I was actually over on the Sawtooth side, but most people recognize the Rye Patch. I consider myself a fairly rugged guy, but N NV in July is no place to be without some decent shelter from the afternoon sun and heat. A 10 X 10 Walmart quick shade seems to provide shade, but focus the radiant heat somehow making it hotter under the shade, if that makes sense. The afternoon breezes are hot and dry leaving my only thoughts to cold drinks. Cold beer was my last choice, Gatorade and water were the only solutions. I endured 2 days and found 1 tiny nugget with the Nox 800.
I rode my Rokon and explored way up an old "ghost road" on the afternoon of the first day. With field glasses I saw a couple canyons that had exposed bedrock and I aimed to hike them the next morning while it was cool. N NV climate is a funny thing, I woke up to 61 degrees, but temps would climb to 90 by 11AM. As I was gathering my gear, I had one of those nagging premonitions. I suspect we have them all the time, but only remember the ones that come true. Nevertheless, I packed extra water and my Garmin Satellite Communication device. I was merrily riding up the ghost road enjoying the refreshing morning air when, bang. I felt the Rokon torque converter explode into the protective fiberglass shield. Fortunately, I was only half way to my destination. I carry tools and some spare parts, but no amount of duct tape was going to fix this problem. I pulled all the unnecessary stuff out of my pack and started walking back to my truck. It was all downhill, with a decent breeze so I made good time before the unbearable heat set in. I packed my truck and strapped down all my gear for some tricky 4 wheeling to get back up there to the Rokon. Turns out to be 4.7 rugged miles. I loaded the Rokon and decided to head for home in sunny Yuma where it was only 116 degrees.
It could have been worse however; the Garmin device, in addition to the emergency SOS, has a feature where you can send free preselected messages to your family and friends. At the end of the message the device stamps your GPS coordinates so they know where you are. Since I do so much prospecting alone, I make this compromise so people worry less about me. For $30.00 a month service fee, it's cheap insurance and my family worry less. So, every night I send a preselected message of "Alive and Well" and they can plot my last location if something happens to me. Staying home where it's safe is not an option in my world.
I spent several weeks in early July, panning and sluicing on the N. Fork of the American River. I've been going to the same 10 mile section of the river for over 20 yrs. That part of the river is designated Wild & Scenic, so no motorized equipment and no claims. It's one of the few places in CA gold country you can access a free flowing river without stepping on someone's gold claim. Access is not easy, although there a a number of trails up and down the river. They're all rugged, often steep and always overgrown with poison oak. I have often encountered "locals" who at various times attempt to eke out an existence by panning and sluicing the river. Generally friendly and sometimes willing to share local knowledge of the gold. When I meet them I make a point to brew up a big pot of spaghetti and feed all comers. Many years ago, I met a guy my age driving a new Jeep Cherokee. He was socially awkward, but I learned he was a software engineer from the Silicon Valley and had taken up gold prospecting on weekends. He was not very successful, so my 6 yr old son and I invited him to come dig in a hole we had started. He sluiced a few buckets and declared that was more gold than he had ever found. Skip ahead 10 years, I found him living in a tent on the banks of the river having spent 2 years pursuing the golden dream. He was eking out an existence and seemed to be perfectly happy. Imagine a 6 mile hike uphill, just to reach a paved road, hope for a ride to town to get supplies then repeat the process back down. Supplies are limited to what you can afford and carry on your back. The local mining supply store pays 80 percent of spot, for good clean gold. This guy still had the math and engineering brain so he could tell me exactly how much he was earning per hr, although he did not factor that it was in fact a 24 hr a day job, living on the river.
Every now and then "flatlanders" discover the place and bring down a bunch of gear intending to strike it rich. They are soon disillusioned and I find their gear stashed in the woods. I've seen one sleeping bag stashed in the same spot for over 4 years, untouched. Buckets and digging tools get carried away by spring floods and I find them littered on gravel bars.
