I spent all of Thursday at a friend's house. He asked me a few days before if I could come over and help him go through some dirt that he got off of a old placer claim. The dirt came off of his family land. It was at one time a "working" placer claim.
So, I loaded up our truck and drove over to his place. I brought along screens of several different mesh sizes, various gold pans, snuffer bottles, a wash tub to pan in, a blue bowl for running concentrates through to get the gold, and several other things for prospecting. When I got to his place, he was outside waiting for me with a BIG smile on his face.
I figured he had maybe one 5-gallon bucket of dirt to go through and that we would be able to use the screens and classify it down to some concentrates. I could show him how to pan and get some color. Nope; he had six buckets of dirt. We set things up, added some water to the wash tub, added a little Jet Dry to the water to break the surface tension of the water. (Some times gold flakes will float if they are real fine.)
We took a empty bucket and placed a screen on it, shoveled some dirt in it, and shook it until there was nothing but stones about the size of your little fingernail or bigger in the screen. We managed to get one bucket done and took a break for a bite of lunch. Later, after lunch, I showed him another screen with smaller mesh, and had him sift a couple of shovelfuls of dirt through it. It took him some time to get through it.
We then had some dirt that we could pan. It took about 20 minutes to show him and go through one pan. There was no gold. The next pan, we had about three little flakes of color, about the size of a gnat's butt. (If you have ever seen a gnat's butt, you have better sight than Superman.) I mean they were tiny. And then it happened.
He got bit by the gold bug. He had gold fever just from three itty bitty flakes. When I left to come home, he was setting outside with the screen I loaned him, sifting like a mad man. I wonder how many buckets of dirt he will go through before his wife hollers that she is going to lock him out of the house if he doesn't stop and come in and go to bed. I doubt that he will do any more panning until I can get back over to his place and show him how to run the blue bowl for the gold recovery of the fine gold.
It was a good day spent with friends, with lots of talk and laughter. To be able to show someone new some of the ropes to becoming a weekend prospector was great. He also started talking about metal detecting. I just might have created a prospecting monster.