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  1. 7 points
    Chris Gholson

    Gold from the caliche

    I forgot to post up this find I made last month. I was working a new spot that actually didn’t look very promising at all. None of the classical indicators were there, no red dirt, no quartz, no nothing really, other than plain gray dirt. However down below this hillside I could see where the old-timers had dug around and stacked a few rocks. I figured they had gotten a sniff of gold, so I decided to swing around for a while. I hit a few boot tacks on the surface, then I heard a low, mellow sound. I dug away about eight inches of dirt until I hit a hard caliche layer. The signal stayed in the hole, so I kept chipping away. It was slow going but eventually I found the source of the noise. It was a solid hunk of caliche that had no obvious signs of gold. I set it down on the ground and smacked it with a rock. The lump cracked open and revealed a beautiful yellow color inside! A few more hits with the rock and finally my prize was free. It ended up being a lovely nugget weighing 2.5 grams. This find was just a good reminder that even if you can’t see visible gold it doesn’t mean it’s not there. If something produces a solid ‘beep’ on the detector, it’s probably worth hanging onto for a closer look later…I was swinging the Minelab GPX 5000 fitted with the Nugget Finder 15” Evolution Coil. Happy hunting everyone!
  2. 5 points
    A few of the goodies I've been finding lately. Over 15 grams of gold and a whack of coins and a Rogers Brothers silver (more-than-likely plated) spoon. Found the gold while detecting bedrock with a new detector I was testing, with seven of the nuggets recovered underwater (that's way too much work!) The coins (oldest a 1916 large cent), including some silvers, came from an old home site; the building was demolished making way for a business, so I got permission to detect the site. All the best, Lanny
  3. 5 points
    Chris Gholson

    Future Prospectors!

    I wanted to say thank you again to Acorn Montessori Schools here in Arizona for inviting me over yesterday to speak with their students about metal detecting and gold prospecting. The kids were an absolute pleasure and I really enjoyed the excitement in their eyes when they got to handle real gold nuggets. I was about their age when I first got exposed, so I am hoping this was just the first step in their journey to becoming future detectorists! Thank you again everyone – I’ll see you and your families out in the goldfields!
  4. 4 points
    beatup

    Gold bug gold

    I had to go over to Monterey the end of march to help out my relations with moving some things back to Wyoming,but made time for a day trip on the way back home for a bit of detecting. just took the GB pro with me and managed to find a few small bits,all found hunting bedrock cracks and crevices . fortunately for me the weather was great and the snow melt was not to bad where i went.
  5. 2 points
    dieitcoke

    Chris Gholson

    Just want to give Chris and Arizona Outback a public "Thank You" for going above and beyond to provide service for a fellow detectorist! Could not be more happy Job Well Done. This is just another reason why Arizona Outback is my go to outlet for detector supplies make it yours. Ben
  6. 2 points
    I agree 100%, you're a great writer! Thanks for sharing your finds with us and the good info.
  7. 2 points
    Water, water everywhere, / Nor any drop to drink . . . (I apologize in advance for the length of this post. You super-pros will want to skip the first part of the story as it's written for the rookies.)Last Saturday was an interesting day indeed.The weather certainly was interesting. Mother Nature truly had dealt a mixed hand of cards: one minute the weather was sunny and warm; then it would cloud up and get cranky; the sky would darken like the face of some angry ancient god; heavy clouds, pregnant with the promise of rain would swirl overhead, releasing giant drops of icy water and sticky wet snow; then the wind would fill its lungs and blow a mighty series of gusts to clear the sky yet again. Spring, the season that imitates all other seasons, but imitates them only briefly; spring, the season that is the great imposter and yet the great bringer of hoped for change.As the weather cleared, I broke out my detecting gear. I'd packed the Gold Bug Pro and the Makro Gold Racer for the day; however, before I could head to the spot I'd chosen, I was approached by a young rookie that noticed what I was up to, and he wanted me to show him how to run a metal detector. He'd bought one for himself, but that day he was out without it, and he wondered if I could give him a few tips on what to do to set up a detector and how to go about finding gold.So, I set up the Gold Bug Pro for him, showed him how to ensure the coil wire connection was tight at the box to avoid falsing, how to secure the coil wire above the coil so it wouldn't false either, and how to ensure the connections on the coil rods were snug. Then I spent some time showing him how to ground balance. I spent a while on that subject with him so he understood how to do it properly, how to check to ensure there were no targets under the coil where he wanted to ground balance, some quick tips on EMI, etc. I gave him tips on keeping the coil level on his sweeps to avoid rising on the ends of the sweeps, how to overlap his sweeps for better coverage, how to keep the coil as close to the ground as possible to maximize detecting and target response, how to pinpoint by moving the coil 90 degrees to the original target response, and I also showed him how to do the coil "wiggle" to get the nose of the coil in the sweet zone for target recovery. Furthermore, I showed him how to properly set the threshold and sensitivity, how to adjust for EMI, and I walked him through the all-important aspect of investigating any slight break in the threshold as most of my targets are initially detected in that manner. As well, I instructed him on how to use a scoop, how to sift and sort a target in the scoop properly while using the coil to verify that the target was still in the scoop and how to use the coil to isolate the target by dropping material onto the coil. I also talked to him about the advantages of using a plastic pan for capturing multiple targets for later speed panning. In addition, I gave him my telescoping aluminum rod with the super-magnet on the end, and I went over the advantages of using it first, if he hit on a shallow signal, to quickly check if the target was ferrous or not.I turned him loose on the road and he soon had a signal. So, I went over everything with him again as he started on his target recovery, and he quickly had the target out of the hole. Well, it was a nail, not one from the 1800's, but a modern nail; regardless, he was a quick study, so I let him keep the detector to work the road for a bit, and he soon recovered several shavings of track and bucket steel.Because he was doing things exactly the way I'd instructed him to do, I was impressed (Lots of people I've tried to help learn to detect in the past have either misunderstood or ignored many of the tips I've given them, but not this guy: he was dialed-in and there to learn! It was easy to see his keen desire passion.). I watched him for a bit more, and he was ground balancing properly, using good sweep technique, slowing when he got a response, checking 90 degrees to the original signal, using the scoop properly for target recovery, and he'd really caught on how to use my extendable super-magnet-wand to eliminate shallow, ferrous targets.In fact, he was doing so well, that I invited him to check some bedrock. He soon had several more signals, all ferrous, but he was really doing great. So I said to him, "This section with the hump, the small area completely surrounded by water is virgin. Have at it." So, he went to detecting, and I went to setting up my Gold Racer. He'd call me over every once in a while to check some strange signals he was getting (hot rocks and cold rocks, so I instructed him on their various target ID aspects), and then he'd tear into detecting again. I fired up the Gold Racer and started checking a spot where an old crevice had once bottomed out.The rookie gave a shout and came a running! Now, as I've stated in other posts, "You can't make this stuff up!", he had his hand tightly closed around something, and that something was a nugget that was close to a gram in weight!! Well, I'll tell the world, he was some excited for sure. And, who wouldn't be! Rookie luck? Did he have a natural knack for it? Good questions, but regardless, he'd done it on his first outing ever. Quite remarkable actually, even if you factor in that I'd put him into a target rich environment, still remarkable as I've put others into similar settings in the past, and they've flown right over the nuggets and left disappointed.Do you think he's going to get out and give his detector a good run first chance he gets? Well, wild horses won't be able to stop him I'd say, because he had that dreamy look in his eye as he left, and all of us that chase the gold know what that look does to a person; it keeps the fires lit!I detected that little hump, with water, water everywhere, and got no gold. (I did however