The Golden Optimist 
Dredges Kaufman Creek

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One day while searching for a new prospecting place to checkout, I remembered a post on the internet  alt.mining.recreational newsgroup from another Colorado prospector. He had mentioned working an area that I had never been to. In fact, no one that I knew had. It had been a few weeks since I had gone camping and I was beginning to get the camping urge. The memories of the gourmet food, the leisurely friendly exchanges and the drinks around the campfire at night all seem to get better and more intense with time. 
My next problem would be finding someone else who felt the same as I did. A phone call to Dave  was all it took. Dave and I prospect together frequently. We dredge and  work at about the same pace and that makes for a good partnership. Soon plans were being made for the next weekend.  
I had been given a description of how to find the place from Tom, the prospector.  He said that he was planning on being there also. His description of how to get there was kind of vague but Dave and I being the the great pathfinders that we were, I didn't anticipate any problem finding the place. If we could find our way to California and back, we certainly ought to be able to find a spot less than 150 miles away. We both planned on driving our own vehicles and taking our own dredges. If we only took one vehicle, we probably wouldn't be able to haul all of the gold home we were going to find and I hate it when I have to leave some of my hard found gold sitting next to the fire ring because I have too much weight in my truck.

Dave and Hobbes setting up camp

Finally the big day arrived and I met Dave in Denver and off into the mountains driving west on I-70  we went. We soon departed I-70  and headed up even higher into the clouds crossing over Berthoud Pass at  11,315 feet and then down the west side of the Continental Divide. We went uphill somewhat slowly as my truck was heavily loaded and it's like me, getting older all of the time. We drove through Granby and then began to watch for state highway 125 as we had been told. Then we were to drive north toward Willow Creek Pass.  As we left highway 40 on highway 125, we were to count the creeks we crossed and the fourth one would be Kaufman Creek. Great directions. For famous pathfinders like ourselves, no problem to follow. 

As we turned onto highway 125 I began watching for the creeks but also for moose that I had been told liked to hangout in this area. No, not a Moose Hall, but the wild four legged, big nosed, ugly kind. As we crossed each small culvert I wondered, was this supposed to be a creek. After driving about 15 miles we started heading up Willow Creek Pass. This had to be too far. We turned and headed back down. 

I had seen a campsite a little ways off of the road so we pulled over to ask directions. See women, we men can do that when you aren't along. We don't have to appear macho to each other! As luck would have it, it turned out to be another camp of prospectors. After exchanging the usual "How are you doing"?, and getting the also usual "Not finding much"!, we obtained directions on how to find Kaufman Creek. It was just a small distance back down the road. As we turned the trucks around he asked "You planning on using that"?, as he looked at my 4" dredge. "Yes", I replied. "Good luck. There's not much water in the creek" and we waved as we drove off. 

Dave moving the "Dredgebarrow" through the tullies

With those encouraging words we were off once more to find our fortune. Driving a short distance we were soon on the dirt road heading up Kaufman Creek and looking for Tom's campsite. After locating it, the next problem was to find Tom. He had promised to show us the magic spot where we could find a couple of ounces by lunch time. 

Dave trying not to be swept away by the roaring current

After parking I anxiously walked out through the waist high brush looking for the creek. It had to be out there somewhere. Finally I found it. All two feet wide and about 6" deep. There certainly wasn't any chance of drowning in it. You had to look hard to find a spot that was over your ankles in depth. Well, maybe we could find a wide spot that we could get the dredge into. As I wandered around I noticed the brush in the distance moving. It was Tom and some of his grandkids. They were digging along the creek prospecting and sampling the likely looking spots. After an introduction and an exchange of pleasantries, Tom pointed out a few good looking spots. The main problem with that was they definitely weren't big enough for my dredge. We would have to locate our own spot. We wanted to dredge so we would have to turn down the couple of ounces sure thing and take our chances  where the dredge would fit.

Dredging Kaufman Creek Part 2

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