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View Full Version : Dredging in Remote country

01-13-2013, 04:45 PM
Guys,I could use a little help.
I have the opportunity to dredge in the Brooks Range area and would like to pose something to the community.
I got the dredging thing down. Been doining it a long time, I haven't done it there but where I learned it forced me to be really careful. I feel I can adapt my mode to northern Alaska and at the least come out alive.
What I'm not certain about is the logistics of getting stuff to the location and, any personal experiences y'all may have with the Brooks Range gold and honestly, will I get eaten.
How do I best prepare myself for the day to day in such a remote place. Are there techniques/tricks that will help ensure the safety of my camp.
I do not mean to diminish anyone's expertise in being able to survive only to best plan for a substantial personal challenge.
I would only ask that you who have learned this over a lifetime of experience share some words of wisdom with this city fool.
"Don't do it, son" won't work.

01-13-2013, 06:52 PM
My best advise is not to go at it alone ... Even the military teaches the "buddy system" ... Too many things can happen that if a buddy were there you have a good chance of survival ... I recommend a great watch dog and a Sat. phone as well ... Keep your camp clean of trash and food not to attract predators into your living space ... Most of all "get right with God" in case anything were to happen !!!

01-14-2013, 07:04 AM

For most, it's a matter of cost.

Obviously, you will begin with the cost of shipping your equipment and supplies to Fairbanks from where-ever your point of origin is. Then the cost for airfare to fly to Fairbanks. Upon arrival at Fairbanks, you will need to phone a friend or call a cab. I haven't priced the cost of a cab to Wiseman. Since you probably don't intend to hitch-hike, there's only one other option.

You will need to plan on flying to your destination. Many active mines have runways. You would need to schedule a charter flight using a fixed-wing aircraft. If there is no runway, you would have the option of chartering a helicopter. Helicopter charters cost about $4500 per hour (10 hour minimum) last time I got a quote.

I'm sure you have already considered fuel, communication, food, shelter and self protection. Contingency planning is important. Water contamination can be an issue in some areas because of giardia protozoa. Use a personal water bottle with microbial filtration.

- Geowizard

01-14-2013, 07:19 AM
A follow-up note;


Heat is a factor in the Brooks Range. Summer temperatures run between 37 degrees F and 61 degrees F. What this means is that exposure is a big issue. Without a source of heat, death from exposure is imminent. Because a supply of wood is generally assumed to be available, most would say - "no problem". Wood heat is a problem! The wood must be cut and hauled. The wood, of course must be of select varieties and condition. I have watched "seasoned" survivalists cut up rotten, wet, punky wood and expect to heat a cabin. It takes a good chain saw to cut sufficient wood for heating. The chain saw requires a list of support items including mixing oil, bar oil, replacement chain, chain file(s), and tools.

- Geowizard

01-14-2013, 08:29 AM
Safety is the number one issue when operating alone in the bush. Lets use the chainsaw that Geo mentioned as an example. Chainsaws occasionally bite the operator. Taking the time to put on ALL your safety gear to cut ten minutes worth of alders takes discipline. Many times I have told myself that I can hold extra tight and be extra careful and just do a couple quick cuts. Then I remember how hard it is to survive a deep cut, and how the best pros occasionally have to clean chap fibers out of their saw. I may look stupid in chaps, steel toes, and hardhat, but I may survive a mistake.

Now, think of carrying heavy dredge parts, moving boulders, diving, or chopping onions and potatoes. An electric fence works pretty well for bears, but it takes discipline to turn it on and off. If you find that discipline is not one of your attributes, then you may find it difficult to survive the bush. If you have discipline, then all it takes is experience and good luck. And most my experience came from bad luck.

01-14-2013, 10:02 AM
Well time for me to chime in.

I try to avoid over-nighters at my age. A warm comfortable bed has become real important.

That being said, the problem I have always faced with more remote operations was the time element. I spend almost as much time in personal support operations (cooking, cleaning, maintenance,etc) as I do actually trying to make a dollar. This is another good reason for a partner.

Along the safety line, few know that prior to the mid-50's infections from cuts were among the most common killers. Penicillin wasn't released to the public until 1947 and was limited in supply. Staph infections can go from inflamed to "you be dead" in several hours. In remote operations, you can NEVER count on a quick medivac to town. So you better be up on emergency trauma tricks such as wound debridement.

As geowizard pointed out, be prepared for some major expenses just to get on site. Fuel is cheap in Fairbanks. It is gonna be right expensive getting it into the Brooks. Better take enough, because resupply missions will turn your adventure into a bottomless money pit.

Are there techniques/tricks that will help ensure the safety of my camp.

Training and experience. And even these have been known to fail. Much of what MUST be done in extended remote operations has to be habitual practices. Do you have experience camping in rural Alaska? (Rural defined as within easy walking distance to a road). When things go wrong in the bush, it goes horribly wrong. Typically any back-up plan is next to or totally worthless.