wade out into a couple of feet of water just beyond the hump and recover another small nugget.) So, the rookie got the only nugget in residence on that hump, but my day was just beginning.The spot I was working could best be described as small bedrock islands, water, water everywhere (and as it says in The Rime of The Ancient Mariner), Nor any drop to drink! (I certainly would never drink any of that standing water, so that's why I always pack a bunch along in my five-gallon multi-purpose mining bucket.Those plastic buckets are such handy items for toting all manner of prospecting items to a site!)Well, I carefully waded through a couple of feet of icy water and hit a bedrock rise. I slowly started working the bedrock with the Gold Racer. I soon had a soft signal that sounded like small gold. Just to be sure, I worked that spot carefully with the wand, but no ferrous. Then I took my small pick and scraped the surface, and sure enough, there was some clay riding on top. More scraping revealed some little rounded stones, iron-stained sand, and small bits of ironstone. I swept the spot again, and still the same soft, yet sweet tone. I then worked out material from all of the little cracks and crevices, tossed the material into my plastic pan, then swept the spot again. Still a soft tone, but not as loud, so more scraping with the pick and checking with the detector's coil until the area was completely silent.By this time, I had quite a collection of material in the pan. So, I waded into a deeper spot and panned it out. Well, lots of golden goodies in the pan were peeking out of the super-heavies, and as you can tell from the previous pictures, lots of small stuff, but pretty nonetheless. (Please remember that the purpose of the last two outings has been to deliberately target areas that I've either already swept with the Gold Bug Pro or to check virgin areas just to see what the Gold Racer can find.)To make a long story short, I kept at it for several hours while working those little bedrock islands, and I had many similar encounters with soft signals (with some of them broad in nature [some had great concentrations of fine gold!]) that had me doing lots of pick work to worry material from the bedrock until the detector went silent over the areas the Gold Racer had so expertly sniffed out. As I was about ready to pack up, I looked out at the water and noticed a boulder, about the size of a laundry basket, and thought, "What the heck, why not try to wade out to it if the water's not too deep?" So, I did.Well, the water was getting deep fast, and the tops of my boots just held the deluge at bay. Very careful not to swamp my boots, I slid the coil of the Gold Racer around the boulder, and eeep! I had a solid tone, not a quiet signal like all of the others from earlier. Well, immediately the brain thinks ferrous, but the meter said gold. So, I wanded (hit it with my super-magnet wand [making up my own word?]) the area, no ferrous! Tiptoeing around the boulder to keep my feet dry, I started to work the signal underwater. (I've posted about the frustrating nature of trying to capture underwater targets before, and this outing was no exception.) However, after multiple failures, I finally had the target in the scoop along with a whack of clay and broken bedrock.I tiptoed back to shallower water, then hit the bedrock rise where I'd left my pan. I threw the material into the pan, worked the clay and bedrock material until it cooperated, then panned it down. Bam! A sassy nugget was revealed. A 3.5 gram little beauty! A keeper for sure, no catch-and-release with that one.I packed everything up and hiked or waded back to where I'd left my snacks and water. After a refreshing break, and because the sun was beginning to head west behind the mountain peaks, I broke down the Gold Racer and packed it away. I loaded my tools back into one of my buckets but noticed that my wand was missing! What the?!?Well, the last place I'd used it was way back where I'd found the nugget, so I fired up the Bug Pro and headed back across the bedrock wetlands to find my wand. On the way, I kept the Gold Bug Pro lit, and I let it sniff around underwater every time I had to wade. Three small nuggets later, I hit the bedrock rise adjacent to where I'd found the 3.5 gram nugget. There was my wand, right where I'd put it down when I'd panned out the contents from the scoop.Now, I find it curious how on a return trip to the exact same place I've already detected, the brain sharpens the eye's focus somehow and the eye notices details I've missed the first time around. This time was no exception.There was a small ledge, just above the water's edge, that held some iron-stained gravel and dark material. I couldn't remember having seen it on the first visit, but this time a switch had flipped for sure, and the old brain was screaming, "Run a coil over that spot you dummy!"So, I did, and EEEP!! Now, the Bug Pro really yells (unlike the Gold Racer) when it sinks its teeth into a meaty signal, and I'll tell you what, it surely had my attention. I scraped off all of the loose material, no target in the scoop, but I threw it in the pan just in case. I scanned again, and EEEP! Now, here was a bit of an enigma, wrapped in a bit of a mystery to boot. I was staring at solid black bedrock. So, just for the heck of it, I ran the wand over the spot, but no friends.After I'd swept the area again and the meter was pinning close to 60, I carefully went to work with the pick and broke out some material. I grabbed it with my hand to put it in the pan, and the weight was more than the small amount of material should have been. A very black 4.7 gram nugget was resting in my palm.As for the material I'd tossed into my pan, there was good flake gold in it. I swept the edge of the bedrock and was rewarded with some nice soft signals, so I broke more bedrock until it went quiet, and then I panned it out: more pickers and flake gold, a nice catch.Well, darkness was not becoming my old friend, especially as I had to wade to get out, so I abandoned my workings and headed back to the truck.What a great day! (For me and the rookie.)All the best,Lanny
  8. 2 points
    It’s just not possible. I clearly remember last summer. It was hot. The mosquitoes were thickly pursuing their bloodthirsty ways. To make things worse, there was no wind. Nonetheless, my partner and I were driving from the crest of a thickly timbered peak in the Rocky Mountains down to shoot some nuggets on a highly fractured sheet of ancient bedrock. The mother rock was newly exposed, and it was resting on a bench well above the river, situated at the base of some old hydraulic workings. But, we were a bit sluggish in our determination to detect that ground, as we knew of the ferocious nature of the bugs, and of the hot, sticky, windless nature of the afternoon. Nevertheless, we were obliquely determined to work that piece of ground, as it had been mined earlier in the summer, but it was now open to detecting as the miners were finished cleaning up the area, and they’d given us permission to snoop around for stray nuggets. We were cautiously optimistic, as the large-scale placer operation had recovered some nice gold from that section of paydirt. In fact, I remembered earlier in the summer when I’d visited those same workings and the miners were shut down, doing some welding and fabrication repairs on their wash-plant. In spite of the fact that I was on my way to detect some old workings, I stopped to say hello and see how their season was going. After a friendly conversation, they invited me to have a peek in the sluice boxes. Well, there was bright gold clearly visible at the top of the three large sluices—lots of sassy gram and sub-gram nuggets were winking at me as they tanned in the warm sunshine, nestled in two of the boxes that were set up for coarse gold. As I scanned those boxes, the gold got smaller as it proceeded down-slope, until there was no longer any visible gold below the top third of the boxes. The other sluice was set up for fine gold, and at the end of it, the contents had been funneled into a large centrifuge, designed to spin out the finer stuff. But, I’m wandering off topic, as usual, and I need to get back to my detecting story. To continue, we were bouncing along in the 4X4 over the unsorted gravel covering the roadbed, descending the slope at a moderate pace. As we bumped along the rough mountain route (I can still hear the picks, shovels, and pry-bars clanging loudly, their metallic voices complaining from the bed of the truck box), we saw that a large trailer was parked off to the side of the main road on a bit of a flat,somewhat down-slope from us, positioned beside some old workings. Being the curious types that we are, we pulled off the main road and went over to see who this new miner was. Well, it turned out to be an eager rookie that was on a bit of a vacation. He was new to the adventure of chasing the gold, and he’d been working over some abandoned bedrock for nearly a week. He was very friendly, and right motivated to show us his gold. He pulled out a small vial, and it held some flake gold and several small crystalline pieces of the noble metal. He’d recovered his treasures while working an old site where the ground was mined by hand in the 1860’s. It was a bench deposit, and he was