30 January…Up the canyon we branch off, find a dirty limestone outcrop. Layers harden up. Eventually the rock rings like iron when we hammer at it. Effervesces when acid is dropped on it even when somewhat silicified. J… says it has good potential for deposits by hydrothermal fluids because it’s so permeable.
On the slope it is warm, almost perfect, with a sea breeze chilly moving up the canyon. Later, I regret wearing shorts and a short-sleeved top under my fleece vest. Stick to sunny spots on the canyon floor, but the spur canyons are in shadow and I suffer for my ignorance. J… notes our last position with the GPS and reads its time because his watch has stopped.
Metamorphic rocks tower around us like a forest, almost vertical, covered by thick layers of debris eroded from the tops. The canyon floor is either rounded black masses of limestone or conglomerate formed of large chunks of metamorphic rock. There is lots of shine in this arroyo. Flakes of mica gather under every rock and once I find schist with gilding like a molten surface. J… says it’s the effect of micas aligning.
In the light, under the hand lens, everything looks gold, like sulfides…
J… reading books and maps at night always refreshing himself about possibilities, the way things are formed, what a visual finding of one thing can indicate or suggest.
In the afternoon in new areas, new rocks, I saturate with information, can’t take in any more, aware of myself standing, eyes moving nervously, trying to see something that adds to the picture.
At night, I bathe my feet rubbing them with talcum powder. Every night I pick sticky plant particles off my socks and pants.
31 January…Arroyo Vulcan y Zambros…Each day different. Starts with promise. Disappointment grows if little of interest appears. J… acknowledges that months can go by and a large crew of prospectors and geologists may discover nothing.
How do you maintain morale? I ask. If you keep an interest in the rocks, he replies, then morale is not a problem.
Like a suction dredge, the wind extracts physical energy. Concentration is difficult to maintain.
At night, we discuss the rocks that we encountered, the terrain that we covered during the day, what potential there might be, seeking answers to questions that rise like heat waves from the rocks.
Water is reserved for coffee and drinking. Hair, body, clothes feel dirtier and dirtier. Nights are long and silent. The hammers hold up, the land echoes their ring against the rocks….
NEXT WEEK: The Art of Prospecting: A Long Walk Over Uneven Ground…Choosing the Rock to Break