Another Day in The North Nopah

I posted this as a page when it should have been blog entry. It is now in place, if out of order.

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Some miscellaneous from today. Video is from the south side of the wash, with wonderful shade. One picture is of what looks like a built up trail below the stone outbuildings. Leads to nowhere. T-post stakes represent newer claim holders but all mining claims ceased when the area moved into Wilderness status years ago. No inholders here. Was looking originally for zinc related minerals since I am into fluorescent minerals, glowing rocks. Supposedly, some zinc was mined here. Zinc is an activator. Interesting country, however, and there are trails south of this canyon. Probably not burro trails since I have seen none of them or their scat. #geology #nopahwilderness #rocks#mining#history#explore#prospecting#minerals#geologistonboard #pahrump

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Another Firmware Update for the Sat-FI2

Here we go again, this time with the worst documentation I have seen from Globalstar. It’s appalling. Consult other resources and my videos to tackle this project.

No, this isn’t about self-promotion with my videos. I don’t charge for anything, there are no ads on my sites, I receive no fee for any product mentioned, I am not for hire as a consultant. This is a non-commercial site.

For the beginner, the firmware update process is at the consultancy level, this paperwork, though, would make a consultant hire a consultant. Good luck and feel free to email me if you think I can help.

Globalstar Sat-FI2 Firmware Update 1.5.8 from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Site Update

I’ve put together a gallery of photos that show the Shoshone Museum’s outdoor rock display. The display consists of rocks and descriptive signs of same. The gallery pages do not connect, so check the bottom of your screen to click to the next page.

I have begun to type out the text you see in the sign for photo captions; it may take the rest of the week to complete this job. When done, the information will be easier to read and perhaps machine readable for those with impaired vision. 

Update: Captions completed!

Digital-Desert (external link), has some pictures of the same rocks with some extended descriptions of their own. They feature close-ups of some rocks and that is something I will do on my next trip. They also have ads, lots and lots of ads. 

Make sure to click on each photo in the gallery to see the full picture and caption.

“Shoshone Museum Outdoor Rock Display – A Walk Through Time. These numbered rocks are samples of some of the major geologic formations in the Death Valley area. Displayed in order from the oldest to the youngest they show the complex geology of the area.” Note: The photos in this gallery are in alphabetical order.

Bonus footage, rocks found in a dump alongside the road yesterday.

To Shoshone, California in The Morning

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Okay, who’s the rockhound dumping in the desert? Pulled off the road a bit about eight miles from Shoshone. I promised myself no rockhounding today but look what I found! This isn’t construction debris, some of the sandstone pieces have been slabbed. Nice 1/4 inch thickness. Collected half a bag of miscellaneous. A few agate pieces light up soft lime green but nothing special. My metal detector doesn’t trip on anything but one of my Geiger counters won’t quiet down on a sandstone piece with a purple deposit. Hmm. Another mystery. I will return. Oh, the last photo shows the tricky entry point to the highway. Don’t get high centered. #roadtrip#rockhound#rockhounding#shoshone#restingspringswilderness#inyocounty#minerals#radioactivity

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Found the Mines!

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Old but well shouldered road leads on. This is on the other side of the hill that makes up the south wall of the canyon I visited last. BLM has this mine mapped, calling it the Shaw Mine. Mindat says that is one of many names used in the area. Topozone shows the location on an older USGS topo. Nothing showing on the map about any mine in the canyon. That will take going to the USGS store to see if a much older USGS map shows what was happening there. I am walking on this road past the several hundred yard section that has been completely destroyed by floods. There are a few two rock cairns to guide you. #geology #geologyrocks#limestone#nyecounty#mines#minerals#lead#zinc#silver#nopahwilderness#pahrump

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I sound depressed, I’m just tired. And I should have said a deposit of calcite, not calcite by itself. These rocks were picked up at random in broad daylight. I mention the Convoy Dragonfly. Great portable lamp. Take it fully charged and have spare batteries. Long wave. The majority of fluorescent material shows up under SW, nevertheless, this will give you a good idea of an area’s potential if you have to hike in to a collecting spot. This is iPhone photography of course so colors and brightness are only partially true. I’ll show off some more interesting rocks (non-UV), later on. #geology#rocks#ultravioletlight #fluorescentminerals #nopahwilderness#inyocounty#pahrump#explore#outdoors#mojave#desert

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More in the North Nopah

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Some miscellaneous from today. Video is from the south side of the wash, with wonderful shade. One picture is of what looks like a built up trail below the stone outbuildings. Leads to nowhere. T-post stakes represent newer claim holders but all mining claims ceased when the area moved into Wilderness status years ago. No inholders here. Was looking originally for zinc related minerals since I am into fluorescent minerals, glowing rocks. Supposedly, some zinc was mined here. Zinc is an activator. Interesting country, however, and there are trails south of this canyon. Probably not burro trails since I have seen none of them or their scat. #geology #nopahwilderness #rocks#mining#history#explore#prospecting#minerals#geologistonboard #pahrump

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In The North Nopah. Again.

