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Last Post 23 Apr 2017 11:49 AM by  Joseph Loyd
Randy's Annual California Gold Trip -- 4 - 15 Sep 14
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19 Sep 2014 09:10 AM

    Hey GPAA Gold Prospectors...

    Just made it back safe and sound from my big annual family reunion/gold prospecting trip to Kalifornia.....have been going out for about 7 years now.....here's my big, Big, BIG Trip Report FYI:

    Day 1:  Thursday 4 Sep 14 -- Up early, over to Colorado Springs to catch an early flight to San Francisco.  Took one big suitcase full of crevicing tools, gloves and my Falcon MD-20 metal detector.  Arrived SFO on-time and my sister Susie picked me up no problem.  Susie moved from the Sacramento area to the San Fran area, so this year would be a lot more driving from San Fran over & back to the Mother Lode gold country up near Downieville & Washington.  I borrowed her Honda Pilot and went grocery shopping for the trip and gassed up the vehicle too, so we'd be ready for an early departure Friday morning once my mother arrived to ride up with us.  I was borrowing Susie's boyfriend Jerry's Escalade to haul up my food/cooler, clothes and all our regular gold prospecting tools & equipment I keep stored with Susie, like my big pry bars, sluices, buckets, etc....plus, a bunch of stuff she and mom wanted to bring along.

    Day 2:  Friday 5 Sep 14 -- Mom arrived about 8:30AM, delayed by horrible traffic on Hwy 101 and we headed over to the hills....  Stopped in Vacaville to pick up my twin sister Judy and so on we went....plowing our way thru all the traffic between SF and Downieville on Hwy 49.  Passing the SF Yuba and MF Yuba on the way I could see the drought had the rivers at very low levels.  Hmmm.....  Maybe some great crevicing opportunities down by the water line?  I hoped so!  

    Arriving we unloaded all our stuff into our favorite rental home and lodge rooms and then awaited my cousins Becky and Linda and her daughter Shalyn to arrive from Northern Kalifornia. 

    Here's Shalyn, Linda, Becky & Susie's hound Big Sur:


    Also, some of Susie's friends, Donna and Bruce were coming up this weekend to share in the fun.  After they all arrived we all took a short hike down the NF Yuba River below town to check out the conditions.  The water here was a little lower, but not too different from last year, flowing clear and cold.  I noticed the so called "beach" area was very different this year, as the winter/spring flooding had actually washed away most the gravel bar top layer, leaving mostly rocks & bigger cobbles and that would make it tougher to find flood gold during our panning & sluicing ops.  I spied some exposed bedrock areas too that might be fun to crevice and see IF I could get some gold from the bedrock...  Pretty warm out.  Was 92 degrees when we pulled in, still in the high 80s and very sunny.

    Back at the lodge we decided to break out the libations, I made my famous guacamole and we chipped and dipped.  Fun times catching up on all the past year's activities, events and such as a big group of family & friends.   :wink:   By 6 PM it was time to walk over to The Grubsteak restaurant and have dinner.  Good food, fun times.

    Day 3:  Saturday 6 Sep 14 -- Up early, coffee brewed and then snuck out of the house as everyone else slept to go do some crevicing...     The day was clear, cool, probably about 60 degrees, but would warm up fast as soon as the sun came up over the hills to the East.  Worked several spots of exposed bedrock, but it was soooooooo river worn and smooth there was very little in the way of bustable bedrock or crevices to clean out.  Still, I did what I could for about 1 hour plus and went back to the house for breakfast.  Got a few flakes and specks for my effort, so didn't get skunked.

    After breakfast & coffee we all headed down to the "beach" to do some sluicing and panning.  I helped setup our our Le Trap and 24 inch Wolf Trap sluices and I proceeded to sample pan different materials.   The material between the big rocks at near the water line proved to have the most fine gold, so I did the diggin' while the girls and Bruce did the sluicing...  The day warmed fast, and so it was a mixed bag of sunbathing, splashing in the water and gold prospecting.  My mom collected some rocks for her garden back at home.  All was fun, good, gettin' some fine gold as the afternoon went on.

    The girls panning & sluicing:


    Bruce enjoying the sun and sluicing too:


    By about 2 PM is was hot, time to clean up, pack it all back to the house and have some lunch of sorts.  When we cleaned up the sluices and I panned out the cons we could see a nice amount of flakes and fines.  No bonanza, but we didn't get skunked either.   :wink:   About 4 PM we decided to drive over to the other side of the confluence of the Downie & NF Yuba Rivers and crevice/pan there for a while.  Arriving we saw the water was a bit lower than last year.  We creviced, panned and played around for about an hour.  We got a few more flakes/fines, but no big pickers despite our best efforts.  That area has been worked HARD over the years...

