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I met you there at Chicken in 2013 i think Steve.... I was working at the VA in Anchorage and got 2 weeks off to come and play.

I was staying a Chicken trying to highbank without a whole lot of results....just picked the wrong spot.

Well one day when I had already put in my day at Chicken and after taking a shower I hit the road to explore.....

I drove on up to Walker Creek Campground and was very impressed. It is a beautiful setting there on the river.

I went up the road a bit to a turnout and decided walk over and see what Jack Wade was all about.

That turned out to be a BIG mistake!! ---

After taking that shower with the flowery smelling shampoo the mossies made a beeline to me!!!

I literally HAD to keep moving...i broke a branch out of a bushy tree for a mosquito swatter, went to the creek, swatting the whole time and couldnt even set the swat down long enough to get a panful of river gravel. Hahahaha...

It would have been a funny video and I am sure i made the fastest recon of the mouth of Jack Wade Creek that has ever been done!

Beautiful, beautiful country.....

If i ever go back I will stay at Walker Fork Campground.

(Althought the food is pretty good at Chicken Gold Camp)

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It was the end of June and since I was camping out there was only so much I could get done with my satellite phone. I went and saw the owners of the claims on upper Jack Wade Creek and cut a percentage deal with them for detecting on their claims. Then I loaded up my camp and hit the road for Anchorage on July 1st. The house was still on the market and I had access so I put a cot in a room and spent a couple days checking with the realtors, paying bills, and getting a few supplies. Then back to Chicken on the 4th of July for a quick visit at the annual 4th of July party. My friend George White was there, so we headed in up to Jack Wade and set up camp.

The weather had cooled down a bit which was just fine. There was a huge fire in the Tok area and if the wind was right the smoke could get pretty thick in the area but that also seemed to be getting under control. I took George to a place where I had found a large flake of gold previously and where I thought there had to be more gold. I got this classic double blip signal with the Minelab, the kind nails make when you run over them length-wise. I told myself "nail" but I was in dig it all mode and went ahead and dug it up. Much to my surprise a 3/4 ounce round nugget with a bit of rock in it popped out of the ground! The double blip? There was a piece of steel a couple inches away. Yet another lesson in how trash signals can turn out to be anything but.

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The Long Road To Chicken, Alaska - Taylor Highway on Way From Tok To Chicken

That area seemed to give up at that point so we wandered down the creek hitting different spots. I found a small pile of rubble, not big enough to call a tailing pile. More like a big pile of dirt set aside from digging out a channel. Right on top I get a real nice piece weighing almost a half ounce. There are several types of gold on Jack Wade and this one was a distinctly deeper gold color that the more common lighter colored stuff. And then another nice nugget, about three pennyweight from a little pile of dirt right next to the road. It was one of the days that makes up for the days of finding nothing with 1-1/3 oz in my pocket.

George had wandered off and when I ran into him he pulled out a pill bottle and shook it. It was full of small nuggets, about 1/8 ounce of gold. I was puzzled and asked him if he had brought those with him from town to show me. He said no, he had just dug them all! He had got bored running the Minelab digging nails so grabbed the Gold Bug 2 and hit the bedrock. All those nuggets came out of one little pocket in the bedrock he had found. It was a good day for both of us.

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End of Week Three, Almost 5 Ounces of Gold

By the end of the third week I was sneaking up on 5 ounces of gold total. I found out my wife was flying up to Anchorage to finish up some business so on the 13th I headed back to town to see her and take a break.

There were very few people in the area metal detecting but there were various dredging and other operations on the creeks. Here are a few photos of them to finish up this episode. You can see how low water conditions in the area were that summer.

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Chris & Bernie Run Their 4" Dredge

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Gold Dredge on the Fortymile River

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Mining Gear Stashed on Bank of Fortymile River

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Commercial Operation Next To Road on Jack Wade Creek

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In theory I had no deadlines on this adventure. It could go on for as long as I wanted to have at it. So far it actually had been a near perfect trip. The weather overall was fabulous, and I already had more gold than I had been hoping for. The gold however got harder to find as the middle of July came and went. Two solid days of detecting July 14th and 15th put not a single nugget in my pocket. The 16th was headed the same way it seemed when I got on a pile in the middle of many that had been hunted, only to see no dig holes of any other signs of detecting. I went to work on it and was happy to finally have a quarter sized 6.87 pennyweight nugget pop out of the hill and not long after that, a 1.3 pennyweight piece.

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6.87 Pennyweight of Jack Wade "Pale Gold"

Jack Wade is known for is solid, rounded, heavy gold. Yet I had already found one particularly ugly chunk of gold and rock weighing over two ounces. The big nugget or specimen also had a very pale gold and the rock in it was very dark. It almost looked like it had been in a fire, but after cleaning that was just the way it looked from the rock itself.