lugging his dirt in 20-litre pails down the mountainside to his truck, putting them in his truck to transfer them to the stream for processing. It was hard labor without the prison sentence! He’d become his own jailer. Moreover, he’d pretty much earned convict wages in his endeavor to boot. (But, hey--I’ve been there more than once myself.) Well, he asked us a few questions and wondered what we were up to. We told him where we were heading, and that we were going to do some detecting. He asked to see our machines, and we were both packing that day. We had our Minelab 5000’s with us. He said he’d read up on those machines, and he wondered if they could really find gold all that well. Now, he had with him a little low-end machine that he’d been fooling around with on some cap-rock, and he’d got some signals out of the layer of cemented material. He asked me if I’d check it out with my machine. So, I fired up the 5000, with the little Joey attached, and I scanned his workings. The detector identified the signals as hotrocks--no doubt. That’s what was creating the racket for sure. However, above where he was working, I spotted a ledge where someone had gone along the bottom of some old workings, cutting back about eight inches into the base of those tailings, extending along the perimeter for about fifteen feet. (This is a common technique. A nugget shooter will find an old area that slumps onto bedrock, remove the overburden while cutting down to the bedrock, and then cut back into the hill, or deposit, hoping to find some gold that was missed anciently, or to find gold that’s since slumped down from higher up, trapping itself on the bedrock.) I decided that I’d hop up there and give the area a scan, as a lot of material had been disturbed while cutting the ledge. Well, after maybe a minute of swinging, I got a nice, soft signal. I called to the Cheechako and told him I had a signal that sounded good—definitely not a hotrock--and it was non-magnetic to boot. I worked out where the signal was coming from, captured it in the scoop, and ran the works over the coil. There was a nice, sharp signal in the scoop. I shook out portions until only a small bit of dirt remained that was surrounding the signal. I carefully shook that tiny portion onto the coil and heard the plop and ensuing growl of snarling metal as it contacted the coil. I pushed the material around on the coil until I’d isolated the piece generating the signal. As I picked it up, I was pretty sure by its weight that it was gold, but it was covered in gray clay. Moreover, I had the rookie hold out his hand, and I dropped it in his palm. Well, he really thought we were messing with him—it wasn’t a gold color, and after all, anyone could see that it was an ugly gray. So, I took it back, used a little saliva (the prospector’s ever-ready cleaning solution) for polish, and rubbed that clay layer off. Well, a nice, sassy nugget was winking back at me. Now, that Cheechako’s jaw dropped so fast it just about hit the toes of his boots. But he sure believed it was gold when I put it in his bottle and told him to take it home! He absolutely couldn’t believe I’d given it to him, or that it was so much bigger than anything he'd found, or that I’d found a nugget that fast. And, to be very honest, I couldn’t believe it either. I mean since when do you break out your detector and then find a nugget on cue? Well, maybe you do it all the time, but not me. I usually have to invest a ton of time digging worthless trash before I hit a nugget. But in this case, I didn’t dig a single piece of trash, and the only good target dug was that little nugget. There’s no way things like that happen to me, well there’s no way it’s ever happened before, that’s for sure. All the best, Lanny
  9. 2 points
    To the Rookies; Well, it's time to discuss, and possibly bust, the myth that the Chinese miners got it all. I'm not sure how many times I've been detecting an area cleaned by the Chinese (sheets of bedrock rimmed with neat, hand-stacked walls of cobbles and larger rock) only to have someone shout out to me (I detect with headphones) in some like manner or another, "Hey! Don't you know you're working an area the Chinese already mined out? You're wasting your time--they got it all. They were very meticulous those Chinese were. . . ." Of course, those aren't their exact words, but they're mighty close, because those types of comments have been directed my way far too many times, by far too many people, and they've been uttered by well-meaning, but clearly, uninformed, individuals. Why do I say this is so when so many authors echo the same words? Well, let's just take a minute and turn back the hands of time and look at what went on. Most of you are probably aware that the Chinese were often not allowed to hold claims at the beginning of the gold rushes (racial prejudice was rife in society at the time). They were most often relegated to menial jobs in the camps, unless they were working for a wealthy Tong that had purchased some good ground, and then, once again, they were basically working as indentured laborers until their contract with the Tong was up--if that ever came to pass. So, most of the Chinese had to wait patiently until there was another gold strike somewhere else. Why? Well, the vast majority of the other miners were "shallow diggin's" miners. They'd rush in to an area, work down maybe six feet or so to get to bedrock, work it in a fast and furious manner to get the obvious concentrations of gold (often doing a very sloppy or haphazard job of cleaning the bedrock), and once they'd retrieved the "easy" gold (I've since learned by my own work that there is very rarely ever any such thing as "easy" gold!), they were ready to bolt to the next rush that was announced. Therefore, when they abandoned their "worked out" claims, the Chinese then had opportunities to buy or claim the ground that was abandoned or ground that was in the process of being abandoned. Were the Chinese meticulous miners? Well, some of them were exceptionally so, without a doubt. I've seen their workings, and examined their techniques. They even used tar on the end of specially cut, thin little sticks to get way down into stingy, narrow crevices to pull out the reluctant, obstinate contents of those clever gold traps. As well, they designed steel and iron crevicing tools of a most ingenious nature. Moreover, they often used wire brushes to scrub the bedrock to get the gold that was trapped in the dirt and clay, clinging to the irregularities of the mother rock. (These bits of wire brush are a genuine nuisance when you're detecting.) Furthermore, they often broke the bedrock down to a greater depth, past where the original miners had done so. Well, if the foregoing is the case, what's the point of working ground the Chinese worked? In one word--technology. No matter how carefully they eye-balled a particular patch of bedrock, they couldn't see inside the rock, nor could they envision a cemented crevice that was the exact same color and consistency as the mother rock. I guess where I'm going with this is that no matter how good the old-time technology was, today's technology can find gold that even the Chinese missed. I'm going to repeat that again in order to bust the myth: No matter how good the old-time technology was, today's technology can find gold that even the Chinese missed. To wander in to the realm of metaphors for a moment, it's like today's electronic technology is a that of the finely tuned nose of a blood-hound being compared to the nose of a mutt (old school Chinese methods that were admittedly, very, very good). Both canine's olfactory organs are infinitely more highly tuned than the nose of some other inferior creature, like that of the mongrel miner in a rush, but the blood-hound's nose will always beat the nose of the mutt (the old technology), simply because it's more refined, and is especially designed for the modern purpose. So, if you're in an area and you see those very tell-tale signs of Chinese diggin's (extremely well-ordered, hand-stacked walls of rock), take your shiny new detector and get in there! I've found gold far too many times in Chinese workings with my detectors not to detect where the Chinese worked. I've even found crevices (working with hand tools while gathering dirt for panning) that they missed. To understand how those oriental masters may have missed gold with their old-time technology--understand human nature first and foremost. W For instance, were all of those miners of days gone by completely motivated day in and day out? Absolutely not! Were they always healthy? Were all of them happy to be there? Of course not. Were any of them lazy? We are talking about human nature here, aren't we? I think you get the picture. Now, to move to a different point, I find--proportionally--more nuggets in areas that were worked by regular miners that were in a rush. This is a given. But, I've found some beautiful sassy nuggets in "worked-out" Chinese diggin's, and I've done it far too often to not at least give the areas they worked an honest effort. Now, go find some gold in some hammered Chinese area and put a huge smile on your face. All the best to all of you, and a Happy New Year, Lanny (And yes, I'm still working on my book, since so many of you continue to kindly ask.)
