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Ganes Creek Experience
By Bob(Ak)


This was the time that everyone had waited for. The Ganes Creek metal detecting trip had been billed as the chance of a lifetime. The idea of a pay-to-mine operation had been conceived by Steve Herschbach and the individual mine owners the winter before. Steve had taken a party of friends into the mine the previous fall and came out with some nuggets that amazed everyone.

There are many pay-to-mine operations, but there has never been one with the possibilities of this one. The price was steep, but the possible rewards were astounding. What made it even more appealing was the size and number of nuggets that it was possible to get without even leaving camp, some had been found literally outside of the sleeping cabins.

Over the course of the winter and spring, people from all over the country began to book reservations. It was to be a one week hunt, with a maximum of 10 people per week. I had booked early and was able to get on the first hunt. My home is Alaska so I didn't have far to go.

I have never done all that much nugget shooting, I have found a few, but most of my prospecting has been with a gold dredge. This is one of the things that made this experience so exciting, if someone with little experience can come out with the gold that I did, this is sure to be a success as a business venture.

The first week Ganes Creek invaders flew into the Clark/Wiltz mine on June 16 and had the experience of a lifetime. I partnered up with David (Zooka) Bryce right at the start and never regretted it.

I have done little gold detecting and was looking forward to finding at least a small nugget the first day to keep me going. That didn't happen but, Zooka did come up with a one pennyweight nugget after switching from non iron ID Minelab to a Tesoro. A few of the other prospectors had scored some nice gold also.

Day two started slow with neither of us finding anything but trash in the morning and covering an area about a mile upstream from camp. After lunch several of us got a ride in the pickup to about the area we quit scanning in the morning. Zooka and I had seen a couple push piles we wanted to check out.

The truck came to a stop at a washout in the road. Zooka piled out and headed to the right, which was not the plan. He yelled at me to come on over because he liked the looks of those old bucket line dredge tailings. On went my V/Sat and I headed down an old cat trail through the tailings. Only about five minutes or so later I pick up a very strong signal and I just figure more iron junk, but iron ID does not show iron. I kick a couple four inch cobbles to my left and wave my detector again, the signal had moved. I was thinking hot rock at the same instant my eyes spotted gold showing from under a rock.

I dropped to my knees and grabbed this yellow thing as wide as my hand, I couldn't believe it!! I never thought I would be lucky enough to find anything so huge. After admiring this huge chunk of gold for maybe thirty seconds I looked around to see if anyone was watching and shoved it into my left front pocket. It was to be a secret until the evening meal.

Well I couldn't do it. There was my partner Mr. Bryce fifty yards away, I went over to him and said, "David I want to thank you for making me go in this direction", and shoved the nugget into his hand. Man he freaked out more than I did, shook my hand, patted me on the back, said a few choice words. We sat down, had a long drink of water, looked at the nugget some more, and went back to work.

About a hour later David found another small nugget in one of the push piles we had planned to work. Another couple hours later we kind of started circling back down another old cat trail through the tailings, he on one side and myself on the other. After several iron finds and trash digs I get a good "wop wop" from the V/Sat. Doesn't show iron, dig 3-4 inches, still good. David comes over and tries to discriminate it out, still good, keep digging.

I am now down about 8 inches and tossing stones when a bit of shine on another normal looking dirty rock catches my eye. I rub one end with my thumb and more gold is showing. I yell at Dave "oh no I got another". We went to the closest water and washed the 2 inch stone, wow a great gold quartz specimen!! At weigh in that evening the two clunkers came in at 5.81 and 5.62 oz.
Later in the week I gathered up some small nuggets that got me over a troy pound for the week. Way more than my expectations. I almost feel like a thief.

Everyone on this trip did well, there was a total of 44 oz. taken by 10 people. This had been billed as the trip of a lifetime...for me it was that and more.

Thanks to all who made this possible. 

Bob Estey (Bob Ak)


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