There is an old mining road ,overgrown, heavily rutted, washed out and frequently blocked by blown down timber. It currently takes me about an hr to travel just over 3 miles down that road crawling in 4 wheel drive low locked in 1st gear. At one time you could drive to within 100 yds of the river. There was a fabulous camping spot under a massive oak, with a spring nearby. In their infinite wisdom, the BLM blocked the road about 1.5 miles from the old camping spot. They brought in some heavy equipment and dug tank traps to block all future traffic down the road. For many seasons I hiked the rest of the way down on a variety of trails. A few yrs ago, my son, then strapping teenager and I started hacking an ATV trail around the tank traps. We spent a few hrs a day for over a week cutting a new trail. It's passable by ATV to this day, but you really have to know the danger spots or slide right down the hill. I've winched my own ATV up that zone many times.
More to come in Part II.....
Hi guys, Well as you probably know now, Phrunt (Simon) is the proud owner of a GPX 4500, & proud he is. Can't wipe the smile off his face. He has been gagging to get out in the hills for a spin with it. He ordered & got a little Coiltek 10 x 5 joey mono coil before the weekend as the two coils that came with his 4500 were both DD's. So Saturday morning my door bell was ringing at 7.10 am. Was supposed to be 7.30. He must have left home at about 6 am & didnt speed as the last weekend he got a speed camera fine. I was just having my breakfast & a coffee, so I made him a coffee as well. I had sorted out an external speaker for him since he is allergic to headphones. Coffee done & we were off. I took him back to the spot where he got his two bits with his Gold Monster as there are heaps of workings up there. It was a hell walk in & not one I look forward to. Only the one old pack track access in & out.
The proud 4500 owner standing on the pack track. To the right of his left shoulder the track winds its way up & through that gorge & somewhere up in the clouds beyond the gorge is our destination.
Around the corner & into the gorge.
We stopped for a breather & a short detect on some very shallow bed rock & some small workings. I thought it might be good for Simon to have a play here with the joey mono & to get our breaths back. I went a wee bit further targeting a bit deeper ground. I had not used the Zed on this spot at all. But had done well with the Gold Monster on tiny gold. I got rigged up & started detecting & I saw Simon somewhat alarmed. He had charged his battery over night & it read 8 volts when he fired it up. He plugged the external speaker into it & all of a sudden the detector died. Down to flat battery & 1.9 volts. WTF.... I had given him another battery of mine incase his one didn't last the day. Tried that one & the exact same thing happened. We were both baffled. More so Simon as he had been playing with the detector over the last few days & all seemed fine. Got all the way up here & no go... He tried factory presets. Turned it off...back on....& just straight to flat battery...on both of them. Pulled the cable out tried plugging it in again. Still no joy. I said to turn the cable around & try. Still nothing. Nothing happening at all. I said we may as well have a coffee, I had brought a thermos, & then head back down to my place & re group & re think our plans. So we had a coffee & were just dumb struck as to what the problem may be. Hopefully not the detector. So after our coffee Simon tried once more & bingo 8 volts & up & running. Whew....game on. Thank goodness for that. Never missed a beat all day & all on the one battery.
So we were both off detecting. Simon was getting signals but none were gold. But he was happy at the small stuff the joey was hitting on. Just had to walk over some gold. He was poking & proding in all the right places but the gold wasn't coming his way. Somehow we swapped around & I ended up trying the Zed over the shallow bedrock where I had done well with the GM 1000. Not thinking for A second that the Zed would get anything here. got a very faint signal.
That little bit of a scrape between the coil & the scope & out popped this.
I couldn't believe it nor could Simon as he combed over this bedrock with his GM 1000 last time up here & I would have gone over it with mine as well. It was down maybe a little bit out of reach of the GM. We did have a lot of rain the night before & I fared the weather would be crap for the whole weekend. But as I have said before & I will say it again, I believe the wet ground helps out in getting better depth & more sensitivity. Note the wetness on the coil.
It didn't end there either. I got another signal that had me getting down into this hole in the schist.
You will notice that crack dropping down the face of the schist to the bottom of the picture still packed with material.
I got a small piece of gold out of that hole & there was another very faint signal coming from that vertical crack. I ended up scrapping that crack as much as I could with the pick but I couldn't get to the signal.
