Anne Gets Her Dig On
Dominic Ricci – LDMA Executive Director of Operations
Photos by: Dominic Ricci
“Woo-hoo . . . woo-hoo!”
That was the reaction when Anne from Gold Prospectors Association of America (GPAA) Membership Services was asked if she wanted to participate in the Digger’s Dirt Party hosted at Lost Dutchman's Mining Association Vein Mountain Camp this past October.
“YES! Yes, I want to go to the Dirt Party!” was her answer when queried if she wanted to go experience what other participants experience.
Brandon Johnson (LDMA President), “We often joke that Anne can do cartwheels when she gets excited, and we thought she was on the verge to go head over heels.”
“Finally! I had a chance to experience the fellowship, hard work and fun of one of the GPAA/LDMA National Dirt Party events!” Anne expressed. “I was so excited to go out and learn how to prospect, meet new friends and see some of the people that I talked to on the phone when they call in.”
Arriving at LDMA Vein Mountain Camp
It all started in the afternoon on Tuesday at the beautiful Lost Dutchman’s Mining Association's Vein Mountain Camp in the gold belt of western North Carolina. Driving into the camp, it seemed to be pretty full with everything from vehicles, tents to every size RV you can imagine. There was a feeling that overtakes you when you arrive at camp . . . “Welcome Home!”
In the afternoon, all the Dirt Party participants and crew gathered together to “sign-in” to the event. You choose AM or PM shift to work on the common operation. Anne always being an “early bird” chose to be on the AM shift, even though I warned her how cold the mornings are.
While signing in, you also pick up your official 2019 Digger’s Dirt Party event t-shirt and the schedule for the week’s happenings. Shift times, activities, games, educational seminars are all listed.
You get the feeling of a big happy family coming together.
Day #1 - Wednesday
There is always an 8:00am meeting to go over the day, including education, rules, layout of the camp, etc. They announced the different equipment that they had for the common operation.
There were several options to choose from ranging from running a dredge, high banking, using a trommel and clean up.
“I chose to try my hand at dredging on the first day.” Anne said, “I always here people talk about it, and we can’t do it in California so it is a must do.”
The weather was a blustery 40 degrees and light rain. “Why did I say I wanted to dredge in the freezing cold?” We do work rain or shine, and since she was going to get wet anyways, it was time to step into Muddy Creek and get busy.
Brian Camidge from Virginia had his Dahlke 4-inch dredge floating in the creek ready to suck up some gold. He took the time and walked Anne, step by step thru the process of how to set up his dredge, all the way to doing a clean-up to get the concentrates at the end. What a teacher!
“He taught me a few things not to do, like allowing the nozzle to get to close to the surface of the water which can “blow the gold out of the sluice,” Anne said. Soon they started to suck up some material to make sure were in a gold location to dredge (heck no one wants to work all day to end with no gold, right?). Eureka! They were in the gold, but they had only scratched the surface.
At the end of her AM shift, she saw gold in the clean up and a smile that would not stop.
It was time to get out of her wet clothes and get warm. Later that afternoon was the first educational seminar – Gold Prospecting at LDMA Vein Mountain Camp. Bryan Yoder, one half of the Caretaker team at Vein Mountain walked us around (field trip!) and explained the geology, terrain and where to prospect for gold when staying at Vein Mountain Camp. A lot of information, but it was golden.
Later that afternoon, there were “duck races!” No pet ducks allowed. You can purchase plastic ducks that are numbered and when they dump the 100 ducks into the flowing Muddy Creek, the first one across the finish line wins a small gold nugget.
After dinner, the evening game was Left-Right-Center. Most never heard of it before, but I explained that it is easier to understand when we start playing. It got LOUD at Vein Mountain as people started yelling what they needed to win the game.
Anne expressed, “I watched people laughing, smiling, and having a great time. This was the fellowship and camaraderie that we talk about to people. Even though Anne lost, she won a lot of new friends and memories.
Day #2 – Thursday
After the morning meeting, Anne decided to stay out of the water and work the equipment at the common dig pond. First was the Proline BIG Banker (highbanker on steroids). Shoveling as fast as I could the material that is placed in the hopper quickly disappears except the rocks that don’t fit down the grizzly bars. Participants take turns shoveling into the hopper, moving the material around the grizzly, and monitoring the sluice.
