Labor Day Gold Grab 1998The 1998 Arkansas River Expedition
Labor Day Weekend September 1998, the first of many more to come Labor Day Gold Grabs was held at Vista Mining Adventures gold claims on the beautiful Arkansas River near Buena Vista.
After the Gold Prospectors of the Rockies held their 1997 club outing at Buena Vista in less than admirable weather, rain and a very cloudy skt, a plan was formulated to make this the location of an annual outing in which the world could participate. Invitations were posted on the Internet in the prospecting newsgroup, alt.mining.recreational, and as the date got closer, email confirmations were received and plans were made to meet the out of state visitors.
Meeting time: 9:00AM
Meeting Place: Vista's store parking lot
As I arrived at 8:30 AM after stopping off at Fairplay for a big breakfast, I could see a truck and trailer with an Illinois license plate. Good, John and his fellow prospectors were here from somewhere north of Chicago. Also parked near the back of the shopping center parking lot was a van with Texas license plates. That was Chris from El Paso, Texas. Normally, as any self-respecting Colorado'an, I wouldn't associate with Texan's but since Chris was a gold prospector, he must be all right.
We drove from there about 5 miles and pulled off of the gravel road at my usual camping spot. A beautiful field with the Arkansas River almost a stones throw away. This was on a GPAA claim but we weren't planning on prospecting there. Just camping there. By the way, you GPAA members are missing a good gold prospecting spot. Most of you work the bottom end of the claims. If I was a member, I'd be working the top end. It's harder to get to but no one ever works it. Just don't take my camping spot. After setting up camp on the GPAA's claims, we headed for the river. This is about 4 miles upstream. Vista's plan of operation doesn't allow camping on the claim so you have to find facillities elsewhere.
As we unloaded at the Forrest Service parking lot, John from Illinois unloaded a surprise. A motorized wheelbarrow! It was large enough to place an assembled 4" dredge on and it made easy work of getting all of the equipment to the top of the hill. The top of the hill is about 1/8th mile from the parking lot. Then came the hard part. Getting it down the hill to the water's edge. With about 8 energetic prospectors even that went quickly. None too soon after all of the work it was time to hit the 60 degree water.
All through Saturday and Sunday the prospecting continued. Up and down the river, highbanker and dredge motors could be heard. The weather continued to be beautiful and hats and sunglasses were the uniform of the day. The evenings with the group campfire and the required cold beverages were almost as much fun as the daytime gold prospecting.
As the previous two days work began to catch up with the prospectors, other activities began to surface. Sunday afternoon, the latest fun activity was floating the river's white-water in wetsuits. White water rafters had been floating by in the morning so a plan began to hatch. If they were having fun, why couldn't we. Off with the weight belts and anxiously we waded out into the deeper water and sat back. The current took over and off we went. Keeping our feet up in front of us to ward off the big rocks, down the rapids we went. What a ball.
Did we have a great time? You bet! Will we do it again next year? You bet. Will I be there? You bet! Check in and lets make sure you are there next year. See you there.
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