Prospecting Safety - The Heat & The Snakes
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  1. #1
    us
    Prospector

    Apr 2014
    Modesto, CA
    363
    868 times
    Prospecting

    Prospecting Safety - The Heat & The Snakes

    Hello Fellow Gold Seekers!

    It's been a while since I've posted here, been busy with normal life in addition to managing home and work life during the pandemic.

    I have had the chance to get out and do some prospecting this summer, and have 2 pretty scary encounters to share...

    In early July/ Late June - a prospecting buddy and I wanted to get into some old diggings in the beautiful and treacherous North Fork American River Canyon. We knew we had a long hike ahead of us (several miles in, 90 degree heat, & at least 2,500 feet in elevation gain/loss). Given that we have not hiked into this place together before, it took us about 3 1/2 hours to hike in (after a few wrong turns). When we finally arrived to the river - I was beat! I worked some bedrock under direct sunlight and began to feel a little woozy -Time to get in the water and do some sniping -that'll cool me down. I finished our short day of prospecting with a little metal detecting, and we took off on the trail to get back home. On our way out we missed the trail which takes you up the mountain and spent about 30 minutes hiking up and down the trail looking for the way up. Around this time, i began to experience some cramping in my left hamstring. I shrugged it off as typical, and expected it to go away. We found the trail and as we progressed up the trail (literally straight up -remember 2,500 feet!!), the cramping spread to the quad of my left leg. This caused me to overcompensate with my right leg, which quickly cramped up as well. The cramping progressed to the point to which i could not travel more than 15-20 feet without falling to my hands and knees and waiting for the cramping to subside enough so that i can keep going. My buddy patiently waited and hiked with me out of there, and we finally made it to the jeep after 7 pm (almost dark). If we would have had another mile or two to go - I would have had to spend the night on the trail which was riddled with poison oak, bear tracks and bear crap - not the place you would prefer to be. I made the drive home where the cramps got way worse -with both legs locking up. Looking back on this experience -I'm pretty sure i had some form of heat exhaustion.

    Learnings from this experience: KNOW how long your hike will be, don't just "think you'll be fine". Take the sun seriously -Following this experience, the sun/heat is one of the greatest dangers out there. -Not just the bears and mountain lions and snakes (I’ll get to those next) that first come to mind.

    My next story involves a different river in the central/ southern California sierra motherlode. I took my 8 year old son and 2 year old golden retriever out to the river to do some sampling and swimming. We hiked in real early and began working bedrock around 8 am. I was working bedrock on the downriver side of the outcropping, and saw a crack i wanted to work on the upstream side. As i approached the crack - My retriever was in my way, so i told him to move - He didn't budge, he was completely frozen. I didn't think anything of it and nudged him, which will usually lead him to moving -He still didn't budge. I physically moved him out of the way, got down on my hands and knees, and used my crow bar to pop some cobbles out of the crack. Then i hear: SSSSSSSSSSSssssSSSSSsssSS!!! right by me. After realizing that theres a snake VERY close to me i quickly ran to the end of the bedrock where my son and dog were and we tried to locate where the snake was.... After a little looking around, i saw the rattle snake under a huge boulder, right next to the crack i was working.
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    The first picture shows the boulder that i was right next to as i worked the crack, the next photo is a close up of Mr. Buzztail under the boulder -He was a big one. We ended letting Mr. Buzztail enjoy that area and found another area upstream to work.

    Learnings from this experience: Always check out areas (especially if there's kids/ dogs around) as i arrive to them. I'm lucky that my dog, son, and me made it out without any bites -Thanks Mr. Buzztail for rattling and not striking at me!

    Be careful out there..& HEAVY PANS!
    Last edited by SchoolOfHardRocks; Aug 11, 2020 at 08:39 PM.

  2. #2
    us
    Mar 2012
    Idaho
    Gold Hog Stream Sluice
    469
    1059 times
    Prospecting
    Heat took me down last August and this year I'm waiting until early September to over exert myself. Got to be cautious when your odometer reads 70 years old. Staying well hydrated is key.
    Just because you CAN do something, doesn't mean you SHOULD.
    Visit my Idaho Gold Prospecting Blog at Bedrock or Bust
    US Army Pacific 1969-1971
    2015 Stroke Survivor
    2016 Cancer Survivor
    2017 2nd Stroke Survivor
    2018 Pacemaker Recipient
    Every Day Is A Beautiful Day

  3. #3
    us
    retired bumb and part time Hobo

    May 2005
    St. Louis, missouri
    6,068
    4794 times
    Yep the heat got to me also a few weeks ago while helping my son clear out a storage shed.

  4. #4
    Charter Member
    us
    Nov 2012
    Maryland
    XP Deus, Tesoro Cibola, Full sized shovel and a backhoe
    17,033
    31303 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Banner Finds (8)
    Honorable Mentions (1)
    I quit in the heat. I have gotten a lot done this summer, but the outdoor stuff starts very early and ends by 11 am. I find few snakes in the house

  5. #5
    us
    Dec 2013
    N. California
    Bazooka Prospector-Sniper-Supermini Thanks Todd & Chris, Goldhog Multisluice Thanks Doc, My Land Matters Thanks Claydiggins, 6 Senses
    1,865
    4745 times
    Prospecting
    Quote Originally Posted by SchoolOfHardRocks View Post
    Hello Fellow Gold Seekers!