    Back for more libations, chippin' and dippin' and relaxation on the front law/porch of our rental house as a mass gaggle of family and friends....then another dinner on the town at The Grubsteak. 

    My mother, Susie, Judy & Big Sur:


    Day 4:  Sunday 7 Sep 14 -- Up not so early, I helped cook breakfast for all of fried green tomatoes, scrambled eggs and coffee.  Plenty of sweet rolls, fruit and such were had by all as well.  We decided to pack up/out and try heading up the Downie River to a claim in the GPAA Claims Guide. Supposed to be a "short" 4.8 miles on a dirt road up the canyons, but as we drove along in the Escalade & Pilot the road kept getting a bit rougher, narrower and after 2.8 miles decided to abort the effort after talking to a local on the road about the road, brush and narrowness with almost no turnarounds.  So, Susie, Judy & mom headed home, having a 5 hr drive ahead of them all the way back to Vacaville and San Fran.  Becky stayed with me and we returned to the beach for about 1 1/2 hours more sluicing ops.  Linda & Shalyn were attending church services in Downieville and we'd meet them afterwards about 12:30 PM at the pizza joint.

    Back at the beach I did more sample panning an located some better material to sluice way high on the gravel bar, up near the bushes.  Had better flood gold in it.  Becky & I got about 6 pails sluiced before we cleaned up. 

    Becky sluicing:


    Surprisingly, we got one real nice big flake that just sat in the flair of the Le Trap sluice, shining in the sun.     Not your usual piece of flood gold, but I'll take it...  Joining back up we all had pizza and I gave Shalyn the weekend's gold in a vial to take home as a memento of our Downieville weekend.  We got maybe 1/2 a gram.  Becky, Linda & Shalyn headed back home. 

    Here's our final gold take in a larger 2 TOZ vial:


    I headed down to Washington, Kalifornia, in the Escalade to meet up with a friend Jim at his cabin on the NF Yuba, who had graciously invited me to stay there until my family that could make it came up for the 2nd weekend at Jim's place.  Arriving about 2 PM it was warm, about 92 degrees warm.  Jim gave me the walk thru on the cabin, the bunkhouse, all the "man stuff" like filling the water tank, operating the solar power system, emergency generator, emergency radio, etc.  He'd be back up on Thursday to gold prospect with me and a friend John, who was coming up on Thursday as well.

    Jim's awesome cabin on the NF Yuba:


    The upriver view:


    Looking from below the cabin:


    Weekend one was already in the history books...


    Day 5:  Monday 8 Sep 14 -- I got up early, made coffee, breakfast & a sandwich for lunch and headed out across the river to do some bedrock busting and crevicing before the sun made it too hot.   I hiked up and down the riverbank looking for a spot that looked to be good and unworked.  I spent most the day cleaning out multiple crevices by using my crevice tools, my big bar and then lastly washing them down with buckets of water, using my sucker tube to suck up all the last/finest stuff in a low holding pond I'd make at the bottom of the crevice with rocks & moss. 



    Surprisingly, I found a lot of chunky, crystalline hard rock type gold in this area.  I surmised the upstream feeder creek that was dry now was the source from lode gold deposits up the canyon side.  There were a lot of old hard rock mines in this area and even several close by right above the river.  The old bridge footing cutouts were still visible in the bedrock just up stream and footings for old stamp mills close by as well.

    My gold for the day:


    By 4 PM I'd pooped myself out, worked that bedrock section as much as I could and returned to the cabin to enjoy a cigar, some fine bourbon whiskey and later a grilled porterhouse steak on the fire pit outside.

    Day 6:  Tuesday 9 Sep 14 -- Again up early, out the door to try and prospect some of the massive amounts of exposed bedrock up the river.  I wanted to beat the sun & heat and so I hiked on up ad started looking around for prospective spots.  The bedrock was extremely river and rock worn, smooth.  I creviced and panned numerous spots, gettin' only a few flakes here and there. 


    Old Gold Rush remnants & artifacts all over:


    Then I spotted a good looking bedrock ledge overhang with a wide gap at the bottom and proceeded to use my big 16-lb forged steel fencing bar to bang, chip and bust it off.  Getting it off there was a nice crack going down into the bedrock I then used my tools to clean out and open up.  I got several buckets of water from the river, poured them in and let it soak, then re-creviced the soft/wet material deep in the crack and suckered it all up with my hand sucker tube.  Well...........upon panning I saw a nice big nugget in my pan!  Yeah!      Got an old .22 bullet and some smaller flakes too.  So, my first big nugget there at Jim's place having prospected several times in the past.

    The nugget trap & nugget:



    Did a little more crevicing:


    My gold for the day, besides the nugget:


    The sun was up, burning now, I was sweating it up.  Seeing no other good spots I retreated to the shade on the West side of the river and went back to crevicing down river below a big oak tree.  Got some decent fine gold there too.  By 3 PM I was tired, headed back to the cabin for another cigar, drink and steak.  Life on the NF Yuba is simply outstanding at Jim's place.  

