Colorado -- Metal Detecting the Old Cache Creek Ditch -- 19 Nov 2016

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Colorado -- Metal Detecting the Old Cache Creek Ditch -- 19 Nov 2016

Post by Admin on Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:01 am

Hey Gold Adventurers...

O.K.  I got a little bored and curious at the same time after reading a USGS report I found on-line on the Granite, Colorado, 7.5 Quadrangle, where they mentioned some really cool history on gold mining in and around Cache Creek and the Lake Creek, Balltown, Corske Creek and Arkansas River areas here locally.  

So, seeing the temp had warmed from 10F to a balmy 41F, I decided to load my Gold Bug Pro into my Jeep, go for a big exploratory hike North up the Cache Creek Ditch around the base of Quail Mountain....see how far I could make it in a couple hours, see what I could see...

History says there's 16 miles of man-made ditches that drought the water from the Lake Creek drainage to the North via the Arlington Ditch to the Cache Creek Ditch so the old timers could hydraulic the valley from 1863 to 1912.

I left the house at noon, got to the CR 398 elbow at about 12:30 PM, parked and started walking North and in no time found the old Cache Creek Ditch.  

View of the 100+ year old Cache Creek Ditch looking South & North:




No surprise, as they were dealing with a hillside, they piled all the dirt on the downhill side to better form the wall on that side...    In bad spots they built retaining walls out of pine logs to hold the dirt in place.  After 100+ years of non-use, there was a LOT of fallen trees, brush, volunteer trees growing in it.  Walking was a challenge.  It got a LOT brushier in areas where it went thru Aspen groves with all the re-growth. Talk about a LOT of hard work with nothing but picks and shovels back in 1860 to 1863!

About 1/2 a mile up the ditch, surprise......I came across an old hard rock mine area, with several big tailing piles around and this cool old log wall. Hard to tell its use.  Part of support for an old adit, now filled in?  Part of a retaining wall?



About 1 1/2 miles up, as I came to the North side of Quail Mountain, where they obviously joined the Cache Creek Ditch in with the natural drainage/creek between Quail Mountain and the big ridge separating the Lake Creek side to the North, I saw they had built a big water settling/collection dam/pond.  It appeared this let the water rushing down the "creek" slow, collect and then they could meter the water out into the Cache Creek Ditch as they wanted.  It's actually a lot bigger pond than looks in the pic.



I kept hiking up the draw, following the now creek/ditch, sometimes like 20 feet across and 10 feet deep from erosion from the obviously past rushing water...

So, I kept walking....................and walking....................and walking............up, up, up...the ditch and creek and valley...

I mostly followed the natural drainage/creek up.  I came to several USFS boundary signs and a survey marker and walked the dirt road that turned out to be a section of the Colorado Trail too.  My Topo map has it identified as FR 399.  It follows the ditch and creek and drainage up between Quail Mountain and the big ridge to the North, with Lake Creek and Twin Lakes on the other side.  Occasional Colorado Trail markers nailed to trees on the way.

So, about 2:15 PM I decided I'd probably better stop, head back, as the sun was going down and I had a good 2+ miles to walk back.

At that point I came to this second dam/holding pond in the draw and made this my turn around point.  Notice the old rusty metal drain pipe opening in the foreground?  Looks like a buried 50 gal barrel, but it is about 30 feet long and lets the water out the top of the dam into the creek/ditch on the downhill side.



THEN, as I turned to go back down FR399, the Colorado Trail too.....I saw up above me, to my left, in the sun, on the North ridge, a lot of disturbed ground, kinda orange against a tan backdrop.  Thinking it might be tailings from a mine I hiked up the steep hillside a little ways....  Guess what?  It actually was the Arlington Ditch again.............coming around the big ridge to the North to that very holding pond spot!  So, just when I though the Arlington Ditch kept going & going & going West up the draw, I accidentally discovered it actually came in above me and joined that second holding pond from the East.  Cool.  So, I walked the ditch for about 1/4 mile and it just kept going and going...  I could see from the elevation/pitch and direction it was going to go all the way back around the ridge and over to the Twin Lakes/Lake Creek side...



At that point I decided to abandon the ditch walk, hike down the hillside to rejoin FR 399 below in the draw and get my butt back to the Jeep.

Of all the dumb luck, guess what?

I came across an area where some miners had dug some discovery pits and even created a mine, with partly open adit!  I could see some white quartz veining in the rock above the mine opening.