    It's been a while since I've posted here, been busy with normal life in addition to managing home and work life during the pandemic.

    I have had the chance to get out and do some prospecting this summer, and have 2 pretty scary encounters to share...

    In early July/ Late June - a prospecting buddy and I wanted to get into some old diggings in the beautiful and treacherous North Fork American River Canyon. We knew we had a long hike ahead of us (several miles in, 90 degree heat, & at least 2,500 feet in elevation gain/loss). Given that we have not hiked into this place together before, it took us about 3 1/2 hours to hike in (after a few wrong turns). When we finally arrived to the river - I was beat! I worked some bedrock under direct sunlight and began to feel a little woozy -Time to get in the water and do some sniping -that'll cool me down. I finished our short day of prospecting with a little metal detecting, and we took off on the trail to get back home. On our way out we missed the trail which takes you up the mountain and spent about 30 minutes hiking up and down the trail looking for the way up. Around this time, i began to experience some cramping in my left hamstring. I shrugged it off as typical, and expected it to go away. We found the trail and as we progressed up the trail (literally straight up -remember 2,500 feet!!), the cramping spread to the quad of my left leg. This caused me to overcompensate with my right leg, which quickly cramped up as well. The cramping progressed to the point to which i could not travel more than 15-20 feet without falling to my hands and knees and waiting for the cramping to subside enough so that i can keep going. My buddy patiently waited and hiked with me out of there, and we finally made it to the jeep after 7 pm (almost dark). If we would have had another mile or two to go - I would have had to spend the night on the trail which was riddled with poison oak, bear tracks and bear crap - not the place you would prefer to be. I made the drive home where the cramps got way worse -with both legs locking up. Looking back on this experience -I'm pretty sure i had some form of heat exhaustion.

    Learnings from this experience: KNOW how long your hike will be, don't just "think you'll be fine". Take the sun seriously -Following this experience, the sun/heat is one of the greatest dangers in these parts. -Not just the bears and mountain lions that first come to mind.

    My next story involves a different river in the central/ southern California sierra motherlode. I took my 8 year old son and 2 year old golden retriever out to the river to do some sampling and swimming. We hiked in real early and began working bedrock around 8 am. I was working bedrock on the downriver side of the outcropping, and saw a crack i wanted to work on the upstream side. As i approached the crack - My retriever was in my way, so i told him to move - He didn't budge, he was completely frozen. I didn't think anything of it and nudged him, which will usually lead him to moving -He still didn't budge. I physically moved him out of the way and used my crow bar to pop some cobbles out of the crack. Then i hear: SSSSSSSSSSSssssSSSSSsssSS!!! right by me. After realizing that theres a snake VERY close to me i quickly ran to the end of the bedrock where my son and dog were and we tried to locate where the snake was.... After a little looking around, i discovered the rattle snake under a huge boulder, right next to the crack i was working.
    Click image for larger version. 

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Size:	2.40 MB 
ID:	1855624Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	1855625
    The first picture shows the boulder which i was right next too as i worked the crack, the next photo is a close up of Mr. Buzztail under the boulder -He was a big one. We ended letting Mr. Buzztail enjoy that area and found another area upstream to work.

    Learnings from this experience: Always inspect areas (especially if there's kids/ dogs around) as i arrive to them. I'm lucky that my dog, son, and me made it out without any bites -Thanks Mr. Buzztail for rattling and not striking at me!

    Be careful out there..& HEAVY PANS!
    SOHR,

    Good looking on spotting the Rattler. You never know if one has crawled in under the boulder while you at the water panning. As for cramping I used to get it about every second trip to the South Fork. Cramps for hours after I made it home. An old miner told me plenty of Gatorade before and during the trip. After that no more writhing in pain.

  6. #6
    Charter Member
    us
    Oct 2015
    Northern Nevada
    MineLab GPZ 7000 Garrett ATX Pro
    440
    759 times
    Prospecting
    Sipping chilled pickle juice does wonders too.

    The desert can kill you in a day or two max.

    Chuck

  7. #7
    us
    Mike

    Dec 2014
    Bodfish and Marin county CA
    Garrett , Whites keene puffer drywasher , Keene A51 Sluice
    437
    1138 times
    Drywashing , Sluicing , Panning
    very nice of him to rattle for you -- I've walked up to one all coiled up and ready to go without a rattle at all -- lucky for me
    I'm always looking down.
    Once I was at rapid spot with lots of water sound and heard a faint sound -- Yep 2' away he was warning me.

    A GPS and Gatorade will help.

    Cheers Mike
    Stay thirsty my friends

  8. #8

    Jan 2008
    270
    307 times
    GoldenMojo, I had a claim out in the North Mojave and found that adding a teaspoon of sea salt to the Gatorade makes it even more effective against cramps. I was talking to my firefighter buddies at work and mentioned the teaspoon of sea salt and one guy said "for cramps right?" and I said yep. Those guys know how to deal with the heat!

