hunt one of our group found a Celtic gold coin, always a good sign. Five days into the hunt Gary (unearth) scores part of a medieval gold ring with a red stone, possibly a ruby. A great find and Gary was very pleased to find gold - who would not be? Congratulations Gary! I and the others were finding various old coins and artifacts similar to what you would see in my story from 2010 - lead seals, hammered silver coins, watch winders, buttons galore, musket balls, etc.

      Gary scores gold and a gemstone - jewelry finds are very rare
      October 16 dawned nice and sunny, and we went to hunt some of the older ground in the club and so few people want to hunt there. Yet I was immediately busy digging "gold range" targets with my focus being on target id numbers from 7 on up. I will explain the reasoning there later. I made a few passes back and forth digging all manner of small lead bits when I got a nice little 7-8 reading no different from hundreds already dug in the last few days. I turned over a spade full of dirt, and out popped an oddly shaped piece of gold!

      Celtic "Votive Offering" fresh out of the ground!
      I knew it was gold but I was not sure what it was. It looked like a small torc, normally a band worn around the arm or neck. This was too small, maybe 5-6 inches long, so it would barely loop around a wrist enough to stay put. More like the size of a ring really. Whatever it was I knew it was great and my emotions soared sky high. I reached in my pocket for my iPhone to take a picture.... and had an emotional crash. My phone was gone! I went from elation to panic almost instantly. I left the find and detector where they were, and proceeded to backtrack my trail. I had not gone far and the ground was rolled flat, so I determined I must have left the phone in the van with Mindy. So I got on the radio and announced my find of a "mini-torc" and explained I had lost my phone.

      New Minelab Equinox 15" x 12" coil helps make once in a lifetime find
      Mindy was excited and said she would be right there. She did indeed have my phone, so we rushed back and took photos of the find. Everyone gets excited when gold is found and this time was no different. Now that I had my phone I got excited all over again, quite the rollercoaster!

      Happy guy! Photo courtesy of Mindy Desens
      Celtic gold, the find of a lifetime for sure. Many of the Celtic gold coins found here date from around 50 BC to 25 BC and so it is reasonable to think this find is of similar age, though that cannot be determined for sure without further testing. Gold dropped around 2100 years ago - simply amazing!

      Equinox and Celtic gold!
      The find has since been labeled as a gold "votive offering". The ancients lived for the harvest, and offerings were made to the gods in the form of gold tossed into the field to insure a good harvest. At least that is the theory that tries to explain why nearly all the farming land seems to have at least a few Celtic gold items found in them eventually. The truth is nobody really knows for sure as there are no written records from that time. For all we really know this might be an ancient gold hoop earring! That's half the fun, imagining what this stuff is and why it is where it is.
      The club has been hunting these fields for around 16 years, and while many Celtic gold coins have been found this is the first item of it's type, making it a particularly rare and satisfying find. It is really hard to get my head around the fact that somebody last held this gold over 2000 years ago.

      Celtic gold "votive offering" closeup
      All gold or silver that is not a coin is immediately declared as treasure to the museums. I actually got to handle the find very little before it was whisked away to a safe. The museums will evaluate it, and possibly bid on it. High bidding museum gets the find, and the money would be split between me and the property owner. If the museums decline, I will pay the property owner one half the value and eventually get it back. This normally takes about a year but can take two or more years depending on the backlog. Every item found that the finder wishes to keep must go through this process, and there are only so many experts who can identify and catalog all this stuff.
      I live for the hunt and the photos. It's not like I haul gold around to show off to people - it all resides in a safe deposit box. So for me the only real value is in making that adrenaline rush happen and then having photos I can easily share with others. I won't mind therefore if it sells at auction and I get half the cash. Clean and easy. If I get the opportunity to get it back however I may very well have my find fashioned into a ring. There are not many people in the world who can claim to be wearing jewelry fashioned before Christ was born. I could sell it myself no doubt for over twice whatever I pay for it, but I don't need the bucks that bad to part with such a find.

