The Value of "High Point" Gold (Part 1)

When it comes to finding placer gold there's distinct value in looking for what I term the "high points" around you in streams and dry washes. I imagine some of you are out there scratching your heads right now, since you've been told time and time again by every self-proclaimed gold mining "expert" that it's the low points in gold-bearing streams and washes you need to consider first and foremost. Well, my friends, read on and you might just learn something from a small-scale miner who's getting older than dirt and has shoveled much of the same in his search for gold.

One Battle You Won't Win

First off, allow me to say that those self-proclaimed experts I just mentioned are correct (for the most part, anyway) in directing you toward the lower portions of streams and washes in your search for gold. By "lower" I don't mean downstream but know, the whole getting down to bedrock thing. Since gold is a very heavy and dense metal, it has an unerring tendency to sink lower and lower until it can descend no farther and in most instances bedrock is where you want to be in one way, shape, form or another. This is the standard, hard and fast rule and it should guide your small-scale mining and prospecting activities for the most part. That said, any prospector or miner who slavishly follows this "golden" rule is apt to end up on the short end of the stick at times and is missing an entirely different angle to get at the gold. Sure, commercial mining operations using heavy equipment could give a shit less in terms of what I'm about to tell you in this post since their thing involves a very simple equation, move more dirt. It's all about bulk or quantity for them. Business is business after all.

(Gold is a very heavy and dense metal...but you already knew that, right?)

But for you and I, small-scale miners with limited time and means (and high ideals), what we want to do is MAXIMIZE our chances for recovering good gold values in any and all circumstances. Although moving more dirt can be exactly what the doctor ordered for us at times, I'm here to try and get you to work smarter...not harder. What we should be looking for in and around that stream or dry wash is value. Good gold value for our time and effort. As much gold as we can get with our limited time and our limited means. I'll tell you right now you'll never be able to compete with the commercial guys in terms of moving dirt and I don't give a rat's butt how much gold-bearing dirt you can hand shovel in a day. You ain't gonna win that battle, so why try? Instead, why not take a more value-driven approach that may bring you the same amount of gold (or more) in a few hours than you'd get working up blisters on your hands shoveling all day? Makes sense to me, anyway.

Small-Time and Small-Scale

There are very many ways to get the type of value I'm talking about here and crevicing, sniping, and pocket and nugget hunting are just a few of these. Here's one more for you. Looking for high point gold. No, unless I miss my bet you won't find many references to high point gold in any of the existing "how-to-get-gold" videos, websites, or books out there and I'll tell you with absolute certainty you aren't gonna learn about high points on any of the TV gold mining reality shows (i.e., staged soap operas) that are so popular these days. "Did you just say staged?" Damn straight I did and if you think what you're watching on the boob tube is 100% "real" then you're not acting as smart as I know you truly are. Even the grand "poobahs" of some of the better-known prospecting club shows and videos aren't above playing a little hanky panky with their greenhorn viewers if that bit of creativity generates more interest and yes, more bucks at the dream merchant cash register. But things being what they are in a general sense, everything gets worked out for the best in the end. Including that sleight o' hand known as  "salting the works."

 ("Ring 'er up!")

In order to understand the concept of what I call high points you must first have a good grasp of extreme high water flows or flooding/flash flooding and how those otherwise abhorrent natural events can be so beneficial to small-scale gold miners and prospectors. It takes very little imagination to see how placer gold can get stirred up, rooted out, and carried away by high water events like these. Even heavy pieces of placer gold like those elusive nuggets (and even large ones at that) can be scoured from their resting places and transported downstream for some distance. This is already known and proven from the standpoints of both physics and direct experience, yours and mine. But it's potential impact on high point gold is what's missing from this theorem. And as simple as the concept is, many of you have never thought about high water and flooding in terms of what I call high point deposition. Or, if you've thought about it, you've probably never clarified it into a method for recovering placer gold from a value-driven standpoint. Once again, value is what it's all about for most of us, not costly machinery. Although I'm always willing to tip my hat to those commercial gold miners out there, I'm not one of them and never wanted to be. I'm small-time and small-scale all the way...always have been and always will be. Right till the day I cross that final divide.

Alas and Alack

I know some of you are champing at the bit about the secrets concerning high point gold that I've rat- holed away amidst the cobwebs lining my devious mind. No worries. "Seek and ye shall find." "Ask and it shall be given you." After all, the universe has a way of giving you what you need, whether you want it or not!

 (There's a very BIG universe out there.)

But alas and alack, you'll have to wait a short while for me to spill my guts. You see, I'm heading out of Dodge for two weeks and won't be writing anything here until I return. Nor will I be able to respond to your e-mails for the most part. Wish I could say I was going mining but I'm not. I'm off to celebrate the 70th birthday of one of my surviving Vietnam buddies whom I've known for...can you believe it?...50 years now. This is a worthwhile journey for me and one of many in my life where things have gone full circle.

So hang in there. Like General Douglas MacArthur stated after fleeing the Phillipines in 1942, leaving his troops to the not-so-tender mercies of the Imperial Japanese Army, "I shall return."

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

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Well dang JR, tell him happy birthday from all of us too!


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