How I Found My First Paystreak
By: Danny VanDerschelden
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It was May 2013. It had been three years since I decided to dedicate myself to becoming a full time miner. However, to date, my all time best single day of mining had brought in less then $100. Most days I couldn’t find enough to pay for gas. Needless to say I had to work odd jobs to keep myself alive.
I had just found a new mining claim that showed great promise. The main issue was that the gold was ultra fine. In addition to being ultra fine it was “spongy.” I was working an elluvial fan and the gold had not yet been pounded and compressed from the force of rushing water and cobbles. This meant that the gold was less dense then typical placer gold and would be even harder to recover. So I built a custom sluice box. It was 14 feet long and had ultra low profile riffles to catch the spongy micro gold.
However my money situation was desperate. I was living in Coos Bay at the time and the mine was in Grants Pass. I simply did not have enough money to go mining. I had enough to pay for the gas to the claim, but not enough to get back home. I sat around stagnant for a few days hoping some miracle would happen and I would stumble across the money I needed. That miracle never came. I grew restless and frustrated at my situation. I was sick and tired of being broke and I couldn’t take it any longer. I had to make a move and I had to break free from the poverty I had found myself sucked in to. I had enough money to get me to the mine and to mine for two days. If I found gold I could sell it to pay for my gas back home. If I didn’t find gold, I would be stuck and without hope, but I already was.
I drove to Grants Pass and got a couple of days’ worth of hot dogs and buns. I had a can of gas with enough fuel to run my high banker for two days and I put seven dollars of gas in my tank. I had five dollars left in my pocket. I began the drive out to the woods. I was about 10 miles up the gravel road and out of the blue an obnoxious tink-tink-tink came ringing from my truck. My rear drum brakes had fallen apart. I was hearing the tink-tink-tink of some unknown pieces bouncing around in the drum. It was ten miles of a consistently downhill gravel road filled with hairpin turns just to get to pavement and then another twenty miles to get to town. Even if I made it safely to Grants Pass, I still only had five dollars to my name.
I had no choice but to coast down in first gear into town. I pulled in to Les Schwab and when they opened up the drum several pieces fell out. It would cost over four hundred dollars to fix it. I had no choice but to beg my uncle to loan me the money and pay for it over the phone. When I finally made it to the mine, I had no cash and I had to steal some gas I had set aside for my high banker. Now I only had enough fuel to run for one day. I was in some serious trouble now.
If you dedicate your life to the purpose you were put on this earth to accomplish, fate will be sure to make the ride an interesting one. Before it became completely dark, I decided to do a quick test pan and I found the biggest nugget I had found up to that day. The next pan had two of them along with dozens of flakes. The next day I worked until I was out of gas and on the third day I sold the gold I had found and returned to mine some more. I was expecting to have trouble recovering fine gold, but now I was having trouble catching all of the nuggets. So now I spent much of my time chasing after the nuggets as they rolled down my sluice box (with the ultra low profile riffles) and I have no idea how many I lost. However I was still finding plenty.
I ran out of vials to store my gold in and had to empty out a vitamin bottle so I could put some nuggets in it. The hole I was digging in was directly down a bare hill from where my camp was set up. I took a break from digging and walked up the short hill to rest for a while. When I returned to my camp I turned around and saw my hole below. I reveled in the sight. I put my hands on my hips and allowed myself to take some time to breathe in the moment. I took a break from the constant charge forward and just enjoyed the peace that came with the arrival to one destination within a long journey.