  10. 2 points
    I've been doing some reading and research (the part I'm in now is about hydraulic mining) about a goldfield (in a rare, out of print book) I worked in the 90's. And, before I lose the references I thought I'd share something quite fascinating that I came across. In one of the references, a company of men was hired to cut a bedrock drain for a hydraulic operation. Well, that seems pretty straightforward, right? You just get the crew in there and they cut out a trench from solid rock to drain tons of water to stop the huge hydraulic wash from pooling, thus halting their ability to sluice. Well, apparently the work was going just fine (I've seen these cuts before and they're anywhere from 3-4 feet, to 8-9 feet deep--occasionally I've run across others that are deeper, but in my experience, they're rare), and this was in bedrock that had already been cleaned, as in that particular area, the pay-dirt was shallow to bedrock--three to four feet, and they were getting lots of coarse gold (heavy gold as they called it). So, they had to cut 300 feet of bedrock drain--that's quite a cut, no matter who you've got swinging the sledges or picks. Well, what's fascinating to me about this account is that it goes on to state that the crew was cutting through the bedrock (and this part is not stated, so what follows must be implied), and they must have started to see pay trapped low down in the bedrock. (In that area, pay-dirt is often very easy to identify as it's usually packing clay and it's a very orange color.) Because the narrator goes out of his way to say that the cutting-crew was toiling in ground that had previously been worked--the author wanted no misunderstanding on that point. Regardless, enough gold was found hidden in the bedrock to pay the expenses of the entire project! Now, that piece of information, all by itself, is interesting enough, but a bit later on in the chapter, they're discussing some information about the Chinese claim holders and some of their workings. The Celestials (as they were called) also were working in a bedrock area that had already been worked, and yet, when their crew completed their cut, they were rewarded with 625 ounces of gold that had been cached there by Mother Nature. So, I'm reading these stories, and I'm thinking, "Holy jumpin'--those oldtimer's must have been in one heck of a hurry to work that bedrock to leave so much gold behind!" But, then I get thinking about the bedrock I've broken and worked by hand, and unless you get some surface indication that there's gold under solid bedrock (and those oldtimer's would have only had hand tools as it was the shallow diggins' outfits that had worked that area); well, if I was staring that much back-breaking work in the face, I'd rather look somewhere else where I know for sure there's a crevice to break open (or head to easier diggin's up the road, which is what most of them always did) before I'd just launch into chewing up bedrock for six or eight feet. Nevertheless, it really makes me wonder what's buried under washed gravel and rock that's deposited all over that early ground that was worked by hand!! Yikes, it makes my mind really spin. Just thought I'd share this with you--I'm sure some of you are familiar with similar situations, but this one really jarred me. All the best, Lanny
  11. 1 point
    Gotta put that book together Lanny!
  12. 1 point
    Took the Gold Racer out this past Saturday (April 28), and struck gold again! I've already rounded up over 15 grams of the sweet stuff with it, and of that total amount, about 3.5 grams of the small stuff that would still be there without the Racer's sensitive nose for fine gold. (I also ordered the tiny elliptical sniper coil to see how sensitive it is. I like how Makro listens to their customer's wishes. Fisher used to make a tiny sniper coil for the Gold Bug 2, and I hear they're still highly sought after, and I have a friend that sure loves his, so I hope the Racer's coil is a good little sniper coil as well.) I'm still learning the sounds the Racer emits, and I found out on Saturday that when I get it over chunks of ironstone, it sings a tune that sounds rather like a good tone, but one mixed with a warble that sounds almost like EMI, and that's very different from the sound the Bug Pro gives on the same targets. The Pro makes a sweet sound, but the iron bars jump way up; the iron reads high on the Racer as well, but that distinctive sound the Racer makes when the coil is over ironstone is now filed in my brain, and I believe it will help me out quite a bit because where I'm currently hunting, there are lots of rounded pieces of ironstone from golfball size to pea size. So, the Racer has just given me a new audio-target ID tool. Of course, I'll still need more time in the field to test my early observations, but the results look promising so far. As for ID'ing the fine gold, I'm finding that when I get the coil over some bedrock, and there's any kind of a positive response, there's often small gold there. (Of course, sometimes it's ground noise when there's a high concentration of oxidized iron in bedrock.) So, I just keep digging until I'm no longer getting a positive response (I throw all of the dirt from the bedrock digs into a large gold pan to save time locating the small stuff.). Another note, when I get the coil over a concentration of fine gold, it gives a broad signal kind of like the sound of high ground mineralization, so that's why I'm now investigating the source of the sound, and it's paying off. As for the Gold Bug Pro, I still like the target response sounds it makes better than the Racer, but maybe that will change with time. Moreover, I don't plan on not using the Pro either. It's a great machine that's paid for itself many, many times over. All the best, Lanny
  13. 1 point
    Took the Gold Racer out for a coin shoot last night. Found a handful of pennies from the 1940 war years, all the way back to 1932. Also found a very old silver spoon (late 1800's/early 1900's Rogers Brothers) that looks like it was in a fire. That's the first time I've ever found a silver spoon, but I have no idea if it's plate or sterling, doing a little research on that, (no copper showing through, and I scratched it pretty good when I hit it with the pick, but likely plate only). I had permission to detect an old home site that's being repurposed for a new business, so while the whole area is torn up, I'm using it as a test bed.The Gold Racer ran well, and it took a while to get used to using the discrimination modes, and I played around with the tone break after I learned the digital ID's of a few trash targets and some highly conductive ones too, so that helped. In addition, I was surprised at the depth it hit some of those coins, no ID digital display numbers, but a sweet tone to guide my ears. Furthermore, when I'd dug down five or six inches, I'd get a digital readout, and then it read solid and pinned at 84. Then I used the Garrett Carrot to pinpoint. Newer pennies were hitting at 80. The silver spoon, much higher of course. I have other machines I like better for coins, but I thought I'd see what there was in the Gold Racer tank anyway, and I wasn't disappointed. Not a coin machine for sure as that's not its purpose, but it will lead to the goodies regardless. (Still a lot to learn about the machine for me yet.) All the best, Lanny P.S. Took it out again tonight, 10 more pennies from WWII, two silver dimes, 1927 penny, 1916 large cent, old pocket knife and a cool toy gun! I'm finding out over the last two days that the sweet spot on the Racer isn't the same as the sweet spot on my Bug Pro, so I'm having to make a few changes when it comes to narrowing down the location of the target signal, but luckily the Garrett Carrot is getting a good workout, and by using it, I'm quickly learning where to look in relation to the signal under the coil vs. my Bug Pro, so that's a plus.
