Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

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Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by Admin on Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:31 am

Hey Gold Adventurers...

Just finished up 3 days of hard dredging on the mighty Ark here locally, North of Buena Vista a ways on a good friend's claim.

Had noticed last week the Ark was lower than I'd EVER seen it in almost 6 years of living here full time.  We're WAY behind on snow and rain and so I am guessing the water authorities are holding back on every drop they can upriver...  More like a big creek flowing between endless boulders than a river!  Ha.   Smile

Decided to go dredging on a low bench that we've Cubed/dredged in years past, but is normally always under high, fast, deep water.  Not now, so I jumped on the chance...  Got a buddy from Leadville, Miner Matt to help me and another buddy from North of Denver, Bill, decided to come up, help us roll rocks, pitch rocks and dredge too.

Day 1:  Got out there about 8:45 AM on Saturday, 24 March.  Matt & I unloaded my Jeep of the dredge and ALL the "stuff" we'd need for 3 or 4 days of "hard fun".  Took a lot of trips down the bank, but got it all there, assembled and actually fired up and running by about 9:45 AM.  That was a record of sorts!

Man, as you might imagine, the Ark water was COLD, clear and COLD!  Good thing I had my brand new 5MM Compass 360 chest waders with insulated boot foot and my arms length long blue PVC gloves with insulating cotton glove liner.  Started at the water's edge, where I'd done some sample panning several days before.  LOTS of black sand built up and decent color in this area, at the lower end of this bench still.  We'd worked the middle and upper end in years past with great gold success.

Matt & I ended up doing 1 +15 hrs and then a cleanup.  For those that were curious, I had my VIBCO DC-20 12-volt vibrator on my dredge sluice box, powered by a car battery.  Seemed to be vibrating well, hopefully helping the fine, fine gold settle thru the black sands and into my Vortex like matting...  We saw GOOD color for our first cleanup, so off to run # 2!   Wink

A pic of our dredging operation:



Ran another 1 + 30 hrs and did cleanup # 2 and again very nice color.  Stopped for a ham Sammy & chips and a bottle of water and off to dredging again.  The day started off a balmy 17F but warmed nicely as it was sunny and nor real wind to deal with.  Probably got up to upper 40s by the afternoon.  The water was still COLD!  Ha.

After running out of gas again after about 1+30 hrs we decided to just gas up and keep going, as the box was running clean and I wanted to just keep hogging in a lot of good material and not waste time on a cleanup...  So, away we went...  Bill showed up I am guessing about 1:30 PM or 2PMish.  He helped us roll some bigger rocks so I could get to the dirt under them and pitch rocks/clean off more bench for me to suck up.

We ran hard, enjoyed the nice sunny day and finally decided to quit for the day about 3:20 PM.  Ugh, was I whipped!  Got in a good 5 1/2 hrs of 2 1/2 inch nozzle time!  

Made 1 short video here, FYI:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ib2w0RVhgIk&t=3s

Here's a pic of the 3.30 grams of nice fine flood gold we get:



Day 2:  Sunday, 25 March

Got back to the river about 9 AM.  Was much warmer starting off at 37F.  The water was still COLD.  Ha.  I forgot the darn vibrator battery on the charger in the garage, so I blasted back, got it and we were running about 9:30 AM.

Plan was to just keep working up the bench until we hit the area that had been previously worked.  So, off we went...  Did a first cleanup after about 1+30 after we ran out of gas.  Looked to be decent color again.   Wink

Bill wanted to finish dredging around a few big boulders and not leave any good/old material behind, so he ran the nozzle for the next hour and gave me a break.  After running out of good material we decided to float the dredge downriver a ways to the very bottom of the bench and start working towards the bank.  We discovered a lot of tan flow sand just about 10 inches down.  Test pans showed almost no color, so we stuck to eating away at the darker, more clayish material.  

Eventually, we got to more flow sand with insane amounts of black sand layered in...  It has some color too, so we just hogged in all we could.  Had to wait over and over for the box to clear, as this material "flowed" into the nozzle so easily.  Probably got in a good 4 hrs of nozzle time.

A pic of our dredging for the day:



We ran hard until about 3 PM, shut down, did our last cleanup and packed it back to the house for a HOT shower and BBQ pork for dinner.   YUM!  Wink

A pic of the gold in our first cleanup:



Here's 1 short video I did this day:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqzi6YWKU8M&t=1s

Here's the gold we got this day....1.62 grams:



Day 3, Monday 26 March:

I decided to make this our last day on the river...  Wx reports all said a "fast moving" cold front was coming our way and by Monday night/Tuesday morning we'd get a big temp drop and snow.  Plus, BILL had to head out to get back home about noontime.