      Celtic gold details - actual age unknown but BC, around 25 to 50 BC if in range of coins found in area
      The Equinox with 15" x 12" coil did a good job making this discovery. As a classic open ended "broken ring" type signal it was reading 7-8 and was detectable to only about 4-5 inches in air tests. I am guessing it was about 4 inches deep. The Equinox is exceptionally hot on gold and while you can never say for sure it is very possible that this gold item was left in this heavily hunted area because it is such a poor signal on most detectors. Needless to say I am very happy with both my Equinox and the new 15" x 12" coil. It is the perfect coil for this type of large field detecting.
      Speaking of Equinox I was surprised at how many were already in use with this random cross section of hunters from around the U.S. About three-quarters of the hunters were swinging the Equinox, most having switched from the Deus or CTX 3030. Other than the typical minor quibbles people were unanimous in liking the machine and there was constant talk about how well it was performing. The Equinox really loves round items in particular, and people were reporting noticeable increases both in depth and target id accuracy at depth. Ferrous identification is almost 100% accurate under these conditions. I dug only one ferrous item in nearly three weeks that just clearly fooled me, a very deeply corroded steel spike of some sort. There were a handful of other ferrous targets I dug that I figured were ferrous but were borderline enough I figured "just dig it". Better safe than sorry, but in each case they were the expected ferrous items.

      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
      It was only 15 minutes later that Mindy calls out on the radio that she found a full Celtic stater, the larger of the Celtic gold coins. It was her twelfth gold coin find on these hunts over the years, and a real beauty at that. I am one of those people who get nearly as excited as the finder when a great find is made - I love seeing people do well detecting - and this was very thrilling to witness. Although I was in no position to complain this was exactly the sort of find I had hoped to make myself, and it is nice to know these targets still remain. I had walked maybe ten feet past the coin as I headed for the far end of the field. Just a stunning coin, and looked almost brand new even though it had been in the ground for around 2100 years. Gold is just amazing in that regard, whether nuggets, jewelry, or coins, they pop out of the ground like they were dropped yesterday.

      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. 
      The next day we were hunting some of the newer, less hunted ground, but after some high speed scanning I wandered off to an area that has been hunted a lot before because two gold sovereigns had been found there recently. There are areas where there are lots of targets, and also vast stretches of fields where targets are few and far between. People tend to like the idea of new fields, but they often have very few targets to dig. I kind of prefer older target rich zones that have prior gold history because even after years of hunting I have no problem digging lots of gold range targets in these locations. This does usually mean lead but I am happy to dig lead targets all day as opposed to being in an area where there are only targets once every 15 minutes or more.
      This was one of those locations, and I was in gold hunt mode digging lots of tiny signals in the 7-10 range with 9 being particularly prevalent. This almost always is an oblong little bit of lead, but I dug another nice 9 signal and up popped a large gold flake! It was not much different than something I might find gold prospecting, but is either a fragment of a hammered gold coin that has been worn to oblivion or maybe a portion of a blank gold sheet. I don't know but it was my second gold find in three days and so very nice to see. Just making one gold find is exceptional, and two in a week is harder yet. The flake only weighs 1.03 grams and is 15.05 mm long and 0.80 mm thick. Truly just a flake of gold, and another testament to the gold ability of the Equinox even when running the larger coil. I was pleased with the find as much from a technical aspect as anything else, since I have already found countless similar flakes of gold while prospecting.

      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.
      My luck dropped off in this final week but no complaining here - nobody would sympathize anyway! I had my trip in the bag and was more relaxed and I was admittedly cherry picking a lot more now, focusing on the gold range and round targets. Most people are hunting hard for hammered silver coins, but for me those were more accidental bycatch. I just hunt for gold and let the rest happen.
      I had the chance to eat out a few times with Ron's group and enjoyed seeing more of the local flavor than I did on my first trip to the U.K. There was a dinner night out with Mindy's group (I bought dinner and drinks for all celebrating my find) that was a good time. I just love the English people and these nights out gave me more chance to interact with them. I even took time out from a hunt to go shopping in town with Mindy just to see the town of Manningtree close up. Again, one of the benefits of making a great find - the pressure was off and I did not get so crazy about just detecting.

      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.
       



×
×
  • Create New...