Sunday, December 9, 2012

Can you tell me?

Double, Rainbow, Alaska, Summer, Sterling, Hwy
Alaska is an amazing place to live, work, play and raise a family it.   Every day is full of new experiences.   There is almost no way to describe the wonders every day will bring.  You could go outside on the deck and find that a mother moose has calved twins and get to see them take their first wobbly steps in this fantastic place.  You could be driving home at night and have to pull your car over to park so you can watch the northern lights dance through the sky.   When the trees have the hoarfrost on them and they look like they were pulled out of some fairytale book, you just have to stop and admire.  The photo in this post I was just driving to town to pick up some groceries and I had to pull over and take a picture, if you look close you can see the double rainbow.  Go ahead and write a comment about your favorite things that you experience where your from.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

What happens in the evenings?

We are going to try a post without a picture today.  At the end of the day, after all of our equipment has run out of fuel.   We perform our clean up, eat dinner, then it is time to sit around the fire and talk about events that took place during the day.  My Mother-in-law usually wants to do an evening exploration trip to an area of the mine we have not been to in a while.  When she heads out she usually takes my wife along with.   My father-in-law and I sit around the camp fire and discuss ways to modify our equipment to make it work better, places we think that we need to dig test holes.  We discuss how we are going to run the operation more efficiently with our small crew.   Once my mother-in-law and wife return from their expedition we will then start the wine tasting, the in laws make their own wine.  Most of the time it is great wine, sometimes you just have to spit it back out.  After a couple glasses of wine it is usually time for everyone to hit the hay for the evening, then rinse and repeat, we do it all again the next evening.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What is a Gold Miner?

Gold Mine, fall, dad, comforting
The Gold Miner is not always searching for gold.  There are things much more precious to him.  Those precious things require much more attention than the ground under his feet.  In this photo a little girls feet left the ground while in a flat out run, ending in a very painful fall.  The Miner is first and foremost a father, then a husband, a son, a brother.  The gold miner may have hard hands, but they are comforting hands, hands that heal wounds and will pick you up when you fall.   A Gold Miner is a friend for life and will always be there if family or friend is in need.  I am a gold miner.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

It Finds Gold.

Trommel, tray, loading, gold, washplant Trommel, pullys, belt, gold, wash plant
Trommel, loading,tray trommel, expel, discharge tray

This here is our little trommel wash plant that we use to run samples in. It a bit clunky, not quite round, but hey nobody is perfect and it works just fine just the way it is. How it works, we will set it up at base camp and after I have dug a sample Hole I will fill my backhoe's excavator bucket up with the dirt of interest, carry it back to where the trommel is located and then shovel the dirt from the bucket into the trommel. Once we have run the whole bucket through the trommel the we perform a clean out, it is never a lot of gold, but what it does is give us a snapshot of what the ground contains, gold wise, and depending on what we get out of the trommel we will decide to dig or not to dig?......Boy, that seems like a recurring question in this blog. This trommel seems to have very good gold recovery. We did have some grounding issues when we first started operating, if you would touch the trommel you would get a nice electric shock from it. As you all know electricity and water does not mix well. We have since solved that issue because getting shocked every time you touch the machine, just won't do. These photos are prior to having any of the pluming installed. I will try to find a picture of the complete unit to show off.

Monday, December 3, 2012


wife, mining, sleeping, caughtYou know, I can't help that I am an early riser and like to start my day as soon as possible.  I have a passion for gold mining, maybe its being outdoors all the time with my family on a mission of sorts. Well no matter what it is I like to work as long as there is light, which is quite a while in the summer here.  My family says that I am a slave driver and that I work to hard.  I always tell them they are welcome to stay at camp and I will go out by myself.   They always come with.  Then they say that I work them to death, I say you look like your still walking around to me.   Well the photo here is me catching my wife sneaking in a standing nap hoping no one would notice she was catching a few z's if she was standing up.  Well someone noticed and got a great picture.  I am not a slave driver!  I cant help if everyone wants to fallow me out in the morning and stay out late, until the equipment runs out of gas.  (They don't know I sneak extra fuel into the equipment so it will run a few more hours, Ssssshhh, it will be our secret.)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Our Monochromatic Friends

