An Early 1999 High Banking expedition to the Arkansas River Valley

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After a long Colorado winter with fewer prospecting trips than normal, it was time to head for the hills. The snow had retreated to the upper reaches of the mountains. This was to be the second camping trip of the year. The first had been to The Gold Prospectors of Colorado's Lets go Panning weekend on the Arkansas River about 20 miles downstream from this place. I don't own a high banker yet so the first planning task was to coerce someone that did into going with me. This turned out to be an easy task as Steve hadn't been camping yet this year. It didn't take long to put the plans into place. 

We decided to go to the Arkansas River Valley to a place near Twin Lakes, Co. Steve was a member of the Gold Prospectors of Colorado and this allowed him to work on Dennis O'Neil's set of claims. They are operated as pay-per-day for certain clubs. Dennis has set aside areas for different prospecting activities. Steve had experience in the area as The Gold Prospectors of the Rockies had their annual outing on the claims last year and he had seen some nice gold found in one spot. This was the spot that we were going to work.

The campsite along the river

We drove our vehicles to the GPAA's Arkansas Group claims near Buena Vista and set up camp. This area is a perfect spot to camp. You have a choice of improved pay camp sites in a campground or unimproved spots along the Arkansas River. If you have read very many of my stories, I don't have to tell you which kind of campsite we choose. There are three camp sites in this general area. The river is a stones throw to the rear of the picture. From the campsite it is about a 10 mile drive to the claims.

 We drove to Dennis's mail box, took out an envelope and placed the days fee's in it and then drove to the parking area. We had about a 1/4 mile carry in to the spot we wanted to work. Steve has a hand operated 2 wheeler for hauling the equipment in. This really helped as most of the hike in was on an old railroad bed. This was a nice wide and level trail. It had a lot of brush growing in it but was easily traveled. The Arkansas River Valley at one time during gold rush days had 3 different rail lines operating at the same time up the valley to Leadville. 


The prospecting area

This area was an old hydraulic diggings and we were going to work in an old tailings area that had hills and valleys washed into it. Steve had a theory that the  hills were areas that hadn't been worked. The gullies were the spots that been worked. As they worked the gullies, they had piled the rocks off to the sides. This created the hills. After working down as far as they wanted, they just picked up and moved over rather than move all of the rocks again. We just had to move some of the rocks by pushing them into the gullies and we would find our fortune. You can see our location to the right and above the red gas can. I'm hard at work at the high banker. You can see the river in the distance to the left of the picture.


Pump #1 - Dog is optional

One of the problems with the area we wanted to work was the distance and the elevation above the river. It was 300 feet distance and about 80 feet higher than the water. This meant that one pump wouldn't give enough flow or pressure to work the high banker properly. Steve had a 4 hp Honda pump from his dredge and I had my 5 hp Briggs from my dredge. A visit to the hardware store produced all of the necessary adapters to connect the whole thing together. Actually, I had enough stuff to connect almost anything to almost anything. I had never seen Steve's setup before and he hadn't seen mine. We had described the equipment to each other over the telephone and I had bought several different combinations of adapters.

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