33.85 Ounce Nugget Found at Ganes Creek, Alaska!


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Hi,

Rob asked me to drop by and post some info about Ganes Creek here in Alaska. It is a very long story, so I'll give you the short version here.

As a life-long Alaskan and person involved in the industry I've made numerous contacts over the years. This gives me a special advantage when it comes to getting to some places. A few years ago I got access to Ganes Creek, a producer of some of the largest nuggets found in Alaska. The largest nugget known to have been found there weighed 122 ounces, there was a 76 ouncer, and 20-30 ounce were numerous. One to three ounce nuggets are actually common - the "small stuff".

In my first visit of three days I found a 4.95 ounce nugget, way larger than my previous best of 1 ounce. On a return visit of three days I found over 14 ounces of gold.

I knew the owner of the mine well, and told him people would pay bucks for a shot at this type of thing. Since Ganes is a large operating mine it has facilities for a large crew. So facilities combined with some world-class nugget detecting equals a good time in my book. I told the owner to just pick a fee, and I would get the word out.

The fee was $2500 a week, room and board included, airfare extra. Keep all you find. Some people think that is pricey, but they need to price a week long hunt or fishing trip in Alaska. A Kodiak Island bear hunt will run you $10,000-$12,000 bucks!

The first season of 2002 saw about 30 visitors and over 140 ounces of gold found.mI found the largest that year, at 6.85 ounces. Over 40 people visited in 2003, with about 212 ounces found, which included a spectacular 51 ounce gold/quartz specimen.

This year about 60 people have booked so far. After more than 70 visitors, well, is not the gold running out? Nope. In fact, it is getting better. A 20.1 ounce nugget was found a few weeks ago, and just this last Tuesday a lucky visitor found a monster 33.85 ounce solid nugget of gold!!

The area involved is over 10 miles long by about a 1/2 mile wide. Miles and miles of open or lightly brushed tailing piles. Suffice it to say that it will be a long time before every square inch gets detected to max depth. On top of that, they stir up the tailings from time to time with the bulldozers. The 20.1 ouncer was found in a freshly dozed area. The 33.85 ouncer was found in the middle of an area already detected by most everyone that visits Ganes. Holes all around it, but nobody put their coil over it. That's detecting, miss it by an inch and you may as well have missed it by a mile.

Anyway, my largest nugget still weighs in at 6.85 ounces. Looks like I'll be heading back to Ganes for another shot at the big time. It really is a no B.S. killer opportunity for nugget detecting that bears serious consideration by those that can put the funds together. Some of the visitors there this year were there the last two years also, so that tells you something.

Rob should get 10 of you together and make a group visit. There are several guys that are doing just that... booking an entire week. I think the first and second week of each year is already pretty much claimed until the current group bookers release them.

Not everyone finds gold. A very few do get skunked somehow. But since they are in a group where others are finding gold it is hard to blame it on anything other then sheer bad luck. Since you are dealing with tailings, there really is a high luck factor. A nugget can be in literally any material you see. One guy the first year found next to nothing, went back the second year and found nuggets like crazy. Yo either connect with the nuggets or you do not. The only thing you can do to increase your odds is put in the hours. In general, those that cover the most ground with their coils will have the best shot at a nugget. Sheer, relentless persistance is what matters most, not what detector you use.

So far VLF units like the Fisher Gold Bug 2 (operated in iron id mode) and White's Goldmasters or MXT have been the big producers. The tailings have tons of deep iron junk, so Minelab owners extra depth capability appears to be somewhat offset by the time they spend digging really deep holes for junk. I have a Minelab but so far at Ganes I've favored VLF myself. When I return I think I will go ahead and have my GP 3000, but I'll also have my White's MXT. Hard to say which will actually get used the most. Probably the GP will only get used in some of the rare less trashy areas or a special area I think is hot for some reason. Other than that the MXT will probably be my first choice.

Anyway, there is tons of information, maps, photos, and tips at the Ganes Creek website at http://www.akmining.com/ganes.htm which I think you will enjoy, even if you never plan on visiting the mine.

I do not have a photo of the 33.85 ounce nugget yet, but the 20.1 ouncer is pictured below.

Maybe I'll see one of you at Ganes Creek?

Steve Herschbach

20.1 Ounce Nugget found by Dave Rankin at Ganes creek with White's MXT

ran2s.jpg

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Hello Steve,

Wow... Thanks a million for posting a very informative post about Ganes Creek and what is being found. I know several forum members have contacted me about the trip, and wanted some more details. Well there you go, thanks to Steve you all have the information and website. :D

Steve, here are a few questions for you -

"How many weeks per year does the Ganes Creek trip run?"