Bald, eagle, homer, alaska, spit
Well, this is one of those other Tidbits. One day we drove down to homer to see the masses of eagles that that grouped around where the Eagle lady would feed them in Homer, AK. We went because we had heard that she had passed on and that another individual was filling in for her. Also We heard that the City of Homer was ending the program and not allowing this group of eagles to be fed by people any more. So this was kind of the last time we would be able to see the groups of eagles down on the Homer Spit before they dispersed. This particular Eagle landed right next to the truck, and he had such a great backdrop I had to take a couple pictures. There are Still Lots of eagles on the Homer Spit Just not all in one spot anymore. You don't have to look very hard to find them up here in Alaska. If you really want to see one while your here and have not seen one close up yet, just stop by the local landfill. There are plenty of them there, They are scavenger birds after all. They are beautiful bird and if you have never taken the time to stop and watch them you are really missing out on a opportunity to view the majestic national bird.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

May the Hydro-Force be with you!

Father-in-law, Operating, Hydro-force, hydroforce, mine, bedrock
First off I want to apologize for yesterdays post. It was a bit to far out in left field so I will try again today to make a post that is a little more worthy of re-posting.This Photo here is My Father-in-Law operation a very cool Device, it is a dredge nozzle that allows dredging on the dry ground instead of in the water. It is called a Hydro-force Nozzle. It works great for cleaning the bedrock once you have reached it. It works just like a dredge nozzle except there is a little diverter valve so that you can fill your hole with water and initiate suction. Once you have a good suction going in the water then you adjust the little ball valve on the side so your getting a good mixture of water and gravel going through your hoses while supplying water to the hole to keep the nozzle in water. This proper mixture help reduce clogs. There are quite a few you-tube videos on the use of this device, and all you need to do is type in Hydro-force to see it in action. When My Father in law is operating this tool he will say he needs a break, and let one of us take over. Well his break consist of standing directly over whoever is running the Hydro-force until you feel guilty and give it back to him. Usually he only will take a 5 min break. He will operate that thing for a 10 hour day, exhausting work.
Hydro-Force, Nozzle, Photo, dredging, dry land

Friday, November 30, 2012

A Harring, Whats a Harring?

GOLD, quarter, goldpan, mining
It seems that the story post I made was very popular so I think I will continue to tell the story of the mine through the magic of imagination.   As you all know we are looking for gold up here at Quartz creek Alaska.  What you don't know is that the gold we find is found in smaller flatter pieces.  The gold was created a couple million years ago when glaciers covered this whole area. Well most people think that nothing can live in a glacier.  Well in this area the only place for things to live was either on or in the glaciers.  Glaciers are constantly moving and grinding up the rock it is moving across.   Because of this the glacier becomes embedded with minerals and very small pieces of the bedrock.  This was the source of food for a creature called a "Harring."  The Harring looked like the cross between a big horned Beetle and an earth worm, the cross being that the earth worm had the horns kinda like the beetle. The Harring used its horns to borough through the glacier and find food as it went. It consumed the minerals and small rocks that it came across. Using the small rocks it would grind up the minerals for digestion. As the Harring digested, it only used from the minerals what its body needed, the rest was waste that would continue to pass through its body. One thing that I had not mentioned was that the Harring had its own heat source, a chemical reaction that would take place inside its body, as the remaining minerals passed through the body of the Harring it would pass through this chemical reaction, Changing the minerals into an new compound, before the waste minerals were expelled from its body.  This waste product is now valued for its beauty and rarity and people will go crazy trying to get at it.   It is what we now call GOLD!  The reason it is flat is because it had been carried through the glaciers for all those years and worn down to a flattened shape.   As the glaciers thawed the rivers carried the GOLD throughout the area depositing it in very randoms spots.  Sometimes you can get lucky and happen upon a concentration of it, but that does not happen very often.   In the picture above we performed a cleaned out after two hours of operating our wash plant.  There have never been any fossils found of the Harring since once they died the glacier took care of grinding them up to powder.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gold Panning Instruction

Well Here is an example of some gold panning with a couple pieces of the gold we find at the mine. I threw this together real quick without scripting it at all so please don't mind the misuse of words to describe the process, this was very ad-lib so no judging, I will will make a better video later, just thought I would see if this was something people would like to see on the site.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

What is it, that dwells at the Quartz Creek Mine?

