Treasure Hunting

These photos are from six years ago. This is my old mining partner Dan, for whom I did a great deal of help with his dredging. In these photos he is searching a swimming hole on the north fork of the American River near Auburn, California. Looking for rings and bracelets and other jewelry that might have slipped off of people over the decades.

This activity might seem straightforward but it was a hike of over a mile and a  half to get to this spot. There’s a lot of gear to haul whenever you are diving or dredging anywhere remote. This time we were lucky to have a third person to carry things. If this were fast water we might have needed to take Dan’s weight belt and weights. He sometimes needed 40 pounds of lead weights to keep him from being washed downstream in some rapid water.

The last time we dredged together on the Yuba we had to hike everything in over two miles of nasty, loose cobbles. You haven’t lived until you have hiked with a 5.5 HP Honda engine on your back, one of two needed, along with everything else to sustain a person for weeks. I lost track of how many trips we needed to get everything in place the last time. 10 in total? Or was it 14?

Dan is a certified, professional diver. He is a California state licensed flooring contractor but he also has made a living retrieving golf balls from ponds at golf courses to being a dredger in Alaska.

Dan was also a smoker. He once came up from a long time underwater to sit on a rock to warm up. He pulled out a small watertight case . A watertight cigarette case. He lit up a cigarette. I asked him about how such a healthy activity as scuba went along with a habit like smoking. He smiled and said that the great thing about scuba was that when he started to get out of breath underwater he could always turn up his oxygen. I said something about this being wrong on so many levels.

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