Yesterday a partner and I had a plan to quad in many miles and then hike to some old gulches that produced some nice gold many years back. Not sure what the weather was going to be like, we decided to start out the quad ride early in the AM and get to the hiking spot right when it turned light. We suited up our detectors (Minelab SDC 2300 & Minelab GPX 5000), backpacks and plenty of fluids/foods for the long hike. It took us a good hour or so to get to the first gulch that was placered probably in the early turn of the century. We both had high hopes the Summer Monsoons ripped and tore the gulch down to bedrock, but that wasn't the case. For some odd reason, the drainages in this area didn't get as much rain action, so this meant we would really have to hunt hard. There were a few new bedrock spots here and there, but for the most part we couldn't seem to pull any easy gold nuggets from the newly exposed zones.
Communicating back and forth throughout the early hunt, I finally was able to find one of my smallest nuggets of the day within about an hour. This first little nugget was tucked under a small bush overhanding the gulch. It was a nice, strong signal for the Minelab SDC 2300. The nugget was probably a few grains in size and was down about an inch in the bedrock crack.
For some reason the EMI was really bad in this area, making it difficult to really hear faint targets. We both talked about the EMI and what the other was doing to battle it. The "Interference Tune" feature on both detectors didn't seem to eliminate much of the EMI, so we just had to listen carefully and re-investigate any signal that was unclear.
Within about another hour I had a good handful or rubbish and lead bullets along with two more small nuggets in the range of a few grains. By this time it was getting really warm down in the gulches, so I called my partner to discuss what we could do next. He wasn't having any luck, so I told him about a small patch on this hillside we found that wasn't too far away. As stupid as it sounded, we both really wanted to find some more gold, so we braved the heat and hiked another 1/2 mile further to an old nugget patch on the ridge. After walking around the ridge for about 15 minutes I was able to locate where some nuggets were found before.
Since my partner didn't have any gold yet, I figured I would let him loose on the patch in hopes he could snag an easy one quickly, while I dropped into a small gully below. I wasn't more than about 100 yards when my partner mentioned he snagged a small 4-5 grain nugget right on the exposed bedrock. We decided to stick this area out for a bit, while I worked down the small gully and my partner continued on the patch. After about an hour, the temps seemed like 150 degrees in the gully, but I continued to work in hopes of a nugget somewhere left behind. As I got down towards the bottom of the gully, I noticed my partner under a tree resting. He said the heat was getting too him, which I had to agree. Pretty much right below him I got a small, faint signal in the bedrock. It was so damn hot by this time, I didn't even want to mess with it, but rather crawl under that tree and rest for a bit. My partner ended up helping me did the bedrock up and low and behold it was a small, one grain nugget. Man, this damn SDC 2300 is amazing on small gold!!
We decided to take a short break in the shade and talk about what was the plan. By this time we both were running low on water, but we still had a good mile or so hike back to the quads. As much as we both wanted to hunt more, we thought the smart thing would be to haul butt back to the quads, replenish our fluids and talk about leaving or hunting more.
About any hour later we both arrived back at the quads (Thank God) and were able to eat a bit and drink some very cold drinks we both had in our small coolers. Our bodies were telling us to get the hell out of here, but our minds were saying stay and hunt. We both still wanted to finds a few more pieces of gold and had higher hopes the last spots were going to produce more. There was one spot on the way back out where an old river channel crossed over some hillsides and there was a small ravine where I found some nice, water worn slugs many years ago. The last time I was in this ravine was at least 5 years ago, but only found a small dink or so at that time.
I wasn't sure of the potential, but it was one last shot at the both of us scoring possibly another nugget. On arrive at the last location, I noticed the water done more action in this area then the prior spots, so this could be good if it moved material in the right locations. I ended up working the top part of the ravine, while my partner worked the bottom end. I found a few spots that seems to have some material moved around, so I concentrated on those spots. Not long into the hunt I scored a nice 1/2 Dwt piece, then a few feet away another piece. I called my partner and told him I was onto a few pieces, he mentioned he just picked up a small one. Within about 10 foot of the prior two nuggets I got a very, faint signal on the SDC 2300. I moved a few inches away and the signal got much stronger. Digging down another 4-5 inches I finally seen some bedrock popping up, so figured if the signal was still there it was a good sign. I re-scanned the hole and signal was still there. By this time the signal was very strong, but I didn't want to get my hopes up as I have dug hundreds of lead slugs from spots just like this.
I started to use my fingers to sweep the dirt off the bedrock and seen a nice, smear of gold in a crack (pictured below). I then knew it was GOLD, but not sure how big. I knew from the depth and signal strength it was going to be at least a few Dwt's. I finally was able to pluck the nugget from the crack and guessed it was going to be a good 2-3 Dwt's in weight. Not a bad score for the SDC 2300 at 8-10 inches.
We both ended up working this ravine almost until dark, but was unable to score anymore nuggets. It ended up being a full day hunt, sunup to sundown with a few nuggets to boot.
I ended up with 6 nuggets totaling nearly a 1/4 ounce, my partner had 2 smaller nuggets for about 3/4's of a Dwt.
P.S. I'm by far no author, but hope you enjoyed the short story.