    Day 7: Wednesday 10 Sep 14 -- I wanted to try something new today.....metal detecting.  So, I took my trusty Garrett's Infinium LS and packed over to the West side of the river and proceeded to detect around 2 separate footings from old stamp mills.  My hope was for a bunch of lost gold in ore specimens, but just kept turning up old rusty nail after bullet after piece of wire, junk, etc.  I hiked further down the river to where I had spied a tailing pile on the hillside an detected that for a good hour. 

    The tailing pile:


    The adit and shaft:



    Again, nothing but nails, junk and 2 pennies.  One was a 1946 wheat back.  My detector finds:


    Ended up at the top of the tailing pile to find the mine adit still open.  I looked inside and could see the shaft going back into the hill and a cool breeze flowing out of the shaft.  There must have been an air shaft somewhere allowing the crossflow.  I took a few pics, but didn't go exploring by myself... 

    I detected and sample panned around two old stamp mill footings above the river:



    I forgot how exhausting detecting can be by yourself.....all the stopping, bending over, digging, standing up, etc.  I needed a rest now from 3 hrs in the hot sun.

    I headed back over to the cabin, put away all the detecting stuff, got some lunch and then went back out crevicing.  I went back to that spot under the old oak tree.  Got a little gold for the day.

    My gold for the day:


    Several good crevicing spots:




    Day 8:  Thursday 11 Sep 14 -- John showed up about 8 AM and Jim showed a short time later.  Jim & I enjoyed our coffee as John headed over to the "Glory Hole" spot he'd located previously to pan for gold.  Seems John had been up on a previous visit, decided to dig & pan some material between a large boulder and this tall bedrock wall and found good color.  So, Jim and sons used a truck mounted winch to pull the boulder out into the riverbed, opening up the spot.  Sure enough, when Jim & I got over to where John was panning we could see he had some really nice, chunky and flaky gold in his pan!  I was impressed.  Jim did a lot of the glory hole diggin' and John & I panned out pan after pan. 

    Here's John:


    Here's Jim diggin' for us in the Glory Hole:


    We did surprisingly well all day long.  Jim & I stopped for a break & lunch, but since John was on the clock, he kept panning away.  After lunch, back to the glory hole and we rolled more big rocks, panned until about 5 PM.  John & I did our snuffer bottle cleanups.  Not bad at all!  

    My Glory Hole gold for the day:



    John's Glory Hole gold for the day:


    John headed home, Jim had previously left to see a local friend and I relaxed on the front porch of the cabin, celebrating the great fun with friends...  Thanks John for the fun and your "Glory Hole" gold!

    Day 9:  Friday 12 Sep 14 -- Well, back to the glory hole.  I diligently worked to clean off the material to the bedrock. 

    Surprisingly, the deeper I went the fewer and finer the gold got.  I used my sucker tube to suck up the material on the bedrock and got a little, but not a lot of gold that I was hoping for.  Then, I discovered by feeling by hand there was a boil hole full of impacted rocks about 10 inches around at arms' length below.  So, the next 2 hours were spent crevicing/digging it out, sucking up the material and I was again getting nice pickers and bigger flakes.   It went about 14 inches into the bedrock.  One of the few boil holes that ever had gold in it.  Nice!  :wink:  

    About 1 PM my sisters Judy & Susie showed up and unloaded all their food, stuff into the cabin.  Seems of all my brothers/cousins only my 2 sisters were available for the second weekend in the hills.  They came over and we panned for a while, but by now the hole was drying up again... 

    Susie & Judy:


    Could a prospector ask for more???



    We worked until about 3:30 PM and decided we'd done all I could for the day and headed back to the cabin. 

    Our gold for the day:


    A wonderful time sitting out on the porch with Jim & his dog Jake. 

    Judy, Jim and Susie:


    I smoked a cigar, sipped on some whiskey and the girls enjoyed glasses of champagne.  Dinner was a feast of cedar plank roasted wild salmon, grilled porterhouse steak, garden veggies and such.

    Day 10:  Saturday 13 Sep 14 -- Up, hot coffee, breakfast of scrambled eggs and rolls.  Jim took us on a short hike to another open mine shaft up one of the close by canyons...

    Susie & me on the hike to the mine:


    The stone work and support above the creek, up the canyon visible on the left side, at the mine entrance:


    Jim at the mine adit:


    Looking inside the mine shaft. 


