The Golden Optimist Goes High Banking
Dredging and High Banking are two completely different prospecting activities. Usually dredgers don't make very enthusiastic high bankers. My hand fits a 4" suction nozzle a whole lot better than a shovel handle. My idea of a good time usually doesn't include a #2 shovel. Wetsuits and knee deep running water are one major requirement. I like to do my work laying down.
Springtime in the Rocky Mountains sometimes requires one to rethink the traditional prospecting methods. High and muddy water, short weekends, hard-to-find dredging partners can change prospecting plans. These pictures were taken in the spring of 1998.
The picture sequence that follows is the "Golden Optimist's" idea of how to high bank.
I don't mind high banking under the following conditions:
- No Pack mule work. If I'm going to have to run a shovel, I don't want to do an Allied Van Lines imitation and have to haul 3 tons of equipment a mile before I get to work my butt off running the shovel. This trip was just about right. I could throw the equipment right out of the back of the truck and set it up where it landed.
- When I don't have to move the dirt too far. If I have carry each shovel full more than a step or two, "Forget It"
- The dirt has to be soft. No hardpacked, concrete requiring pick work. I want to just be able to push the shovel into the dirt without having to step on it to bury it in the dirt.
- The weather has to be nice. It can't be too hot or too cold. If I'm going to let the high banker spray water all over me, all of the weather conditions have to be perfect.
- There has to be a convenient place to set my beer can. The motors need gas to run, I need a cold brew, or two, or three, or four.
This spring trip to Vista Mining's Derry Ranch pretty much met all of the above conditions. Lets take a look.
Condition 1 - Check
We drove in and parked right next to the edge of the water and the gravel pile. Not just close, but almost into the water. These are old dredging tailing piles. The water is in the old pits that were dug. These are totally enclosed ponds. No dirty water escapes back into the creek.
That's not the Golden Optimist's truck shown. Mine isn't that new. Also mine now is currently a combination of old rusty blue paint, pink primer, and rust in the areas that haven't been reworked yet. Re-painting the old truck would be a lot like putting new shoes on a dead horse.
Condition #2 - Check
If the dirt pile was any closer it would be in the high banker. In fact, not to look a gift horse in the mouth, this was almost too close to work easily. I had to stand on the dirt pile to shovel. After sampling around the area I selected this bank as a likely looking spot. The lady with the gold pan in her hand is double checking my sampling. The dirt was loosened up with the front loader just to make sure I didn't have to work too hard. Make it easy for me and I'll come back. This is my kind of people!
Condition #3 - Check
Now this is my idea of a #2 shovel!
Dirt pile not close enough?
Where do you want it?
Not loose enough or has too many big rocks?
With equipment like this even I don't mind high banking. This material has been brought from the sides of a old cut made by a bucketline dredge. This is new, never worked before gravel. I won't promise you though that they will deliver your gravel to your selected spot. You might have to work a pile that is already there.
Now this is what I call service! The gravel is brought from an area that is not open to prospectors. This works to your advantage as this equipment can dig more in 30 seconds than you can all day. The areas that are being dug in are sampled using a small trommel setup to help insure that there is gold in the delivered material. As you can see, drive up access is very easy. Check out the nice spring Colorado weather. It almost makes me want to go dredging.
Want to camp on site.
No problem! There is a porta-potty and plenty of open space.
Want a little fancier accommodations?
No problem! There is a large motel within sight of the working area.
If this is your kind of high-banking trip, check out Vista Mining's Website for all of the details. They have rental equipment so you don't even have to bring your own. They will even furnish the gas. You have to bring your own beer though. In fact, bring along an extra or two. I just might stop by.
Tell them "The Golden Optimist" sent you.
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