July 2013 by Joe ChmielYou couldn’t ask more from a late winter’s day in February in the Mojave Desert: clear sky, 70-degree temperatures, the gentlest of breezes and...GOLD!
I like to hunt club claims, and I find that by maneuvering my coil between rocks and bushes I can sometimes pick out a nugget—or five or six—that others have missed. On this particular day, I was doing my usual thing, picking off nuggets up to 1/2-gram in size. However, my prospecting partner, instead of skimming along the surface, seemed to be lingering extra long in just one place. In fact, he was practically camped on this single spot, digging, detecting, recovering, and repeating the process.
It occurred to me that he might have found a cluster of extra tiny nuggets, the type that only his VLF (very low frequency) detector can pick up. Or maybe he was having trouble pinpointing the responses his detector was giving him. Whatever it was, I knew I had better stay busy if I were to keep up.
Of course I became so engrossed in what I was doing that I failed to notice that for a full two hours my partner had been trying to get my attention to come join him, and he was in a bit of a dilemma about this. On the one hand, he could leave his spot and come get me (running the risk of other nearby nuggetshooters jumping his hole) or he could yell to me to come over (thereby signalling to everyone around that there was something worthwhile to be had). Well, he did neither—he chose to wait until I finally noticed his subtle gesturing and walked over to see what was up.
I was surprised to see that he had a two-foot deep hole going and had already collected about 15 grams worth of nuggets. As for me, I was barely over one gram for my day’s efforts.
Seeing as I was swinging a different VLF detector that wouldn’t interfere with his, he suggested that I dig a hole about 10 feet away from him to see if I might find a similar pocket. It was late in the day and I was already a bit worn out, so I was not looking forward to digging in the blind hope of hitting a pay streak.
But dig I did—and without the benefit of a detector signal, mind you. Picking my way through the bedrock, my hope of hitting a gold-bearing pocket was fading with the late afternoon sun. As soon as I got under the bedrock and into a soft layer I stuck the coil of my detector into the hole. Wham! A solid “zeet-zeet” from the side of the hole greeted my ears, and turning the discriminator function on yielded a solid indication for gold on the detector’s readout.
I furiously started pulling material out of the side wall and putting it in my scoop. It didn’t take long to discover that the source of the scream was from a one-ounce chunk of rock. Almost no gold was immediately visible due the rock being encased in a hardened caliche crust, but one corner gave away its secret. An exposed area of yellow metal indicated that this was indeed a temporary treatment for my gold fever!
I wanted to jump up and down, but because of the other detectorists in the area, I had to play it cool. The prize was slipped quietly into my pouch with no celebration. It was only upon later inspection that I could see this rock was ribboned with gold!
The total weight was just over an ounce, and with some cleaning it will end up under an ounce. But still, finding a specimen piece of this size was a real treat. Oh yeah—the hole held a couple more tiny nuggets and nothing else.
So I guess this was sort of a backwards find. Instead of beeping a target and digging a hole, I dug a hole and then beeped the target. Gold is indeed where you find it!
A large, 8-pennyweight piece popped out of a very small crevice where the water had been extremely swift in the winter, leaving no visible gravel.
...this contradicts the fact that mining claimants are considered landowners with exclusive rights to possess and use that claim, and miners have “riparian rights” on mining claims that do not require permitting.
Time is a commodity which if traded would dwarf the price of gold. Nobody has enough of it; we can’t make more of it; and whether squandered or spent wisely, once gone, it’s gone forever. To find gold we have to spend time.
I had a chance to visit the operation in person and talk with Neal. I was very impressed and I think our readers could learn a lot about building up a commercial placer operation from scratch…
Filing claims is actually quite easy, though there are a number of pitfalls that you should watch out for. Over the years, I have made just about every mistake you can with a mining claim, and have learned a few things to watch out for along the way.
Down around 10 or 12 inches I hit a large cobble that appeared to be one type of hot rock for this area. I thought bad things about the new technology until I checked the rock.
Science has shown, over the past few centuries, that there is a direct correlation between certain plants and their geophysical surroundings.
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