Thursday, November 6, 2008

Vein Mountain Gold

A couple weeks at the Vein Mountain LDMA camp at Nebo, North Carolina (near Marion) did us a world of good mentally and physically. Lots of hard work, good companionship, plenty of gold (no matter how fine), and good eats. Them there biscuits and gravy are all right! We tried our first boiled peanuts, Cajun style, from a small market just down the road from camp- not bad at all. Got very cold at night but day time temps were "shirt sleeve" and nice conditions for working hard and feeling good. Lots of folks we knew from prospecting around the country showed up for the occasion.

In addition to the usual stuff at gold outings, this was Halloween, so we had a costume contest. In the pet division, I am proud to announce that Abby, wearing her "Here, Kitty, Kitty" costume, took first place. I think it was a personality thing, sort of like a high school election for class president, because there were some admittedly more intricate costumes than Abby had. She won any way. I myself am planning to return next year and win the gold digger division with a special costume already in the works!

We made a day trip to nearby Thermal City. No- it's not a town that uses exclusively geothermal energy- it's just the name of a working gold mine operation. They have big equipment operating there, and you can rent time on the equipment to both prospect and learn about the operation of the equipment at the same time. We took a half day "lease" on the large trommel. A front end loader loads the hopper with two scoops (about two yards) of material. We then had four hours to run the material through the trommel using a water hose, a small rake, and a shovel. At the other end of the operation, we had to keep the rocks hauled off by wheel barrow and the fine sand shoveled out of the drainage trench so that the water flow was never interrupted and the process could work properly without interruption. It took a great deal more energy than we had anticipated and our hands were unbelievably sore from picking rocks out of the hopper, washing them in the icy water and heaving them onto a nearby pile. But while it was challenging, it was also a great experience and we would surely give it another go another time. The owner of the mine and the staff treated us very well and we learned a lot- including the clean up process which is similar to that of any sluicing operation, but which had its own special techniques and equipment which we learned pretty easily. Our time at Thermal City and at Vein Mountain was all about getting as much concentrated material as time would permit. So while the actual weights of the findings won't be known for some time, there was some good gold in the pan at the end of each day. And sorting the gold from the other heavies and the concentrated material is fun in its own right and can be done in spare time away from the mine.

The new Honda Rincon 4 wheeler was a good workhorse around camp. And since cell phone reception and computer connectivity around the camp is rather rotten, running up the hill on the "bike" made it much easier to deal with phone calls, appointments, business matters that we couldn't do from camp otherwise. It also makes for a nice place to sit or even take a snooze break from work- as you'll see from the slide show that follows. We road the trails up the mountain to the old confederate cemetery which is on the LDMA property. It is a well respected plot of ground and members go up there to commune a bit with both nature and history and no one disturbs the serenity of the place at all.

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