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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.

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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.

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Walker Fork Campground

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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......

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


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

 

strick

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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      The very next target was another keeper, although defied identification at every turn. Some said thimble, some said a cap of some nature, another thought was the clipped end from a metal cigar tube.  In any case, it was a further artifact from history and indicated a pattern of life in the area.
      As the day progressed more finds were made, and more detectorists encountered who shared their recoveries and what they were experiencing.  There was no hesitation whatsoever in their willingness to provide descriptions of where they found each item, and what others were finding in the area.  Florida Hunt 7 was a team sport, a small, close family getting together for a common purpose and cause.
      Toward the end of the first day, the hunt organizers held an immense raffle.  So many wonderful items were given away that it was literally impossible to keep track.  Numerous metal detectors were given away, endless bags of vendor/sponsor-donated goodies, tickets to events, and many amazing hand-crafted items created by folks with amazing skills.  This was one of the most robust raffles/giveaways that I have ever witnessed at a metal detecting event.  Having said that, I found that a reciprocal give-away was equally incredible.  Several vendors/sponsors to include Minelab rallied together on the spur of the moment and donated a dozen metal detectors to Soldiers Freedom Outdoors for veterans to use while at Camp Freedom–something the camp never had before.  With the donation of these machines, in addition to hiking, canoeing, fishing, hunting, and horseback riding, the veterans will now also be able to enjoy metal detecting over the several hundred acres of Camp Freedom.
      Florida Hunt 7 – Day 2
      Day 2 of Florida Hunt 7 brought even more beautiful weather, more finds, and more comradery amongst the detectorists and visits with the vendors.  There were no planned events for Day 2, so the day was purely allocated to detecting the massive acreage.
      Along a sandy roadway, my AT Max hit upon a solid yet bouncy signal.  I run my AT Max consistently wide open…in Zero mode, no discrimination, no iron audio so that I can let the detector’s tones tell me every facet possible about a target’s composition and shape.  The tones from this target told me it was probably irregularly shaped, but almost certainly composed of a more non-ferrous metal.
      That assessment turned out to be right on the money! About six inches down I was able to recover all three parts of a very old lady’s hand purse/clutch clasp frame.  Of course, the first thought that went through my head (aside from “how cool!”) was, ok, I wonder if the contents of the purse are also in the hole!  Unfortunately, that was not to be the case in this instance.  It definitely conjures up images and thoughts, however, of how and why this lady’s purse came to lie in the brush overlooking a Florida lake, without its contents.  Was it children playing with one of the mother’s old purses and left forgotten at their play site?  Or was it a robbery, and after the valuables taken and non-valuable contents tossed asunder, the purse discarded while on the run?  This is part of the mystery and lure of metal detecting…and Reawakening History!
      In the end, nearly all Florida Hunt 7 detectorists saved a wide array of relics. It was great to be able to share what I found and see some of the other incredible finds made over the course of the two-day hunt. These finds will of course be cased and displayed as a small window into Florida life from generations past.
      As Day 2 drew to a close, we all said our farewells to our Florida Hunt 7 hosts and friends from far and wide. Some detectorists were heading back home that evening, some planned to depart the next morning, and some had other plans in the Florida area in the coming days.  The latter was my situation…as I planned to begin Part 2 of my Florida adventure, a trip to Kellyco’s Florida showroom!
      The next morning, I pointed my Relic Rogue south and set off for Casselberry, Florida, the site of Kellyco’s Florida offices and showroom.  As a personal aside, during this two-hour trek I was able to catch my first glimpse of Florida alligators in the wild!  A 10-plus foot monster and another 5 to 6-foot alligator was chilling on the side of the highway in a water-filled median, not 20 ft from my vehicle!  How cool!  Wish I could have taken a photo, but safety first…the mission was to get to Kellyco!
      I was able to spend several awesome hours with the Kellyco team talking about metal detecting in general, upcoming events, and products, to include all the products in their well-appointed showroom!  All major metal detecting brands were represented, displaying detectors, pinpointers, shovels and digging tools, sand scoops, finds pouches and travel bags of various styles, foldable seats, attire, and even gold panning systems with practice bags of dirt that actually contain gold!
