Seven Suggestions for Finding Workable Gold Ground (Part 5)

The suggestion I'm presenting in this post is essentially a "no brainer," but I'm continually amazed by how infrequently it's followed up on. As you all know by now, success in gold mining on any scale (large or small) is largely defined by the overall quality of the ground you choose to work. Can I get an "Amen, brother!" on that last statement?

5) Go where others don't go or are unwilling to go.

Tired of the same old, beaten-down gold ground? Then stop opting for those easy to reach locations and get yourself out into the boonies. Better gold ground typically awaits those who get off the beaten path and you can put that in your pipe and smoke it. There's a simple assumption at work here: the easier a location is to get to > the more it's probably been worked from time immemorial. Conversely, the more remote and harder to reach a gold location is > the greater your chances of finding better gold there. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule in the universe and a few of those apply to this follow-on premise as well. But by and large, if you go where others don't typically go or are unwilling to go, your chances of recovering good gold values increase exponentially. I know this is true in my own checkered gold prospecting and mining career, so chances are that's the way it's worked for you (or will work for you if you haven't done it yet).

 (You may have to bust your hump getting to a spot like this...but hey...take a look at it!)

Now this doesn't mean that some very juicy gold ground out there that's easily accessible doesn't exist, because it does. This is particularly true in certain areas of California's Motherlode Region as well as other locations scattered throughout the western and southwestern United States (and parts of Alaska, Canada, and Australia). However, easy access locations of this sort tend to be claimed up or otherwise off limits to the average Jane or Joe out there for very obvious reasons (i.e., good gold + easy access...duh!). One thing to consider here, however, is that any good gold ground like this that's easily accessible will (or has already) become the target of claim jumpers, trespassers, or various other n'er-do-wells. You'd probably have to camp out on your claim 24-7 to prevent this sort of occurrence. I know of at least one instance in the Motherlode back in the 1980s where a claim jumper got pumped full of lead (shot dead, that is) by an irate claim holder. Gold does strange things to people, if you weren't aware of that fact already.

You'll Get the Drift...

Rather than eating buckshot or taking a large-caliber round in the posterior, I think the safest thing for any of us to do is to head for the highest, farthest, deepest, driest, dustiest, or most inhospitable gold ground that can be found. That's where opportunity is going to knock the hardest when it comes to getting the gold. You know, the old "Away from the maddening crowd" routine. Are there inherent problems with this type of approach? You bet there are and you best not take them lightly either. The types of hard-to-reach gold locations I'm thinking about will require kidney squashing drives over very rough roads miles and miles from any aspect of civilization as we know it or humps and hikes up and down ass-busting ravines or across barren desert floors. There won't be any drive-up windows or water faucets either. Just you, your gear, the terrain, and yes...the gold. If any of you out there have seen the best treasure hunting/gold prospecting/adventure movie ever made, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, what I'm telling you in that last sentence paraphrases what the old timer ("Howard") in the movie says to the two greenhorn, wannabe miners ("Dobbs" and "Curtin") wanting to accompany him to search for gold in a remote area of Old Mexico. Watch the movie and you'll get the drift on what I'm saying here.

("Howard" the old timer schooling the greenhorns.)

How do you find out about those good, off-the-beaten path gold locations? One surefire way is to do your research, my friend. Do your research and if I can make another suggestion here, make it THOROUGH research while you're at it. Moreover, never do anything half-assed in gold prospecting or mining unless you are bound and determined to play the fool or to not get much in the way of gold. If this was the case, you probably wouldn't even be reading this, right? So we're all good to go on that I suspect. Anyhoo, another way to get info on very good gold sites or locations is to listen to the locals. Notice I said "listen" and not "talk." If you shut your mouth for a change and open your ears wide instead you just might come up with an information gem or two that'll put you onto some damn good gold. I know I've used this approach to very good effect in my career so there's no reason whatsoever it can't or won't work for you as well. Here's another follow-on tip in this regard. Conduct yourself properly as a person and as a miner when dealing with the locals and don't act like the common village idiot, full-on chicken shit, boring loud-mouth, serial braggart, generic ass wipe, encyclopedic know-it-all, or God's gift to men and women. Got it? Good.

Spinning the Wheel

I'm 67 years old now but in fine shape for my age, truth be told. I'm not over-blowing things when I say I can still out-hump the boonies better and faster than most younger men I know (I'm a lot like old "Howard" in the previously mentioned film!). This horn tooted on my own behalf, I fully understand that some of you reading this have real infirmities or physical limitations that would not only prevent you from taking the "scenic" or boonie route, but by doing so you could place your health and well-being in jeopardy. DON'T DO THAT. Stick to the path of least resistance, hit those easy -to-reach spots, and please don't risk your health or well-being for a little bit of gold. It ain't worth it. Never was and never will be. Take that straight from this crusty old coot and save your family pain, misery, and lots of heartache.

While we're mining this particular vein (pun intended!), taking the boonie route to those remote goldfields is rife with other concerns that I need to elaborate upon here. Going it alone is NOT the wisest choice for any number of reasons. A twisted ankle, a broken bone, a snake bite, an animal attack, a fall, and even drowning, heat stroke, and hypothermia can all get wrapped into the mix if you're out in the boonies on your own. Hell, one of these bad situations could happen even when you do have a "pard" along but at least you have someone to help you or go for help. If you're running solo in remote environments then you're just spinning the roulette wheel and hoping your number DOESN'T hit! This said, I have to admit here and now that I have spent the bulk of my mining and prospecting career going it alone...even in the worst of environments. Sigh...what can I say? I'm a loner and I'm downright stupid at times. So don't do as I as I SAY! In essence, if double zero comes up on the wheel and I've been betting lucky number 13 the whole way, and eventually end up dead on some long-forgotten trail, then it's on me and my own idiocy. It's not someone else's fault...least of all you dear reader. Just shove my bones off to the side and proceed.

 (Going it alone in the wild is like spinning the roulette wheel...)

Anyway, doing your research up front and finding that special out-of-the-way gold spot may be just the ticket you've been looking for. Who knows? You might just end up filling that gold poke of yours.

Best to all.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR, Even if you don't find gold in these types of places, there is gold of another type. Desert,mountains or grassy plains all have their beauty if you take the time to look and enjoy it. Today's world spins way to fast for this guy. I'm happiest smack dab in the center of nowhere. I'm pretty crippled too,in fact I can barely walk. If I can get there, most anyone can if they try. It takes me a maddening amount of time now though. When my time comes, if I have my way I hope to just dissapear into the hills never to be seen again. I'd much rather let the coyotes chew my bones than die with diapers on in a nursing home. Give me a mountain for a headstone and I'll be happy.

  2. I've been going it alone in the hills since I was 14. I concur with you it's not the brightest idea. Fell off a boulder and separated my shoulder 3 miles back in the hills. Twice in one day I stuck my hand, and my foot within 3 inches of a rattlesnake. Thank god it wasn't a baby. I even ran into a bighorn sheep face to face. There are many dangers. It's always best to have help. I'm mostly a loner type but a partner did save me from a boulder crashing on my head while dredging. If he hadn't seen it move, I wouldn't be reading your words today. Very sage advice my friend.
    Regards Jeff


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