As I write this web page, I think I'm beginning to see why there isn't a huge rush of people lined up wanting to go dredging with me. Anyone with good sense would be home in front of a crackling fire. Some of this is beginning to look a little ridiculous.
Here the sluice box is being cleared of rocks. The header box seems to plug up with rocks occasionally and will completely cut off the flow of water. Small, sharp rocks stick in the classifier screen and then keep the larger rocks from washing through. If anyone has a cure for this problem I would like to hear it.
The following pictures were taken one week later, February 2,1997 and 6 feet from the previous pictures. I hadn't gotten frostbitten enough the previous week. The weather was nicer and the ice wasn't quite as bad but I also spent more time clearing a larger hole. There hadn't been any problem during the week with "claim jumpers". The dredge hole was exactly as I had left it.
One of the problems when dredging is plug-ups. It seems like there always is an over abundance of long skinny rocks that will align themselves with the nozzle just long enough to get sucked up and then instantly turn sideways and jam the hose or nozzle up. The hose on this dredge usually clears with the help of a few "delicate" taps of a rubber mallet but the nozzle is a different story. Sometimes it seems like dynamite would be the best answer. A curved ramrod helps but once in a while the pump has to be shut down and the nozzle removed from the hose and the rocks pried out with a screwdriver.
Another place the rocks like to jam is just before they enter the header box. There is a hole placed in the front of the box header which has a plug in it. This is removed and the ramrod forced into the hose to loosen the plug.
By now you should be completely convinced that winter dredging is the new winter sport that you have been wanting to try out. If so, send me an email. I'm sure that we can find a spot on the creek to elbow all of the other prospectors away from.
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