Lately I have been out in the deserts of Arizona prospecting the placer fields of Gold Basin. The area is located south of the Grand Canyon the and is very dry and wind swept.
Sandy spots cover most of the dry stream beds and in spots, the light sand is deep and soft enough to make it feel just like walking on a beach.
Sand like that can be 2 or 3 foot of overburden. When most of the gold is laying right on top of the false bedrock or in the desert, caliche, 2 or 3 foot of overburden is a lot of extra work. I know because I had shoveled it before and after too many sore backs to count, it dawned on me that I would be better off to look for areas that had visible caliche and less overburden to shovel.
So, now I leave the shovel at home and look for prime spots to vacuum. I will walk to a spot with visible caliche carrying a few buckets and a gas powered vacuum. Then I vacuum everything on and around the exposed false bedrock. When the vacuum gets full, I dump it into an empty bucket and continue to vacuum. When I have finished with that spot, I leave the full buckets there and move on to the next spot with the vacuum and empty buckets.
I work my way down the ravine from spot to spot until I’ve filled my last bucket. Most of the time, after I have filled the last bucket, my truck is only about a hundred yards away from where I end up. Then I carry the vacuum up to the truck and exchange it for a dry washer.
I carry the dry washer down to the first place I’ve vacuumed and set it up. I run the two or three buckets I vacuumed up at that spot and do a clean-up on the dry washer by dumping the dry washer’s riffle tray into one of the empty buckets, Then I moved on to the next set of buckets.
I continue moving from spot to spot until I have ran all the buckets, including the material I dumped out of the riffle trays. Now I end up with a small amount of highly rich concentrates, the empty buckets and the dry washer to lug back to the truck.
This works great, let mother nature clear large areas of overburden and recover more gold with a lot less work. Best of all, the concentrates are rich with gold.
I’ve been told that his must be weekend prospecting at its best.
From now on, I will spend most of my time test sampling. When I am in the deserts of the Southwest, I vacuum and dry wash and when I am in forested, water rich areas like the mountains of California, I vacuum and sluice.
The only time I will pick up a shovel is when I find a spot with so much gold, it’s worth a sore back.
About the author:
Bowser is one of the founding members of Find Free Gold™.
With years of gold prospecting experience, Bowser is a great help with designing and testing new equipment for our
company Find Free Gold™.
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On days when I have
no time to sample, I now
have proven spots to go.