|Spring at the Golden Optimist||
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Spring is a hard-to-work time. The water is high and the only places that are workable are the edges of the banks. Even then, only the edges on the road side of the creek as the current is too swift to cross safely. A real die hard dredger, after the long, long, Colorado winter, can't and doesn't wait for ideal conditions. The cold weather and ice can be tolerated but dangerously swift water doesn't allow for any mistakes.
Here a 4" Proline dredge is using a large rock to break the current. Note the wall of rocks above the dredge and to the left of the big rock. These were stacked there to further reduce the current in the dredge hole. Sometimes the rocks removed from your hole can be put to good use. This hole was dredged to the depth of 5 feet. Not much gold was found and bedrock was not hit. A great time was had by all anyway.
The "uniform of the day" should be a wet suit if you are really
serious about prospecting anything other than the high banks. In Colorado the dredging
season is only a month or two without one as the water doesn't get up to much above 60
degrees and that only for a few weeks. Another advantage of the wet suit is that if you
don't have a weight belt on, you float very well. At a "dainty 215 lbs., I need
almost 60 pounds of diving weights when dredging in deep water. Without the weight I would
float on top of the water.
Note the fast moving water. A current like this is dangerous to cross unless you don't mind getting washed downstream. Hip boots full of water would make it very difficult to stand back up after being swept off of your feet.
This picture was taken a little later in the spring. The water flow has begun to slacken off. Here Wally can be seen cleaning up wearing minimum spring equipment. He wasn't working in the water as the air temperature may be warm but the water temperature is still too cold to work in dressed like this.
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