The helicopter dropped us off on a very large gravel bar on the inside of a slow bend of the river. The most interesting thing about this area was an old bench that had been left by the river. It was on the inside of the turn, and about 15 to 20 feet above the river. It had already been worked heavily by miners from the past. There were several very large piles of boulders stacked above the river indicating that this site was worked very hard and must have produced substantial amounts of gold. From the general looks of the area I'm guessing it was mined heavily in the 1850’s or sixties.
It was hard to tell when the site was last worked, because someone had lived on it for a while in recent years. Unfortunately, whoever camped there in recent years was a slob and had no respect for this pristine canyon because they left trash everywhere. The trash looked like it if only been there for a year or so. They left everything from food wrappers to their cookware scattered throughout the area. They also left a decent pry bar which I was happy to reclaim. People like this slob are the reason we miners get a bad reputation and why we’re continuing to lose access to public lands. Because we have gotten off to a late start, I didn't want to spend the time to clean up this slob’s mess. So I was unable detect the area around the camp site.
As soon as we got settled in, we both started detecting upstream. After an hour or so, I wasn't finding much of anything. I decided to try working downstream for a while. David kept working upstream. As I worked my way downstream the bedrock was getting steeper. After a while it started flattening out again. Now I was able to work a little closer to the edge of the river. I started getting a target now and then. All I was finding were small pieces of iron and lead. The research I had done on this area indicated that there were some large pieces of gold found in the past, ranging from one to two ounces, but most of the gold found in this area was fairly small, one penny weight or smaller. Knowing this, I was searching for any metal targets. As long as it was deposited by the water I was going to dig it. My reasoning is; iron, lead, and gold all travel the same path down the river.
After an hour or so, I got a good reading in a small crevice. The gravel was really packed so I had to chisel and use a pry bar to scrape every bit of it out. As I dug the material out, I put it in into my pan. When I got to the bottom of the crevice I did a quick check with the detector to make sure I got the target. With the target in my pan, I headed down to the river to pan it out. My target turned out to be a lead fishing weight, but along with it I found a few pieces of gold. I went back and checked more of the crevice. I got several good readings along the crevice so I decided to shut the detector off and clean out about five feet of the crevice. It was slow going because the rocks were really packed in. I worked on that crevice for the remainder of the day. When I was done I had quite a pile of lead and some nice gold. It was getting late, so I decided to head back upstream to see how David was doing.
I found David panning at the downstream end of the gravel bar. He wasn't able to find much upstream either, so after an hour of searching upstream with no results he decided to head downstream too. He had been panning out a couple of crevices he found at the end of the gravel bar. The last time he was detecting in here he found a piece of copper wedged in a crevice and after cleaning out the crevice found 1.5 grams of gold packed into the one-foot long by half-inch wide crevice. So even though he did not find any new targets with his PI detector in this area, he decided to sample three different crevices within a 20-foot radius at different heights in an attempt to locate the source of the gold.
After panning out four pans of material, he was finding a lot of black stand and some nice, small gold. Each crevice had produced small amounts of gold and he said that he even saw the gold as he was removing from the crevice and putting it into his pan. This told us that the gold must be originating from the gravel bar and/or the old bench uphill that had been previously worked. All of the crevices that we worked downstream of the gravel bar had produced good amounts of gold for the low volume of material that we had actually processed.
Because it appeared that this area had a good concentration of gold in the gravels we discussed bringing in a high banker on the next trip so we could process more material. It was about that time we heard the chopper coming back in so it was time to pack up and get out of there. Because we had got a late start, we only had only spent five or six hours prospecting, but it was still a great day in the canyon and we were bringing home gold. In my book, anytime you can fly a helicopter into a remote canyon and find some gold, that’s a good day.
After I got home, I separated my gold from the black sand and weighed it. I had 1.9 grams (1.2 pennyweights) and David had 1.1 grams. These results were really good considering the fact that neither of us had moved much gravel. In fact, I would say that in total we probably processed less than a five-gallon bucket all day. The next time we go into that canyon we will be bringing in a high banker so we can process much more material and get a better idea of how rich that area really is. We will also bring in a trash bag so we can remove some of the trash from the last jerk who left his camping mess there so we can help keep this canyon pristine for future generations to enjoy.
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