I went up to my smoko bag & got out my pocket knife. Where was my screwdriver that I normally have in my backpack? Raked the crack out with the knife.
A small piece of gold popped out .
But it still wasn't over.
It was just crazy. They kept coming
Two bits from the one dig.
There was a third but once I moved it I lost it & no high frequency VLF to sniff it out.
That was my lot from the bedrock so I moved onto an old pile from the old timers where I had got a few bits with my 4500 & the NF 12 x 7. Couldn't believe it but I got a good signal with the Zed. There was a bit of depth to it in just a loamy soil & no bedrock.
Well bugger me
Before backfilling I got another very faint hit. And another tiny bit of gold.
Simon in the meantime was still goldless but getting tiny bits of rubbish. Just has to swing it over some gold. We moved on. I had some more major workings to take him to & let him unleash himself on. Got him up there & left him to it. There was lots of very promising ground for the little coiltek joey mono. I headed back to a spot where I had got quite a few little bits in deeper ground & where Simon had got his two bits with his GM 1000 on our last trip in here. I had not finished detecting the area to my liking so wanted to finish it off. Long story short. I got nothing where I really thought I would. No matter how hard I tried. I headed to a most unlikely looking spot. On the top of a spur with deep loamy soil & no bedrock in sight.
Found an old broken spade.
An old timers riveted shovelhead.
Got a signal that had junk written all over it. Signal out & no bedrock in sight.
But gold it was.
This pic is taken from the spur I was standing on & similar to that next spur over. Up high from the gully floor. Glacially pushed & deposited gold...has to be. No water worn rocks on this spur. There was higher up where Simon was detecting.
I then got a good hit that was right on the edge of a bit of a drop off. Dug down onto it & again it was just this loamy soil. But it was getting deep. So I got the pointy end of my pick & drove into it. Crunch...the pick hit schist. I thought that if the signal carries down to that then I am in with a good chance of a better piece of gold....or not.
The schist was to the right of the scoop but then the schist dropped away & I was back into the loamy soil & the signal in that. Again I drove the pick into the soil hoping to here the crunch of schist again. But no joy. Bugger...going to be rubbish. Then the signal was out.
The best bit of the day.69 of a gram.
I got three more small bits after that one . It was starting to get dark. I got a txt from Simon to say he had got none. I was surprised we had coverage in here. I replied but he wasn't getting all my txts. I was in a bit of a blind gully but I was telling him we needed to make a move. Luckily we had head lamps & we needed them. I got into a better spot & phoned him. Along he came & we were out of there. Pitch black by the time we got back to the wagon. We were both leg sore from that. I couldn't believe Simon got no gold. Later he told me he had not been digging the real faint ones. I said they are the most likely ones. He was just so used to the VLF's screaming out on shot gun pellets.
Mrs JW had gone up north for a week so Simon stayed at my place that night & we had an attack on another spot the next day. We went in Simon's car & I left my phone in it so have no photos of that days mission. Simon did & he is going to take over a post on his day. So I will leave it over to him. My result that day was 5 small bits.
So on the left of the coil is Saturdays finds & sundays on the right. total of just over 2 grams. Have I ever said how the Zed continues to blow me away on its small gold finding abilities??
Cheers & best of luck out there
Last Saturday Phrunt (Simon) turned up at my place at 9am. I had the Zed all packed up & ready to go. Simons "new" GPX 4500 hadn't turned up in time so he was taking along his GM 1000 & Gold Bug Pro to compare the two. On our arrival at the car park area we were the only vehicle parked there. We had a bit of a hike to get to where I wanted to take him. We broke the hike up with a detect at some old workings that I hadn't been to for ages. I had never had a VLF over them & as there was a fair amount of shallow ground & sheet bedrock I thought it was as good a spot as any for Simon to swing his VLF's. I think he started off with the GM & was making a hell of a racket with signals every other step. Using no headphones & just the internal speaker, gezzzz your a noisy bugger I said to him... He was just getting shotgun pellet after shotgun pellet & no gold. I had been over this area quite few years ago with my GP 3000 & little Coiltek 10 x 5 joey mono & done pretty good. The wild thyme bushes had taken off & trying to swing the Zed's coil among them was impossible to get down to the ground. So I headed off to the side of the workings & targeted the sheet bed rock. I was walking up a small gutter covered in grass growth when I got a good hit. Turned out to be a fragment of tin from an old tin matchbox. Moved on a few feet & got another good solid hit. Thinking it was just going to be the same I was surprised when the signal lived on down through the gravels to the schist bedrock.
scrapping the bed rock the signal finally moved.