  14. 1 point
    Tried out a new detector (two Saturdays past):Due to some delays, I finally made it out with the Makro Gold Racer on the weekend to see what it could do.I don't know about where you live, but winter here just didn't want to let go this year. I mean, we had one of the coldest, longest winters we've had in forever, and snow, snow, snow (we're about four feet over the average mountain snowpack at the higher elevations as I write), but Old Man Winter finally took a breather, and so I got a chance to head to the mountains to swing the coil again.The place I picked was one that didn't have a lot of exposed bedrock, just a small section really, with the rest of the ground covered with six to eight feet of overburden on top of the bedrock, and that's just too much overburden for the size of gold I commonly find.As for the weather that day, it was a true mixed bag. I mean this time of year, we can get all four seasons in one day! Saturday was no exception. It rained early in the morning, then the sun came out and it was nice and warm, then it clouded over, started to rain again, then turned to snow, then the wind blew a cold blast of air for about an hour, then the sky turned blue and the sun came out once more, the wind stopped, and the weather did its best spring imitation for the next three hours.I unlimbered the Gold Bug Pro first, and you can't make this stuff up, within three minutes, I'd found a three gram nugget, one my wife said looked sort of like a four-leaf clover. And, Nature indeed had made it look kind of like one. The nugget was sitting in some tough clay that held a lot of former river stones, so it seemed to me that it was likely what used to be the bottom of a crevice long ago, as the surrounding bedrock had been cut down at least a couple of feet by the former placer miners whose actions would have left the sort of deposit I've described.I kept working the exposed bedrock and any places I could find where bedrock had been tossed out in case some gold had ridden out with it. (I have found nuggets this way before.) I really took my time and went slow, because I wanted to be sure I'd cleaned the area before I broke out the Gold Racer so I'd have as accurate a comparison as I could. By the time I'd finished with the Fisher, I'd gathered another gram and a half of small stuff that I'd thrown in the bottle.My wife had wandered off, and I found her panning near the foot of channel wall, but she wasn't having much luck; however, she pointed out something to me that I'd have completely missed. To the north and east of where she'd been panning, there was a short section left of what had been a bedrock drain, and there were small sections of bedrock still exposed that the boulder clay hadn't reclaimed.Nevertheless, I headed back to the original bedrock I'd worked with the Gold Bug Pro, and I broke out the shiny new Makro Gold Racer. The ground balance worked flawlessly, and setting the sensitivity was a breeze. The ground was moderate to a little hot, so I didn't have to worry about adjusting the ISAT, and I was pretty familiar with the types of hot-rocks I'd likely find, so I knew most, if not all, of them by sight. I started by running the coil slowly over the areas I'd hit with the Bug Pro, and after a few sweeps, I had several quiet but distinct signals. When I dug down, the signals got louder. I called my wife over, and she took the dirt with the signals and panned them out. Neither one of us could believe the tiny gold in the pan! The Gold Racer really did deliver on finding small gold. However, the first bedrock area was not where I realized how good the Gold Racer could perform.Remember I mentioned the bedrock drain? I headed over to it with both detectors. First, I scanned the small exposed areas exceptionally carefully with the Bug Pro, and I got a few small pieces, then I ramped up the sensitivity on the machine as far as I could, fought the background chatter, and all in all, liberated about half a gram of gold from the bedrock. I swapped out the Bug Pro for the Gold Racer and covered the same areas again. Almost immediately I had a signal. I couldn't believe it, but the signal was clear, and I could see a previous dig mark where I'd nailed some small stuff with the Bug Pro, and the Racer was giving a crisp signal, quite unmistakable, right in the same dig hole! To make a long story short, three inches of bedrock later, a nice picker was in the bottle! This blew me away, as the Gold Racer had found the target while running nice and quiet, with the sensitivity not ramped up, yet the signal was very clear.I kept at the small sections of bedrock, and kept getting quiet, but clear, signals until I'd added another gram and a half of small gold to the vial. (Sometimes I'd get a break in the threshold too, but when I dug down, the signal either disappeared or it turned out to be a target. [Some heavy iron deposits in the bedrock did give a weak signal, but I soon learned that due to the broad nature of their signature exactly what they were.]) What this weekend's outing made me realize is that if I'd have given the Gold Racer a run the end of last summer, I'd have undoubtedly recovered a lot of small gold, and I do mean a lot, that the Bug Pro just couldn't see (this test was carried out with virtually the same coil sizes on both machines, elliptical shapes and DD's as well), and knowing now what I likely left behind last summer makes me a bit sad. (Out of six grams of gold for the Saturday, a gram and a half was fine stuff from the Gold Racer, and that's a pretty good added portion of gold recovery I'd say.)So, I learned my lesson well on Saturday, and I gained a whole lot of respect for the little Gold Racer for how sensitive it is to small gold, how good it punches into the ground to find it, and how quietly it goes about its job of doing so. Furthermore, The Makro is a great little gold machine I can swing all day long, and I'm looking forward to really taking it for a long, dedicated run this summer to add more gold to the poke because it sure gets the job done in style!All the best,Lanny
  15. 1 point
    beatup

    If you're in Montana this weekend..

    It,s always a good time at that hunt.
  16. 1 point
    Hi All, if you happen to be around the Radersburg, Montana area (SE of Helena) this weekend, be sure to check out the 15th Annual Rick Radke Memorial Metal Detector Hunt. It is hosted by the Headwaters GPAA Chapter who are really a great group of folks. The outing should be a lot of fun and a good chance to win some prizes. For those that didn’t know Rick, he was a well-known prospector and shop owner in Helena for many years. His passing was totally unexpected and a shock for us all. The photo below is of us detecting outside Helena and was the last time I got to see him alive. He was way too young, and is truly missed. Thank you Headwaters for honoring his memory with this hunt!
  17. 1 point
    Yes, fortunately the spam is slowing fading away. I would agree that most of those users registered some time ago and only managed to sneak through when the new upgrade took effect. I've been banning and deleting them like crazy, so with any luck they will be a thing of the past by the end of the month. Thanks again to everyone for your help and support.
  18. 1 point
    Shep

    Should I have my GPX4000 modified?

    I have a 4500 bought about a year after it came out. Had issues with it after awhile and after a trips to Minelab for repair to no avail, sent to Woody, he found and repaired the problem and did a mod at the same time. Impressed how quiet it ran. A couple of years ago, sent in for the latest mod, adjustable front gain. Last year was tough on me prospecting, so hadn’t had a lot of chances to test. A friend who had his 5000 modded came down to Quartzsite and helped me set it up. Picked up a test ‘nugget’ at 16”. Last month at Dome Rock, at a get together, using a ‘tool’ Patrick designed, I planted a .5 gram piece of lead at 16”. My modded 4500 sounded off a couple of inches high, Bill Southern’s modded 3500 also sounded off well. A stock 5000 could not hear it. A famous detectorist from Las Vegas scrubbed his 7000 over the target and could barely hear it. Bottom line Woody’s mods work!
