Tag Archives: gold

Spread The Fever

After a few months of prospecting and now, actually finding gold, my buddy Chad started asking quesions.  At this juncture, I had not found much gold to brag about…maybe 1 gram.

placer gold

1 gram of gold

He asked to come along on my next outing and I agreed.  At that time, I was in an area that was producing gold, but very little.  It was enough to justify digging again, so I decided this is where I’d introduce Chad to gold prospecting 101.  After a few hours of digging holes along a little valley between to outcroppings of bedrock, we managed to find only a few specs of gold. I could sense he was somewhat discouraged when he told me to keep the specs for myself, without having to share with him.  I continued on with this spot until it had run dry, then ventured off to a new area, which I referred to as “The Big Hill”.  This was a small mountain peak, with a steep, rocky 1/4 mile trail leading to a landing, where it made sense to setup camp and begin prospecting.  Keep in mind, the only vehicle I had for these excursions was a two wheel drive, 1975 GMC 3/4 ton van…not exactly what one would call an off road vehicle!  Knowing the extreme nature of the trail leading up to the landing, I had no choice but to lug all my gear up the 1/4 mile trail by hand.  This included drywasher, 5 gallons of water, shovel, pick and plastic panning bin.  Eventually I decided to bring along a hand truck, which eliminated the need to make two trips!  

 

All this effort paid off, because I began to find gold in most every pan…and nice gold!  In fact, I found my first “picker” here!  After a couple more fruitful outings at the Big Hill, I showed Chad my increasing amount of gold and asked if he’d like to come along one more time.  Now that I was 

gold panning

nice gold

actually finding a nice amount of gold, he was more eager to come along.  After all the hard work involved with finding a nice deposit of gold, I had mixed feelings about sharing my find with someone, but ultimately had a partner for the next Big Hill trip.  That next trip produced the best day to date, just under 1/2 a gram!  It turned out to be twice the amount I had found on my own, so it seemed like a good plan.  Soon after, Chad was bitten by the Gold Bug, bought his own drywasher and began prospecting on his own.

First Gold

I think my initial introduction to placer gold prospecting came from viewing the first episodes of Gold Rush Alaska.  In September of 2011 I happened to make a decision that would affect my life from that point forward.  I called an acquaintance of mine, Bob, who was a partner in a local rock mine.  I was informed by his sister that they initially acquired the lease in the 1980′s because of the gold potential, but had no details beyond that.  After having a chat with Bob, he confirmed that the impetus for acquiring the lease and all the equipment necessary for their operation, was to mine for gold.   They did this successfully until the building boom began here in the 1990′s, where they decided to go with more of a sure thing and use their equipment to make landscaping gravel for the growing local housing market.  Bob gave me the number of his partner, Rick, who ran the mine, and after a short chat, agreed to share his knowledge of gold prospecting with me. 

 

Before my meeting with Rick, I had made an uninformed, impulse buy of a Gold Bug 2 metal detector, thinking that would be the way to find gold in our desert.  Rick’s first comment to me was along the lines of: “you have a nice metal detector there, but you won’t find much use for it here”.  He explained that  this part of the desert was popular for those who like to shoot their guns, resulting in lots of buckshot, bullet fragments, shell casings, beer bottle tops, etc, all of which will set off a metal detector, even those that use discrimination.  Yeah, I was disappointed, but knew this Gold Bug 2 could come in handy somewhere down the line.  And trust me, it did!

 

The foundation of placer gold prospecting in Lake Havasu, was understanding how it got here and the affect time and nature had on it.  Once I had a general understanding of this, I decided to make my next purchase, a small puffer-style drywasher.  This is the best way to be introduced to processing  the tons of desert dirt I will shovel in the coming months.  This little hand-powered drywasher was the first step in the right direction for me and now…it was game on!

 

My first several outings into the desert, armed with pick, shovel, 5 gallons of water, pan and hand-operated drywasher, resulted in nothing more than a sore back and literally no gold!    I bugged Rick for more information and guidance about placer gold prospecting in the desert and one day in November, 2011, it all started to make sense.  Armed with some of his knowledge, combined with an endless supply of information on the internet,  I began to look for exposed bedrock along the trail of past riverbeds or washes and their tributaries, especially where they made turns.   These turns or  “elbows” in the terrain create eddys or vortexes that effectively suck down anything in it’s path, including gold, which is the 3rd heaviest element on the planet.  I began to dig into one of these and started to fill the drywasher.  After collecting a bucket of concentrates (material that collects in the riffles of the drywasher), I filled up my little plastic bin with water from my 5 gallon bucket and began to pan the concentrates.  After all the trial and error of the first month and a half, I finally found my first gold!

placer gold, gold panning

First Gold!