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Well this story starts on a very hot August night in Arizona, I was experiencing a case of what you might call cabin fever and was contemplating making a trip into the mountains to escape the heat and try to find a nugget or two. So I Emailed a friend in California who had invited me to an area in southern part of the state that was at 6000 feet and pretty good nugget hunting to boot. Well within a few minutes we got our heads together and made plans for the following weekend.

I took off from Morristown AZ at around 3:00 am Friday morning and arrived at Dick's front door at 6:30 am. I met Dick's wife and 3 dogs and quicker than "who said get" we were on our way out of Indio and headed for the nearby mountains. The area we hunted is a private stomping ground for Dick and some of his buddies, so I am sworn to secrecy. After another hour or so we arrived at the dirt road that would take us the final 10 or 15 miles to camp. 


Dick had told me how nice this area was, but seeing it was awesome! pine trees mixed with huge Joshua trees with some basic high desert flora thrown in including a variety of cholla cactus I have not seen before. The area is very rugged and a place of multi colored rocks in the canyons of the high mountains around us. After a bit we left the main dirt road and hit the sandy road/wash to our camp spot.


After setting up camp we piled back into our trucks and Dick began the .25 cent tour of the various patches they had found so far over the CB radio as we drove to the area we were to hunt. On the way in we ran into Keith, a hunting partner of Dick's and stopped to chat for a bit and watch him work a hillside. We then headed further up the trail to meet up with Jerry who was there with Keith and do some nugget shooting. Below is a photo showing the basic terrain we would be hunting


There is much evidence of old workings all around the area with many bulldozer pushes and drywasher tailing piles. In some areas they tunneled into the cemented false bedrock to follow the pay streaks. I found old rotten drywashers and an old sluice still set up and waiting for a long gone miner to return. We ran into Jerry on a hill side and after being introduced and chatting for a bit we split up and began to hunt, 

oh and by the way each of them already Below are photos of one of the areas the old timers worked, you can see tailing piles and the digs.



I worked on the hill for a while with Dick and Jerry and after an hour or so I drifted across a wash and onto a hillside above an area worked by drywashers. After digging several bullets and bits of iron I got a faint bit good signal between two bushes and after digging 10 inches to the bedrock I plucked a 2.1 penny weight nugget from the hole. Well that got me fired up so I slowed down and began gridding the area and within 20 minutes I had another weighing just over 1 penny weight. I spent the rest of the afternoon in that area and got one more small one weighing 0.4 penny weight.

Well it was a good day for all of us and several nuggets of various size were found. Jerry and Keith left for home after a cold drink and some conversation and Dick and I hunted for a bit longer before heading back to our campsite. I was totally pooped out, but after eating supper I got a second wind and walked over the hill from camp to look around an old workings and try for another nugget. No more gold but found some interesting areas to work later.


After a much needed rest in the cool mountain air I woke up to a beautiful cool 68 degree morning and that was sure nice compared to the AZ desert's 93 degree mornings! I made a pot of coffee had a quick breakfast and went off in search of nuggets. Saw a lot of country and spent maybe a little to much time exploring and not enough time detecting and just didn't get my 

coil over a nugget all day long. Dick on the other hand got a nice one not far from our camp area. Above is a photo of the nuggets I found.

The next morning we went to yet another placer area to try our luck before I had to leave for home. Dick took me to a small hill that had been worked extensively by drywashers and we went at it. I managed to find just about everything but a nugget and Dick got 3 nice pieces in the few short hours we were there. Before I left more spots were pointed out to me for later hunts as I packed my gear into the truck. Dick would be staying for a couple more days and I am sure he has added more gold to his poke.

All in all a great trip and I want to personally thank Dick, Jerry, And Keith for inviting me into their area for a hunt in the cool high desert of California. Believe me it won't be long before I take them up on their invite to return.

Copyright © 2000, By William Southern Jr

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