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Sorry this isn’t in portrait view. Above the shelters I heard a continuous noise on this fairly windless day. Did not have my external mike. Huge amount of bees around this opening. Constant wind noise which I usually hear from a mine with an unblocked opening somewhere. You tell me, air shaft for the mine or from a cave? People were definitely up here and though it doesn’t look like a man made opening, I’m thinking it could be little else. Could not feel any wind because of the bees preventing me from getting close but that has to be wind noise, coming or going. I wonder if there is moisture below and hence the bees. You tell me! #mines#geology#rocks#caves#limestone#exploring#tunnels#nopah#bees#desert#mojave#inyocounty#geologistonboard#geologyrocks#adventure

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Tips For Summer Desert Rockhounding

When it gets above 100 degrees (37 Celsius), I focus more on reconnaissance than mining. Of course, if there is a decent amount of gold somewhere, then things change immediately. Let me stay, though, with what I do more often in the summer: look for promising areas I can come back to later and do a little light collecting at the same time.

My hikes are shorter, far earlier in the morning, with a cutoff or return time to the trailhead of noon or just a little later.

Most areas I am now hiking have absolutely no shade unless you can find a friendly tunnel you can slip into. Good luck with that, especially in areas with little mining history.


Sunglasses are absolutely imperative. They must wrap around the side of your eyes or you will be a hurting puppy. Years ago I had a pair of glacier glasses like this and they were extremely expensive. These Vaurnets will now run you $280!

Much better for those of us who wear regular glasses already are these big glasses, sometimes called “Glaucoma Glasses.”

These are usually $25 to $30 in many grocery and pharmacy stores. You can get them in a darker shade. You can treat them roughly in the field and not cry when they break. If they break. I’ve had lenses pop out of them from time to time and they pop right back in. These scratch fairly easily but, again, this is field work you are doing and when you want to see something clearly, you’ll take them off. Again, it’s the side shielding that’s important  

You can buy ten of these for what those Vaurnets will cost you. You can buy those the next time you attempt Everest. Although I haven’t checked, I am sure marine and boating supply stores may have good choices as well. Expect, though, to pay handsomely for anything connected to sea going.


Here’s what I generally look like on the desert. Full coverage, heavy sunglasses, a cap with a bandana or a cap with a tail. In this case, I didn’t have my regular cap. I like everything produced by Pacific Dorfman. (unsponsored link) You can make a ball cap work, though, with a bandana. If I want to protect my hands from the sun I may wear gloves with open fingers. Gloves also help you slide over rocks if you are scrambling. Know, though, that every rock in the desert has some small and invisible thorns blown onto the rock from somewhere. 

Notice that I am overweight. That’s not too important if you are in good hiking condition. I am 62, too heavy, and have a bad left leg. But I can manage in the summer just fine, even if I can only hike with light weight. With the right clothing, good boots, and enough water, you can manage, too.


There’s a certain look to long distance hikers. I watch out for anyone who shows up on a long, hot hike without that look. Too much skin showing, shorts, perhaps a short-sleeve shirt. This is crazy clothing for the desert and I know I am going to be offering them water along the way and sunscreen. Sometimes, I almost force these things on people. I generally get two reactions.

If I encounter a couple in the middle of nowhere who are dressed inappropriately and look tired, I will offer them some water. If it’s a man and a woman, the guy invariably hesitates while the woman will look eagerly at the offering. It’s a macho thing, I suppose, and something that gets people killed. If they seem slow to answer, make sure you ask them if they need help. If they turn you down, note their location in case they slip into heat exhaustion later on. An SAR crew may be eventually looking for them.  If they need help then drop everything you are doing to help them get out  Don’t just make a phone call if you are in cell phone range, stay with them until you can get them back to services or until assistance arrives  

Take water, take lots of water. Cache it along the way if you have been in the area before and you know with absolute certainty that you are coming back on the same trail. No sense packing up all your water up a steep hill, only to bring it all the way back down.

Bladders are far preferable for hiking when you are putting on lots of miles and not stopping. If you are making a number of stops, you can get by with individual water bottles since you will be constantly into your pack. Still, a bladder encourages drinking more water by having it available right at your mouth. You will drink more with a bladder. I’ve used Camebackl products but have no favorite anymore. All leak at some point, usually where you screw down the connection to the bag. I carry bladders in the truck upside down before a hike so there is little chance of them leaking beforehand. Many people carry seven or eight ounces of reserve water in a bottle in case of a leak on the trail or a kink in a hose that lets water continue to flow out. All of us have had the sickening feeling of a backpack and shirt suddenly soaked with water from a leaking bladder.


I prefer heavier clothing when mining but for exploring and recon, lightweight nylon is really the way to go. It isn’t cheap but the better brands are more durable than you might think. I long resisted nylon because it had to be hotter than cotton. Which it is, in a way.

