Friday, December 26, 2008

In The Field

Christmas Day saw the buffet dinner in the Ole Opera House- turkey, ham and venison at the head of the line. Then heavy rains came in and by the end of the day the wind was driving the rain so hard it wasn't fit for man nor beast, and everyone disappeared inside their rigs and that was that. The dry wash right below camp was running hard in short order. Only a day earlier we had traveled by atv to the "headwaters" of the wash, also known as Antelope Creek, and there was only one or two spots where there was even a puddle of water. The desert is like a cameleon, and we are getting to see the many faces of the desert up close and personal. It is not the hot and dry only place that we had envisioned. Back in Maine, we used to say, "If you don't like the weather, wait a minute." Here, it can change in even shorter order than that Maine minute.

This morning we woke to icy cold temps but crystal clear blue skies. The sun FELT warm even though the thermometer was reading 26 degrees. That seems to be a trait of the winter desert. But as the day went on, the weather changed yet again and a snow squall moved in late it comes...

Here is my digital portrait of a Christmas snow storm in the desert:

So today we threw the gold monkey off our backs and pulled our first gold flakes out of the desert. THREE flakes to be exact! We were just sampling different areas and soils to see where we might find some "color." Hey, it's a start.

I should mention that when I stepped out of the coach this morning, I was quite surprised to see 6 peccary, a pig-like, non pig animal that frequents the desert, right outside my door. I darted in for the camera and followed them down the bank to the gully for a while but they only let me close enough for a glimpse and wouldn't pose for the camera. I got a couple pictures of their backsides but hardly what you want to put on the blog to show off camera prowess. Crafty little critters!

When I started digging samples for panning or running through the sluice box that was set up in the wash, I started to classify (screen down by size) first. I wasn't wearing gloves until I saw my first scorpion crawling around my classifier ring. I put the gloves on at that point, and another 6 or so scorpions showed up in short order. They were small scorpions and a couple of them went right through the mesh and into the bucket of material to be run. Marilyn said they floated down the sluice box real nice and got out of the way in short order.

When we took the bike to the end of the trail- the point at which we back packed in to the area we wanted to work, there was a roadrunner waiting for us. Usually these guys run away faster than you can blink an eye. But this crafty fellow seemed to know that if we were going to beat through the bush, we just might kick up a few tasty morsels for him, so he waited for us to be ready, then hiked in with us. Along the way, he darted off after something every now and again....and I think he found a few of those scorpions to be a tasty Christmas buffet of his very own!

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