      A Visit To The Kellyco Florida Showroom
      For those that are local to the Florida Kellyco showroom or the East Tennessee Kellyco showroom in Knoxville, TN, they even have an array of metal detectors that are available for rent by the day!  The available detectors for rent may vary by location, but generally include the Garrett AT Max Metal Detector with Z-Lynk, Nokta Makro Simplex+ Metal Detector, or Minelab Equinox 800 Metal Detector.  All rentals also include a pinpointer and a trowel, allowing a first-time detectorist, or perhaps someone on vacation in the area without a detector to dive right in!
      In addition to numerous other Kellyco-branded products, they also have their own metal detector carry bags.  These newly redesigned travel bags are a huge upgrade, engineered with robust materials and zippers to ensure reliable, long-term use.
      The latest addition to the Florida showroom is a metal detecting test garden designed by Carolyn Yohannes, Vice President of Community Outreach and Sales.  When you mention testbeds or test gardens, to most detectorists they probably envision an outdoor test area that is cleared of all extraneous metal and then sample targets buried to test the performance of various pieces of equipment.  However, with Kellyco’s testbed, you can test equipment indoors without concern for the weather, and it is especially helpful if you want to test a particular piece of equipment before purchasing!  Pretty cool!
      A visit to the Florida Kellyco showroom would not be complete without checking out the display of various finds in the showcase.
      The finds, some donated but most recovered by Kellyco’s own staff detectorists, are pretty cool to peruse!
      About the New Minelab GPX 6000
      In addition to all the other amazing aspects of this trip, I lucked out and was able to get my hands on the brand new Minelab GPX 6000!  Debbie Simkoski from Minelab was visiting Kellyco on this day, having also driven down post-Florida Hunt 7, and was kind enough to share her time demoing and explaining what the GPX 6000 brings to the table.  I cannot disclose all the details I gleaned, yet, since the detector has not started shipping from Minelab…however, suffice to say the package is impressive!
      The GPX 6000, designed as a gold detecting machine, is a significant reengineer from previous GPX machines.  The system is fully collapsible, and with its carbon fiber shaft…very light, exponentially lighter than most GPX units I have ever experienced.  The 11″, 14″ and 17″ coils are waterproof and the control box itself is splash/rainproof, so no more control box raincoats or covers.  The GPX 6000 is wireless, coming with ML100 pat™ Low Latency Bluetooth™ headphones, and has a new Geo-Sense-PITM technology that rapidly suppresses interference and unwanted signals via three overlapping feedback systems for superfast detection.
      I am definitely looking forward to seeing and hearing much more about the GPX 6000 and other advances from Minelab in the near future!  Huge thanks to Debbie and Minelab for sharing the time and insight!
      As they say, all good things must come to an end, and thus did my visit to Kellyco.  I cannot say enough good things about the team members I was able to meet, from the President of Kellyco, Jeremy Floyd, to Mark Tymensky, Vice President of Affiliate and Vendor Relations, Carolyn Yohannes, Leilani, Dave, Shelby, Nathan…and the handful of staff I wasn’t able to catch up with…y’all rock!  This small, incredibly knowledgeable, dedicated, and enthusiastic 10-person team is the heartbeat of the world’s largest award-winning supplier of metal detectors direct to customers…that is Kellyco.  Stu formulated the recipe for success from the beginning…personalized care and superior support to the customer, unparalleled expertise, highest quality products…and those values resonate throughout Kellyco to this day.
      Until the next time…keep your coils low & level…happy hunting!
      Exclusive Insight to Florida Hunt 7 by Eric Reed originally appeared on kellycodetectors.com
    • By schoolofhardNox
      So it was my yearly visit to talk and basically train some new field school students about metal detecting. I do this pretty much every year and it's just some basic training and some hands on digging and pinpointing. Just very basic stuff. This year's students numbered about 20 from all parts of the country, and I must say they were a pretty enthusiastic bunch. Nice to see the youngins showing some effort. 😄 This is one of my favorite spots to detect, as it is a Native village site that dates to the 1630's and happens to be one that the English attacked on their withdrawal from Mistick Fort on May 26, 1637. This place just keeps giving up artifacts and by the time we are done there, it should give an extremely detailed account of how they lived and worked.  Of course everything is documented by archaeologists and added to the collection and we keep nothing (except 22 bullets 😡). Hey free lead 😁 I didn't get pictures of all the scrap brass I found that day but did get this picture someone took of a signet ring I found. Almost looks like some kind of bird (or Thunderbird?) of some sorts. Any ideas anyone? It's not a beach, but still fun to detect.