Lyra, tree, gold, mine, forrest
The gold mine is a magical place, it is full of wonder and amazement its a place that just draws people in. Is it the mystery and beauty of quartz creek that brings people here? We get a lot of visitors through out the summer months, even during thanksgiving weekend we had some visitors drive up. Usually not anyone we know, but normally very friendly.  So all visitors heed the following warning.  There are some elusive creatures that dwell in the the shadows of the trees up there at our quartz creek mine. Mischievous little creatures. You may find your full soda that you just set down is now half empty, or that shovel that you put next to the rock is now leaning against the tree. So keep a sharp eye out you may even catch a glimpse of one of the mystical beings, in fact I got a picture of one with my camera, it was peeking out from behind a tree and I am posting for all the world to see as proof that there is a reason that your coffee cup is not where you left it.(or maybe you just forgot where you put it.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Layers, Its All About the Layers

Layers, gravel, gold, mine,
This is a photo from the first hole we started digging in at the gold mine. You can see the different layers in the gravel very well. The almost black layer seems to have a large quantity of gold in it. Other locations that has deposits of gold are found are in the clay layer and in the fractured slate(bedrock). This hole was dug completely by hand, we used a Keene High banker to process the dirt from this hole and we pulled 3/4 of an ounce out of here.

Monday, November 26, 2012

All work and no play....well you know the rest. trees, fallen
Every winter the snow brings lots of trees down in the trail and every spring we have to get out the chain saw and start clearing the way so we can make it down our trail. Here is a picture from thanksgiving to show that the mess has already begun. You would think that we would get at least one spring that would be free of fallen trees on the trail, but that is so not the case. Mother Nature loves to keep us busy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gona Get Some Gold!.......Maybe not.

Creek, Quartz, Mining, Thanksgiving, Frozen, gold
Well while we were up at the mine for Thanksgiving, I thought boy it sure would be fun to get the dredge out and find some gold. So I wandered on down to Quartz creek to see if there were any good spots to slip in the water. As the creek came into view I had to thoughts, "Brrrrrrrr" and "Boy I am glad the state does not allow dredging in the winter months." This photo is what I saw.   Just so everyone knows, I am really only allowed to dredge in the Salmon creek/streams from May, 15 - July, 15.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How do you KNOW there is GOLD there.

Gold, Striation, Glory, Hole, cut, dig, site
Well knowing that there is gold somewhere is actually just some educated guesses, lots of small sample holes, and a pinch of luck. In reality it is not much more complicated than that. This hole here we were processing the material on top of the clay in a line perpendicular to how this hole has been dug when the gold just stopped, so I moved the equipment back to a point that we were producing gold from and started making this cut up the hill from that Point. As we were moving up the hill the concentrations of gold were getting higher and higher. Then guess what?.....Our season ended. At least we have a starting spot for next years search for the glory hole!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Nice ROCK you have there.

Crystal, Quartz, outcropping, mineral, discovery, find
Remember the Post about the LARGE quartz vein we found up the hill from our current dig site. Here is a picture of a grab sample off of the vein, we kept this one because it is a very neat quartz specimen with great crystal formation. This chunk is about 9" long and about 5" wide, very pretty. It took a little work to get it cleaned up, but it was worth it. It has now joined the ranks with the rest of my specimens on the shelf.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

As Promised

Bunk, House, Gold, Mine, basecamp
As Promised Here is what our new bunkhouse looks like. We brought this in the last month of mining. This is where we had thanksgiving dinner this year. It was awesome. We did have to start a fire under the hinge on the gate so we could open it and get into the mine. Other than that the bunkhouse heated up nicely and we had a wonderful rustic thanksgiving dinner. The bunkhouse has a full bathroom with over sized shower, on demand hot water heater, toilet, full kitchen, dining room, slide out lean-to, flat screen TV, DVD player(for the rainy evenings, we still work in the mine when it is pouring down rain during the day).