Started off at 28F and some wind down the river.  Brrr...  The water in the pump was frozen and took some effort to get the pump primed and us dredging.  Started again about 9 AM and since the last spot we dredged didn't look all that good we sample panned around.  Tried behind a big boulder just below the bench area, but a LOT of big rocks and limited material, so we decided to pull the dredge back up river, above where we quit before and "rework" some areas next to the fast water channel that MAY have been missed in years past.

Got back to dredging under clear skies and cold breezes and ice cold water.  WE did find some virgin, hard packed material and it was VERY slow going...  Had a lot of rock jams as the spot was insanely full of little, flat 2  1/2 inch rocks that looked like big silver dollars.  But, there was a lot of virgin hard packed clay material to slowly work thru...

Bill headed out after lunch and Miner Matt & I kept going to maximize the day, before we had to stop, break it all down, carry it all up the bank and load it back into my Jeep.  We probably ran a good 3 1/2 hrs of nozzle time and did 2 cleanups for the day.  We quit at 2 PM.  Pooped out.  Whipped...  The cleanup tub looked good for what material we were able to run.

A pic of where we ended our dredging ops:



Took us about an hour start to finish to cleanup, break it all down and make trips up the bank and load it all into my waiting Jeep.  Whew!  That was both fun and exhausting!   Wink

Here's 1 short video I made:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9x8tgoqb1U8&t=4s

Here's the last video I made, as we quit for good, ending our 3 day "Gold Adventure": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w78k6Bqmkj8&t=12s

Here's the gold we got for our last day.......1.37 grams:



All I can say is team work pays off and we sure moved a LOT of material with a little 2 1/2 inch dredge over 3 days!  I Gold Cubed the cons yesterday and am panning out each day separately.  Talk about SLOW panning with fine, fine gold like this.....hour after hour.  Looks pretty good overall.  

Summary: We ended up with a grand total of 6.338 grams of very nice, fine Arkansas River flood gold. Very Happy

So, believe it or not, the decision to call it quits after 3 days and not try a 4th day was a good one.  I woke up to about 3 inches of wet, heavy snow outside and a balmy 25F!  By the end of the day most all the snow had melted in as the day was sunny, breezy and we hit a high in the lower 40s.  Bet the Ark will come up some too, with all this moisture.  I'd say we timed this adventure perfectly!

Hope you all get out soon too, get some wild shiny for yourself!

Randy  C-17A   Smile


Last edited by Admin on Wed Mar 28, 2018 4:24 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by Chief05 on Wed Mar 28, 2018 1:42 pm

Sir:

Thanks for sharing a great report of a great sounding trip, wish I could of joined you guys, but you know I was watching your progress daily and cheering you on. Can't wait until the end of April when we all plan to get together for your next Dredging Gold Adventure, expect some great company, Chunky Arkansas River Gold, good food and full days "Hard Fun" from you..........HA! Looking forward to your pictures of the Gold when you get it all cleaned up and looking pretty........ Smile

Ron

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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by russau on Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:14 am

This is what dreams are made of! Nice job Randy / Mat and Bill ! cheers

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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by Admin on Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:31 am

Russ,

Thanks! We all plan to do it again end of April.

John the claim owner will be here up from Oklahoma too, so it really will be a "dredge party" then!

Can't wait for more cold water and shiny!!! Wink

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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by TexGemCutter on Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:54 pm

Great report Randy! I've panned and sluiced the Arkansas past the railroad bridge(GPAA claims), late in the season when the water goes down. Was wondering when do they start letting out water for the tourist season. Also any big changes on regulations for this year? Thanks for all your info and help in the past.

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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by Admin on Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:09 am

TexGemCutter,

Thanks for looking!  Yes, the GPAA Arkansas Group claims are one spot to get some tiny shiny.  Ha.  Wink

Well, normally the Ark will start to rise rapidly when the snow starts to melt in earnest at the higher elevations, which normally means the nights need to start staying ABOVE freezing at night.  This normally happens late May or early June.  It will creep up slowly from here and pick up steam in mid-April.  Once the Ark starts to flood it normally peaks about mid-June and then starts to slowly drop.  

The water authorities then normally keep it at/about 700 to 800 CFM at the Granite Gauge from my understanding all the way thru summer until 15 August.  That's the official end of the rafting/kayaking/float fishing season, once all the kiddos have gone back to skool. Over night, on 16 August the Ark will drop dramatically, usually down to 300 to 400 at Granite.  The Ark gets higher as you go downriver from Granite, as all the feeder streams, springs and natural water percolation occurs.  So, 800 at Granite might be 1,000 at BV and 1,500 at Salida, etc.