  19. 1 point
    Iron Spike Mine: A true bedrock tale of two Rookies. In July one summer, my brother-in-law from the USA, finally came to visit me in the gold fields of British Columbia, Canada. I've been inviting him for years and years, and he finally made it! Moreover, he brought his brother from Washington State with him. (As a matter of fact, my brother-in-law is the one that got me interested in prospecting over thirty-five years ago, and that all happened in Montana at a famous historic site, Virginia City, the jewel of Alder Gulch. I believe I've posted a poem about that on this site.) The two rookies had quite an ordeal getting to the mine, as they got lost on one of the many maze-like, chuck-hole-filled logging roads, and then they innocently tried to turn around in the middle of the road, hoping to retrace their path and reconnect with the right road. Well, you’ve guessed it, while still negotiating their turn, a massive, dusty, diesel-belching logging truck came blasting and barreling down the road straight for them. They had only one option, quickly hammer down on the accelerator of their brown and yellow camper van. allowing them to hit the opposite ditch as quickly as possible. They made it, and the logging truck went smoking and roaring straight on through, his freight-horns blaring loud curses. The poor brothers both had a severe case of the “near death experience” shakes for the next half hour. (Trust me, if you’ve never had a near-miss on one of those narrow logging roads going head to head with a fully loaded logging truck, you don’t know what excitement is all about—nope, not by a long shot!) But I’m digressing again in my meandering tale, so I’ll head back to the aforementioned prospecting story. I took my guests to a little honey-hole I’d found the previous summer. And, without a word of a lie, I found the nugget-bearing ground right behind the outhouse! There was a very interesting looking formation on the side of the hill behind the outhouse (no bathroom humor please), and one of the miners was kind enough to open the spot up a bit with a Bobcat (a skid-steer loader). Well, you should have seen the nice pickers and big flake gold that came out of that formation—it was beautiful, heavy stuff. Nonetheless, it was one weird formation. In an attempt to describe it, I can only say that it was like nature threw an angry fit and just flipped everything on that hillside upside down. I mean there was clean beach sand in a huge layer (that in itself is bizarre), and then there was slate on top of that, and then there was broken slate on top of the solid bedrock, and then there was dark ruby sand in a big band on top of that next layer, and then there was more broken slate, and then there were lenses of more of that dark ruby sand, topped by more solid layers of slate. (I've never seen anything remotely like it since). Well, the gold was on the TOP of the dark ruby sand, not on the slate underneath where it should have been, so that’s why I figure the whole thing got flipped or folded over somehow, during a massive, landscape altering cataclysm. But, I said I had a story to tell about my prospecting guests, so, I’ll soldier on. (You’ll just have to forgive my wanderings and sidebars from time to time please.) Anyway, I took the eager rookies to the honey hole, and they were a little jittery about working so close to that small and fragrant house of ill refuse. For you see, there was a fine ripening odor issuing from the highly essential structure, so we spent several hours panning pay-dirt adjacent to a brush-filled, breezy little creek, fronting a mining pit just downstream, but well upwind from that honey hole! Amazingly enough, we were getting pickers (up to half a gram each) but no nuggets, but three to four nice pickers to the pan kept turning up. Now, that’s fun panning dirt indeed--no chance for catch-and-release when things are going that well. However, my guests, named Butch and Ford, wanted to find some nuggets very badly—something about having traveled over a thousand miles, and surviving a near-death-experience just to get to the gold camp—that kind of logical nonsense. I guess they didn’t realize that the panning they were doing was power-packed panning indeed. Nonetheless, the budding Cheechakos were getting a fine and festering case of gold fever, and we all know how quickly that glorious disease spreads to every cell of the system. So, my guests (still resisting my urgings to pan behind the redolent outhouse), seemed pleased when I suggested a trip to a large, airy river the next day, so that we could check out the stream-bank accumulations of some suction eddies I’d spotted while scouting along a Spruce-lined section of the stream. I'd stumbled on it while out looking for a good fishing hole. On my trek, I’d noticed the high-water results of those eddies, noting where they’d left stacks of river rocks high and dry on the exposed bedrock. The ice-filled spring runoff was higher than normal that season, and when a mega-melt happens, fresh coarse gold is always rooted up and popped free, washed down the sides of the valleys, and spun madly along the feeder streams, and then into the voluminous, raging rivers. After a pleasant quad ride through tall pines and stout balsams, frequently passing brightly colored wildflowers alive with kaleidoscopic hummingbirds, we got to the peaceful river. However, at the crossing, our passage was blocked by a huge Spruce that had lodged in the middle of the stream. So, we got a chainsaw and sectioned the tree into more manageable chunks. (However, being the graceful, synchronized water creature that I am, while wrestling the logs, I unceremoniously fell into the river several times—taking most of that glacial melt-stream in with great, ragged gulps I did. I went without the need for any drinking water the rest of that amazingly hot day. Upon reflection, what a blessing having a near-drowning experience turned out to be.) Nonetheless, moving along with my prospecting story, we then towed the largest section of the trunk out of the way with the quad, so that we could cross to prospect the other side. After crossing the river with Butch and Ford, we scouted for the areas of exposed bedrock that had slowed the river enough to create the aforementioned suction eddies. We found one just a short ways upstream from where we’d lumber-jacked the Spruce. The river had deposited large boulders on a bedrock shelf on the right-hand bank, facing downstream of the crystalline river. However, in the stream proper, the bedrock, which was a stern black slate, protruded close to a foot above the surface of that inviting water. Upon closer examination of the large rocks and cobbles stacked against the stream bank, I noticed a large iron spike, about a foot long, lodged firmly among the hefty, pumpkin-sized boulders. My fevered prospector brain was trying to signal something to me, something I’d learned the previous summer—some dim reflection of how any suction eddy that loses enough energy to drop out boulders and large pieces of metal must certainly abandon any gold that it is carrying as well. So, I told Ford and Butch to get in there and commence to digging. Well, the rocks really flew then. As they neared bedrock, they scooped up pans of the good-looking, reddish-orange dirt, and true enough, after panning, each and every pan had some gold, each pan's gold successively larger, but flakes only. Nevertheless, the gold was getting coarser the closer to the bedrock they dug, and four more large iron spikes, packed tight against the bedrock, came out of the bottom of that hole. The growth of the size of the gold inspired and fired them onward, for they kept digging into and cleaning the mother rock. No family of industrious northern beavers were ever more engaged in an enterprise than they were. Eventually, seeing a crack in the bedrock and using a large pry bar for levering off a sizable section of the host rock, I carefully cleaned all the rocks and clay out of that deep crevice. Not long after handing it over to the two brothers for panning, my brother-in-law's brother, having concentrated it down queried, "Hey, look at this. Isn't this gold?" Well, as dumb luck would have it, it most certainly was! There smiling most sassily at those Cheechakos was a nice little nugget, about twice as thick as a matchstick, and a little more than a quarter of an inch long. Well--Look Out! They both jumped into that hole and every one of those remaining rocks grew wings—no Red Bull necessary to launch those! Why, that there bedrock got mighty naked in one big hurry. Moreover, while the brothers labored, I kept cleaning out that interesting crevice, teasing out yet another pan-full