    Far as rattlesnakes I working in this dry creekbed in Newhall and directly in back of me was a 1' drop with some rocks and such. So I'm working away and my mining pard says "you might want to come down stream a bit and look what was down there. Sure enough, it was Johnny no-shoulders and a quite well fed one at that. So we started throwing rocks near it (rattlesnakes do not like vibration) and sure enough it moved. Then I went back to work and not 20 minutes goes by and there's another large rattlesnake coming down this adjacent little creek bed.

    Then on the other side of the hill from this spot I was working this small feeder creek and saw what was left of this old dead bush and proceeded to dig it out. I get it out and lift it up and SURPRISE!, a medium size rattler dropped down from the roots onto the tip of my boots! Save me a couple red bulls that day (<: Be careful out there.

  9. #9
    us
    Jul 2004
    Angels Camp,Ca.
    826
    831 times
    Start drinking your fluids the night before going out and try and limit your alcohol and coffee as they will drain your body of electrolytes.

  10. #10
    Charter Member
    us
    I can dig it! "WP"

    Mar 2007
    Arizona
    Whites TM 808, Whites GMT, Tesoro Lobo Super Traq, Suction Dredges, Trommels, Gold Vacs, High Bankers, Fluid bed Gold Traps, Rock Crushers, Sluices, Dry Washers, Miller Tables, Rp4 Shaker table, etc.
    6,019
    5514 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Taking your own shade while running a drywasher in the desert also helps.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    This was 3 days ago, 110 degrees in the shade.
    Nice breezes intermittently though.
    Last edited by Goodyguy; Aug 12, 2020 at 08:48 PM.

  11. #11
    us
    Steve

    Sep 2017
    Az
    563
    768 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    That's why I respect rattlesnakes, there pretty cool about warning people before biting in most cases, snakes like the bushmaster do the exact opposite, I'm glad you guys are good, that snake is cornered with no where to go except towards you, those are sometimes the situations where people get bit without warning. Heat I here you on that, learned my lesson digging up fire agates in the summer, I had water I still got really sick, nauseous, my breathing got heavy really dizzy and shaking, yeah that was no fun and not doing that again.
    Underburden, Gold4Mike and russau like this.

  12. #12
    Charter Member
    us
    Oct 2015
    Northern Nevada
    MineLab GPZ 7000 Garrett ATX Pro
    440
    759 times
    Prospecting
    About every other year we come upon some hapless tourists who think rental cars are made for desert 4-wheeling lol.

    P-rated tires are good for what 30 miles on a desolate dirt road? The donut tires last max 10 miles lol.

    “How much water you all have?” They each hold up about a half a liter.

    I get the feeling our European and Asian guests are clueless just how big we are.

  13. #13

    Aug 2015
    Las Vegas, NV
    87
    208 times
    Prospecting
    Last year I was up at the Delamar mine for a few days of exploring. It was a cool but sunny afternoon and I was walking downhill through the brush on the way to camp. Just as I stepped down off of a rock I heard a short rattle. Can't mistake that sound! Fortunately I had stepped down onto my left foot and he was to the left of my foot. That let me make an immediate spring off to my right and away from him. What was super lucky was that he was all stretched out sunning himself when I startled him. He wasn't in a position to strike, so my jump got me clear. Had he heard me coming earlier and got coiled a bit, I would have certainly gotten struck. My left foot landed within about 3 or 4 inches from him.

    After my heart quit racing, my exploring partner had a discussion about the whole thing and learned a couple of lessions:
    - I have a first aid kit, but it wasn't where he would have been able to find it
    - Neither one of us knew the proper first aid procedure for a rattle snake bite
    - We were in an area where there is rarely a cell signal so our phones would have been useless
    - I have a SPOT tracker, but he didn't know where it was or how to use it

    Yeah, we sound like idiots. But does everyone in your party know the proper answers to those questions? It sounds corny, but I've started holding short safety briefings with anyone that I go out with. I let them know where the safety gear is. I show them how to turn on the SPOT and which button to push in an emergency. We should probably write down a contact name and number for each person in the party in case someone has a medical issue.

    He was plenty mad that I interrupted his nap...
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    Joanne
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  14. #14
    us
    Prospector

    Apr 2014
    Modesto, CA
    363
    868 times
    Prospecting
    Quote Originally Posted by dave wiseman View Post
    Start drinking your fluids the night before going out and try and limit your alcohol and coffee as they will drain your body of electrolytes.
    I did have some drinks the night before the heat episode happened - Great advice to avoid the bottle for sure!
    goldenmojo likes this.

  15. #15
    us
    Ed Tracy

    Jan 2015
    Shoreline,wa
    Equinox 800
    646
    1067 times
    Prospecting
    Hey SHR, I was just thinking of you, I was mining at the place I took you, last week, found a rich spot over 200 flakes per pan and you ounce stood on it, LOL. My method to prepare for a trip is Pizza and Beer, always works for me. As I always said get in shape to mine not use mining to get in shape.
    Gold4Mike and russau like this.

 

 
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