the Nugget Hunter #3
BY RICHARD DELAHANTY

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Just how far will a nugget-nut go in order to find that elusive yellow stuff? How does a two hour drive, a two hour hike, four hours in the hunting area (if you're lucky), a two hour hike back to your vehicle and another two hour drive home grab you? That's the venture my friend Tom Koch of the First Class Miners Club of Twenty-nine Palms, Ca. persuaded me to take on when he enthusiastically described a new placer area he had discovered some weeks previously. The fact that he had actually found some nice nuggets didn't hurt, especially when he pulled that beautiful 1/2 ouncer out of his pocket. That peaked my interest to say the least and I asked, "When are we going?"

 This particular little adventure took place sometime in December if I remember correctly. I agreed to join Tom and two other club members who decided to give it a go with us: B.J. Donnely and Charlie Scheer. We met at 7:00 a.m. at pavements end in Joshua Tree National Park and drove the twelve or so miles East to the Eagle Mountains on the only dirt road that goes in that direction. Called Eagle Mountain Road of course. Figure 1 is a view of the Eagles from inside the Park at about the six mile point. The Park boundary runs along the edge of the western side of the Eagles in a roughly North to South direction.

 

​Arriving at our parking area about 7:30, we packed up our gear and headed up Cactus Mine Wash to the trailhead which was a good twenty minute walk from our vehicles. Figure 2 shows the beginning of the trail to Two-Hour Placers. "A" is a flat area at the top of the trail-head. It is as steep as it looks but mercifully short. The steepest part of the entire journey is the haul up to Point C. From there it is gradually meandering up, down and around Robin Hoods Barn to the half-way point which I call the Hump. It takes almost exactly one hour to make the hike from the trail-head to the Hump and then another hours hiking to the placers themselves.

 

​Figure 3 gives a nice view of the steepest part of the trail heading up to Point C.

 

Figure 5 (Skipped 4 whoops) gives a nice view of "C" from the Hump itself. You are looking South at this point

 

​We finally reached the placers around nine thirty a.m. and proceeded to go our separate ways to hunt nuggets wherever the spirit moved us. We stayed until 2:00 p.m. and had to head back in order to get to our vehicles before dark. Figure 7 is a good shot of the long, long way we had to go to get back. Two tiresome hours later we finally reached our cars and the two hour drive home was almost a relief because I was traveling on something besides my feet.

 

I was so impressed with the awesome scenery of that trip that I make a special trip out there by myself at the beginning of February in order to take photos of the country to share with other nugget-nuts out there. You are not alone if this is your thing. No one got any nuggets on that trip by the way but the spectacular scenery more than made up for it.  Figure 8 is a shot of a little friend I met on my second trip. I couldn't resist taking his picture because he was so proud of the beautiful flower he had make he was about to pop his buttons. He is about three inches tall but probably feels about ten feet tall.

 

​Take care out there and keep on walking and swinging. RD