Operation: Don’t Get Zapped

Arrived at the parking spot and made ready my backpack and supplies for the 2 hour sweat-a-thon hike to the claim and back.  The weather said a 20% chance of lightning so I kept an eye out for rain clouds.  The clouds pop up suddenly from behind the top of the steep mountainside where the claim is.

It was sunny when I left the truck.  Immediately as I began walking I kept an eye out for people and bears.  Not another person or vehicle in sight, as is usually the case.  Then I began looking closely for new things to see and appreciate.  Early into the hike, in the grasses surrounding the familiar 2-track I noticed a couple flowers I’d not seen before.

Wild Iris

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“Mountain Golden Banner”

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After about a half-hour of clawing over boulders and pushing aside Aspen saplings. a cloud emerged over the top of the claim.  I still had another 30 minutes to hike and the cloud suggested to me that rain could be coming soon and with certainty.  I decided to continue to the claim because it seemed like the cloud was only letting off a very light rain and it was pushing off to the southwest so that it wouldn’t pass directly over me.  I also heard no thunder anywhere, and I was determined to take a quick look for rocks and retrieve the trail-cam I’d left set a month ago.

I ascended the final, steep, 100 yards scanning for treasure on the broken granite and found nothing noteworthy by the time I reached the location of the trail-cam.  I removed the cam from it’s perch and wandered around the area, taking in the view and looking for rocks, signs of wildlife, whatever.

After just a minute or two I heard a rumble of thunder coming from the valley next door where the clouds were passing -out of sight, but close.  “No more leisurely kicking of the dirt today.  This could get wet.”


Quickly decided it was time to head back to the truck.  45 minutes down the mountain and through the woods if I moved efficiently.  Soon after my decision, light rain began falling from the passing cloud I thought I’d dodged.   Not enough rain to warrant rain gear, but there was no telling what might be coming over the mountain peak I was evacuating.   The thunder was becoming more frequent in the adjacent valley.  I moved purposefully.

And…lucked out.  The entire hike back I could hear the storm passing over the mountains just a mile or two away.  45 minutes later, tired, but dry and uninjured I arrived at the truck.

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Picked up this milky little white quartz crystal close to where I’d fetched the trail cam.  Not much, but lately I’ve found less than that when it comes to collectable rocks.

As I was getting ready to leave this beetle swooped in by me and landed in the grass next to the truck:  I assumed it was an Emerald Ash Borer and got ‘defensive’ because “that’s an invasive species!”  Turns out it’s a Blue Fungus Beetle.  Perfectly harmless, native, friendly, hey everybody likes them.  Go figure.

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Got home an hour later and inspected the trail-cam pics.   I hoped to catch an image of a mule deer or bighorn in that spot, but…no.  Still, the cam took about 80 pics over a month and it’s always sort of interesting to watch the weather pass in front of it.  It’s also interesting to see how the lighting changes the look of the land.

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Fog passing through the valley in the evening. Background dark, foreground sunlit.

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Hail storm

 

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Snow!  Came in overnight and was gone in a couple days.

 

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Now this was a surprise. See the curious creature looking at the camera?

 

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Oh birds.

It was the warmest day since moving in here a week and a half ago.  Had the day off and the homeowners upstairs were away so it was nice and quiet.  I took to the green deck chair to relax and take in the scenery beyond the bathtub.KODAK Digital Still Camera

I sat there about 20 minutes listening to a hummingbird shoot back and forth through the trees over and over but never caught a glimpse of it in the air.   Then I heard rustling behind me and perched in an aspen not 20 feet from me was this fella.

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At first I thought it was a Spotted Towhee, but it’s actually a Black-Headed Grosbeak.  Sort of similar looking but the bird I was looking at had black eyes, not red, and the feathers are quite different upon closer inspection.  Here’s a pic of a Spotted Towhee pasted on a close up I took of the Grosbeak.

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And, this is where in America Black-Headed Grosbeak’s can be seen, in addition to the trees outside my rented porch.

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And I found a use for the bathtub.

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Bear Sign

Back to the ‘apartment cave’ about 6P and the landlord says a black bear came around this morning shortly after I’d left for work at 6:30.  “Look at the prints behind your truck” he says, adding “Fortunately they’re not brown bears, so they won’t attack.”   On the other hand, back in 2010 the bushpeople of Alaska told me “Brown bears just maul you, but ‘Blackie’ – He just eat ya.  We always shoot them.”KODAK Digital Still Camera

 

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Won’t be sleeping with the sliding door open at night (as recommended)

 

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Picking up ticks. Saturday 5/6/17

Just got home from another day at the claim.  About 4 hours of hiking with just a few breaks for drink, pics, and tick flickin’   Hauled a 4-foot 4×4 claim post to corner #3.  I’d brought the other claim markers up last fall, but didn’t get around to this one till now.  It’s the claim post that’s the farthest up the mountain from the parking area.  About a half mile hike, then another half mile up a mountainside as steep as the Manitou incline, except no staircase.  The wood post weighs about 25 lbs and it really slowed me down.  Steep ascent, thin air, heavy/awkward load.  Took about 2 hours to get from the truck to corner 3 on the claim.