Another thing to consider, do you have a site worth dredging? Did YOU sample it? Remember how Mark Twain defined a mine.

Don't overlook a pay-to-mine operation. It might be a better choice for getting your feet wet. Oh, and probably far cheaper.

And I'm not trying to discourage you.

01-14-2013, 10:38 AM
ALL Perfectly Good Advice!

01-14-2013, 11:00 AM
Well I appreciate all the feedback.
I lack general remote experience in AK. I've never shied away from the difficult or even the impossible.
I've spent most of my adult life in corporate America and no longer find that to be a path forward, so I am looking forward to opportunities that will provide a modicum of retirement income.
As I said, I've got the dredging stuff down.
It's the logistics and remote camp site associated with the back country that concerns me.
As things stand now I do not have a 'buddy' that will work with me. I do not have a good claim. I am seeking both but have learned in life that ultimately I have to depend on myself. Hope for the best and plan for the worst, as best I can.
Though I am a city boy, historically, I am confident I can cope with the remote as I have always depended on myself. I am no stranger to hard work and can still put in a full day throwing rocks with the best.
Anyone have a great claim and looking for a buddy?

01-14-2013, 11:01 AM
How DID Mark Twain define a mine?

01-14-2013, 11:07 AM
I did a pay-to-mine trip to Dean's camp last summer and it was fabulous. Got in good dredging but didn't get a lot of gold. See my previous post of "Dredging on the 40 Mile".
I'm looking for a longer term plan that would pay off over time with effort. I know there are success stories out there. Not looking to make millions just do what I love (dredging) and have the possibility of making a reasonable profit.
Do not expect easy, just hoping to take advantange of those who've preceeded me in working my own plan.

01-14-2013, 03:02 PM
How DID Mark Twain define a mine? A bottomless pit that you throw money into

01-14-2013, 03:25 PM
Ogatha, here are some questions you need to answer for yourself.
1. If the air compressor goes out on my dredge, do I know how to rebuild it and what parts I need to use to rebuild it there at the river/creek bank?
2. Do I know how to work on internal combustion engines and how to troubleshoot them?
3. Do I have spare parts to keep me going through the whole season?
4. Do I have the ability to camp in total isolation in cold weather?
5. Can I survive in an unheated camp in below freezing weather?

I have lived in Alaska since 1984 and I have camped out in the winter in an unheated tent at -55F for over a week. I have been a certified mechanic, studied some mechanical engineering, been hunting, fishing and trapping since I was a child (I am 61 now), I have spent entire summers in isolation in the bush of Alaska. I am very independent and self sufficient and I would NOT even consider what you are say you are going to do in the Brooks Range. Even if you have the money to pull it off, I do not think you have the ability to pull it off. I would rethink what you want to do and try to accomplish it closer to civilization. Isolation has been known to drive people crazy (ever hear of cabin fever?).
Buy a claim in an area that is easier to get into and out of and start your mining there. After you learn to be an outdoorsman, then go for more remote areas. One summer of dredging doesn't make you an expert, it makes you a beginner.

01-15-2013, 07:36 AM
I am going into the area where he wants to go. Spent a half hour talking to him on the phone yesterday. But I am going prepared. Partner, spares of EVERYTHING. Skills to build/repair most anything. A lifetime spent in places just as wild makes me uncomfortable around people. They're less predictable than the critters out there. And wilderness training left me with the ability to eat things that would make a city boy's stomach revolt.

I figure 10,000# of food, fuel, & equipment. All in bear-proof barrels. I should make that "bear resistant" cause they can get into just about anything if they put their weight and teeth into it. I also figure $20K as a cost estimate. That is quite a lot of money and equipment just to evaluate remote claims for future development. And everything taken in is considered expendable; cost-prohibitive to take it out. Out of the question for most flat-landers. But absolutely necessary before I will bring in any large equipment and a washplant. Would it have been cheaper to hire the sampling?? Probably. But I gotten burned a few times and have learned to do my own field work.

Some simple advice for your adventure...if you do not intend to do it right, stay closer to civilization. If you were happy on the 40 Mile, I can put you into contact with claim owners with decent claims for sale. I can probably even tell you where at least one paystreak is located on them.

01-15-2013, 10:15 AM
So, this secret location is: http://www.goldminingclaims.net/Alaska-gold-claims.html

Pretty much the area I thought it was. They cover access and all of the selling points. :)

- Geowizard

Steve Herschbach
01-15-2013, 11:33 AM
"A gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing next to it."

Variations of this are attributed to Mark Twain.