of the good stuff. Seeing that it looked promising, I passed it to Ford who smartly panned it out, and then he gave what I can only describe as an electrified shout, or maybe it was more like a startled, stuttering scream. Regardless, I’m sure he’s neither made that explosive sound before, nor since.When I looked in that green pan, I knew what had shorted his system out. There basking in the deep-green bottom of that gold pan were four chunky nuggets!! That’s right . . . nuggets. (What’s up with that anyway? Like, how do rookies have so stinking much luck?!?) There, sun-bathing in the pan, were two rounded, beefy ones, grinning away at their new-found world, and two nice, substantial thumpers--both staring smugly up at me. That's one of the nicest river pans of dirt I've ever seen. (I’ve seen better stuff in old channels, ones hidden for countless millenia, and ones newly opened and exposed by recent mining, but this stuff was from a well-worked placer stream--that's what made it remarkable.) Nonetheless, my apologies in advance, as I had no scale along with us on that trip—I left it at home. Moreover, the brothers took the gold to the States with them, but those nuggets were fat and sassy—that’s for sure.) So now, Butch and Ford, well, they think finding gold is quite easy, and how in the world am I ever going to convince them otherwise? As a final note, lots of people in the area scoff at the idea of even panning in the river, because it's been worked for well over a hundred and forty years, but the generous spring floods keep bringing freshly freed gold to replenish some of what was taken. Therefore, because there's no gold left in that resplendent river, we ignorant tourist-types certainly don't mind being the dopes that pan those nuggets out of there at all! All the best, Lanny
  20. 1 point
    Lost Drift-Mine Cache A few summers back, the miners of a large placer operation, one located deep in the darkly wooded hills of the far goldfields, shared a fascinating story with me. Late one chilly northern evening, as we sat around a warm, intense campfire, they told me how several years previous, one of the more reclusive members of their tiny community hadn't reported in to the local log-built outpost of a store for his weekly visit. In fact, the settlement is such a small place that every resident is in the habit of showing up on the same day (mail day) to collect his or her letters, to socialize somewhat, and to catch up on the news. Moreover, because the area is quite remote, and this includes an inherent tendency for the inhospitable, and the unpredictable, anytime someone breaks a routine (like coming in for their mail), the locals go looking. And, sure enough, the searchers found the old sourdough dead in his cabin. On his table was a nice tub of rich concentrates he'd been panning, working them down, from the night before. Everything in the cabin was peaceful and in order. He had apparently died undisturbed in his sleep. The fascinating background on this unfortunate gold-seeker is that, as a dedicated drift-miner, he had been mining, full-time, for decades. His diggin's were located on good, coarse gold-producing ground. Furthermore, he was tough and superbly resourceful. However, as his particular situation was, and as is the case with many of the permanent residents in this isolated hamlet, many live alone. They spend the years without the companionship of spouse or family. It is the solitary existence of the lonesome lifestyle that they accustom their lives to. In addition, some of those more colorful, yet profoundly enigmatic, characters won't allow you to take their photograph (under any circumstances!), which hints loudly that they are probably running from some kind of problem-filled past. Which indeed, certain ones are. In addition, there is no local bank in which to deposit the resplendent noble metal most of the northern locals toil ceaselessly for. Moreover, the nearest repository is four to six hours away, depending on road conditions, and the route out always proves a challenging expedition. Furthermore, that luxury of heading to the city only suits those that WANT to get out; some never take the opportunity, relishing instead their chosen isolation. But, I'm wandering again, so back to my story. The deceased miner had found a nice tertiary channel that plunged with stubborn determination under a steep cliff of heavy, stable, boulder-clay overburden. Many torturous summers and winters of unfathomable effort were spent tunneling along the bedrock, doggedly excavating back and forth to stay with the pay, all the while chasing the ever-fickle path of gold. The miner's eternal quest--taht challenging riddle that teases to be solved--the golden enigma left eons ago by a smug, confident Mother Nature. For those of you that have seen one-man drift-mine operations, you are familiar how the tunnel's low height forces the toiling prospector to work in a perpetual, stooped condition. That's why so many of the Old-timer's walk permanently hunched over--the human form was not designed for such work. The drift miner's work was backbreaking, formidable, and the rewards uncertain. On a side note, I've gazed into those still dripping, cold and musty tunnels, vainly trying to fathom how mind-numbing to would be to use only a pick and shovel to chip away at obdurate ancient river material, fiiled with everything from obstinate cobbles and stubborn cemented material, to mammoth, defiant boulders. Furthermore, my weak attempt to fathom the constant, nagging fear of cave-ins can never due the true horror of such events any justice whatsoever. As well, add to the aforementioned fears (and demands of heavy labor), the years of breathing the stale, bad air that permeates the dark, isolated world of the tunnel. I really can't comprehend how people remain motivated to suffer such privation. And, I was naively ignorant that people still mined using this old, manual method--I had assumed it was abandoned decades ago. In fact, other enduring gold-seekers still chase the gold using this method, the same method used by the deceased miner of this tale As, you've probably divined where I'm going with this story, I'll continue my tale. The dead miner of that lonely mine used to pay for all of his grub and supplies at the local outfitter's with lustrous, heavy gold--never once did he use cash. Nor did he use banks; he refused to make the trip out from the goldfield. Furthermore, he trusted no one. In addition, he had no family that anyone had ever been aware of, so the eager locals decided to see if they could find his cache. They thoroughly searched every possible hiding place of his now unoccupied, silent claim. However, wherever he cached his numerous sacks of heavy nuggets and coarse gold, his talent for hiding them was masterful, and its effect enduring. The locals were not able to locate a single nugget of it. As I pass through this long winter, the vision of those manifold years of constant mining, the knowledge of that lucrative bounty garnered from endless tunneling in rich ground, haunts and entices me yet. For somewhere deep in that primeval northern forest, cached in the secretive, cryptic earth, resides a sublime treasure: one once laboriously wrestled from Mother Nature, yet one now reclaimed--one back in her clever, timeless care again. All the best, Lanny
  21. 1 point
    Hello again to all, Where to begin this desert tale . . . Well, hunting for nuggets in the Arizona desert in February was a unique experience. For starters, I was way out of my natural element, that's for sure. (I mean, I left my home diggin's where the ground was still frozen stiff. I'm talking about not being able to dig a hole in that hardened northern soil even with the aid of a Nuke!) So, when I got to Arizona and the ground was all soft and warm, and the oranges were on the trees, and the grapefruits too--I'm sure I was suffering some kind of climatic prospector shock. But, it sure felt nice. Reflect on it a bit--what's a poor northern boy like me supposed to think all warmed up in a climate so absolutely foreign as that? Nevertheless, after a day of acclimatizing, and a bit of resting up from almost thirty hours of accumulated driving, I was truly ready to head for the hills. I stayed with a friend of mine, an old prospecting buddy--a feisty fightin' rooster of a nugget hunter that partner surely is. He took me in and showed me how to scratch in the dirt when I was hardly more than an egg. But no matter, I digress in telling my tale, again. So, I was staying at his place. He's got a nice fifth wheel, and I slept in my snug little tent on the desert floor beside it. (As an aside, I am living proof that even though it's