In the last post I explained that while our new spot ended up having spectacular gold, but we soon learned that we were only getting material brought down by small springs over the top of a bedrock cliff.
For the last few weeks we’ve been working on finding the source of that gold on the ridge up above. In the National Forest, we’re not allowed to simply blaze new trails whenever we feel like it. We have to work our way through the forest, with as little damage as possible, dig test holes, then go back and apply for permits to build more trail. Sounds simple enough? Its not. The forest is thick here, so thick you cant even really see what lies ahead of you until you get right up on it.
But we have been trying. We spent part of a day stuck on a tree where the excavator slid sideways and pinned the tree between the track and blade. We couldn’t cut the tree, we had to winch the excavator off by hand.
With the wash plant sitting idle, we have been digging holes, getting bucket samples, fill the hole in, and rinse-repeat. Tedious and frustrating. The crew’s morale has been low. We even spent part of a day sneaking into our old dig site and running some of that dirt, just so we could remember what gold looks like.
I’m sure you are wondering, if there is still gold there, why are we spending time digging test holes? It’s because we are almost out of paydirt in that spot, we need to identify a new dig site if we are going to continue mining, and we only have one summer to do it. We can’t do both.
What makes matters worse is just digging a bucket sample isn’t enough. We’re digging into ancient river benches, just because you dig one hole, doesn’t mean you’ve found the correct spot in the river channel. You could be digging in the wrong side of a curve, or where the water was too fast to collect gold, or miss the channel completely by a few feet.
We’ve found a spot that we do have access to where the gravel looks good. Its 100 feet away from the hot spot identified on the magnetometer survey, but we thought it was worth running a few yards through the trommel to see what happens when we get into the bench. The returns so far have been disappointing, but seem to be improving as we get further into the formation. Summer is waning, the kid will have to go back to school soon, but all we can do is keep trying. Gold is where you find it after all.