01-15-2013, 12:13 PM

You may find yourself standing in places where Samuel Clemens once stood! :)


- Geowizard

01-15-2013, 12:33 PM
"And everything taken in is considered expendable; cost-prohibitive to take it out"

Depends on what you're talking about here. Too many things left out in the woods littering is part of what is driveing the environmental movement. Every effort should be taken to remove what you can if not intending to go back.

01-15-2013, 07:31 PM
If it proves promising, everything will get utilized. If it turn out to be marginal or too liitle color to warrant a wash plant, then all stuff gets sold with claims. And I DO make every effort to leave it as I found it, even if it gets burned and buried. Reclamation bonds keep getting higher and higher!!

01-15-2013, 08:17 PM
Maybe it is just me, but I get a bit suspicious when the return quotes 100% of spot.
7dwt for 15yds @$1700 spot for $39/yard return

Then there is that 0.0233 ocy thingy. What kind of analytic balance does he have? And that figure comes from how many samples? 6 sites.

No business license on file for Dark Horse LLC in Homer under Cat. 21 (mining) with state of Ak.

Then there is that matter of the claims were recorded 2 November 2012 and DK LLC has already sold one.

Mighty glitzy sales ad. Oh and please don't take my suspicious nature as having any validity. Each should do their own due diligence.

Just call me a certifiable cranky old fart with a suspicious nature. So stand back, I have a computer keyboard and I know how to use it.

01-16-2013, 07:07 AM
Thanks ote!

After further investigation...

The claims were declared null and void. The reason was that the LLC was not "qualifified" to locate mining claims in Alaska.

So, Dark Horse relocated with a posting date of 9-21-2012.

They were not qualified to until Oct 30, 2012!

So, once again, the claims will be declared NULL AND VOID. The LLC has to be qualified BEFORE the "date of posting".


- Geowizard

01-16-2013, 07:16 AM
OTE, I voiced the same concerns to my partner. If it seems too good to be true,....do your own sampling and draw your own conclusions. I bought the one claim. It is merely a base to operate from. Might even have some gold on it (that would be a bonus). But I intend to sample a larger area. It looks like I am back to digging holes and licking rocks.

01-16-2013, 07:24 AM
Based on what is available for inspection - ordinary due diligence of "checking claim ownership", says...

The Claims will be declared NULL AND VOID. (for the second time).


The cost is great for this type of mistake. The recording fees are not refunded. The annual rent is refunded - but it takes a couple of months to get a check. Do it twice and you're waiting on two refund checks at $5000. each.

Ed note: The claims were re-filed for the THIRD time on 12-21-2012 and are apparently now in good standing. :)

The fatal mistake: State of Alaska Mining claims must be recorded within 45 days of posting.

The claims were posted on November 2, 2012 and recorded on December 21st. My understanding is that this is considered failure to pay annual rent (within 45 days as stated on the location notice) and constitutes abandonment.


- Geowizard

01-16-2013, 07:02 PM
My only point is I (just me) want to know what I'm buying.

The long decades also taught me that business is business. Business is not a charity, so every thing is done for a financial reason.

Got no problem with any of it. The seller wants my money and I want to get what I think I'm paying for. And that is where the "due diligence" thingy comes in.

What other folks do is their business.

There is a story about P.T. Barnum selling 5 cent tickets to the egress.

Bill Bohan
01-17-2013, 03:19 PM
I might be interested in taking you under my wing for Summer season 2013
My operation is 13 miles to the southeast of Chena Hot Springs and is called the Sugar Daddy gold deposit. Most everybody from the 2012 season is returning for 2013. They will most likey be helping me out a little and focusing on their own claims that they staked at Ottertail Creek where the Sugar Daddy gold deposit is located.
This year up front moneys and deposit will be required out of the new comers. Last year I had a discovery gold rusher last 3 days out in the bush before he began whining about going home. It cost me alot of money, frustration and time to get him out to get his diaper changed. Contact me at bill.bohan@hotmail.com

Your fuel and food supplies should be in on the spring fuel run. You should plan on staying 30 days a stent . You should have your own dredge and dive suit and extra gloves. We have two airboats to support our operation, but both of the pilots will be too busy prospecting to shuttle you up and down the river. Kinross will be in the valley if they get their funding. It should be a busy summer and you might be able to shift into the 8 inch dredge .

02-10-2013, 05:15 PM
Dredging in remote areas can be a challenge. The Ophir Creek, Ganes Creek and Yankee Creek areas have a well maintained road system with airports that can land DC4 aircraft, and a river landing for heavy equipment if your ambitions are to get a large mining operation going. Claims are already in place along proven gold producing creeks. I am offering mining claims for sale along these historic gold producing creeks. With minimal logistic planning, it's possible for the average willing and ambitious gold miner to set up a small scale dredging operation. A dredging permit is required from ADFG. I can provide information and consulting on many properties in the Innoko-Iditarod mining district.

- Geowizard