In Mineral County, Montana the rivers, streams and drainages continue to be over-whelmed by the spring run-off. The Clark Fork River is expected to rise to all time record breaking levels. Last year, on June 10th, we were able to access the higher claims (Hard Times 1, 2 and 3, Barber Gulch, Bonanza Gulch and the Southern Cross.) This year we have experienced a late, cold spring. The road is still impassable. I remain hopeful that we can get in by the 4th of July weekend. I have a bad case of "gold fever". My gear is packed and I am ready to camp on the claim and get to work.
Obviously, the Saint Regis "Duck Race," held annually in the 3rd week of May, has been rescheduled. Both the Clark Fork and Saint Regis Rivers are above flood stage.
Yesterday, my mining partner Starr and I headed up Cedar Creek. We found the waters high and moving fast. The spring melt will move a lot of material and make for some exciting prospecting this summer.
The Winter/Sping of 1996/97 was the last time the water has been this high.
The sun was shining and the road was in very good condition until we reached the snow line. Just before we arrived where the road was totally impassable, we ran into a couple of guys trying to get to Missoula Lake. They were not aware that it was just too early in the year. I am glad we had a small shovel and gloves. They were without tools and totally stuck.
Normally the high claims are accessible from mid-June until the snow chases us out in late October to mid-November. The claims themselves have already melted. The snow pack on Charlie Miller Saddle is always the last place to melt off. The Oregon Gulch Road was open all the way to the top.
Look carefully! That's a big cinnamon colored bear ambling up the road ahead of us. I told Starr that I had a premenition that we would see a bear (I brought along the bear spray just incase we encountered one walking the trail.) The drive was spectacular, foliage and flowers galore. We encountered lots of wildlife incuding an eagle, osperey and several deer. I love spring in Montana.
Part of the Cedar Creek Gold Rush, the Oregon Gulch drainage is rich in mining history. We enjoyed exploring the old tailing pilings. With the price of gold rising daily, many operators are gearing up for a productive season.
Spring flowers were everywhere.
The wild dandelions are impressive, growing in large clumps.
A field of wild strawberries.
The forecast for all of next week is for warm and sunny weather. The creek will rise and the saddle will melt. I can't wait to go mining. Wishing you color in your pan. Hope to see you on the mountain.