A prospector is someone looking for mineral deposits. Prospectors are usually after gold. A prospector is a type of explorer: one with a specific purpose.
We spent our weekend cleaning out our guest bedroom and garage. How did I accumulate so much junk? One pile for charity, one for garage sale and one to keep. The big decision to keep or not to keep? Will I really use it or do I just like the idea of it? I am sure we have all gone through this at one point in our lives. One thing I love are my books and they are so hard to part with. I am going to sell some, but not many! We will have to price them at twenty five cents because not many people buy books anymore.
Last week we posted a number of things on Craigslist. We posted my drywasher. A drywasher? A dry washer is used to separate gold from dirt in dry (desert) conditions. I used it in the deserts around Los Angeles. I love to spend my free time prospecting in the deserts and hills.
It turned out to be a great hobby because you cannot beat the exercise. Hiking in nature and a treasure hunt.
When I was in a mountains by a stream looking for gold, I would use a sluice. A sluice is much smaller than a drywasher, and you place it in the water. I would dig up 20 buckets of screened, concentrated dirt, and run it through the sluice in the water. The water would wash away the dirt and stones and heavy minerals (black sand and gold) are left in the ridges of the sluice. When I was a kid my mother could barely get me to get rocks out of her garden, but today for fun I dig holes and move rocks.
It was a sad day when a father and son drove up here from San Diego to buy my dry washer. They saw the listing on Craigslist. They had borrowed a friends dry washer the weekend before and gone to the desert, and then decided to find one of their own. That is when it hit me, we are really leaving! My wife told me I could keep it, but lets be honest, there are no deserts in the Mid West. Its gone and I wish them a lot of gold and great shared memories.
Monday I finally had a day off from work, so I got up at 4am and drove just under two hours to Goler Gulch in the Mojave Desert. It was time for the final prospecting trip in California with my metal detector and my dog. Its called nugget shooting when you use your metal detector and go looking for nuggets on desert claims. I belong to several Prospecting Associations that own claims that I am allowed to prospect on.
Golar Gulch is not even 2 hours from Los Angeles but it is a different world. To many, the area may look dead. It is a wasteland, but it’s rich in desert plants and wildlife. I love getting away from the city to a place where cellphones don’t work and few radio stations come in.
You won’t find people in designer jogging suits, yoga pants with headphones on these trails. in fact, I only saw four people that whole day.
When I got there, I turned off the car got out with my dog, stretched, closed my eyes and took it all in. The wind blowing across the sand and rocks, the sounds of small birds and other wildlife. It was a good last trip. I got my backpack on and with metal detector in hand I started hiking towards the Gulch. You pass a small miner cemetery where they buried their dead in the late 1800’s and again during the depression. I stopped to pay my respects and say a silent prayer, then was back on the trail.
The area is dotted with coyote holes, which are small, hand dug mine shafts in the side of banks. Miners dug them chasing the rich gravel full of placer gold. So much history took place here back in the 1890’s when they had to bring supplies in by mule or wagon. During the 1930’s and the depth of the depression the area again saw a boom. Men who were looking for work and for ways to feed their families went back to old diggings to use more modern methods to extract the gold the oldtimers left behind. It was a hard way to make a living, but they didn’t have many options.
This time I found no gold. The trek, the hike and desert: that is the real treasure. I hope to see it again sometime in the future.