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Had to stop and check my socks every couple minutes because the ticks were out in force today.  Pulled 7 of these creepy things off my socks over the course of the day’s hike!

 

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Tucked my pants into my socks to keep the ticks out.  It also helped to spot them.  These guys moved pretty quick so I had to check often.

 

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First snake I’ve seen on the hike to the claim.  Don’t think he was poisonous but I gave him some space anyway.  He was about 3′ long, warming up in the sun.

 

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Steepest part of the hike up to corner 3 of the claim.

 

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And here’s Corner 3 with the claim post nestled beside the rock cairn I’d made back in August of last year.

 

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No topaz today either, so I get excited when I see any piece of rock with some interesting  mineralization.

 

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This was only my 2nd hike up to corner 3 since I had the claim.  This time I noticed that the back side of Pikes Peak is visible from up here.

 

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I pass this balanced rock every time I hike up there.  The ancient people used to worship this rock for it’s ability to blur images from perfectly functional auto-focus digital cameras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday 4/23/17 Prospecting at the claim

Lots of hiking today.  Looked for smoky quartz and topaz but didn’t find anything…

 

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Hiked up higher than the claim boundary, just to look around.

 

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Found this layer of “pegmatite” in a boulder.

 

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Here’s a close up of the pegmatite layer.  Little quartz crystals inside there.

 

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Not finding any crystals can lead to selfies.  That’s a claim marker next to me.

 

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Saw these quarter-sized plants.

 

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Here’s what the claim looked like the day before (Saturday).  Intermittent snow kept blowing through so I just took a few pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4/4/17 Up to the mining claim

Third or fourth trip up to the mining claim this year.  Didn’t do any digging.  Mainly just went up to get into the mountains for some fresh air and a hike.  Retrieved a trail cam and took a few pictures.

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Trailcam picked up a few images of this prospector passing through.  All he was carrying was a pry bar and a grocery bag with a bottle of Aquafina.  He’s looking down at a creek.

 

 

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Start of the 1/2 mile hike to the claim which is about as far as that mountain peak you see there.

 

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Woodpecker.

 

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Lots of Pasque flowers beginning to bloom.

 

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Pasque flower

 

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Image from the claim.

 

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More prospectors passing in front of the trailcam.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fishing and Prospecting 4/14,15/2017

Friday:  Had the day off so I drove to Skagway Reservoir.  A customer from work had suggested it to me earlier in the week “if ya want to catch some trout.”  Skagway Reservoir is near Cripple Creek about an hour and a half from town.  I guess it gets busy in the summer but it wasn’t busy on a Friday in April.  Got there around 2PM.  Tried Powerbait and got no bites so I switched to a spinner.  Landed two (planted) Rainbows about 12-14″ and had lots of strikes close to shore.  Most of the action took place between 430 and 6.

 

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View of the Sawatch Mountain Range just outside of Cripple Creek.

 

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Skagway Reservoir

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Tried to take a pic of this thing from the side but the wind kept blowing it’s back towards the camera, so: Rainbow- Top View

 

Saturday I left town not knowing exactly where I was going, then decided to try driving to the Cache Creek public gold panning area about 2 1/2 hours west near Leadville.  The panning area is usually gated till early June, but I figured I could at least grab a couple buckets of material to pan at home.   Then I figured I’d try fishing Twin Lakes Reservoir because it’s just a mile from Cache Creek.

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Highway 24 about 2 hours west of town.

 

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Gate to Cache Creek gold panning area was locked, but I hiked a few yards down the road and fetched 8 gallons of material (dirt/gravel) from a dry creek bed.  Another windy Spring day in the high country.  Took the material back to the house and was surprised to find a little color.

 

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Left Cache Creek and took a dirt road North towards Twin Lakes Reservoir about a mile or two away.  Spotted this herd of antelope.

 

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Twin Lakes Reservoir near Leadville.

 

 

 

Got to Twin Lakes Reservoir around 1PM and the wind was a’whippin.  All I had with me was a thin sweatshirt and dangit with that wind I got cold even though it was 50 degrees out.  So after a half hour I drove 30 minutes to Leadville and bought a fake-fleece lined hoodie from a hardware store.  I wore the hoodie to the checkout counter and after paying, I shuddered and said to the cashier “Brrr…that’s better.”  She replied “But this is the warmest it’s BEEN!” ( Leadville’s over 9000 feet elevation).   Returned to the reservoir, threw a spinner for 2 hours and caught nothing.   Started the 3 hour drive back to town at about 6 o’clock.

 

 

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Heading east toward Colorado Springs across the high plateau called “South Park”

 

 

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