Hey GPAA Gold Prospectors...
I took a few hours to run up to Cache Creek, CO, just West of Granite, CO, on Forest Road 398 and check things out. Hadn't been up there since last Fall and wanted to see if there was any snow still on the ground, how the creek was flowing, etc.
Well, got to the Granite Cemetery on FR 398D off FR 398 and not a soul in sight in the entire valley at about 10 AM. A few violet-green swallows flying overhead and a LOT of snow still up on the tops of Huron Peak, Quail Mountain, Mt. Elbert (the tallest 14er in Colorado at 14,433 and Mt. Massive further to the North. No snow on the ground at Cache Creek and partly cloudy, with clouds already building up to later make some thunderstorms by about 1 PM. Nice temp to work about 55 F.
Mt. Elbert, highest 14er in Colorado. Can you say awesome?
I got all my equipment, boots on and headed over the hill below the cemetery to Cache Creek proper to sluice in my favorite dry gulch that runs up to the South. At the creek I saw lots of Elk sign of browsing & turds all over and the creek running high, fast and clear. Perfect! I took a short walk up the gulch to see that LOTS of folks had been working this place out since I was there last in about June/July 2013. When the feeder creek up at the "placering area" got cut off last July by the private property land owners up above the BLM land, well.....folks had few places to go and get reasonable access to water, SO they obviously moved their ops "down stream" to this end of the valley for the water to pan/sluice and spent a lot of time diggin' in the gulch bed or the banks along the creek.
I got my pan and shovel/crevice tool and did some sampling of all the dig holes in the banks at different layers. I simply had to satisfy my curiosity as to IF others had found any color, give all the diggin' in that rock hard ground/compacted gravels. In the past I never found but a few specks and tiny flakes here in these layers, so I worked the gulch bottom, always finding more there. BUT, with all the effort others had obviously put in, maybe they were onto something? I sampled the various pits & holes & layers, the orange stuff, the gray stuff, the pea gravely layers, etc. Nope. As I suspected noting but a speck here & there and very little heavy magnetite black sand. So, why then ALL the digging"? I'll never know... :?
Funny. I think it's the age old prospector's dilemma....IF others had been diggin' there, well, there MUST be gold, so I'll dig too and the next and the next and on it goes. And IF you posted a sign saying don't waste your time diggin' this worthless dirt, well, that would mean someone was obviously hiding "their" honey hole, so that would GUARANTEE all would dig there... Ha. BL: You never know until YOU sample pan some...
Anyway, I set up my trusty Le Trap sluice, chair, walked up the gulch to the area where the virgin ground was/others stopped diggin'. Now, that was a goodly ways up. Took about 10 minutes to pitch off a bunch of rocks & cobbles and got to the sandy/gravels dirt/material on top of the decomposing granite bedrock below. I used my 1/2 inch classifier to keep the bigger rocks out, but then realized I forgot my rare earth sluice magnet to put in the classifier to "prescreen" out as much magnetite as possible. Bummer. Oh well, the material was probably too wet & sticky to have cleaned well w/o undue clumping anyways.
My sluice setup:
Back at the sluice I sluiced my first 2 1/2 gal pail and after a little clearing I could spot a small piece of gold at the leading edge of the very first drop riffle. O.K. Off for more dirt...
I had to go quite a ways up the gulch, making several zig-zag turns and end up about 100 yards from the creek. A long way to carry heavy buckets nowadays. Anyways, I could see where others had been diggin' a lot in the gulch, classifying off all the rocks and hauling the dirt back to the creek too. Maybe all my past posts have helped others to find some gold?
My spot on the creek and dry gulch to the South:
My dig spot up the gulch:
I ran 4 pails and decided to grab by chicken sandwich and a bottle of water and walk up the creek to see what was up the creek. Well, about 100 yards above me there was an area really dug out as compared to the last time I saw it. Above on the bank there was an obvious "campground" of sorts now with several fire circles of rocks, cleaned off spots for tents, line in the trees and signs folks had been "camping out" a long time by their diggins'/the creek. You can stay 14 days on BLM land, but this looked like folks were there the whole summer. I walked back, got my shovel & pan and sampled in several spots they obviously had been working hard. Again, nothing but a speck or two. Hmmm.....
Back at my sluice I pondered what to do now that the clouds had built up to a thunderstorm just to my West, rocking & a rolling and I wondered if it would dissipate or give me a big bath at any moment... The gust front was blowing me like a rag doll in the wind on & off and I could see the rain shaft just pouring about 1/2 mile away. The air temp had dropped noticeably and I was only in a t-shirt and forgot to pack my cheapo plastic rain poncho. Hmm...
I decided to keep working and see IF I could find some decent material in the gulch much closer than the 100 years up I was working. So, I got my bucket, shovel & crevice tool and dug samples up the sides of the "V" notch and hand pan them out. Well, every pan full seemed to have a few little specks, but after a 1/2 hour I was a little discouraged I couldn't find any "close in" material worth sluicing. About this time the thunderstorm decided to start moving my way, sprinkling me with quarter sized drops that splashed on the ground in a sleety/snowball of sorts....cool, but cold too.
So, I reluctantly pack out quickly, huffed & puffed back up the hill to the Jeep and got inside it just before the deluge started in earnest. I could see another big thunderstorm up by Mt. Elbert rocking & a rolling and the skies now were totally dark, big puffy black cumulus clouds everywhere. O.K. Need my rain poncho next trip out. The weather pattern the last few days has been a warm Monsoonal flow up from the South, bringing warmer temps, lots of moisture. Should pass on soon.
I drove further up FR 398 and down the power line road just to see if the BLM gate to the placering area was still closed. Yep. Still closed, no new signs up yet that had tattered/faded in all the wind, cold, snow over the winter. BLM should open it Memorial Day, so soon.
I made 2 short videos, posted on YouTube on my C-17A Channel:
My sluicing setup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uakaJ7au-Y&feature=youtu.be
My first cleanup gold: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk_lEdPE8iU&feature=em-upload_owner
O.K. Didn't strike it rich in gold, but got "rich" in the fun and adventure and got a little fine gold for my time:
Hope you get out soon on a "Gold Adventure" of your own soon.
Randy Witham "C-17A" http://www.goldadventures.biz