    • By Condor
      I am fortunate enough to live close to Steve H when he was otherwise engaged in pressing business, so he loaned me the only existing US GPX 6000.  I loaded up the Toyhauler, RZR, girlfriend and doodle dog for a week or so of detecting at Sawtooth.  Lundy dropped by for a swing or two and we gave the 6000 a pretty good go on some heavily detected patch areas.
      GPX 6000 - I won't repeat all the other information already shared by Steve H and Lundy on their views of the 6000.  I had the time to do a little more testing of the other features.
      14"DD Coil- I spent most of one day running the DD in the saltiest, most reactive ground I could find.  I found 2 tiny nuggets, depth not more than a few inches.  One thing I noticed on these small targets is too much swing speed and you will flat out miss them.  I'm talking patch cleaning speed, not patch hunting speed.   I'm sure swing speed would not be as critical on bigger nuggets, but these are in the .1 or smaller pieces and a fast swing speed loses them entirely.  It handles the hot ground like a dream, especially if you use the Auto Modes.  There are only 2 DD modes, a cancel EMI mode and a cancel Salty ground mode.  It seems you still have a normal and a difficult setting as well, but I'm not sure of the effect.  I couldn't discern any difference in my short time.  
      17"Mono Coil- I think most people are going to want a bungee and swing arm.  It's not the weight particularly, Its the repetitive motion on my feeble joints I felt the most.  The swing arm from my 7000 really takes the pressure of that shoulder joint.  The 17 should do great in normal soils and handled the salty ground remarkably well especially with the Auto features.  I spent another whole day patch hunting with the 17 and I think that back in the Yuma ground it would be the go to, assuming it can handle the EMI from the fighter jet traffic.  
      The Speaker- For whatever reason, as has been discussed by JP, the external speaker loads up with EMI noise.  It seems to get better after 30 minutes of run time, but gets annoying initially.  I normally hunt with Ear Buds and the 1/8 connection fits perfect in the 6000 headphone port, but you lose that wireless feature.  I tried the Aventree wireless neckband, it connects and pairs nicely and works great, just not my comfort style especially in the heat.  
      Auto+ plus Threshold- I was watching one of the Aussie videos and learned that in Auto+ you can press and hold the Difficult mode button and get a threshold tone in the otherwise silent (Bogenes setting) auto mode.  I'm not sure what if anything this accomplishes, hopefully JP can give us a little more insight.  
      I found gold, nothing big and nothing deep.  I spent a great deal of time in areas that just don't have deep nuggets, and the GPZ's had already cleaned out the big stuff.  Then I spent a lot of time trying to find a new patch, always an iffy endeavor.  Despite having the machine for over a week, I probably didn't get more than 30 hrs of pure detecting time.  First was the weather.  I hit N NV desert just in time for a cold front.  One day I was wearing shorts, the next day it was snowing.  One day I saw the storm brewing and tried to outrun it back to camp only to get hit with sideways blowing hail.  I had taken the windshield off the RZR to keep the dust vortex to a minimum, and sure regretted it that day.  
      Detecting time also gets consumed by domestic duties, handling the BBQ, entertaining the dog etc..  It's good the have the family along, but you have to make a few sacrifices and pure detecting time is one of them.  