    Me inside the mine using my Falcon MD-20 detector:


    Me at the mine face, where they were chasing the quartz vein and drilled, but never blasted the last blast.  Maybe 100 yards back inside the mountain:


    An old footing for a water wheel to power the mining operation, back in the day:


    Back at the cabin......the girls and I then decided to try the glory hole a bit more and work the bank material too.  Sadly, the spot was slowing down.  Some pans had not a speck.  I sampled the 3 layers of bank material, the gravel bar too.  Not much for 1 1/2 hours panning.  Susie decided to go crevicing up by the big oak tree, ended up finding the usual smaller flakes & fines,  I sampled up above the glory hole and one tiny speck.  So, tried to find a new spot up the river, sampling several spots next to the bedrock at the river's edge....nothing.  Hmmm.....  Time for lunch.



    After lunch I decided to hit the spot by the big oak tree, but a little below the last spot.  Working 2 big crevices I opened up with my big bar I was finding some decent flakes and fines again.  I worked it for several hours while the girls took a post lunch nap.  My Mad Mining stainless steel 3 clawed bear claw scratcher/crevice tool was the absolute Cat's Meow.  It really cleans the bedrock, crevices and automatically expands & contracts to follow the width of the crevice.  I highly recommend it and their 24 inch stainless steel crevice tool as well.  Both performed perfectly this trip. 

    I highly recommend all 3 of these Mad Mining stainless steel crevice tools:



    I may even ask them to make a longer 2 1/2 foot model!   :wink:

    By 3 PM I was pooped out, ready to call it a day.  I used my buckets of water to wash out the crevice, suck up all the last good stuff with my hand sucker tube and got some nice fine gold.


    My last day's gold:


    Dinner was grilled steak, veggies, snacks:



    Day 11:  Sunday 14 Sep 14 -- Last day in the hills....  No early get up today.  Lots of coffee, breakfast, mill around time talking to Jim, playing with Jake and packing up.  Cleaned out the fridge, up the cabin & bunkhouse some.  We headed out about 10AM to stop by a friend of Jim's who has a really nice place on the river just above the town of Washington.  We go to meet Jim (yes, another Jim) and see his lodge/property and visit and make a new friend.  I must say, the themed bedrooms upstairs and outdoor trout pond full of BIG trout in the garden area were my favorites.  Thanks Jims for the tour!   :wink:

    We headed out about 11:30 AM and drove back to Vacaville to drop off Judy and then on the San Fran, arriving about 3:45 PM.  We unloaded, cleaned the vehicles and had a nice stay home dinner watching the SF vs. Chicago football game on T.V.

    Day 12:  Monday 15 Sep 14 -- Well, sadly, my Kalifornia gold adventure & family reunion was over....  I flew out of SFO back to Colorado Springs and got home about 8 PM at night.  Boy, as you'd expect a lot of catching up to do after being out of state almost 2 weeks.

    My total gold take without nugget, 46.7 grains or 3.03 grams of nice, chunky, flaky gold:


    My total gold take with 2.1 gram nugget included:


    I made the nugget a gift to Jim to make a pendant for his wife Sheri for allowing us to visit/stay in his awesome cabin all those days...  THANKS again Jim & Sheri for your hospitality!!!  :wink:


    In spite of the longer drives back & froth from the San Fran area we still made it all work, had an awesome time......and found some nice gold too.  Hope you too get out on a "Gold Adventure" soon, as Fall's in the air here in High Colorado.  Was 38 degrees at my house this morning and the Aspens are already turning yellow & orange & even red at the higher elevations.

    God bless,

    Randy Witham  "C-17A"          http://www.goldadventures.biz

    Greg Miller

    19 Sep 2014 02:24 PM
    Sounds like a great couple weeks! Thanks for sharing.

    19 Sep 2014 06:00 PM


    Many thanks... My mission is to share the fun, the adventure, inspire other to get out, get some gold too.

    Still no clue whatsoever why the "new" GPAA Forum won't show all my embedded PhotoBucket pics....  Drives me crazy.

    Plz check out my original Trip Report on my Gold Adventures web site Forum here for the max enjoyment:


    I can post on every Forum in the country EXCEPT the new GPAA Forum and get my Trip Reports to show up, show the pics....

    I sure hope the new owner gets this problem fixed ASAP!


    Randy Witham  "C-17A"      www.goldadventures.biz

    sean Mattson

    22 Apr 2017 01:53 PM
    Was this an open claim or is it gpaa.Hard to find river spots up it that area that isnt claimed
    Joseph Loyd

    22 Apr 2017 06:25 PM
    Auburn recreation area.
    sean Mattson

    22 Apr 2017 10:25 PM
    Thought he said Downiville are?
    Joseph Loyd

    23 Apr 2017 11:49 AM
    Sorry I was reading his trip from last year .
    He was by Downieville on the 2014 trip.
    Do you go up by Downieville to prospect.There is an open area up there just above town .It is called china flats.You can get the info on the area from the FS office at the corner of Marysville road and hwy49.I will be spending more time up there this year.

    Go to this site as it belongs to Randy.