Tag Archives: backhoe

The Mountains are Calling..

“The mountains are calling, and I must go.” –   John Muir

Welcome to the start of the 2017 Alaska mining season!  To those of you just joining our story, we are a family of gold miners from Alaska.  For some reason that I will never understand, folks like to hear about our trials and tribulations while trying to dig our fortune out of the ground.  For those of you who have followed us in the past, thanks for tuning in again!

I understand what Muir was saying about the call of the mountains – I’ve been hearing it for some time, though the snow didn’t seem to be cooperating.  Thankfully though, Spring is finally upon us and its time to start setting up.  First piece of equipment – the recently repaired backhoe- is on site.

While there is still snow in places like the creek – there are some signs of Spring – we even found a patch of violets.

The camp looks pretty lonely right now, looks like we shouldn’t have left our supply tent up (we lovingly call it the taj mahal) I guess we had a big snow load here this winter!

The dog couldn’t resist a wallowing in the settling pond.  We’re not the only ones excited to be back at the mine!

Both our new and old dig sites are not quite thawed out, but that is ok, as we still have a bit of staging to do.  You may remember that last year we had a magnetometer survey done to help us find that “good pay”  and we are really looking forward to following up on one of the “hot spots” from the survey and seeing what kind of values are there.  This spring I can tell you why there is most likely good gold there – the water is just pouring out there, draining from up on the canyon rim.  You can literally hear the water trickling down.


More to come – just thought I’d let you all know the news.  IT’S MINING SEASON!!!!

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Karma Points

As July comes to a close, I’m not super happy about the yellow leaves falling from the trees and the fireweed nearing the top.  I keep reminding myself that its only August, there is still time…

Been a busy week at the mine, still getting better results than we ever have thanks to our addition of more water to the trommel.

gold in quartz






We are also excited to see more and more gold in quartz, for those of you that don’t know, this usually is a sign that it didn’t travel very far from the source vein.

back to the shopfixing belt

But of course, its mining, so we have to break something.  First we shredded one of the belts turning the trommel, spent a few hours replacing them, only to shred them again.  Looks like we’ll need to do a little more investigation as to why.

IMG_0435 (2)


AND just for good measure, we went ahead and locked up the breaks on the backhoe, back to the shop.  Again.








Its not all doom and gloom though, results of our mag survey have started coming in. I don’t want to bore you with a bunch of scientific terms, basically this shows hot and cold (high and low) magnetism. The pink areas indicate that there’s a lot of black sand (and thus hopefully gold).  We are currently doing better than we ever have and we are only in a red zone.

Though I hate to pull the excavator away from the washplant when we are making good gold, we really need to focus on following up this survey data with test pits, that way I can work on the permits for next year.

fish rescue

Lastly, here is dad coming to the rescue of some poor stranded little fish fry that our daughter found.  Maybe we’ll get some Karma points for that.





Ready to run – almost

Back here at the claim. Now that we know our homes are relatively safe from the forest fire. Got some much needed rain, it doesn’t make it much fun to work outside, but we don’t have to worry about every little spark from grinding or welding. Campfires are still banned, so we had to huddle up by the little buddy heater in the storage tent last night.

First order of business, noticed some cracked hoses on the backhoe. Off to town to get new ones made.

Then some welding and grinding on the trommel. We are adapting the sluice that was from our old wash plant. It’s wider, deeper and longer. Should work much better. Also have to put lock nuts on the belt tension bolts to make sure they don’t rattle out.

Seems like we spend more time getting ready to run than it takes to actually process the dirt. Part of mining I guess.


Dreams of finding “PAY DIRT!”

This is a photo of me in a sample hole I dug inspecting my handy work and collecting samples to run back at camp.  There was hardly any gold in this hole.  I found out later in the season that the reason I did not find any gold here was because I dug to deep/not deep enough.  The gold in this seems to be in one of two places, we find it sitting on a clay layer and we also find it sitting right on the bedrock.  This hole I dug just past the clay layer but not to the bedrock.

I’m King of the World!!!

That is what my Daughter would be yelling out if she had ever seen that dreadfully long move Titanic.  This is when we first placed the wash plant.  Everyone wanted their pictures with it……..It was SO COOL! It is still super cool.  Anyone who wants to come up a visit we will take your picture with the wash plant too, free of charge.  It took a whole weekend with the 480D and Kubota to make a flat spot for the wash plant then a raised area for loading the wash plant.  There also had to be enough room to stage gravel to run in the wash plant, so the loading area had to be fairly large.  We had some trouble with the plywood restraining wall collapsing on the wash plant (It still worked was just a bit more of a pain to dig it out at the end of the season).  We will be constructing a steel retaining wall this winter for use next year.