warm in the desert day sun, it's cold enough at night to freeze the pipes in a boiler room!! Moreover, I really know what people mean when they say you can freeze to death in the desert! I have a whole new respect for places with thin air and no moisture.) Anyway, somewhat flummoxed after chipping a coating of ice off my forehead in the morning, I rousted out my Minelab SD, and all my other nugget hunting regalia. I then mounted up on my desert camel--a Suzuki quad--one fittingly equipped with a range of low and high gears for negotiating those steep hills and desert arroyos. Then, off we (my partner and I) went through the Saguaro cactus, pric--kly pear, Palo Verde trees, Mesquite brush, patches of Creosote, and the jumping Cholla! That jumping cactus truly is nasty stuff!! Don't ever fight with it--you'll lose for sure. Regardless, we cruised along quite nicely among the cactus and the brush--almost every living plant out there is armored and spiked and thorned! Lot's of painful lessons they had to teach me, I'll tell you. Nevertheless, we got down in to some dry washes and then we made pretty good time. (I had a little trouble relating to rivers of sand, instead of water, but they're called rivers down there, even without water in them. Moreover, for comfort and ease of travel, they sure beat bouncing over the cobbles higher up on those rough mountain, connecting valley, and brush trails. Anyway, at last we topped out on a huge plateau, and my friend pointed to some mountains and let me know that the one in the middle was Rich Hill. Imagine that--here I was staring at a place I'd read about a hundred times. I'd dreamed of the nuggets so big you'd stub your toe on them. And yet, here I was staring away into the distance at the actual place I'd always tried so hard to imagine. And let me tell you; it was something. (But, when I got up close and personal with the mountain later in the week, it was even more of a spell caster: there really is something about that mountain that grabs you and wants to hold you. Plus, there's so much history embraced there. In fact, you can still see some of the original buildings. Furthermore, old mines and workings are everywhere.) So, I couldn't believe I was finally really there in the desert, and that I would soon get a chance to go for some of that beautiful Arizona, desert gold. A little farther up the trail we had to slow up to watch a herd of wild pigs go rooting and swaggering down a winding pig trail. My friend said we were lucky to see them, I guess they're not real social. Perhaps that is because other humans like to shoot them and roast them? Maybe . . . . Furthermore, Javelinas are supposed to be right tasty, I've heard. So, we moseyed on up, and then down, and then over and around those trails a bit more, until my friend stopped and pointed to the ground and told me to tie up my 4-wheeled camel so we could get off and stretch our legs and commence to swingin' those detectors. Man, I pounded that dusty ground all day, and I found old bullets, and bullet casings, and square nails, and horseshoe nails, and boot tacks, and bits of wire. But no sassy nuggets wanted to be found. Ominously, the sky was acquiring some darkness, so we got those gasoline-drinking desert ships fired up and headed to our lodgings for the night. My friend's Missus had a whopping good meal prepared for us, as she did every night for that entire week. (What a fine thing it is to come down from the mountains and out of the brush to a warm, delicious meal! I mean, I was totally spoiled at end of the week: I had to put more air in the tires as the week wore on just to keep up to the increasing burden from all of that good cooking.) Nevertheless, weight gain aside, each and every day we'd head out into the desert to look for the gold. We went to a spot where the old-timers had dry-washed a powerful pile of dirt to find themselves some gold, so we did a little panning there in a gully, and we got some pretty specks and flakes too. However, I also nugget hunted around that arroyo and found more of the same odd assortment of the leavings of long-forgotten men, but no nuggets. Yet, the days were beautiful and warm, and the desert's haunting beauty magnificently grew on me. (You know, I've never had a desire to go to the desert, I Mean, what's out there, right? Wrong! Dead wrong. That place is packed with plant and animal life--just different that's all. And it's got its own magnetic beauty; it really clinches your soul right to it.) But, back to my story. We worked up the valley slope, just below Rich Hill, and pounded and probed the ground with our electronic waves, yet all we got for rewards were the never-changing reminders of the old sourdough's passing. But, no matter where we went, my buddy and his desert-resident-buddy kept saying how many fat and sassy nuggets they'd found every place they took me to. Moreover, they were taking me to their best honey holes, and they just couldn't calculate why we weren't findin' the gold. (In all honesty, I was enjoying myself so much, and I was so glad to be away from snow and ice and frozen ground, that I didn't have the heart to tell them that it was OK not to be hittin' the nuggets.) We took a day off from swinging, scraping, and digging, and went up to Stanton, Arizona. The real town was located a bit farther up the gulch, but the re-established ghost town was fun to look at nonetheless. In addition, out of dumb blind luck, I met Chris Gholson of Arizonaoutback.com, and Jonathan Porter (an Aussie nugget hunter that's snagged many, many hundreds and hundreds of ounces of gold with his detector). So, that was an incredible, intriguing, informative experience. (On a different vein, let me tell you something--that Rich Hill is tunneled into all over the place--I mean she's really been bored into, but I didn't have permission to hunt up Frenchman's gulch, or any of the other savory sounding spots that looked so tempting.) By the way, at the bottom of Rich Hill, by the roadway, there are all kinds of boulders stacked on top of each other, and all kinds of Saguaro cactus growing up amongst them. It's quite an unforgettable sight. As well, there's all these old stone buildings, rock walls, yawning mine adits, waste dumps, and intriguing trails to the gold heading off into every nook and cranny in the hills. You can really see how parts of that legendary land were dug up, moved, re-routed, and then turned upside down to get at the gold. In the gullies below the mountain there were all kinds of RV's and all sorts of fine people out nugget hunting and gold digging. Some were even gold washing with those re-circulating, self-contained gold machines. It was a busy magical tableau of energetic, adventurous humanity. All explored out, we made our way back to base-camp, to another fantastic meal. On the last day of my golden desert adventure, we headed out to a promising spot we'd lightly hit earlier in the week. I toddled off down an old trail and commenced to slashing the air with my coil, down in the clutches of the rocks and vegetation of a steep arroyo. There were nests of boulders littered about all down that wash, and lots of exposed clay, so my hopes were high. I found some fine old bullets, some enigmatic casings with no manufacturing marks, but no gold. My friend came and hollered me out of there, calling me back up to the top. He opened his hand and full across the width of his palm there snoozed a beautiful, porked-out gold and quartz specimen, twice as big around as a candy bar it was!! After I pulled the cactus spines out of my jaw, from where it had dropped in dumb amazement onto the desert floor, I asked him if I could see the spot of discovery. He took me to a flattened out area of reddish clay, one with all kinds of white quartz scattered throughout the ground. He showed me the honey-hole where he'd found it and motioned for me to put that beauty back into its desert nesting site. Then he told me to cover the specimen gold up; and next, to swing my coil over it so's I could hear what a sassy desert beauty really sounded like. Man, did that quartz-gold chunk ever make a sweet intoxicating growl in my headphones! If gold can have a voice, that one's voice could have put me in rehab to cure my new-found addiction to desert gold! Well, we were at the end of my last detecting day, and what a wonderful way it was to finish off. True, I got skunked in the nugget category, but I'm now rich with a warm love of the desert, and I'm rarin' to go back. All the best, Lanny [Author's note--I did go back, and I met up with Bill Southern--he took me out in the desert for a day, but that's a story for another day.]
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