Photo Diary
Arkansas River, May 20, 2006
by Steven Cychosz


This is a photo diary of a gold prospecting trip that Leonard Leeper, Corky Frandsen, John Hart, Trevor Neuman, Kristina (soon to be Neuman), Greg Smith, and I went on, May 18-24, 2006, around the Arkansas River area.

This photo was taken near the lower end of Cache Creek just south of Leadville on Friday, May 19, 2006, around 11:00 a.m. This land was privately owned, but as of last year it became BLM property. It can't be claimed but it can be mined recreationally. Leonard wanted to work further up the Creek, but the road is temporary gated for elk calving, so we are going to try down here. In this photo you can see the destruction left behind from hydraulic mining that was outlawed in Colorado in 1910, and I'm hoping they left some for us!

While I was digging in the tailing pile, our new friend (left) and Leonard Leeper were running a couple of sluice boxes in Cache Creek (lower left corner). You can see the holes (virgin ground) where they were digging into in the upper center of the photo. I ran my detector over that area before they started digging and I detected faint hits, in a straight line, possibly indicating a layer of black sands.

During clean up, they did find a fair amount of black sands, but just a small amount of gold. Not enough gold to return and work again. Placer gold is always found in black sands, but not all black sands contain gold, says my little gold bible.

The next day, Saturday, May 20, we decided to explore the opposite side of Cache Creek. This is a hillside where past prospectors had stopped hydraulicing. Corky saw similarities in this material compared to hydraulicing that had been successfully done further down the Creek. Corky and I took some samples, panned it out, and found four to six small pieces of gold per pan. My little gold bible says, "Four or more pieces of gold per pan is a place to work." The hillside in this photo is a glacial moraine, and the gold is diluted throughout all the material. You can just barely see Corky in the upper left hand corner of the picture on the hillside in a dark colored coat. You can see the grove he carved in the hillside for material and to see if there was a terrace riverbed hidden under the overburden. Corky and I scraped the dry material off the top layer of the hillside, while Leonard, John, and Trevor operated the dry washer (the hardest task), which was powered by a small leaf blower. For such a small dry washer, it was working very well and moving a fair amount of material.

I'm not going to kiss and tell, but someone touched the dry washer the wrong way and it went down for the count. Actually the dry washer had a servere manufacturing defect. We found a fair amount of gold that was worth doing again, but we just couldn't get the dry washer to work as well as it did before it went down. We packed it up and headed to a new claim that we are picking up on the Arkansas River later this week.

This is a new small four-acre claim that we are about to acquire. It is about ten miles up river from our 40-acre claim. Kristina and Trevor are in the left hand corner on the outside bend of the river. We won't be able to across the river to work the inside bend until late July. You can see all the gravel bars on the inside corner of the bank (right upper corner) and on the inside corner of the island (in the left corner), and that's where the gold is in both places. Kristina and Trevor did find some gold. We've worked claims above and below this spot and did well. So we have high hopes for dredging this claim later in the season. Right now, the water is too high, too fast, and too dangerous to even bother with.

The next day, Sunday, May 21, we decided to work old faithful. That would be O'Neil's property. With the Arkansas River running so high, and with not finding much on Cache Creek, O'Neil's is a good place to high bank and take home some gold. Corky and John should be digging into virgin ground. When this ground was hydrauliced the miners moved the boulders to the side and never did the ground underneath the boulders. So by moving the boulders we should be in the same material that past miners were in. Corky headed for home later in the day.

Kristina has a gold hole going, and if you notice, the girls from the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies Club do it in their bare feet. There's a girl after Trevor's heart. Go Girl!

Leonard and John are loading the high banker. It really takes two to four or five or six or seven or eight to run this size high banker. Doesn't it?

Leonard, John, Corky, and I are digging in the foreground, and we're operating a high banker as a team. Trevor and Kristina are also working as a team and are working a hole slightly below us; you can see their sluice box in front of Kristina that she is operating with water that is leaving our high banker. We pumped water about 250 feet from the Arkansas River through the gray lay-flat hose to the lower left of the picture, to run the high banker and the sluice. Everyone found gold!

Good riffle action! Just the kind of boil and good eddie current you need to recover small pieces of gold.

My dog Aspen is guarding the high banker's gold recovery carpet.

What a great three days of prospecting! I had to leave the next day, Monday, May 22, while John and Leonard stayed on a couple of more days. John is a meteorologist and a claim owner from Oklahoma, which is okay! Leonard is leaving Colorado in a couple of weeks to prospect for gold and to look for and file on some more claims in Alaska (hope/pray), for two weeks. We will meet up again, July 1-7, 2006, on our claims on Douglas Creek in the Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming. Douglas Creek is best for those who like to dredge. A dredging permit is needed for Douglas Creek. The permits are free. Most of the gold on Douglas Creek is lying on bedrock about two to four feet below the surface of the riverbed. The river is only a few inches to a foot or so deep, so long-arming works, and most of the creek is safe for most children and pets. I have seen some gold taken with a pan or a sluice, no permit needed. Most of the gold that I've seen taken with a pan or a sluice came from the tailings of a dredge that was run too fast, and most are.

Good luck, and may your pan overflow with gold!
Steven Cychosz.

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