Last month we briefly discussed the metals that have come into play since the Gold Rush Days. This month we will cover some items you will need in the field regardless of your experience. Most of the valuable metals mentioned last month have been walked over by you, I and highly qualified professionals; none of us realizing a fortune lay inches below our feet.
It helps considerably if you know where you are out there. No point in getting lost or finding that multi million dollar orebody and realizing a week or so later that you have forgotten what hill, valley or flats that you took the sample from. I suggest you start off in an area that you are familiar with or at least vaguely familiar with. The following items will assist you so please pay attention.
1. A 7.5 minute topo map. This map will show road access, the topography be it steep or flat, old mine workings, pits, adits, shafts and prospects. Notice the GPS coordinates inserted on each corner of the map, these are useful. I used to say if you're looking for elephants, go to elephant country and if looking for gold, go where gold has been found before. In recent years I am discovering valuable, in demand metals and minerals not near any old gold mine. For example, a couple of weeks ago we found platinum in an area where you would least expect it.
2. A compass. Always know the direction your facing. We all know the sun comes up in the east and sets in the west. That's great, but at midday and after sunset how would you tell? The time of year and part of country also has some bearing, best to have a compass.
3. Next and far more important is a GPS unit. You don't need to spend a $1000 like I did when they first came out. I now use a Garmin that cost less then $200 and does 10 times more then that $1000 unit I bought years ago. Also it runs for 6-8 hours on two AAA batteries which are easy to pack and carry in the field. When you get to where you are going, before you walk away from your rig you establish and label a way-point. Now I don't care if you walk in circles and end up 5-10 miles from your rig. Lets say your running low on water or it's late in the day, you set your GPS in the tracking mode and on the screen pops up the track or route that you just traveled. You then have two options, head directly toward your rig or follow your tracks back. If you are not familiar with a hand held GPS I suggest you read the manual and practice in a park or large shopping center until you understand how these fantastic devices work and what they are capable of. Don't forget to mark, label and save in your GPS all the sites you sample.
Next month we will go into some of the instruments we use to detect those hidden ore-bodies. They are not expensive and with their use, I personally have found three large target areas in the past eight months plus numerous small targets.
Good luck out there, use common sense and carry extra water unless you are a camel.