Learn to Adapt Out There
In many respects small-scale gold mining (or gold mining in general) is a difficult pursuit. It has its trials and tribulations as well as its moments of intense satisfaction. One way you can gather together more of the latter and less of the former is by learning to adapt out there.
Never a Good Idea
What do I mean by adapt? Simply learning to adjust to new conditions. It's never a good idea to conduct your gold prospecting and mining activities with approaches that are etched in granite and that allow no flexibility. In other words, acting like Moses and those stone tablets he held up high for the Israelites to see. Should you have a mining plan or strategy going in to your activities? Of course you should. But as I've said before in Bedrock Dreams if you can't adapt that plan or strategy to fit changing conditions you're probably courting unfavorable results. That's the long and short of it.
Nature's Monkey Wrenches
What sorts of changing conditions am I talking about? Weather, water flow and height (in wet placer areas), mudslides or large rockfalls, and anything else that brings about change or disruption in the location you're working. Any variance from the status quo in a given gold area means you're going to have to adapt to those changes...either in terms of overall strategy, approach, or the type of gear or equipment you'll be using to recover that gold. It's the old thinking outside the box routine. I don't know about you but one of my character flaws is that I tend to go about my mining and prospecting with a fixed mindset because that mindset has worked for me over the years more often than not. In truth, being fixated with a purpose and solid goals for your mining activities is a good thing...most of the time. But not always. Sooner or later Ma Nature is going to throw a monkey wrench in the works and if you can't adapt to her whims you're going to be shit out of luck from a gold recovery standpoint. It's sort of like the old saying about doing the same thing over and over again and getting the same negative results. Well brothers and sisters, that's a form of madness you can't afford out in the field.
(If a monkey can do it so can you.)
I remember way back when I was still under the tutelage of one my old-timer mentors. We were up in California's Northern Motherlode Region and all set to dredge at a favorite spot. It was mid-summer and we expected fairly low water conditions with lots of shallow bedrock to work and handfuls of gold to suck up from nice, clear water. Well, for a couple of days prior to our arrival Ma Nature had triggered a series of thunderstorms up along the higher peaks upstream. These weren't little piss ant storms either, but veritable frog stranglers in terms of the amount of heavy rain they dumped. When we arrived at our spot we both did a double take. The river was roiling and dirty, and had risen much higher than you'd ever "normally" see at that time of the year. The current was too strong and even if you were dumb enough to set up a dredge, you were risking life and limb under poor visibility. "Screw this!" said my mentor and we went to Plan B which was working bench gravels along one of the feeder creeks close by. We left the dredge on its trailer and the old timer pulled his highbanker from the back of his pick up and we went to work on a section of bench gravels he knew contained decent gold. Maybe we didn't get the same amount of gold the dredge would've brought us, but we still were in the game and we still took home some nice gold from that bench until the river waters settled and we could dredge again.
Think Like a Miner
Now this little tale isn't mining rocket science but it illustrates how you can start out with a fixed plan for what you're gonna do in the field and all is well until that natural monkey wrench is thrown your way. So what do you do? You go to an alternate plan and have at it. Now this means you have to be prepared for the eventualities that will certainly come your way at some point in time or another. That means you better have the gear your need to go to Plan B should that occasion arise. If you don't, you'll just be another tourist out there with a gold pan and garden trowel. Serious miners are serious about what they do. What they expect. And what they can accomplish no matter what's going on out there. This is especially true if you've traveled a very long distance to get to your favorite gold spot with a certain approach in mind and a single piece of equipment to carry out that approach. If Ma Nature screws you up just what the hell are you going to do if that pricey piece of gear stays on its trailer or locked up inside your camper shell? If you're going long distances or going to be out for an extended gold mining stay, you best have a back-up plan. And the gear to back that back-up plan up! If you're just out for the day or the weekend the pain isn't as great and you probably don't have to load every piece of gear you've got into your vehicle or onto your back. You can probably wing it, knowing that your gold take just got reduced by the variables. To be a good miner you have to think like one.
(Can't use it? You better have an alternative plan and gear.)
So learn to adapt and be prepared for any eventuality.
Peace to one and all.
(c) Jim Rocha 2017
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org