A sassy little bit of gold. Ye Ha
.69 of a gram
That was a loner though as no more came to light. Nothing for Simon either. So after maybe a couple of hours I made the call to carry on with our hike.
After probably another hour of walking we came to the workings that I wanted to get stuck into. Well bugger me. On getting there there were two other chaps in there detecting. One with a Zed & the other with what Simon said was a GB2. They weren't overly talkative & were probably pissed off that we had come along. Bugger I said to Simon. We moved up the workings a bit & dropped our packs & detectors. I said to Simon, lets just go for a walk over to the next gully & have a look. Did this, came back to our gear & these other two had packed up & were heading off further up. They had ridden up here on Electric mountain bikes & they were gone in a flash. I had contemplated an Electric mountain bike a few years earlier but the price of them put me off. Seeing how easy they just rode off up the hill did impress me. So I am looking at them now 6.5 & up to 12 grand is pretty daunting though. Few ounces of gold there. Any way....they were gone so we jumped "their" spot. I then noticed another chap walking up the hill with a detector. Bloody hell I said to Simon....check that out. 5 of us up here detecting. Never have I come across so many. I don't normally see another soul. He walked right up this gully & I moved off detecting to avoid him but he bailed Simon up & must have gassed to Simon for an hour. Wasting valuable detecting time. Simon said he kept trying to get away from him but he just kept on going. He had a 4500 so I think Simon may have picked his brains a bit. So it wasnt all a waste of time.
Mean while I was getting a few rubbish signals & no gold. When Simon finally got into some detecting he just picked up right where he left off...with shot gun pellets ever step. I finally got a faint mellow signal.
It lived on down a bit, more so than pellets , I did get my share but nowhere near as many as Simon. It was a small bit of gold.
.09 of a gram
I walked up past Simon, who had been targeting old turned over throw out piles. In this pic he was swinging the Gold Bug Pro & still getting more than his share of pellets. You will see his GM to the right lying in the thyme bushes & my Zed hard center left. After taking the pic I headed to that pile of stones back this way from Simon. Left click once to enlarge the pic. Let it refocus & left click again & it will go full screen for better detail.
I got a faint but definite signal. I called Simon over & marked the spot with a light boot scrape. Said to Simon to try there. He got a faint hit. I scraped at it until it had moved. Simon pinpointed it for me & it was a tiny shotgun pellet size piece of gold.
.06 of a gram
Unbelievable. But that was it. I went off elsewhere leaving Simon to explore around there. But I got nothing more. Dark wasn't far off & l wondered back down using Simons noisy racket from his continued shotgun pellet signals screaming out from his GM as my homing in pigeon to locate him . Told him we had better make a move as we had a bit of a walk to get back to the car. Got back just on pitch black. Wouldn't have wanted to have been any later. There was a bit of stumbling & lurching as it was towards the end. Unfortunately Simon got skunked on the gold but made a fortune in lead. Three for the Zed for not even 1 gram.
Simon now has his 4500 & a new Coiltek 10 x 5 Joey mono coil is on its way to him. Look out this Saturday. Cheers.
Good luck out there
By Steve Herschbach
Edit: I chronicled this trip to Alaska first, and then told the story of my earlier 2013 Alaska Trip after the fact. I did well enough in 2013 I did not want to tip anyone off to what I was up to until I had a chance to return in 2014. Therefore this story got told first, as if the other had not happened. And then the years story was told at the link above.
My history with the Fortymile Mining District of Alaska began in the 1970's and has continued off and on ever since. Last summer I spent considerable time in the area and have decided to return again this summer.
