Gold Prospecting on the Dolores

Hunting for gold has occupied most of the time during the last 2 weeks. The picture below shows where I start the hike to the claim. I get very nervous crossing the road to get across the guards. Coming back is tougher. My legs are shaking and I am out of breath.

parked truck at gold spot

Then I get down to Scotch Creek, which I have to cross. Not hard, but I am a tad shaky after coming down from the road. Its steep and rock strewn. And the rocks in the creek are slippery.

Scotch Creek

Then I walk, with a stool in my left hand, a cane in my right, a backpack with a shovel, snuffer bottle, scoop, and pan. I also carry toilet paper and water and a ginger ale. Finally I come to “my” claim. Then I start prospecting, looking for some sign of gold.prospecting for gold

And keep walking and prospecting. prospecting for gold

And get totally distracted by the

So I haven’t found the “magical” spot to find much gold. YET. But I have found many breathtaking views and flowers and water. And some “flour” gold.

There is a change in the plans, however. Tomorrow I will be campground hosting. The folks who I have worked for before (Rocky Mountain Recreation Company) are hurting for help. COVID. They were great to me for many years, so I volunteered.  One of the joys of being retired, the flexibility. Will have to wait for next year to find the gold.


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Truck Camping Storage Take 3

Organizing is important for this truck camper’s peace of mind. I started out on this trip panicking every time I lost _______ (fill in the blank). I panicked over every lost item. Losing the truck keys twice changed my organizing habits. Losing my wallet, once, was awful. Now everything has its very own place.

Door Storage

The passenger door storage has  rubbing alcohol, a cloth, and some Handi-Wipes. I use the rubbing alcohol to clean my pocket knife, earbuds, telephone, etc. The storage area also has shoe polish. I don’t know why the shoe polish is there. It has been there for three years. I always remember where it is. Scared to move it to a “better” place and lose track of it.

Passenger Door Storage

Passenger Door Storage

Behind the passenger door storage has serious cleaning stuff. WD40, GoofOff, 409 cleaner, cloths and toothpaste. The toothpaste is for the headlights. Kinda works, briefly.

Behind Passenger Storage

Behind Passenger Storage

The driver’s door storage is handy. An umbrella lays on top of toilet paper, a cloth, 2 measuring tapes and the colorful collection of electrical tape (which lasts better than duct tape in the sun). Now it also has a packaged mask, just in case I forgot one of the pretty ones.

Driver Door Storage

Driver Door Storage

Behind the driver door storage is the area I use most often. It has ammonia, Windex, butcher scissors and hand clippers (for spiny bushes). The ammonia is for mouse/chipmunk deterrent. I spray a squirt or two on the tires if I am in a mouse heavy area. Works great when the CAB is not enough, or when the animals are going into the engine compartment.

Behind Driver Door Storage

Behind Driver Door Storage

There are sweet little other areas in the truck. Above the windshield there are two little spots. In the truck bed there are two not-very-accesible spots (these carry the extra CAB mouse repellent boxes ) and metal detecting finds, like musket balls and barbed wire pieces. There are pockets behind the front seats. Under the seats are precious protected spaces for thin items (the drinking hose, the hose bandit and the jumper cables under the passenger seat, a bag of paperwork under the driver’s seat).

No more disorganizational panicking! Phew. Relief.

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Minimalist Truck Camper Food

I have a single burner propane stove and no cooler or fridge. Two knives, 3 spoons and 1 fork. A spatula.

Cleaning Dishes

I hate to wash dishes. Much of my cooking decisions are predicated upon how many dishes  I have to deal with. Embarrassing, but true.
I use cloth towels (from the car department in Walmart) and Dr Bronner’s soap on the  stainless steel plates and bowls. The plates and bowls are very easy to clean, are lightweight, are darn near indestructible. They can be used as lids, scoops, fans and for measurements.minimalist kitchen

Meat and Veggies

Spicy or regular V-8 is a whole serving of vegetables. And doesn’t require cleaning a chopping board or knife. V-8 instead of water in ramen or rice or soup is a nice treat. Spam is meat that doesn’t need refrigeration. Wide varieties of beans come in cans. Avocados and bananas and apples come in their own packaging . Sardines and tuna come in animal proof packaging. Flour tortillas last for a very long time. A six pack of eggs last about a week without refrigeration … if its not freezing or sweltering outside.

truck camping breakfast

Bean & Tortilla

balanced meal

Notice the veggies (V-8) and the fruit (peaches) and the fiber and crackers. And no dishes.


P-nut butter is fatty and full of protein. With banana or apple it is filling and yummy. Mix p-nut butter with siracha and coat a tortilla for weird take on a  spam taco.

This is the newest easy treat.  Tasty Bites are  very tasty. They come in 6 or 7 different veggie selections. Just put the package in boiling water for a few minutes and eat out of the package. Only with a spoon to clean!Easiest Truck Camping Meal

When the local food markets are open I sometimes grab veggies and feast …  even if it involves dishes.

veggies and rice


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The Road to Camping Gold

Hunting for Gold

The first chore was setting up the camp.  I am very happy with the nylon tarp. It held up very well in the gusty wind and rain.
gold camp set up

Every morning  for 10 days I drove to what I thought was the closest place to begin the “easy hike” to the claim area. That little white mark is Lilith.
Lilith Gold Hunt Parking

The ground, once I got down to the river level, was little hills and valleys of the old river bed. Covered with mossy round rocks and over-my-head tall, scratchy bushes with occasional paths that would dead end.

Gold Hunt BushyPath

Gold Hunt Wounds

My arms were worse. Face isn’t too bad. Nothing really hurt, I was too excited to find gold.

After several days of struggle in the scratchy bushes jungle I figured that it couldn’t be the “easy hike”, so  I tried walking up the Dolores River to the site.
Dolores River

Hours of sliding over mossy round rocks was not as much fun as I thought it would be. The water is very cold. But I would stop several times to pan for gold, in someone else’s claim.

Every day for 10 days I would return to the truck and drive back to the campsite, exhausted, shaky, bloody, bruised and excited to start again the next day. I never made it to the claim. BUT … I may have just found a new way to get there. I just have to crawl over the highway fence. Stay tuned.

I did find a little bit of “flour” gold and a tiny flake of what may be gold or pyrite. And still love the process.


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Truck Camping Map Help

My Camping Spots  from “your maps” at Google

I store many locations of my found free camp sites on the web. The majority of sites come from Some are from a friendly librarian or a hospitable ranger given. Other travelers are usually generous with a few of their favorite spots. my maps

This is an example of the Colorado free camping spots map.

For places that I have actually camped I use a ball point pen to circle the spot on the appropriate DeLorme map or the Benchmark map. One of these maps sit on the passenger seat every day,  just in case I get turned around.

Extreme detail for geologic maps comes from the government geologic maps.

To get the wonderful National Forest Motor Vehicle map type in to Google  “San Juan National Forest motor vehicle map“. I think that you can, through Avenza, download 3 of these MVU maps for free. The MVU Map shows you where you can camp for free with a few rules. I have used these maps extensively and found yummy places. The paper ones are all free and can be found in the local National Forest office. I have a shoe box full of these.

free camp spot

This free camp spot was found thanks to the MVU Map of the area.

Maps of public lands in the west can be found here.

If you are hunting a spot in a township try earthpoint, which uses Google Earth.

I am out of cell range so often that the paper maps are still my go to maps.

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