“This is gold mining. You love ALL of it, or you love NONE of it!”
These were my husband’s words to me when he noticed the color drain from my face as 14 thousand pounds of bulldozer came slamming down on the tilt trailer. He was teasing, but he’s not wrong.
I absolutely love the spring. I love dreaming about what we might accomplish this year at the mine. I love seeing the first leaves come out on the trees. I love seeing how the river has changed.
I don’t particularly enjoy hauling all our equipment down winding mountain roads 70 miles from our home. The price of getting to mine in the National Forest is that everything has to be removed at the end of the season, and staged again in the spring. So we pay that price.
But we survived, we got all the equipment there. Then it was time to stage the trommel, muck out the settling pond, unroll the hoses. Getting the level right on the sluice box and trommel is always an exercise in trial and error. “Where is ____ tool?” “Did you remember the ______ .”
There’s nothing like when that first water comes down the sluice box. That’s when, in my mind anyway, it’s really mining season.
We got the water going, the only thing left to do was run some dirt. We had our friend the welder make some plumbing changes to the trommel, and it seems like it’s really going to make a huge increase in our production. The trommel processed the material as fast as I could feed it. I never once had to use my trusty 2×4 to push a rock through the hopper, or get off the excavator to undo a jam.
We decided to call it for the evening. We enjoyed the first campfire of the year.
The next morning, we loose the pump seal, and everything stops.
I don’t care how big your mining operation is, how shiny and new your equipment, it can still come to a grinding halt over something as simple as an o-ring. And so it did.
This is gold mining.
And I love it.