Here is the basic plan. I leave Monday to drive from Reno to Alaska. I am stopping a day to visit family in Olympia then will continue to Anchorage, where I will pick up my brother Tom who is flying up from the Lower 48. Then we will backtrack to Chicken, Alaska and pitch a tent site at the Buzby's Chicken Gold Camp http://www.chickengold.com
Main building at Chicken Creek Gold Camp
Last year I mostly camped around but did spend a period of time at the Buzby's operation. When I was out and about I had to activate my satellite phone to stay in touch because there is no cell phone service in the Chicken area. The nearest cell phone access is a couple hours back along the road at Tok. There is WiFi access at several locations in Chicken however, one of them being at Chicken Gold Camp. The WiFi access is included in the price of staying there. I am getting a dry camp site for $14 a day (6 days get seventh day free) but it saves me $300 activating my satellite phone, and WiFi allows me to keep on the forum and stay in better touch with my wife than the sat phone. Bottom line not activating the sat phone ends up paying for nearly a month of staying at Chicken Gold Camp. Right now I am booked from June 15 until July 20 but may extend.
Since I will have pretty much daily Internet access for the entire trip I am inviting you along via this thread to see how we are doing plus to perhaps answer questions for anyone planning to visit Alaska. The Internet access in Chicken is not the greatest even at its best, as the satellite dishes point straight at the horizon just trying to get a signal. That being the case plus I will be busy I will not be posting on other forums for the duration. If you know anyone who might be interested in following this point them this way. I will report in at least a couple times a week and probably more often as time allows or something interesting happens.
My brother and I will be commuting to various locations from our base camp in Chicken, with a lot of attention paid to Jack Wade Creek about 20 minutes drive up the road. I have access to mining claims on this and other creeks in the area, but we will also spend considerable time on the public access area on the lower 2.5 miles of Jack Wade Creek. Visit this link for more information. This area is open to non-motorized mining and we will of course be metal detecting.
I have detected on Jack Wade a lot, and I can tell you it is an exercise in hard work and patience. It is all tailing piles full of nails and bullets. The nuggets are very few and far between, with even a single nugget in a day a good days work. However, the nuggets are solid and can be large so can add up if you put in a lot of time. Or not as luck does have a bit to do with it. You could easily spend a week detecting Wade Creek and find nothing. So do not be surprised when I make lots of reports indicating nothing found on a given day. We fully expect that to be the case but hope we hope a month of detecting here and at other locations will pay off.
I plan on relying mostly on my GPX 5000 but will also be using a Gold Bug Pro for trashy locations or for when I am tired from running the big gun and want to take it easy. I usually run my 18" mono coil on the GPX unless in steep terrain or brushy locations and dig everything. And that means a lot of digging! The Gold Bug Pro eliminates digging a lot of trash and is easy to handle in thick brush. My brother will mostly use my old GP 3000 he bought from me years ago. I am also bringing along the Garrett ATX kind of for backup and also to experiment around with. It also will be easier to use in brushy locations than the GPX. Finally, I hope to possibly have a new Minelab SDC 2300 get shipped to me somewhere along the way to use on some bedrock locations I know of that have been pretty well pounded to death.
Chris Ralph will be arriving in Fairbanks on July 8th so I will drive in and pick him up. He will be staying with Tom and I until I return him to Fairbanks on July 21.
High on the list is to visit with Dick Hammond (chickenminer) and other friends in the area.
The road to Alaska is just another highway these days, with the only real issue being the lack of gas in northern Canada in the middle of the night. The pumps there still do not take credit cards so when the gas station closes you are stuck there until it opens in the morning. Do not try to get gas at Dot Lake at 2AM! I will drive to Olympia to spend a night and day with my mom (12 hours) then on to Dawson Creek/Fort St. John (16 hours), then to Whitehorse (15 hours), and then to Anchorage (12 hours). Four days driving, about $500 in gas for my Toyota 4-Runner. Pick up Tom and some supplies and then back to Chicken (about 8 hours).
Anyway, you are all invited along at least via the internet to share in the adventure. You have any questions about Alaska in the process then fire away.
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