Now I had another nugget about one third ounce that looked to be from the same source. Dark rock, very pale gold. Actually it looks like it has two types of gold in it, some a bit purer than the other. I had a couple more nuggets with rock in them. Even the solid gold is different, some very, very rounded, and other nuggets relatively unworn. There does appear to be quite a few sources for the gold in Jack Wade Creek, some from ancient stream channel deposits, and some from more recent local sources. A knowledgeable prospector told me that the low purity "ugly gold" I had found was more common on and possibly had a source somewhere up Gilliland Creek, and upper tributary of Jack Wade Creek. Just before I sold the big ugly chunk I had the opportunity to have a quick assay done on it with an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analyzer. The results are very interesting. The metal is almost half gold and half silver with a smattering of platinum group metals. This and the dark rock point to an unusual source of gold indeed.

What is weird about it though is all the other people that eventually ended up detecting and finding gold here over a period of years, was that I seemed to be the only one with this magical ability to find ugly gold! I have done it other places also so it is getting to be a specialty of mine.

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X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Assay of 2.37 oz "Ugly Nugget"

Word came that I had another interested party for the house sale. That and rain in the forecast had me once again pack up and return to Anchorage for a few days .The good news is that while I was there we got the house under contract for what turned out to be the final time. Yay! I returned to Chicken and this time settled into a stay at Chicken Gold Camp which allowed me to stay in a bit better touch with things. These days you can sign most documents via the internet and I had internet access in Chicken.

The weather was nice again but the gold was hard coming. The 22nd and 23rd saw no finds, but then a new area turned up a nice 5.7 pennyweight nugget right at the water's edge on the creek and a little 1 gram nugget. The 25th was a rainy day so I went and scraped bedrock where George had hit his little bedrock pocket. I ended up panning about 30 little pieces of gold, which I put in a bottle and gave to Pat and Sandy, the hosts at Walker Fork Campground, as thanks for their hospitality.

While panning I kept getting little round rocks that looked like small quartz pebbles but were just a bit too heavy. They kept hanging up with the black sand, so I started collecting them. It was not until later when I checked the Jack Wade ARDF file that I figured out they were little pebbles of barite, which is common in Jack Wade concentrates. Barite (or baryte) is a heavy non-metallic mineral commonly used for drilling mud but it has a wide range of interesting uses. It is used for everything from a pigment in paint to that milkshake they make you drink at the hospital before taking X-rays of your guts. More information on barite here.

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Barite Pebbles From Jack Wade Creek

The 26th I hit this huge pile on a corner that just looked fabulous but dug nothing but shell casings and bullet fragments along with the obligatory ferrous junk. My entries for the next couple days:

Sat 7/27 - Hunt big pile rest of way (no gold) then hit piles along road below corner crossing. Been digging hundreds of targets for five days now, and only two nuggets? Sunny but not too hot.

Sun 7/28 - Hunted piles down the creek. Did not realize how much ground there was there. Three big piles. Looked great, hunted six hours in hot sun sidehilling, for trash. Starting to get burned out, then get 1.5 dwt nugget. Even then interest flagging. B&C still dredging and sniping.

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Finding Lots Of This - Not Much Gold!

No doubt about it. Still a great trip, but I was getting burned out and homesick and feeling like it was time to wrap this expedition up. Next up, the final chapter of the story - and a surprise!

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Well, here we go, the grand finale!

From July 22 to July 28 six days of metal detecting had netted me only three gold nuggets. That is a lot of detecting and digging for just three happy moments! I was getting burned out plus missing my wife and new home. My wife had also let me know one of my dogs was not doing well. It all just added up to time to go home. Besides, I had about 5.5 ounces of gold, not bad at all and better than I had hoped for. Good weather, good gold, good times with friends, it really had been a near perfect trip.

Therefore on the morning of the 29th of July I wandered up to Chris and Bernie's camp and told them I was done. I was paid up at Chicken Gold Camp through the 31st so my plan was to be packed up and hit the road for Nevada early on August 1st. I had just a few days left so had to decide what to do.

There is an area on upper Jack Wade known to have produced big gold in the past. Like nuggets weighing pounds, and a 10 ounce nugget had been found there by a dredger the previous season. It was on the ground owned by the miner I had a deal with. I had of course hunted it previously but only found a few small nuggets and lots of little ferrous trash. It was a gorgeous sunny day and the area was relatively open and level so easy hunting. I fired up the Minelab GPX 5000 with Nugget Finder 14" x 9" mono and crossed over the creek to give it a go. I was really relaxed because mentally I was done working and just happy to be out beeping a couple more days. It was really a nice feeling knowing I would soon be heading home.

