Back to Gold Basin

The gold gods have not been smiling on my recent Lake Havasu prospecting trips. My favorite spots have not been producing much gold and I was even skunked on one trip! Since I have a GSSN membership (Gold Searchers of Southern Neveda), I figured I might as well try my luck out there again. After all, my best prospecting trip ever came out there, this past December. I was completely aware that hooking the tow bar to my Samurai and pulling it over 100 miles one way with my 1975 GMC van would cost me about $100.00 in gas and food, but based on the last trip’s results, 2+ grams, I thought I’d give it another shot.

GMC van and Samurai caravan

GMC van and Samurai caravan

Plus, the last spot I dug in Gold Basin produced nearly half a gram in only a couple hours, so I felt confident that the same spot, amongst a 160 acre claim, would remain untouched 4 months later…right? The night before my journey, I thought I’d have a look at the weather forecast for this part of Arizona. I was leaving on a Sunday morning, where the forecast for the Dolan Springs, AZ area was sunny and in the upper 80′s, but…wind would be picking up that evening and possible strong winds would be prevalent the following day, Monday. The gold bug was really biting me, so I took the gamble and headed to the mountains for a scheduled 2 day, one night adventure.

Upon arrival to the usual campsite, I ran into one of the Dolan Springs guys I met last December, Tony. He pulled out his vial that contained gold from the last couple days of his prospecting. He had a nice little nugget and what appeared to be at least a gram of fines. This was encouraging, so I quickly excused myself, unhooked my Samurai from the tow bar, loaded up my prospecting gear and headed back toward my last prosperous spot from December.

Once I arrived, it was clear others had been digging there! What did I expect? By this time, it was already noon, so I decided that rather than waste more time looking for a new spot to dig, I’d take my chances where I was. I loaded up the dry washer many times, until I had a half bucket’s worth of concentrates to pan out. I began to pan and instantly saw many tiny bits of flour gold. This was not the best news, because these extremely small bits of gold required a much longer amount of time to collect from the abundant black sand. The more-than-average amount of black sand also contributed to a much longer time to recover the flour gold! Despite finding gold, this was not shaping up to be a great day! I could see that this was going to be challenging, to say the least! As the day continued and the sun beat down, I went through 3 bottles of Powerade and a small bottle of water. By this time, I had determined that I would not waste time panning out the gold, rather, keep on collecting concentrates from the dry washer, then pan it out in the evening. By this time, I was not pleased with how things were going at this location and was out of hydration, so I headed back up to the campsite, to replenish my stock of Powerade.

Once there, Tony was hanging around, chatting with a guy who appeared to be living in his pickup truck with a camper shell. I had previously spoken with him and he eluded to the fact that he did not have any prospecting gear. I found this curious, but had no time to ponder this anomaly, because of my desire to find some gold. I mentioned where I was digging to Tom and how I spotted the little tributary washes that emptied into the main wash near where I had been digging and he stated he had done pretty well there. So I drove back to the general part of the valley where I had been digging to setup in one of these tributary washes. By this time, it was nearing 6 pm and there was only about an hour or so of daylight left, so I put it in second gear and started processing dirt as fast as I could.

After packing up my gear and arriving back at the campsite, I noticed the winds had picked up substantially, really substantially! The sun had set, but there was plenty of light left to properly setup camp. This included getting out my generator, whose main purpose was to power a flood light, so I could see what I was panning, getting my firewood together, and making a fire pit. I was now ready to have a seat and start panning some 25 pounds of concentrates. As I panned, it was more of the same, tons of black sand with little bits of flour gold dispersed in it. After an hour or so, I was only about a 1/4 of the way through the concentrates, it was now dark and the winds were howling…so was my stomach, because amidst the focus of finding gold, I had not eaten anything all day, except for a little Nutri-Grain fruit bar! My hunger won, so I gathered up some tinder, kindling and stacked some of the firewood I brought from home. With the wind steady, with occasional strong gusts, it was nearly impossible to start the fire. But I prevailed! A can of baked beans to go with a couple turkey hot dogs, washed down with a bottle of a Starbuick’s coffee drink, really hit the spot.

By now, it was around 8 pm and back to panning out all the tiny flour gold from my concentrates. After about 3 hours time, I finally panned out the last of the concentrates with little more than 2/10′s of a gram of gold to show for my efforts! Now the wind was steadily blowing and the gusts had increased in intensity. I opened up my laptop, inserted my favorite “Jeff Beck from Ronnie Scott’s” concert DVD and closed the side door to my van. By now the van was rockin’ and rollin’ with the nasty wind gusts. The van was literally shaking back and forth, being in a direct path to the now gale-force winds. After an hour or so, I decided to call it a night and tried to get some sleep. With a steady shaking wind, accompanied by the on and off bursts that made it feel like the van was going to be pushed into the gully below me, I found it very difficult to get any sleep!

During the sleepless night, where I could hear things being blown around, some banging off my van, I could only assume that some of the gear I had left out had been blown away.
The morning arrived, and none to soon! Stepping out to have look around confirmed my suspicion. Much of my gear had indeed blown down the hillside. Fortunately, I was able to recover all of it, and nothing was damaged! After another Starbuck’s coffee drink and Nutri-Grain fruit bar, I was off to dig in a new spot, one that was very nearby a spot that Tony had claimed produced about 15 grams, over the course of several months.

dry washing flour gold

dry washing flour gold

As I arrived, off in the horizon, I noticed ominous grey clouds being blown in. Yes, the winds were still pretty stiff, but at least the gusts had subsided. After about an hour of test digging / panning, I started smelling that distinct scent of rain! Well, this sucks! My van’s windshield wipers did
not work and repairing them was not a priority, because it rarely rains in the desert. I panned out less than a tenth of a gram, packed up quickly and headed back to camp. I saw Tony’s jeep in the distance and it appeared as if he had the same notion. He had one of those “diesel-pusher” campers, that is basically a big bus and he too had to hook a tow bar to his jeep. The rain began to come down with regularity and we both decided that this was enough. I started down the 20-some miles of dirt trails that lead to the first paved road, being blown by wind gusts every now and then, on some occasions, strong enough to push my little caravan of my van towing my Samurai, off the road! Combine that with dust caking up
on the rain-pelted windshield, with no windshield wipers and you officially have an adventure!

Once on interstate 40, not only was I being blown by gusting winds, but semis windshear affect was adding to the drama. Rain ceased once I reached Kingman, leaving only about an hour’s drive to make it back to Havasu! After all was said and done, the gold bug had bitten me hard and all I had to show for it was about $15.00 of gold toward my $100.00 weekend investment. Mother nature kicked my butt! Next time, I should pay closer attention to the weather forecasts!

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