Where are we going today, Mr. Peabody? Backpacking for Gold Of Course!

Do you remember the old cartoon with Sherman and his dog, Mr. Peabody? In every episode Sherman would ask his dog, a talking genius dog, where they were going that day. Generally the response was not necessarily ‘where’, but ‘when’ they were going. Enter ‘the wayback machine’! Today, I take you back a few years to a very memorable-no wait-a time ETCHED into my memory, no-more like, SCORCHED into my memory…well…anyway, you get the idea.

Did I ever tell you about the time we almost killed ourselves hiking back into a narrow canyon in the mountains to look for gold? ‘Which time?’, you say…ok fair enough, but this particular adventure has thus far been the pinnacle of ways in which my particular group of prospecting buddies and I have tried to assure that our bones would not be found for a very long time. Not that we didn’t plan to make it out alive and unharmed, but by trying to get as far into the backcountry as possible, in search of ‘virgin ground’. Maybe I should say we were looking for ground that had not been gone over by ten thousand prospectors before us! To say we were unprepared for the rigors of our adventure would not only be an understatement, but probably also a moot point if you keep up with my adventures!

Do you really need THAT much water?

It was early September, right around labor day, and the desert cool spell that we had hoped for had dissipated, leaving us with temps in the 90’s. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, it’s not so bad if you’re at work or at home. However, carrying an overloaded backpack-somewhere north of 40 pounds-and also carrying 5 gallons of water each…well, that’s a bad mix! Oh we had a plan, we certainly weren’t each going to carry 80 plus pounds all the way up the steep mountainside and then all the way down the other side! No, our plan was to cache all but just a few gallons at the peak. We wanted to have one gallon, per person, per day for drinking-and about one gallon for cooking our dehydrated meals at lunch and dinner between the group. Well, I’ll just let it be known right now that it almost killed us just getting to the peak!  As we took a break, eating snacks and guzzling water, I remember telling myself that ‘yes we need this water’ and ‘yes, I triple checked my backpack to get rid of unessential gear’, all while sitting in silence just waiting for somebody else to be the one to cry ‘uncle’. But we’re made of more than that. Or we’re at least crazier than that! So having finished our snacks, we loaded back up and headed across the peak to the steep descent into the narrow canyon, stashing the majority of the water near several boulders so we could easily find it again.

Now I’d like to take a minute to discuss what we had in our packs, and why they were all 40+ pounds. Here’s roughly how it broke down:

  • shelter +/- 4lbs
  • sleeping bag and pad +/- 4lbs
  • extra clothes +/- 3lbs
  • cooking gear and food +/- 3lbs
  • detector 7lbs
  • several extra batteries +/-3lbs
  • small daypack for exploration +/- 3lbs
  • digging tools +/-8lbs
  • cords, ropes, TP, fire starting, knives, emergency gear, firearms and ammo, camp shoes, pruners, water purification, hats, bandanas, insect repellent, snake bit kit, and other assorted gear +/-7lbs




Loaded pack

Once on my back, the pack was nicely balanced, like I would expect a high-end Osprey pack to be. Actually getting it ON my back was somewhat comical though! I also couldn’t help but think how heavy the dang thing was…all that exercise I had done back home though…yeah…certainly not enough!

Are you kidding me


Headed up

Yes, this will be another multi-chapter tale…


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