I barely had got started when I crested the top of a small ridge of tailings and got a massive boomer signal. Just a huge descending low tone, the type you might get if you buried a huge bolt or some other large ferrous target not too far down. There was a recent dig hole on the target, and I thought "well, let's see what he left in the hole" and gave just a couple big scoops. It was sandy easy digging stuff, and as it slid down the hill I glimpsed gold. I thought "no way!" and as I grabbed it could feel the weight. I stood there looking at 6.5 ounces of solid gold in my hand!

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The Selfie We All Want To Take - Steve With 6.5 Ounce Gold Nugget

There is no doubt in my mind about the addictive nature of nugget detecting. It is not easy to do and the gold is not easy to find. There can be lots of false starts and disappointments along the way. It is all that however that makes it so sweet when gold is finally found, when all the hard work and effort is rewarded. I get a thrill out of every nugget I find, no matter how small, because I work hard for every one of them. The really big finds are much rarer yet, so much so that few people ever get to say they found a nugget weighing one ounce or more. The feeling of accomplishment is indescribable because it verges on feeling like a miracle has occurred. Once you get a taste of that feeling you want to feel it again, and it is that quest that powers me and others through days, months, and years of effort. The thrill of finding gold!

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Just Out Of the Ground, Unwashed, And On The Scale

After an hour of photos and just plain soaking up the moment I proceeded to hunt that area extra well, because as you can imagine after a find like that visions of piles of nuggets enters your mind. If one got lost, might there not be others? Unfortunately it does not seem to work like that, and continued careful hunting of the location only produced one more nugget, a clean little 1 gram piece. No surprise there. How even one nugget like this gets lost is something we all wonder about. How does a half pound of solid gold end up in a tailing pile? Who knows, I am just happy it did. For a combination of size and the solid gold content it is the best nugget I have ever found.

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Minelab GPX 5000 With 6.5 Ounce Nugget At Dig Location

The biggest question of course is who started to dig that nugget and then quit? The material was easy digging, about as easy as you could ask for. I surmise it had to be a Minelab operator. If you run a Minelab long enough you get huge boomer signals very often, and they are almost always a can or bolt or some other shallow, large junk target. They can also be very large gold nugget but if you get that signal enough times and dig it up, only to find junk, your brain gets trained to think that is all it could be. "Too big to be gold" - have you ever thought that? I wonder how many people have done like this unknown person, got a target, and then decided nope, it has to be junk, and walked away? I know I have done it and I am pretty certain it has cost me. It may be that a small percentage of the very biggest nugget signals are still out there, having been detected and left for junk. In fact, I am willing to bet that is the case, though there are a couple less now.

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View Of Both Sides, Just Rinsed In Creek

I first went and showed the nugget to the claim owner and then Bernie and Chris. However, I asked them to keep quiet about it. The trip had been so enjoyable, and finding something like that right at the end, well, it was obvious I was going to be back in 2014. There was a lot of public area left to hunt on the creek still, and I saw no reason to possibly start a little gold rush to the area before I got the chance to come back and give it another go. That trip has now come and gone at Steve's 2014 Alaska Gold Adventure and so now finally you get to hear the rest of the story.

Speaking of the public area, Bernie and I went and hit it the very next day. We had mostly taken advantage of our access to areas not available to the general public while we could and had been leaving the public area for later. There is information about it at the 2104 tale. We both started out with our GPX units but I could tell Bernie was less thrilled than I to be digging junk, so I suggested we go back to the truck and grab our VLF detectors. We did just that, and I no more than got my Gold Bug Pro swinging when it made a loud beep, and up pops a 5.9 dwt nugget practically off the surface! It was just another over the top easy nugget after all the days of digging nothing but junk. Even wilder is that fact that in 2014 several days detecting by several people including myself in this same location produced no gold at all. It is liked I walked up and banged the only nugget there.

The next day and a half produced no other nuggets but I am certainly not complaining about that. My trip had gone from great to off the charts fantastic with just over a Troy pound (12 Troy ounces) of gold found. 12.3 ounces actually found in exactly 30 days of time spent actually nugget detecting. Not a get rich quick scenario by any means but not bad at all either. Overall the time spent in the Chicken area during the summer of 2013 will go down in my memory as one of my best times ever.

There are many, many more photos from this trip in the Photo Gallery.

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Troy Pound Of Gold Nuggets From Jack Wade Creek, Alaska 2013

 

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Very nice Steve!

Great memories for sure.

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Steve, that is a heck of a chunk of gold! I knew you had at least one more secret. Now that I am retired I hope to have more time for the search for the yellow stuff.

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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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