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Sunday, January 20 , 2019, 4:09 pm | A Few Clouds 66º


Captain’s Log: It’s Season for Prospecting and Treasure Hunting

Swollen mountain streams have gouged out deeper and wide ravines. Surface dirt and rocks are spread out on lower flood plains waiting to be rummaged through by rock collectors and artifact hunters.

Up in the ravines, washouts and slides leave previously unexposed treasures laid bare to be found. It is highly dangerous ground to be prospecting, however human nature seems to require some intrepid adventure.

Prospectors never could resist an opportunity to poke around rocks and dirt recently unearthed by winter storms.

Maybe it’s the chance of finding a vein of gold. Maybe it’s the chance of discovering a dinosaur skeleton or relic of earlier times in the history of man. We’ve all got a bit of the prospector in us.

Prospecting is fun and fascinating. It is also extremely dangerous when the ground is saturated with rain. Slides and cave-ins can be brought on just by climbing around or digging with a shovel or pick.

It doesn’t take a large-scale slide or cave-in to bury a person where he or she might never be found except by another prospector perhaps decades from now.

In the Old West, prospectors headed out with a fresh grubstake, following the wake of major recent storm washouts. Some were never heard from again, and I’m betting that slides and cave-ins were the cause for the mysterious disappearances.

Locally, our ground is beginning to firm up now that we’ve had some drier weather, but the dangers are there, so it is best to focus on shallow work at least for now.

What can you find? Pretty rocks that can be made into jewelry are the most common finds. Sometimes a rock hound gets lucky and finds something of substantial value.

Arrowheads and tools from our indigenous peoples are possible finds. I know one person who found a minor stash of fairly new jewelry in the local creek bad, which I suspect was the work of a thieving raccoon. Raccoons are known for that trait.

One time while I was on a long hike in the back parts of the Cuyama Badlands, I found ancient shells from when the area was a seafloor a very long time ago. It is always amazing what a person can find when searching diligently.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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