Happy Thanksgiving

mining, camp, showing, lyra, base
Happy Turkey Day everyone. I put a summer picture of the base camp, because we are having thanksgiving up at the gold mine today(and i kinda wish we were still mining). We are going to forge through the snow, thaw out the bunkhouse and have our turkey dinner. I will get some winter pictures of the mine while we are up there today.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday, If you have to drive be cautious of other drivers, slow down, don't be in a hurry and If your drinking during the festivities, get a cab or have a designated driver.  We all want to get home safe.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Is it Winter or Summer

Snow, Season, Quartz, Creek
Termination snow, first snow of the season.  Strange that it only snowed on one side of quartz creek.  This signifies the end of our mining season.  Very sad day, but on a high note, it made for some great photo ops.

Monday, November 19, 2012

bedrock, outcropping, gold, quartz
One day we decided to take a break from digging and do some more exploring of the claim. We decide to walk up the mountain from where we were digging and found a large outcropping of bedrock. At first glance it did not look very significant, other than it was a large shelf with 75 feet exposed, it looked like a giant step. We walked around this outcropping inspecting is closer and as we started to pull the moss off of the face of the rock we uncovered a very large quartz vein with tons of stringers running all through the formation. We kept pulling off moss and kept uncovering more and more quartz. My mother-in-law found a loose piece of quartz and pulled it loose, it was a beautiful crystalline quartz specimen. We are very suspect that this quartz is the source for the gold we are currently finding, The plan is to send out a few grab samples for assay, wish us luck. Who love's rocks.......I do! I do!

Load up!

Getting Ready to head out in the morning to start a long day of mining. We don't like to make many trips so we pack as much on the 4-wheelers as possible. Sometimes though there just has to be multiple trips. The camper you see in the picture we have sold and we now have a bunkhouse built on an old boat trailer sitting in that same exact spot.  The bunkhouse by the way is awesome, in fact we are going to be having thanksgiving up there.  I will get some better pictures of the bunkhouse then, so check back for updates.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Everyone loves Chicken(no, not the animal)

Mining, Chicken, Gold, outing,
This is a photo from one of our family outings to Chicken Gold Camp.  We had a ton of fun, found some gold visited with friendly people enjoyed the sights and scenery.  I cant say enough good things about the Chicken gold camp.  Anyone who gets a chance to visit chicken should look these guys up they are very friendly, they provide a lot of conveniences at their campground that would otherwise be unavailable to the recreational miner.  Here is a link to their website - Chicken Gold Camp.

Is there gold there, I think there is.

gold, nugget, picker, found
This nugget my wife picked up just walking by the pile of dirt we stage for processing.  There is gold up in them there hills!  Maybe we could get on a TV show, just a small family operation, having to fight nature and breakdowns, no big wallet to fund the operation just two grandparents(Elaine and Antonio),Two Parents(Robert and Teresa), and a three year old(Lyra).  Add in a bit of creative and inventive personalities, some wishful thinking and the fever for gold.  I think it would make a great reality TV show.

Some Science At the Gold Mine!

Grandma and Lyra like to take hikes through the woods up at the mine.  The came across this birds nest(sorry for the out of focus picture).  They found it when there were just eggs in it and they monitored it every weekend we were there until the birds left the nest.  Lyra was very insistent as we were driving to the mine that her and grandma had to check on the birds and make sure they were ok.  She was sad when the birds finally grew up and left the nest.

Friday, November 16, 2012

How could I have done that?

Blacklab, Rottweiler, dog, bear guard
Stella the Dog
So I have left out a very important individual to a mining party, so here is an introduction if you see her in some of the photos.  Her name is Stella, Black Lab, Rottweiler mix.  She is a super good dog and the best bear early warning device you could have around.   She Plays all day with Lyra(she does have to take some breaks to rest).  When we are split up she will run between the groups of us checking in to see if everything is alright.  She rides the 480D tractor with me, and she rides the Kubota by herself.  Just a super good, "mans best friend."