The tailing pile had slipped, washed back in, mostly closing the adit opening, but I could easily see supporting timbers inside.  So, I fired up my detector, swung it over all the quartz chunks and debris.  I eventually got several pieces of rock to "sound off"....barely, so I put them in a Ziplock bag.  I'll clean them, crush them with my mortar/pestle and pan them out today....see IF there's any gold in them, or just iron.





I detected around the other 3 or 4 pits around me, but no rocks sounded off.....only at the real mine with the timbers.

O.K., back to hiking back to the Jeep...

I decided to avoid walking all the way back on the Cache Creek Ditch, as it was tough going with all the trees/brush and the sun was sitting and such, so I simply walked down FR 399 and then cut over to the tree line and skirted around Quail Mountain at the base, then I worked my way back into the trees, found the Cache Creek Ditch again and followed it back to the Jeep.

On my way, I came back across that area where there's been some obvious hard rock mining and I got to see the big tailing pile/mine dump from below, where earlier I'd been up on top of it.  Some miners sure dug/blasted and hauled a LOT of rock to make this pile.



Finally, back at the Jeep at 3:45 PM.  I was whipped from my excursion!

Here's just some of my metal detector finds.  I found endless bits of wire, rusty metal can scraps, iron scraps, old nails, etc., as I walked along:



I found 4 field arrow tips, a steel .223 Rem case, a cool old square nail, a chunk of iron and a little lead ring.

Here's the ore samples that made my Gold Bug Pro detector sound off:




I'll let everyone know if these hard rock samples have any gold in them, once I crush them and pan them out.

UPDATE: O.K. I crushed them all to a fine powder, panned it out. LOADS of iron staining & red, red, red.............but, not a speck of free mill gold to be seen. Embarassed So, not sure what those Old Timers were mining there in that hillside, BUT I didn't see any gold... Oh well...

Hoping everyone hits the hills, gets out before winter gets here!

Randy   C-17A


Last edited by Admin on Sun Nov 20, 2016 2:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Colorado -- Metal Detecting the Old Cache Creek Ditch -- 19 Nov 2016

Post by russau on Sun Nov 20, 2016 10:21 am

absolutely a great story and excursion! Now that's prospecting!!

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Re: Colorado -- Metal Detecting the Old Cache Creek Ditch -- 19 Nov 2016

Post by Dave on Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:18 pm

Thanks, Randy, I really enjoyed reading that and seeing all the great pictures. I appreciate you sharing. Had some physical problems this fall (mostly very bad colds or other stuff I got from the cadets) and did not get out once past August. Sad, but it makes your trip reports even better because I cannot get out right now; not even to Denver metro creeks.

Sitting here at 2 degrees F waiting for the 6 inches or so of snow that is supposed to be coming. They have already closed all the school districts and the Air Force Academy is on 2 hour delay. Fortunately I don't have to teach tomorrow.

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Re: Colorado -- Metal Detecting the Old Cache Creek Ditch -- 19 Nov 2016

Post by Admin on Thu Jan 05, 2017 6:30 am

Dave,

Bummer to hear you haven't been 100% for awhile... Crying or Very sad Yep... NO doubt dealing with hundreds of "kids" all coming and going and hacking and sharing sex, saliva, germs...........was gonna have some of that rub off on you.....day after day...

Well, I hope you get your immune system back to 110% and get ready for this Spring...

I have LOTS of Trip Reports posted here for you to enjoy and lots of short videos too, over on my Gold Adventures YouTube Channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/C0017A/videos

Plz check them out, if you haven't...

Yeah, snowed in here right now at 6:25 AM. 17 F outside at the moment. Supposed to have 2 F for the low tonight. Looks like it snowed all night and we have over 1 foot for sure on the ground here. STILL snowing and I looked at the radar summary and there's snow West past Grand Junction, drifting our way...

May get another foot before it stops Friday evening. My wife Sweet Dee is stuck in Denver, waiting out the storm. Flew back in from Phoenix last night at 10 PM, got delayed 2 hrs due to snow. All the roads are white as can be looking at the CDOT cameras...

Well, we were at 106% of average annual snow pack 2 weeks back, now we'll be WAY over 100%! That should mean lots of runoff to sluice with and dredge with...

So, come sunrise, I'll be snow blowing for hours with my TroyBuilt 26" blower and shoveling a LOT of snow off my decks, back patio and around the propane tank & barn... Ugh...

Randy C-17A Smile



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