      When the weather forecasts looked unsettled for the upcoming week, it was time to take the girlfriend and dog home which precipitated the misadventures.  By then the dog was limping, having gotten a fair share of foxtails stuck between the pads of her front paws.  A quick look showed hot swollen patches where the foxtails had embedded themselves in her skin.  A trip to the vet and $200 later she's on the mend.  
      I thought I would load up the whole works and try to beat the weather, nope!  My toyhauler is a 5th wheel and relies on 12 volt landing gear for leveling and hitching.  The internal gear started slipping so I added the manual crank and broke off the main drive shaft.  Internet research reveals this is a common problem, way undersized gears and drive mechanism for that much weight.  New dual motor landing gear ordered, that's more expense.  I left the trailer and brought girlfriend and dog home, then returned to Sawtooth the following day.  I arrived just in time for 2 days of cold wind and rain.  
      I waited it out and got 2 more days of detecting for exactly zip, nada, nothing.  Ground was wet and sloppy in places, the 6000 handled it fine by the way.  I just couldn't get the coil over any yellow stuff.  
      So, I surrendered and loaded up to come home.  I used some MacGyver tricks to load the trailer.  My hitch is an Anderson conversion and not a true 5th wheel hitch.  It has an adjustable ball height mechanism connected to a bed mounted Gooseneck hitch.  I dug out wheel trenches to get my truck under the trailer's hitch with the truck ball at it's lowest height, once centered I persuaded the ball up into the connector with a few hammer blows. Once the ball was pinned to it's highest level, I used an inflator to fill my truck's load leveling air bags to their highest point, about 2 inches.  That was just enough lift to take the weight off the landing gear and free the extensions up and out of the way.   I fear this kind of functional fixedness may be lost on the next generation whose skill seems to be finger dexterity and computer games.  
       I took the long way on Jungo Road to Winnemucca because it is really well maintained for all the HyCroft mining traffic.  I hit the freeway heading for Fernley and a couple times felt an odd vibration.  I was facing a stiff headwind and the trailer was making that diesel engine work just to maintain 55mph.  I got an error code for excessive engine boost and noticed the transmission temps heating up more than engine coolant temp.  Then stuff happened.  The truck started bucking and hard shifting as I tried to slow down.  The emergency lane is no place to be on Highway 80, when the speed limit is 80mph and triple trailer rigs are zooming by.  I limped it to Rye Patch road and limped down to Dan's Gold Digger Pizza place.  Dan had no trailer space with hookups,  but he let me park it in the back lot.  My girlfriend drove out from Fernley because she has the AAA card and I was going to need a ride home anyway.  
      I had the truck towed to the only place in Winnemucca who could look at it within the next 2 weeks.  Car Care Clinic near the Walmart, great bunch of people in there.  Anyway, it seems I broke the right rear axle and it was hanging on by a thread.  The repair tally hasn't arrived yet, but it's sure to be further eroding my discretionary funds account earmarked for a GPX6000. 
      I try to think positive.  It could have been much worse.  The weather is clear and warm, I'm still upright, the dog is good as new and I'll have a brand new axle.  That dinosaur GPZ 7000 is going to have to carry me through a bit longer.
       