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“Participants are so friendly, helping each other and enjoying good conversation. I’m so happy to be here!” Anne said.
Next Anne moved over to the beast of all beasts . . . the AuDraggin! It is a trommel that can chew up a serious amount of gold bearing material and spit out gold bullion, ok, maybe not bullion.
She had heard about all the hype that the AuDraggin has had over the last few months, and Anne wanted to tame it. Not! Bucket after bucket, Anne dumped into the hopper so the trommel could process it. Soon she realized that the beast was going to win as Anne was getting tired of lifting and dumping buckets of material. Quickly it was time to let someone else have a turn.
As the morning went along, Anne realized, “Whew! This is hard work! My arms are not use to this much fun!”
That afternoon the education seminar was about the history of Gold Mining in the area. Lloyd Nanny, a long-time gold miner and past owner of Thermal City provided a wealth of knowledge and entertainment.
The evening was about fellowship, camaraderie and of course fun and games again. People wanted to play Left-Right-Center (LRC) again and it got even louder.
That night, Anne realized that she is not use to this kind of work, and her arms felt like jello. Make note . . . always have a bottle of Alieve or Tylenol.
Day #3 – Friday
Anne learned a valuable lesson . . . Slow and steady wins the race! With that mindset, she spent Friday morning feeding the Proline Big Banker. Thanks to Dwight Wooton who handed her a pair of rubber gloves so she would not tear up her hands from the rocks. After washing the rocks in the hopper for a while and getting soaking wet from the waist down, Anne switched places with one of the three other people working in their fantastic group in which had been working on this one machine all morning. “All four of us made quite a dent in two different piles of gold bearing dirt.” Anne said.
Classifying and panning was the afternoon education. How classifying down your material helps when it comes to panning. Check the rocks for nuggets and pickers before throwing on the ground.
LRC was chosen again for the third night of evening game. It had grown so we had two games going at once and the winners from each table had a “dice off” to award the overall champion. Anne may not of won any gold (the mineral0, but definitely won “pure gold” with all that she was meeting.
Day #4 – Saturday
Since Anne wanted to take in all aspects of a Dirt Party, she volunteered to help Bob & LaDonna with the gold recovery clean up station. Maybe the motivation other than learning was the fact that it was chilly, and a fire was in the firepit close by.
“I classified the material, panned the rocks for nuggets and pickers, then ran the material in a 3-stack Gold Cube,” Anne continued to say, “then it was panning panning panning to get the gold!”
Anne took the time to go to all the equipment used during the Dirt Party to get a better understanding of the inner working of each machine. Crew members helped her understand how they each worked to capture the gold.
Dominic Ricci (LDMA Executive Director of Operations), seems to always fit in one of his favorites . . . rain or shine . . . hot or cold . . . it’s rootbeer float time!
There was a huge Potluck dinner for all to partake in. Sonny Lucas and his GPAA Chapter (Ohio State Prospectors Association) from Ohio supplied the meat (Pork Butt and Chicken) which he smoked and is was delicious!
Day #5 – Happy & Sad Sunday
After a quick meeting and showing all the gold recovered it was time for the gold split. All participants got a vial with some “Thank You!” gold in it, as well as a baggie with black sands and their split of the gold recovered. It’s exciting, yet sad as the party comes to an end.
“This was an amazing event! I had a fantastic time! I met a lot of our members in their comfort zone. In which, each and every one of these awesome participants and crew would answer any questions that I had and taught me so much about prospecting. Everyone was eager to share their knowledge to help me be a better prospector. I can’t thank all of you enough for showing me what these Dirt Parties are all about and a big thank you to Brandon and Dominic for making these events possible. I value this experience and I would recommend these events to anyone that would like to meet and learn from very knowledgeable people, make some great friends and find gold while having fun.” - Anne
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to participate in a Digger’s Dirt Party adventure, call Digger’s Hotline at 888-GOLD(4653)-717 and get signed up for one near you. This is the time to have the whole family out playing in the dirt. Don’t forget to invite other family and friends to join in all the fun and get their gold too!
This is the real deal, real prospecting! We have all the equipment you will need for an exciting adventure!
It is the hope for an enjoyable first experience that this article is written. Hope to see you In-The-Dirt, and around a campfire real soon!
Dominic Ricci is the Executive Director of Operations for LDMA and can be reached at 888-465-3717 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org