Appearances Can be Deceiving

One thing I've learned over the course of my life (mining and otherwise) is that appearances can be deceiving. What looks like perfect gold ground may turn out to be a bust and ground that has no seeming attraction at all can turn out to be a mini-bonanza. Ma Nature loves playing games with gold miners, so what's on the surface is not always a reflection of what's underfoot.

The basic principles of gold prospecting and mining (small-scale or commercial) haven't really changed much over the course of time. The way you go at your mining and prospecting activities is not all that different from that of your human ancestors who tried their hand at digging gold way back when. Sure, new technologies for recovering or extracting gold have come and gone, but those basic principles remain in place and if you don't know exactly what those principles are, then by gum, you haven't been at this small-scale gold mining thing very long and need to read my archived posts for starters.

Scratching at the Surface

Most of you already know how I feel about "skimmers," would-be placer miners who only scratch at the surface and jump from spot-to-spot. Skimmers are sort of like chickens. They run around aimlessly, scratching away at the ground beneath them hoping to turn up a juicy morsel or two. They are generally aware of the basic premises governing gold deposition and tend to scratch where they think they can turn up a bit of color here and there. That's not a negative of and by itself since most skimmers have a sense of what to look for (appearances). They've read the "how-to" books and have watched those super-hype videos of some dream merchant turning up nuggets and coarse gold in each and every pan of dirt he digs. No, I'm not here to bash skimmers (or dream merchants for that matter). But skimmers provide a very good example of miners who are focused far too much on surface characteristics as opposed to what may lie at depth. I know this is a convoluted path I'm taking here, but hopefully by the end of this post my hard-gained wisdom will emerge and illuminate the darkness for you.

Driving You Crazy

Those basic principles I talked about earlier? Well, they should always be your foundation, your essential, bare-bones guide to getting the gold. They've been tested over time and have, for the most part, come out smelling like a rose. But they are NOT the end all and be all. Sometimes you need to look beyond the surface characteristics of that ground you're working, especially if things aren't working out for you following the appearance factor. Again, what looks good on the surface may hide barren dirt and what looks totally unpromising may hide exactly what you're looking for. Sure, this sort of inconsistency can drive you crazy, but crazy is as crazy does. And just because you're standing there smirking with superiority at some poor soul who's digging away like a madman at a spot you already ruled out based on appearances doesn't mean that guy or gal is crazy. In fact, you yourself may be missing the boat. Conversely, a spot you've tagged as sugar candy may end up leaving a sour taste in your mouth. Again, appearances can be deceiving.

Digging Deeper

I know I'm not making it easy for you. I'm not taking the standard "how to" approach or guiding you by your hot little hand. I'm deliberately making you reach for your own conclusions about what I'm  getting at here and how it relates to mining and perhaps life in general. Place too much emphasis on appearances or first glances brothers and sisters and guess what? You're gonna get burned, one way or the other. That dude sending you pics of a gold pan filled with yellow colored rock he says is gold may be digging to see if you know better or not. If you don't, he's looking to sting you with a scam specially tailored for the unsuspecting, the ignorant, or the unaware. Dig past the surface in a deal like this and you might be very surprised by the nuggets you turn up. Just because things look good or somebody talks the talk doesn't mean diddly squat unless you dig deeper. What's on the surface may not be what's down below and it's a street that can go from bad to good and good to bad depending on the true nature of what you're seeing.

So it is with gold ground. Principles are principles and rules are rules. Science teaches this thing and that thing but experience can tell you something totally different. So how do you sort it all out? Use your knowledge and experience as your GPS and your heart and mind as your radar. Quit accepting everything at face value and look beyond the appearance of that ground you're standing on. There can be ugliness in beauty and beauty in ugliness. You need to go beyond the surface to find real gold.

There it is...

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2016

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  1. JR, I was talking to a friend of mine that I prospect with . He said he talked to the local well driller and asked him just how far down was bedrock on average here, something I had not thought of doing. The guy said about a hundred feet. The area he is drilling is mostly here in and around the town of Salmon Idaho, along the Lemhi and Salmon rivers. They say this area was once a big lake, but I can not tell where the shore line was. The best spot I have found so far, I'm not sure if it would have been above the level of the lake or not, but we have never found bedrock.This spot was once worked with a floating dredge and all the tailings are round, river rocks, high on the mountain now. The second best spot is high on a rocky mountain that must have been above the lake shore, but digging in the creek bed you are too limited to the height of your boots to reach bedrock. Thanks to your posts this winter you have got me thinking about trying something different. Too much snow to get there yet in person, but Google Earth is a great tool for prospecting right here at home. The satalight pictures show where I believe the stream once was, but has since changed. This puts it high and dry,and looking at the rock slope, I have several spots picked out where bedrock could be reachable. Maybe all I'll find is blisters, but who knows? Since the creek is not real close, it will be slow going and a lot of work. Buckets of gravel will need to be carried to the creek,or maybe make a rocker dip box. My sluice I sent the pictures of,could be modified. Since the feed flare is removable, I might make a rocker box type "hopper" for it. The riffles are removable,so I could go with expanded metal and miner's moss,for less water flow. Now that I can walk again, I'm excited to get up there and give it a try this summer! As always, you have me thinking, THANK YOU!!


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