       
       
    • By GoldPanDan
      I've always said gold miners are some of the smartest and most ingenuitive people to make their way into the wild west. Just seeing the old workings, mills, flumes, ditches, ect that they built in order to find their fortunes never ceases to amaze me. I believe in order to be successful still today takes a bit of this same smarts.  This story starts last fall. While out detecting a small ravine with previous working for the better part of a day, I found myself missing the plastic bolt and nut to my coil on my GB2. I searched for about 15 min, but the grass and pine needles made it impossible to find the little black pieces. It was close to the end of the day anyway so I called it early went home cracked a cold one and ordered myself 3 sets of bolts and nuts to make sure i had extras for when this happens to me again. Now flash forward into last weekend, I found myself in the same predicament. Thinking, AHA! im prepared! I found myself tearing my backpack apart, but alas, they were not to be found there. Since this was the beginning of my day, and I had hiked 2 miles over two ridges 500' high through a maze of fallen tress to get to this spot on a drizzling day, I started brainstorming. Reaching into my inner MacGyver, I start looking at the ground around me, I figure there must be a twig that could fit just right. After attempting several different twigs, I found one that fits just right. Its snug to get in. I believe its gonna work. My partner with me shakes his head and goes off detecting as the previous two twigs were too small and my coil was just floppy. I pick up my detector and go off and start swinging. Seams to be working, in fact, because the twig is snug, the coil is not floppy and is working great! Several hours pass, my partner gets the first piece, ~0.25g piece. Cool now we know there is detectable gold here. another hour passes and my twig is holding in there, I hear a good sounding signal. Babam! my piece for the day! and its a bit bigger (bragging rights! 😁) We finish the day out not finding any more pieces as the rain was starting to wear on us. We hiked our way out happy that we proved gold in another location. 
      I have since been out twice for a couple hours and my twig is still holding on in there. I could just put the new bolt and nut on but im curious to see if the twig last longer 😆. Maybe it can be the stock inventory item for the Gold Bug 2! This just shows you, even though its no engineering feat like an 18 mile long flume or a mine shaft that sinks 1000's of feet, it pays to not give up and to use your smarts!
      Just another story from one happy prospector 



    • By Sasquatch
      Last weekend I made the drive from Anchorage up to the Taylor Highway and past Chicken to the Jack Wade public gold panning area.  Look up Steve’s excellent posts on the area for more descriptions and pictures of nuggets, no gold on my trip.
      It’s still pretty early so Chicken wasn’t even open yet and some ice shelfs were still along sections of the creek. Got great weather, just some passing downpours but in a T-shirt with no mosquitos most of the time.  I did take waders to cross the creek,as it was running a little high with snowmelt.
      This was the first trip I dedicated a lot of time as a serious search for gold and was just as much about learning the detector.  Mostly I have worked beaches, campsites, a few roadsides, so I know it can find the tiniest bits of melted aluminum can, bullets and coins.
      As expected I dug a lot of trash, but I did find some interesting nuggets that are definitely not gold.  Most are iron based, magnetic, but a couple look very noduly, and one is not magnetic. The others are probably just rusted bits of iron.  There were some sparkles I thought might be pyrite but I think is just dust from the surrounding shist as even the nails and bits of wire sparkle under the right light. Take a look at the pics and see what you think, maybe just welding or torch cutting remnants. They were all in the same area.
      The area has been heavily worked by detectorists with lots of dig holes around.  Equally lots of unexplored tailings but many so overgrown that swinging a detector is impossible. I put in about 16 hours of exploring and detecting on the tailings. Covered a wide variety of terrain and tailings, new, old, tall, short, and along some bedrock sections.
      On to the Equinox: I tried both Park 2 and the Gold 1 settings.  Obviously, my ear is not tuned to the Gold 1 program, it was providing way more chatter than I could process, even with sensitivity turned down to 15 or so.  I would have turned it down more but I could run in Park 2 at 20-22 sensitivity and thought I may miss more in Gold 1.  I was using the 11” stock coil.
      Is it normal to have to run at a much lower sensitivity in the gold modes?
      Most of the time I ended up running in Park 2 with -7,-8,-9 turned off, which may have been a mistake. With how worked the area is, the best chance is probably digging all the iron and hoping for a nugget that might be masked by the trash.
      In one area I did have some trouble with hot rocks, they would sound as a fairly small but round 12 with iron nearby but after digging out would end up as a -6 hot rock.  Was curious why it read so high.
      All in all a great trip.  No gold, and not much wildlife but got a nice shot of a Short-eared Owl on the drive out the Taylor Hwy.   Photos of finds, handful of magnetic nuggets, close up of the non magnetic nugget (maybe lead or silver?) 






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