"I understand it is $2,500 per week (without Airfare), but if you would like to stay for an additional week, is that possible? Does the rate change if you book for more than one week?"

"Is there any discounts for group rates, say 10 guys for a single week? I have 3 guys ready to go, but will probably wait until next year when I'm able to attend."

"Can you go anywhere on the property, or are you limited to just the tailing piles?"

"Since the property entends over a 10 miles area in lenght, is there transportation available if you wanted to get further away from the camp area?"

"What are the chances of running into a bear, and has it happened in the past?"

I have a million questions Steve, but just wanted to shoot a few at you. Sounds like the first week has started with a huge success.

Man, I can't imagine how many sizeable gold nuggets that are still waiting to be found. Ganes Creek might be one of the last frontiers for large gold nuggets.

Thanks once again for posting,

Rob Allison

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Hi Rob,

OK, one at a time....

"How many weeks per year does the Ganes Creek trip run?"

Doug starts the visits in mid-June, and generally limits it to 10 people per week just to keep it more personal. In theory you can book all the way into September. The June weeks are the most popular and are pretty much taken by existing groups that return each year. July is currently booked full, except for maybe a few openings in the last couple weeks. August is fairly open. They try to avoid booking only two or three people in a week. Having a full group means gold is being found for sure by some, which helps group morale.

"I understand it is $2,500 per week (without Airfare), but if you would like to stay for an additional week, is that possible? Does the rate change if you book for more than one week?"

You can stay all summer if you want. Additional weeks are discounted, but you'll have to contact Doug for details.

"Is there any discounts for group rates, say 10 guys for a single week? I have 3 guys ready to go, but will probably wait until next year when I'm able to attend."

Group discounts are possible... again, that is more for Doug to address than I. Since each week gets 10 people regardless it is less about numbers, and more about just making it easier on Doug. If instead of him having to separately book ten people you just call and say "I want the second week of July" that is worth a break.

Where it appears to be heading is for key people, like Gerry, basically buying available weeks, then putting groups together. In theory there are about 12 weeks available. So 12 individuals could end up controlling all the access.

"Can you go anywhere on the property, or are you limited to just the tailing piles?"

You can go anywhere you want, except into the actual current mining pits Doug may be working. But all there really is are the tailings and some bench deposits. The virgin ground (there is lots) is deep. Review the aerial photos on the website to get a better feel for the area. You could wander the ridge areas in the brush with a GP and a big coil looking for the motherlode, if you are a real optimist!

"Since the property entends over a 10 miles area in lenght, is there transportation available if you wanted to get further away from the camp area?"

Due to liability issues you are not allowed to use the ATVs, but basically there is drop-off and pickup service. They run a group in a truck to a location in the moring, and pick you up whenever. No real problem getting around.

"What are the chances of running into a bear, and has it happened in the past?"

If you are lucky you might get to see a bear. I saw a pretty good-sized blackie at Ganes myself. In fact, saw a little smaller one just a few weeks ago on my own claims over at Moore Creek. And I saw a couple last year up at Hatcher Pass and one up in the Fortymile.

Bears are large, wild animals deserving a great deal of respect. But they are not as dangerous as people seem to think. Hordes of people have bear encounters that you never hear about because nothing happens. Like the bear I saw a few weeks ago. He came up on my father and I as we were putting a 6" dredge together. He was about 100 feet away. We looked at him and he looked at us for awhile and then he wandered away. I've run into both blacks and browns over the years, and have never had one act aggressive.

The only time I worry about bears is when thrashing around thick brush. Bears do not like surprises, and so coming suddenly face-to-face with one at short range is not something I'd like to do.

You'll hear every kind of opinion you want to hear about bears. All I can tell you is how I feel about it. I try to stay where I can see the bears and they can see me. No surprises. Bears will almost always avoid humans if given the chance. And stay together in small groups. Bears can count and are even less likely to approach two or more people. Never turn your back on them, and never be afraid. The most dangerous animal on earth is, after all, the human being.

Bears in Alaska are in a way our version of the raccoon. They are smart, and always looking for a meal. So the biggest problem I have with them is destruction of property. I have to spend a lot of time trying to cover all the windows and doors at my camp to make them as bear-proof as possible when we are away. They like eating seats off snowmobiles and ATVs, and seem to like biting gas cans. One tried to pry the gas tank out of a snowmobile at our claims and ruined it. And they ate my Dad's inflatable boat. If one ever gets into your cabin, oh my gosh, what a mess!! They can be real pests.