NOW, all that said, the rafters/kayakers & float fishermen ONLY get that unnatural summer flow augmentation from a program called the VFMP (Voluntary Flow Mgt. Program), which is a "gift" from the federal Bureau of Reclamation of up to 10,000 acre feet of water for artificially keeping the Ark high, fast & cold.....so THEY can make oodles of more cha-ching (money) and the local city/county governments make oodles of more cha-ching (tax money) off all the tourists that flock here to kayak, raft & float fish.  Talk about a one-sided scam!  They have turned the Ark into a cash cow to be milked to the MAX extent, for their enrichment...

We prospectors/claim owners/small scale miners are demonized endlessly as Satan, destroyers of worlds, evil......that we torture puppies and pull the wings off butterflies....and destroy the river.  Ha.  Wrong.  Unfounded.  BUT, if you corner the CPW Aquatic Biologist behind closed doors, he'll only tell you then, off the record, that the VFMP is the WORST thing for the river, for the fishery, for all bugs, molds, aquatic plants, fish, otters, all aquatic life going! This unnatural/non-native water flow for several extra months to please the rafters/kayakers & float fishermen hurts the river in a BIG way.  The artificially high, fast & cold water all summer long, instead of dropping to "native" flow, where the water slows down, warms up.......causes less food for the fish in the forms of bugs & aquatic plant life.....SO the fish struggle all summer into fall against a faster current, and they have a lot less to eat, so they are skinnier, thinner and have a much lower spawning success rate going into fall.

The biologist will also tell you that in the past 2 real drought years, 2002 and 2012, and this year is shaping up to be the 3rd, they don't run the VFMP if the snow pack here is below 100% of average annual snow pack.  We're at 58% right now.  SO, without the 10,000 acre feet of free/ectra water, the Ark drops to "native" flow starting mid-June and slows, warms and the whole river/fishery benefits GREATLY!  

The biologist will admit (only behind closed doors) that in those 2 drought years the fish in the river were the biggest, fattest, healthiest and they saw the best 2 spawning seasons that fall on record.  SO, whenever the self-righteous eco-Nazis and such who brag up a storm and claim to be the true "friends of the river"......know it's all B.S.  They'll gladly sacrifice the Ark so they can run their rafting/kayaking & float fishing businesses, make all the personal cha-ching they possibly can and milk the Ark like a cow............and deflect the finger of damaging blame and point it at us all prospectors as the "enemies" of the river.  Wrong.

No big changes as to regulations on the Ark.  Still just "Casual Use" ops...........unless on a federal permitted USFS or BLM claim that's approved/permitted for powered ops, or on private river property.

Looks like BLM is keeping the same rules for 2018 as they had in 2017 for Cache Creek too.  No prospecting at the East end of the valley below the Granite Cemetery.  BLM put up NO DIGGING and Antiquities Act of 1906 signs around the cemetery parking area last year.  Running to the other end only, out power line road. They have the gate locked on power line road until Memorial Day weekend at the end of may. Criminals. Threatening us with vehicle/equipment confiscation, 6 years in federal prison and/or $250,000 in fines and "other" civil penalties as allowed by law, it we "dig" by the cemetery.  Criminals. No reason for now prohibiting what we've done there for the prior 16 years.  NO Indian burial grounds and NO old building left to somehow "loot", "damage" or "destroy" by prospecting as we have.  Only allowed up at the West end, in the 25 acres of rocks & trees at the placering area parking lot, down power line road.  No powered equipment.  Still allowed pans & sluices in the creek.

BLM is considering now in their big RMP rewrite to name Cache Creek a SRMA or ERMA, as I have been demanding for 3+ years, BUT looking at their draft language, they want to do it in name only.........still cram all their onerous & unnecessary rules I've held up here 3+ years down our throats.  The BLM today is a griminal organization, a Swamp of Biblical proportions that ONLY serve their owning masters......eco-Nazis.  Embarassed   Wish we could flush the BLM toilet, start totally over, hire people that work for ALL the citizens/taxpayers/public land owners...

HTH,

Randy  C-17A  Smile
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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by russau on Fri Mar 30, 2018 11:09 am

And after Labor day weekend they start to cut back the flow.

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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by jloyd on Sun Apr 01, 2018 4:03 pm

Yes Randy never seen the Arkansas that low before .I use to hunt just out of Salida for about 8 years .Did some panning with the kids at that time.

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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

Post by Admin on Wed Apr 04, 2018 4:31 pm

Jloyd,

O.K. Cool... It's something I haven't seen before, so it's really neat for me. Wink

The claim owner and a couple other prospecting friends ate gonna meet here end of the month and we're gonna do a little more dredging...

Hope the Ark stays down.

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Re: Colorado -- First Dredging Ops of 2018 on the Arkansas River!

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