4 Tips for Putting Those Cold Days of Winter to Good Use

 (Put the Winter months to good use.)

"Grin and Bear It"

It won't be long before cooler weather is on its way here in the Northern Hemisphere. Although we've been experiencing a run of beautiful and temperate "Indian Summer" days in Northern New Mexico, by the end of October snow is always a real possibility here. The running joke is: "if you don't like the weather here wait an hour!"

Gold Pans
Gold Prospecting Books
Gold Panning Kits

Those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, temperate zones, Southern Arizona, or Southeastern California will start shifting gears and heading out to dredge, sluice, nugget shoot, or dry wash. The rest of us will have to just "grin and bear it" while the inevitable cold, snow, ice, and frozen ground keep us (for the most part, anyway) at home suffering from cabin fever and withdrawals, being the mining addicts we all are!

However, there are a number of productive gold prospecting and mining tasks that can keep you occupied during the "down" periods of late Fall and Winter. Here are a few of those for your consideration:

Performing fine gold recovery: If you have a "Blue Bowl" concentrator, mini-sluice, or other small re-circulating system for recovering fine gold from black sands or other concentrates, now is a good time to start running that material....providing you can set up inside your garage, shed, or anywhere else that won't allow the cold in or bring the wrath of your wife or significant other down upon your head. (In other words, don't set up your fine gold recovery operation in the kitchen or living room!)

Conducting research: Don't let the academic formality of these two words throw you for a loop. You don't have to be a PhD. to conduct research and the research I'm talking about here is all about gold prospecting and mining, not astrophysics or organic chemistry...so sit back and relax. The idea is to use this down time to research old mining districts; study up on the mining history of the areas you currently work (or want to work); learn more about various sorts of mining gear and equipment; read first-person accounts of old timers for clues and tips; pore over topographic maps or Google Earth; or teach yourself more about the geology of gold and gold mineralization (to name but a few...). The list is endless and there is ALWAYS more to learn...it doesn't matter if you're the greenest of greenhorns or a broken-down old timer like me...this still holds true.

Dickies Work Clothes

Cleaning, repairing, and modifying equipment: The dog days of cold, wet, snow, and ice are also a very good time to care for your mining equipment and gear. Take the time to examine your equipment and check it closely for damage or potential breakage or dysfunction issues. Better to do this now than to wait till Spring and rush out the door with defective gear. If items need repair, then fix them. If you've come up with some great ideas for modifying your equipment, then this is the time to get with the program and "git 'er done." That way you are using those cold, dark days to good cause and will be ready to go and "Johnny on the spot" when it comes to getting the gold again.

Reassessing your overall approach and mining efficiency: You're going to have to be a little more introspective and philosophical to make this one work, but it's every bit as important as the previous tips. Winter is a good time time to stop and reflect back on what you did right this past mining season and, most importantly, what you did wrong. Now's the time to flag those weaknesses that hindered you in your ability to get the gold. Maybe that's a fundamental impatience on your part, general lack of mining knowledge, failure to sample properly, or even laziness. Whatever the negatives are in your mining approach and activities (and we all have them, by the way), flag those suckers and effect positive changes to correct the course. That way you can hit it again in the Spring with a fresh approach and the will to put 100% into your mining efforts.

Good luck out there and remember that the seasons come and go just as we do...it's all part of the Big Plan.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "7 Suggestions for Finding Workable Gold Ground (Part 5)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2011

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. J.R.,
    Under your Tip #2, Conducting Research, here's a nifty (and FREE, I might ad) website called ACME Mapper 2.0: http://mapper.acme.com/. On this website you can choose from a number of different map types. You can search by address, city/town name, Zip code, and GPS coordinates. I'm sure you are aware of this website, but perhaps some of your readers are not. I have found it invaluable in my research. Keep up the good work. Love your blog!

  2. Thanks for the great comment and tip. I'm sure readers will put this info to good use. Best to you! Jim

  3. One other thing that winter is good for is doing all your claim maintenance paperwork and applying early for any additional permits that may be required for next years mining operation. That way if there are any issues with your applications, they can get dealt with in the off season and not hinder you when the season is beginning.

  4. Excellent tip Travis! You beat me to the punch there. Best to you. J.R.


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