The uniform of the day was wet suit and all it's accessory equipment. This was March 22, 1997 and the water temperature was 30 degrees.
It was around 55 degrees out of the water but that didn't help much several feet under the water. Any skin exposed to the water for more than a few seconds becomes uncomfortably cold very quickly. The sun was out and made it look a lot more summery than it really was. It seems like long ago when we were dredging in swimsuit only. ( there are only a few weeks in Colorado that you can do that. The water may get all the way up to 60 degrees ) I have dredged in Oregon in the summer and there is no comparison with the Colorado water.
As I mentioned earlier, winter isn't over in Colorado. The white stuff in the
lower left of the picture isn't paint. It's solid water. For all of you southern dredgers,
translate that as snow. Check out the water color. This is "Clear Creek". In the
summer when there isn't as much snow melt runoff it will turn clear. It runs through a lot
of old mine sites on it's way to here and picks up all kinds of things on the way.
Here I'm lifting the hose out of the water looking for a rock plug. I think even if you had a 6 foot diameter dredge hose, the small rocks would still find a way to turn sideways and plug the hose. I carry a rubber mallet to rap on the hose with to loosen the rock plugs after they are located.. Lifting a 4 inch hose filled full of water searching for plug ups while wearing 45-60 pounds of lead weights really make you feel your age at the end of the day. A long pipe is used for removing any rock plugs in the jet area..
After a hard days dredging, quitting time is welcome. All of the equipment is reloaded on the dredge and then the easy part is a leisurely float downstream while holding onto the dredge. With a wet suit on, you couldn't sink even if you tried so it doesn't take much of a grip to remain connected with the equipment. The water at this particular location is about 4 feet deep. In this area at this time of year it will vary from a few inches deep to 5 to 6 feet. There wasn't much color found on this day but whenever you get to use nice new-to-you equipment that you just purchased, the gold take really doesn't matter. Since these pictures were taken, I have had several more outings and the configuration of the equipment has improved and much more gold has been found.
"Probably almost enough to pay for the beer consumed on just one of the trips."
Here's wishing you have at least 1/10th the fun and enjoyment out of prospecting as I do.
"The Golden Optimist"
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