Optimist claim is located in the low foothills at an elevation of 6,400' near Boulder,
Colorado and is easily accessable year around. It is "not forgotten" even
through the winter months. Most of the activities change from dredging and highbanking in
the summer to simple sluicing and panning during the winter months when the temperature is
40 degrees and above. When the temperature is below 40 degrees ice will tend to form in
the sluice box and gold pans.
A few hardy individuals still carry on summer activities year around. The winter presents new obstacles. Sometimes just getting to the water is a major job. A large steel chipping bar is required equipment to break a hole in the ice. High banking and digging any gravel above the water level is out. Ground that is not beneath the water level is frozen as hard as concrete and is impossible to dig.
Panning or sluiceing requires new techniques. All work is performed from the top of the unbroken ice. This can be difficult at first until some sand is brought up from the stream bed to spread around on the slippery ice. Digging with the shovel is also difficult as most of the work is done from the end of the handle. This exercises many different new muscles.
On a December or January Saturday or Sunday it is not unusual to see a prospector with a sluice box set up on top of the ice with the water diversion dam in front of the sluice constructed from some of the ice blocks which were removed to get access to the stream and the gravel beneath it.
Continue on to Winter 2