Tight fitting nylon shirts are indeed uncomfortable. Loose fitting nylon is much more comfortable and on a hot desert day you can pour water on your shirt to cool you down. That’s unlike cotton where the same trick will instead result in a clammy piece of clothing stuck to your back, taking forever to dry off. Full coverage pants and shirts reduce or eliminate the need for sunscreen, as much of this clothing has SPF ratings starting in the high 40s.

I like Columbia gear and I save money by buying at their discount stores or at Marshalls or other discount outlets. It takes searching to find any good clothing on discount, never-the-less, bargains are out there. If you are shopping for the next weekend, you’ll be out of luck. But if you shop throughout the year you will pick up good clothing at a good price. It may be an odd color but it will be less expensive.

I avoid REI except for their discount racks. Their house brand is excellent as well as the Mountain Hardware and North Face brands, but the best value for money remains Columbia. My friend says Columbia makes little in larger sizes for women.


Accessory belts are the worst. Make sure any pants you buy have a dead simple and lightweight belt system. Do not get a belt to fit the pant. They are all wrong, they hang down, they get in the way, they are complicated. Just make sure the belt comes with the pants.


Despite their vulnerability to thorns, canvas and nylon boots rule the day in the desert. Unless you are mining with heavy tools, full leather boots are just too hot over 100 degrees. Some brands may make Kevlar constructed boots these days, I don’t know. Nylon and canvas boots do not wear in, they are as comfortable as they are going to be the minute you put them on. Or as uncomfortable. The real trick with boots is to buy an expensive insole called Superfeet. (unsponsored link) Get the green color. They will cost as least $60, last no more than a year, and are worth every penny. They will most probably cure or reduce any strange foot pain with your sole that you’ve been having. I have them in every one of my shoes as well as my boots. Bootlaces break before your boots will.

The unhappy part of every hiker’s life is when their boots give out and they have to find a new pair. You won’t find your old model when you go looking. I guarantee it. Well made leather boots can be resoled at great expense, I gave up on my my very comfortable leather Pivetta Italian Hiking boots when new soles cost over $100 each year. And you need to find a good bookmaker  


Keep a dedicated pair or two for your boots, don’t bring them inside the house except to wash them. Always keep them with your boots in your vehicle. You never know when a distant peak calls and you must go. Have them ready. Lightweight, good quality wool is not scratchy and very comfortable. Think of a cashmere sweater, that is not scratchy wool. Problem is finding those comfortable wool socks. Don’t ever think of using cotton, it gets wet and rubs and will blister you far quicker than any other material.

Darn Tough socks are the best I have ever had. (unsponsored link). For three years now I have worn their everyday socks for my everyday wear here in Las Vegas. Yes, wool socks for 100 to 115 degree temps. This is not as odd as you might think, all the old school cyclists back in the 1960s and 1970s wore Merino wool jerseys and shorts. Far more comfortable than cotton and a Merino wool jersey is actually comfortable and a little warmth in a rain when temps are in the 50s to 60s.


Every pack has a loop at the top .  Add a locking carabiner to it. You can now carry all sorts of things when needed, like another backpack or ore commonly, some clothing to dry out or perhaps a tripod. Things will swing wildly from it but this is usually for short term use. I don’t use luggage when I have to fly, I use backpacks, sometimes tied together with the biner for a short while.  Get a real, climbing rated biner on the very remote chance you may need one and find you that you have instead a toy biner.  Daypacks should have a chest strap and a waitsbelt to better carry weight



That’s it for today, more later. I am moving to Pahrump, Nevada. Furniture moves in two days and it is chaos here.


Moving Out and Up!

Experimenting With Green Screen

Green screen or Chroma Key is a film or video technique where one object is superimposed over another still or moving image. Some films today are shot entirely against a green screen background, with the actors later dropped in against footage that was made or taken elsewhere.

I’m using inexpensive Movavi software for this experiment. I bought two green plastic folders at Walgreens and taped them together. Then, I moved my hand across this green screen while shooting a video of it.

First video showing green screen from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

I added this footage to what is called an overlay track in Movavi. It’s the top track you see in the photo below. I then added some footage of video I recently filmed at Red Rock.

A few clicks of controls in the Movavi program resulted in the video you see here. I now need to make or buy a larger green screen if I want to appear in front of moving landscapes, outer space scenes, or walking into a volcano.

The video you see below is not simply my hand in front of the computer monitor, it is within the film itself.

You can’t shoot yourself in front of a monitor because all sorts of weird halo effects occur. You’ll notice these in the video below because I shot that footage with my iPhone off the monitor.

Second video shot off of monitor with halos from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Now notice this footage, this is the final video, no shooting off the screen. Much cleaner. You can make a green screen as big as you want. Just get a tripod and some heavy duty green paper. Don’t move quickly or you will leave green traces as you see in the video. Photography stores sell complete kits including proper lighting.

Final product, not shot off of screen from Thomas Farley on Vimeo.

Green screen seemed daunting by the descriptions I read but the process is straightforward. I’m looking forward to more experimenting.