Winter dredging at The Golden Optimist is
currently shut down as filing the required paperwork for the claim is being pursued. The
government has accomplished something that the winter weather couldn't. Recreational gold
prospecting requires a flexible attitude, the ability to adjust, and low gold production
expectations. This is a very good description of me. Fortunately the process of
claims research with the BLM, the Forrest Service, and the County tax assessors office can
occasionally turn up unexpected information. In this case as I was researching possible
claim sites for the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies I found such a site which did not
appear to be available to the casual observer. This is a small site and shall remain
"secret" as I can use it as an alternate to my claim.
This is winter in Colorado, in the Rocky Mountains, and March so there is the obligatory "white stuff" in the background of most pictures. These won't disappoint you in that respect. There is no "wuss" dredging during the Colorado winter months. The up side of that is there also isn't a crowd of people in your way.
As you can see from the first picture, this is a small stream. The equipment used for this type of dredging is a lot less extensive than that required for a diving dredging trip. Here chest waders, knee pads, panners gloves, wader shoes, and a smile is all of the latest prospecting fashion equipment that is required. You might not be able to see the smile but I can assure you that it is there. The milk box is there to place the larger rocks in. This saves wear and tear on the arm as the rocks are placed in the box instead of being thrown out of the way.
This particular spot was choosen because of the large rock behind me. It appears to be a portion of bedrock so the downstream side of it should be a good spot if I could dredge down to bedrock on the back side of it. That and the fact that there wasn't several inches of ice over it. As stated earlier, only two things could make it better:
The other important requirement from the January dredging page was met as this isn't in sight of a road. The road is a stones throw from here but this site is hidden.
Check out the knee pads. These are from Keene and do a very good job of protecting the knees of a wet suit or chest waders. A trick with these though is to knot the ends of the straps. If you don't, you will soon be looking for new elastic straps and buckles. The straps will slip out and float down the river never to be seen again. If you could see the left knee pad you would see a white elastic strap. Voice of experience speaking. You can tell by the lack of gloves that I am either setting the box up, getting ready to run it, or taking it down as the water temperature is less than 30 degrees.
I don't want to receive any email comments about the glare in this picture. Take it from me, an expert, of the glare is from the snow. I usually wear a hat because of people like you and the comments that you were thinking.
All of the "experts" say to pan out the Cons after you get home. Don't waste the stream time panning. They must all be younger than me, (quite possible), or in better shape than I am, (most likely). I need the panning time to relax and recover from the 2 hours of dredging that 1 tank of gas will give me. As you can see from most of my pictures, there isn't an army of prospectors waiting to take over the dredge nozzle to give me a break. Maybe if I was dredging in Florida???. This is about the normal amount of black sand as a result of a couple of hours of dredging in Colorado. I have done some dredging in Oregon and the black sand here seems to be heavier. It is difficult to pan down to the gold. I typically will pan this down to around a tablespoon of the black sand and gold, (mostly black sand and not that much gold, remember I am a recreational gold prospector), as I don't like to do the final separation. I then place it in a tupperware container with a snap down lid and that is most likely the place that you would see the gold that I have found. I like to find the pieces that can be picked out with the fingers. I take them out and place them in a plastic 35mm film container. They are easier to loose all at once that way.
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