A Fine Day in the Mother Lode

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California is famous for its moderate weather, but it isn’t always that way, especially in the high country of the Sierra Nevada Range. In June, I tried to take Steve Herschbach over to a patch where I’ve pulled some nice gold. The weather was unusually cold and we were actually blocked from reaching it by snow on the roads. Well I never got the chance to return over the rest of the summer. After returning from my Australia visit, I still had the desire to make a trip up there. I got together with another friend, Wes Hawkins, and as luck would have it, right now we are having unseasonably warm weather for late October. So when we arrived, the sun was bright and the temperatures in the low 70s were just perfect, and the newer Minelabs really proved their worth.

I was using my GPX 5000 in Fine gold and Wes was using his GPX4000 in sensitive smooth. The ground at this patch is mineralized and can be pretty rough, there is a lot of magnetite in the soils. VLFs have a very tough time here. Loud, near surface targets stood out, but it’s always been tough to pick fainter signals out of the ground noise – and that’s where the new timings come in. I’ve taken about 4 ounces out of this area, most of it from one small zone about 150 long and 75 feet wide. I’ve pounded that area with my GP Extreme, and with every coil from a little Joey mono to a 20 inch round nugget finder, using both DD and mono coils. I’ve been over the ground multiple times, and others have even come in and scrapped it. As I saw in Australia, the newer timings do make a significant difference – especially in heavily mineralized soils. So even though I’d really beat that spot (as had a few other folks), Wes got 3 nuggets and I managed 2, all from that heavily flogged small area. This was the first time the ground had been exposed to the newer GPX timings and they really did a fine job of quieting down the chatter of the ground noise which allowed the both of us to pick out good but comparatively weak targets.

I've attached a photo of the gold - my nuggets are on the left, and Wes' on the right. Total weight for mine are 1.6 dwt or 2.4 grams. I also attached a photo of a king sized toadstool - no trick photo here, it really is about 12 x 10 inches and I'd guess it weighs several pounds. Big enough for a family of toads to sit on.



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What was your coil preference? How did you handle the ground balance issue and at what depth did you find those great nuggets?

I was using the ML 11 inch mono that comes with the 5000, and I probably ground balanced every 5 or 10 minutes, which was not too bad.

The bigger one I got was about 5 or 6 inches, and the smaller about 3 inches deep. The nuggets here are more porous than they look, and do not respond as well as you'd expect. A 2 gram nugget at 5-6 inches with an 11 inch coil ought to be pretty loud, but it wasn't - because the nuggets are a bit porous. This has been true of all the gold at this patch.

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It was real nice to finally get out and get in some detecting. Chris is great to go with, had a great time, weather was great plus some gold. That was only my sixth time out this year, I'm just going to have to put the house and the shop on the back burner and get out more often. I'm with you, I have to re-learn the detector every time I go.

Take care, Wes.

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