~ Gold is where you find it. ~
By Bob Azbill
This is the story of my first visit to the site listed in the GPAA’s claims guide as CA70. It was early on a Sunday morning and I was planning to visit this new claim site that I had seen in the claims guide. I judged it as being about one hour away from my house in Pollock Pines. The directions seemed very clear and I figured it should be a snap to find.
With my wife, Georgia, as navigator and co-pilot we set out to find riches at CA70. I followed the directions as narrated by my wonderful wife and we were nearing the site. I turned off the main road at the prescribed mileage and proceeded down a dirt road. (I use the term “road” very loosely) After the prescribed mileage we looked for the turn off that would take us to the Forest Service marker designated as the X marks the spot in the claims guide.
As an extra measure of accuracy we brought my GPS unit along to help us pinpoint the site. By following the directions and the GPS settings we could get no closer than a few miles away. We needed to go more to the south and east. There were no roads going in that direction any-where that we could discern. Finally after two hours of trying different roads, (again very loose definition), we decided to go back to the main road and try going more south and east on it.
A mere mile further down the main road, (past where the directions said to turn off), there was a nice paved road veering off in the direction the GPS unit said we needed to go. After only 10 minutes of beautiful travel we rounded a corner and saw a Forest Service marker with the proper designation on it.
There was a great little pull out next to the stream and a nice section of exposed bedrock with a fine looking sand and gravel bar in the center of the water. A little ways upstream the water cascaded off bedrock into shallow pools and tumbled over small falls into more pools all laden with sand and gravel. I could just “see” the gold shining in the streambed in the subdued light that filtered through the canopy from above.
While I donned my rubber knee boots, Georgia took her pan and trowel and headed to the sand and gravel bar in the center of the stream where she sat down and proceeded to start panning. I then, grabbed my sluice and bucket full of digging implements and headed upstream toward the pools under the small falls.
I found a great spot to set up my sluice and got it positioned just right with a perfect flow and started to look for just the right place to dig up some of that good yellow metal. I didn’t even get a half of a bucket of material before Georgia started calling to me to come see if what she had was really gold. So, I set my bucket down next to my sluice and started to walk down stream on the polished bedrock in about eight inches of snowmelt. It didn’t take more than a few steps before I slipped and the next thing I knew I was on my back in the eight inches of snowmelt with sand and gravel washing into my shirt, shorts and rubber boots. Hastily bounding to my feet I proceeded to shake the water and material out of my shirt and shorts. The boots were a lost cause since my socks were soaked now. I sat on the edge of the stream and lifted first one then the other foot to drain the water out of the boots. I didn’t bother to take them off since I didn’t have a spare pair of socks. I just waded down to where Georgia was. She commented on my joyous celebratory dance over her find and said that I should not have gone all the way under water since I did not know at that time if the find was indeed gold, but, that she did appreciate my graceful recovery.
I confirmed that she did have a couple of nice flakes in her pan. Then I excused myself and headed upstream to finish gathering material to feed through my sluice. As I limped up the stream I could feel sand in my shorts doing exactly what sand does. There was also a generous helping of sand and stones in my boots. At this point all I wanted to do was sit on a rock and feed my sluice. I dug up enough sand and gravel to fill my bucket about three fourths full and found a somewhat comfortable rock to sit on while feeding the material through my sluice. The sand in my shorts made every move a new experience. I had nearly forgotten about the sand and stones in my boots when, again I heard Georgia call out that she had found more gold. Would I come and pick it out of the pan and put it in the vial with her other flakes.
Not being one to begrudge a fellow prospector a bit of good luck I slowly waded down stream to see her latest find. Again, she had a couple of nice flakes. One was larger than the first couple together. After picking the flakes out of her pan and congratulating her on her luck, I headed back upstream. The rocks in my boots were really starting to dig into my feet.
I got back to my sluice and noted that there still was no shining yellow metal staring up at me from the black ribbing. I settled down on my rock and started once again to feed material into my sluice. I watched intently as the material washed through the riffles and out the other end. I was more than half way through the bucket before I saw anything stick in the rubber ribbing at the lead end of the sluice. I stared at that little fleck of yellow as I fed more material in and it did not move, and I was pretty sure it was “color”.
Georgia called me back to her sand bar one more time to pick some more flakes out of her pan. I still had not emptied the stones out of my boots and they were poking into the bottoms of my feet with every step. I told her, I think I am going to finish up my bucket then clean up the sluice, as I was not having much luck and my feet were getting sore.
I waded back upstream to my sluice and finished running the rest of the material through it and then cleaned it up. I found one small flake in the black rubber ribbing and saw there was a good measure of black sand in the carpet as I washed it out into the bucket. As I said before, I don’t begrudge another prospector a little luck in finding a good amount of color. But, when the other prospector is your wife it can be a tender subject. Almost as tender as my left foot was getting. As I carried my sluice, bucket and assorted digging implements back to the vehicle one of those rocks was making a pretty good dent in my big toe.
Jokingly, Georgia suggested I empty my boots into her pan to see if she could find any more gold. That is just what I did, and sure enough she did. She held up a pennyweight nugget that dropped out of my left boot.
Well, she had that nugget made into a stud earring and I wear it now to remind me to listen to Georgia, because when it comes to finding gold she is tops.
¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨¨ GPAA Member Bob Azbill
|Being Out There - Making friendsBob Azbill checks in with us: "The real gold to be found in any prospecting endeavor is in the beauty of being out there and in the friends you make while seeking the yellow stuff. I was out last weekend and for the first time I was totally skunked. Not even a speck of flour gold. But, I had a great time and met a few really fine people that I hope to share more times with. There is no bad day prospecting!"
Picture 1: Bear River above Auburn, CA.
We always find some color there. That day we found about 2 penny weight!
Pictures 2 and 3: Deer Creek, near Italian Bar, CA (claim name "Cat Lady"). Only found 2 pickers that day.
We love Bob's attitude - his heart is always in the right place. Let's wish Bob and friends the best of luck and hope his shovel is in the right place next time too! :-)
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