Monday, April 18, 2011

Gold prospecting adventure

With gold topping $1,500 an ounce for the first time in history today, it seems a good time to post some photos from my gold prospecting adventure on the Llano River in the hill country of central Texas. My friend W.C. Jameson introduced me to gold prospector Earl Theiss, who graciously brought out his equipment to let me do some hands-on dredging. After briefing me on what to expect -- rocks either slick with moss or as harsh as sandpaper, water typically between three and five feet but with some holes over your head, and being prepared for a physically and mentally adventure -- he turned me loose. The dredge is sort of like a souped-up vacuum cleaner that Hoovers material from the bottom of the river into a 4-inch nozzle and spits out out into a floating sluice box. Air was supplied by a hookah rig on the dredge (I supplied my own wet suit, mask, gloves, and dive experience -- this is scuba diving, so if you'd like to try it, you'd better be certified).  After gathering material for a couple of hours from the beautiful pink granite bottom of the river, and paying particular attention to cracks and crevices, as Earl instructed, we were ready to see what we got. That's Earl (left) and  me transferring the stuff we collected in the sluice on the dredge into a bucket to further refine and, eventually, to pan. We were at a place called Long's Fishing Camp, north of Kingsland, and it was a beautiful spring day. Eighty degree weather. Back in Kansas, it was snowing.