Truly, in most cases you should consider bears a photo opportunity. Try and get a picture quick before he gets away.

Have any more questions, just fire away.

Steve Herschbach

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Hello Steve,

Thanks for the reply. I have tons of questions, and I'm sure some of the questions are the same as others would like to ask.

Frankly speaking, I think there is huge potential at Ganes Creek. Anyone that can make the trip surely should. Without a doubt, you can get skunked anywhere, but why not go to where the huge nuggets are being found. Most of the work has been done for you; the nuggets are lying in the piles just waiting for a detector to hit them.

$2,500 per week might seem expensive, but I doubt the guy that hit the 20 or 33 ouncer is thinking about that now. I'm sure they are book for another trip back there!

Steve, I'm not certain you know Stephen Freeman, but he is a good friend that attended the first trip to Ganes in 2002. Stephen used the Minelab GP Extreme and came back with around 5-6 ounces of gold for one week if I remember correctly. He said he could not wait to return, and even wanted to know if I was going the following year. I think he might be there, or could be book for a trip in real soon.

Steve is holding the GP Extreme in the picture (first week at Ganes)

week1.jpg

Roland - I'm very serious about getting a party of 10 together. It might be too late to gather everyone this year, but I'm sure we can get something organized for the following year and allow people to get the funds and time off.

I'm sure good gold will be found there for many years to come. Looks like some of the piles are untouched, and some are so deep you will never get to the bottom of them unless Doug does some pushes.

Wow... My blood is pumping! :D Thanks again Steve.

P.S. Anyone looking for a sure shot at their first one ouncer, I’m sure this is the place! :D

Rob Allison

Rob's Detector Sales

www.nuggethunting.com

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Hi Roland,

Insects and foul weather?

The mosquitos of Interior Alaska are just amazing. Forget the bears, it is the bugs that are going to kill you. Well, you will probably live, but they can drive you insane.

Sometimes you can get by with repellent, but basically they get to a point where you cannot avoid inhaling them constantly. I'm not kidding. You have a cloud of them in your face, and you inhale them and choke.

So good jeans are a must, and a long-sleeved work shirt... not too thin. And leather gloves. On arrival hang up the shirt and jeans. Empty most of a can of repellent onto them. Then put them on, add leather gloves, and a headnet. You now are pretty impervious to bugs, and do not have to rub bug dope on your skin. I do use bug dope on my skin, but many people worry about it, and I try to minimize it.

The bugs can be not too bad in the open areas, but get into the brush and they can be truly amazing. But no problem if you prepare for them

The weather can range from what you would consider to be cool, rainy days to very hot, dry conditions. Temps can hit the 80's and it is true that in Alaska temps can feel hotter than they really are. Being on the tailing piles can be like being in the desert. The main problem is that dressing for the bugs means you can't just strip down, so you can be over-dressed for the heat and not really be able to do much about it. I'm getting some new bug-net shirts and maybe even pants for hot days.

Usual Interior day is clear in morning, hot mid-day, afternoon thundershower, clear evening. Or just long dreary days of rain. The thunderstorms can really pour, but the rainy days tend to be lower key drizzle.

Rob, I was there that first week with Steve Houston of White's and Fred Brust of Fisher for a short visit, so met all the guys, including Steve. Was too busy to visit much though.

I try not to oversell ganes. The real goal for anyone going should simply be to get the biggest nugget of their life. Most of the people who have visited can say that they got it, but in many cases maybe that was a 1/4 oz nugget. But still, that is the basic program. My two largest nuggets came from Ganes, and my best bet for a larger one yet is still Ganes Creek.

Realistically, I think a person goes there and really puts in those hours has a real good shot at a nugget weiging an ounce or more.

here is a picture of what those first week guys found

week1b.jpg

The nuggets are grouped so you can get an idea what each person found. Those large ones are over 5 ounces each. See those two nuggets by themselves on the right? Those were Garys finds. Only two small nuggets.

Here was first week 2003

ga200301.jpg

The largest gold/quartz chunk is over 9 oz, and the goup it includes are Gary's finds! He returned despite his poor finds in 2002 and scored some of the nicest specimens found last year. That is why going in a group is important. He saw what the others got and so knew it could be done. But first trip he just missed them. Second trip, he was hot! And he is just finishing up a week at Ganes right now, so I guess he is now a regular. Be interesting to see how his third visit turns out.

Steve Herschbach

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Hi Steve

I belive I met you years ago at AMDS, I dought you would remember me but I remember you.

The hotest things going at the time was the GoldBug and Minelab. I was working for Northern air cargo at the time.

