What do we intend to look for?
Gold, silver, or copper deposits are interesting, but manganese, zinc and cobalt should not be passed over. Any rocks with a high sulfide content or seriously altered are of interest. The prospecting must be walking over unclaimed ground.
It is the initial survey so covering as much of the area as physically possible but with attention to detail is important. Whatever is brought back from the field has a recorded location on the sample bag and can be used to draw a broader picture on a geology or topography map.
We have a few concerns…The area we intend to explore is very dry…less than 12 centimeters of precipitation a year. How long can we extend our water supply? The van has a built-in tank that holds 20 U.S. gallons and there are two 2-gallon jugs inside. The new tires are reassuring, but the van is boxy, top-heavy and low to the ground. We hear conflicting reports about the condition of the road south from Puertocitos to Laguna Chapalla and about the types of vehicles capable of making it through. How far off-road can we expect the van to take us? How far will we have to walk to get to the areas we want to look at?
The first stop after crossing over from Canada into the US is L……’s apartment in a ‘castle’ house in old Tacoma Washington. She sets us up with supper, bed, bath. We sleep in the van for the first time, J… wrapped in his $20 Value Village mummy bag, I under an old down comforter. Warm. J…lights a fire in the bulkhead-mounted heater and spreads the Indian carpet on the cold aluminum metal floor. L…… contributes a beach chair, gear nets, a box full of chocolate, chicken, coffee, ginger tea, raspberry scones and a Spanish textbook.
In the morning, a bath. J… walks nude around the apartment. It will be months before we are so clean again, before we move in the space of a house.
Afternoon we are on I-5 entering Portland, Oregon…Powell’s Books on NW 11th and Burnside yields “The Log of the Sea of Cortez” by Steinbeck for $3.50 and a topographic atlas of Baja Norte for $12.50. Initially, J… delighted with the 1:50,000 scale; later, he determines that the scale is marked incorrectly: it’s really 1:250,000. At least the maps have Lat-Long coordinates.
Already my scalp itches…
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: Under the Lens…