A successful Failure
September - 2012 - Yanks Peak
This was the year I took my son with me for his first trip into the gold fields.
French Snowshoe Creek, Yanks Peak. An area that I held gold claims since 2001. A lot of time and money had gone into research on this creek. It was time to pass that knowledge down
I had found a deal on the claims in the spring. I went from feeling like I had finally made it into the big game to salvaging what I could from what I call a successful failure.
Not only had the deal went south, I was also in conflict with a grumpy miner down stream. My first day onsite was seeing a illegal road closure.
The mines Act is very explicit about a miner having access to his claim. This access is part of the old road and 150 years old!
I was expecting conflict with this miner over the access but not like this. Years earlier he trenched it with an excavator washing it out. When I had filed the NOW (notice of work) I detailed opening up an access that went around him. That NOW was approved but the deal had soured me out.
I had to make a formal request to the inspectors to have this blockade removed. They ordered him to remove it via email.
The beauty of what happened next was from Mike the Knight. An old friend and civil engineer from the lower mainland had come up to give me a hand.
He was there when the backhoe with the company logo removed the obstruction. He personally knew the company owners and that the equipment was stolen.
Not only did I finally win my access back but we also by sheer chance busted someone with stolen equipment too. Mike told me later that the bust also led to the RCMP bringing down a theft ring. Thank you Mike the Knight for having my back!
For me though, the game was not over. We still had work to do and time was not on my side. We set about laying out a small test pit. A 10' x 10' x 4'
Stripping top soil is hard work. Once it was cleared we could dig into the layers of this bench. Each layer would be separated into its own run through the sluice box.
In weeks, we hand dug and processed about 9 yards of material. Its hard work digging by hand. 5 gallon buckets were used to move the dirt from the pit to the wash area.
Its also slow going with tests like these. Gravels feed easy through a sluice box but clays not so much.
Clay is a double edged sword. The first few inches are perfect catch layer for gold but it is also very slow to process. Gold will sift its way through gravels until it hits a spot where it sticks. It likes to stick to clay. Clay likes to stick to rocks. Each rock has to be washed thoroughly to ensure no loss of minerals.
Whether its gold dust or gold nuggets, it still weighs up.
A picture of the gold bearing placer seam we encountered with our diggings.
The results showed what we call a placer seam. This gold is what we refer to as the sunburned gold. stained from Iron, It is an elusive and old system of gold bearing red gravels.
The quartz is rotten and the mineralization was leeched out. The stones are river worn and pressed together into a fragile conglomerate of red mineralization.
This verified what proven research I had but was unable to share at the time. A lot of this knowledge is passed down from generation to generation.
This is the remains of an open test pit by Yanks Peak Resources in the 1980's. All these years later it would serve as a ground water source and mining area for this little hand fed Keen wash plant.
It is important to utilize the infrastructure of previous exploration and mining areas. Each generation builds on the last. The success of the next generation is in knowing the knowledge from those before.
For this operation I was reusing an open test pit and also a machine trail access that had been created when I was in elementary school. This open pit saved me from having to dig out an area to set up a mining area.
This creek has never been bottomed. There is significant ground water preventing most operations from working the channel under it. Ideally, the best way to mine this is to drift the creek from its confluence with Snowshoe Creek all the way to the Canyon.
Yanks peak resources found that the bedrock was sloping where they dug here. The channel is thought to be on the other side of the creek or right under the creek.
What I was looking for was evidence near surface.
Mike the Knight and CJ got their first real experience in placer mining. We were working like the old timers did with Hand tools and brute strength.
I offered Mike the opportunity to feed the sluice box. He laughed and said "No man, its your glory hole".
CJ spent time getting to know the rocks as he fed them through the sluice. He learned fast and never complained once on this trip. I was under a lot of stress but he reminded me of the adventure when I was his age on these very same creeks.
It was a time that awakened the explorer in me. I saw the awakening in CJ with every pan and his observing of everything around him.
For the better part of a month we stayed in this cabin. It was built in the early 1900's and is 100 years old. I replaced the stove in it that year.
The cabin was bought by Ethel Winger's father in the 1930's and will always be known as the Winger cabin.
This cabin is one of the few emergency cabins left at Yanks Peak. Inside is a book of many that everyone passing by is invited to sign. Trevor Linden signed it once...This year it was my son CJ signing it for the fist time.
Thank you - Leighton Woolsey (Aka) Mitch Mortensen