Prospecting Safety - The Heat & The Snakes


Sr. Member
Apr 30, 2014
Gone, With the Wind
Primary Interest:
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.
IMG_1661.jpg IMG_1660.jpg
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:
Upvote 0


Bronze Member
Jun 23, 2013
El Dorado County
Detector(s) used
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
SOHR - Why did you let your buddy talk you into such a disaster?! Never listen to that guy :)


Sr. Member
Dec 4, 2012
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Years ago when the wife and I were dating, we went camping in the backcountry. She has zero experience at the time and asked about bears and cougars. As I was explaining there is nothing to fear, she let out a scream............I turned around and noticed she was looking at the ground. After 20 yards or so, I stopped running, looked back, and started laughing.

Bear? No problem...........I will fight it.
Cougar? No problem....... I will protect you.

Snake?..........Try to keep up because you are on your own.

Capt Nemo

Bronze Member
Apr 11, 2015
Oshkosh, WI
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
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.

Make sure you get salt too! Working out in the sun all day at EAA, I've learned to get that supersized fry for lunch. Haven't dropped in 24 years of working out there, but many of the newbies have.

bedrock bubba

Sr. Member
Jun 27, 2010
I have had many close encounters with rattlers. And heat stroke. Rattlers love tall green grass and shady areas and rocky areas.And Blackberry bushes.
Potassium tablets are a must to take with water! Stomping the area with your feet is good, or a large stick.
Poison Oak? Rub the area with wet sand right away.

Richard Guy

Dec 19, 2019
Detector(s) used
Whites Coinmaster
Bounty Hunter 202
Nokta Simplex
Nokta Legend
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
While detecting in VA last October, I was swinging in a short grassy area near the Potomac. The Simplex rang a strong silver tone and displayed a firm 92. I put the detector down and was on my knees getting ready to dig, ... at that moment I see a large, fat, coiled Copperhead right next to me! Thank God I was able to spring to safety. I detect now with high-top boots and constantly checking my environment. Whenever I mention this to others, the first thing they say is "did you kill it?", ... no, I left it be. I didn't dig that target.

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread

Metal Detecting Stuff