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My nephew David and I went back to the same place we were last weekend. Our primary objective on this trip was to determine the source of the gold. We were curious if the gold we had found last weekend and was coming out of the high bench, or was just gold traveling down river. This time we brought in a couple of small highbankers, which would enable us to work a lot more gravel and take a better sample of the area.
David decided to set up right where he left off last week and I decided to head further downstream. I wanted to check the area downstream of the bench. First, I located a suitable area to setup my pump. I only had a twofoot long intake hose, so I had to find a spot close to the water to position the pump. I found a great place to set up the highbanker, which was about 30 feet away from the pump, in a bowlshaped area that would work great as a settling pond. The discharge water from my high banker would have to flow through some rocks and sand before it could get back into the main current of the river. I always like to filter my discharge water whenever possible. I’m not really sure what the rules are on highbanking, but I've heard so many different things from different people and I'm not sure if anyone else truly knows what the laws are either. But I figure if you can clean up the water a bit before you put it back into river, why not. There may be someone downstream enjoying the river too and it’s just common courtesy.
After I got the highbanker set up and leveled, I started sampling gravel from different areas. I dug up several buckets of gravel from a gravel bar which was deposited by the river. After running those buckets through the highbanker I idled down the motor and cleaned out the sluice box. I was surprised to find very little gold in the first clean out. With no gold in the box yet I decided to move to a different area where the runoff from the bench had been accumulating. I dug several buckets from that location and ran them through the highbanker. After I cleaned out the sluice box again, I had the same results, very little gold. So I decided to clean out the only crevice that was close to me, and ran that through the highbanker. This time when I checked the box there was finally some of that yellow metal gold.
Now I had a problem; I had positioned my high banker in a great area for working the gravel, but wasn’t finding any gold in the gravel. It was also lousy area for cleaning out crevices because there were almost none to speak of. The day was also dwindling, by this time it was already 3:00 PM and I knew I didn't have the time needed to relocate the highbanker to different area. So I decided to start metal detecting some crevices. I planned to cover as much ground as possible and only pan out the crevices that had targets in them. I broke down the highbanker and packed it back up to the landing area. I stopped where David was working to see how he was doing and he was kicking my butt on the gold. He showed me his vial of gold which had some small pickers that he had plucked out of his highbanker. He had dedicated the entire day to working the crevices just below the high bench area. Most of the gold that he found had come from fairly small crevices, less than a halfinch wide which were packed very tightly with gravel. He was trying to process as much material as possible before the end of the day.
After dropping off my highbanker at the landing area, I grabbed my detector and headed back downstream. I quickly found a couple of nice crevices that had targets in them and started digging. It took a bit of effort to get the gravel cleaned out of the crevices because they were packed extremely tight. After cleaning them out I was rewarded with enough fine gold and one nice picker to save the day. As the evening approached I knew it would be time to leave soon so I began packing my things to head back to the landing area. Just as I threw my pack over my shoulder I saw David who had hiked downstream to check my progress and let me know it wasabout was time to go.
After I arrived home I cleaned up my gold and weighed it. I had found 2.5 grams or 1.6 dwt (pennyweight). I called David who had just finished cleaning out his gold and he said that he had a total of 3.3 grams. We were both were pleased with the gold that we had found that day and felt it had been a fairly productive trip. After prospecting around the area, we’re still not exactly sure where the gold is coming from. It could be coming directly from the bench or it could be travelling from upstream, or both. We did determine that the best place to find gold on this section of the river is packed in the crevices, even the really small crevices that don’t look like they could hold much of anything. Although this area produced a decent amount of small pickers and fine gold in the crevices, there was not much concentration of gold in the gravel bar itself. Like I’ve seen on most rivers, gold needs to find a place to fall out of the current and concentrate, and the more tightly packed the crevice the better chance you’ll find gold at the bottom.