When I met you You wear carying a Pill Bottle full of Large Nuggets from a freinds Claim you had just came back from, You said you found them useing a GoldBug up on the side of a hill from the creek.

I have been trying to figure out the costs from Anchorage on into Ganes creek and what air charters or small airlines are available and not having a heck of alot of luck, besides whats mentiond on their web site.

Is their any other services available going in their?

I Am also curious been a long time since I have viseted Hatcher Pass now but hows the detecting in that area? I remember alot of claims and cabins up in that road along side the creek, I am thinking about spending acouple weeks up their and dont think I could swing more than a week or two at Gains and thought it would be fun to hit Hatcher pass and up around (what the heck is that area up around Eagle river / Wasila that they built that Dam and water reservoir? also has a glacier or is fed By a Glacier I cant remember but I can drive right to it) that area had been Hydraulic mined many many Moons ago.

Creek below the Dam is more like Canyon with Vertical cliffs. on both sides.

Ever go and hike the Canyons and creeks up behind Arctic Valley? I always thought If I just had a Metal detector.

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Was also thinking Moose pass, Bird creek, and any other small creeks inbetween Anchorage and Keni River/Russian River go do some fishing while there.

Hows the area for detecting up behind Alyeska? Im talking deep into the Canyon.

Did they close down the Haul rd? I was thinking about going out to an area I was up into when I was a Boy up above Livengood but before you get to Coldfoot.

Ever been up to Wiseman or Chicken?

Im HOME SICK can you tell?

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Hello Steve,

Thanks once again for all the great information on Ganes Creek. Man, I sit back and look at those pictures and wish I was there now!

I'm very interested in getting a party of 10 close friends together for the following year.

I also agree that if someone is looking for their first one ouncer, this could be one of the best spots to find it.

Please keep the forum updated on the new finds from Ganes, and if any changes have been made.

Thanks,

Rob Allison

Rob's Detector Sales

www.nuggethunting.com

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Hi Dennis,

What is mentioned on the ganes website is what their is for air access to Ganes. Penn Air or Hagelund RT to McGrath about $400 and Redline RT to Ganes about $140. So about $540 RT from Anchorage per person.

Hatcher Pass is basically using a Goldmaster or Gold Bug 2 with small coil to look for quartz with tiny gold in it. Real tiny. I've picked quite a few, but you have to point the gold out when showing them to people.

The dam site you are referring to is Eklutna Lake. Not much is the way of gold there, except the ever present fine gold you can pan almost anywhere. Same up behind Arctic Valley. A guy might hit a small nugget anywhere in glacial material, but it is a long shot.

I've spent most of my year of prospecting in the Kenai Peninsula areas you refer to. It is "working man's" country, when hard work with any type of mining gear, including detectors, will get you gold. But no really big stuff.

The Haul Road is open. Livengood, Wiseman, Chicken... now you are talking. Great areas, good chances of larger gold. Everything is claimed, so getting permission is the key to success.

Steve Herschbach

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Steve

Thanks for the info :D

Eklutna lake yep your rite thats the place :!:

kinda figured that might be a good canyon :? oh well .

Go north Eh? :wink: north I shall go :!: after a tripe to Gain's :D

Wow :!: thats one heck of a Nugget :!: I Hope theres more like that left.

Out of curiosity hows the area around McGrath?

Every thing Claimed thats a problem in all good Gold areas isnt it.

Permision's now thats tuff for a guy like me far from home with very limited time off from work, makes places like Gains creek a real bargin.

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Hi Dennis,

The McGrath area is great. But you have to fly there, and then you need to fly out to most of the creeks. They all are claimed... no public sites.

Interior Alaska is full of similar locations. Air access only, need to get permission. It is very hard for people outside of Alaska to line up access to those kinds of places. It's not what you know, it's who you know.

Steve Herschbach

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Steve

Flying for me is no problem, I get alot of discounts with alot of larger Airlines, As I work for a Major airline.

Like Horizon is a good one for me they are affiliated with Alaska airlines and I get a good discount with them.

Penn air I dont know about them, When I get to work tonight Im going to look at the putor and see if they are on the list, Hugland and redline I dont think so, they are too small ill have to pay full price their.

Going out and about will be a problem though if all the good areas have large claims. As I dont know any one with claims in those areas, Just always thought those areas had potential.

I can go out though and take comfort and pride in knowing im home.

I think about all the places I have been up there, and never used a metal detector up there ...Shame :oops:

Then I think about all the places I went by boat and really kick myself all those miles of Rivers.

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