Vinegar, when used properly, can be a great cleaner for the long term effects of a wet forest-canyon floor on metal. Decades ago, I learned a hard lesson when using vinegar to clean a set of rare, vintage motorcycle spokes. In the hectic pace of my agricultural and fatherly pursuits, I forgot about them for a month. I had set them aside where young children couldn’t get into a serious situation so when I finally remembered, they were no more. Spoke mush. Ever the lucky fool, I had a second set to fall back on.
The cleaning of my precious treasure trove revealed that Mathew Roderick’s enameled tin cup had a trace of blue on the finger loop. The wheel barrow frame had a coat of black paint much of which still looks good for the age and conditions. The small hatchet has a dark colour along the edge that I’m thinking might have been from a tempering process. And the two handles for the felling saw cleaned up appreciably well releasing accumulated rust, rocks and sand. One piece still held the hardwood handle – how’s that for a test on the quality of hardwood for a handle? With the debris removed I could also see how the handles were held in place. A small pin had been driven through the metal frame into the wood.
While the mining shovel had little enough rust covering the stamped lettering, the mining pick fared worse over the years and initially no stamped lettering could be found. But with the rust cleaned off, the name OLIVER was revealed. I’m guessing there was a foundry somewhere with that name.
In places where there had been no paint, the metal began to rust quickly after the cleaning. I developed a method of saturating the pieces with WD-40, that wonderful protective product familiar to many. Most of the pieces absorbed a lot of the protective coating over several days. Rubbing away the excess showed the method worked well. They are all in better condition than they were after being buried for 123 years.
My apologies for the great delay in posting any progress. While the physical progress has been difficult this year, the understanding of how the terrain has changed over the decades has been significant. Part of my difficulty in writing about my progress has been in trying not to divulge too much information.
I believe that I see the target area with the best clarity yet. The area of search has gone from the massive forest zone on the eastern slope of Mount Baldy to the approximate size of my small kitchen. And I don’t say that without good confidence. While smarter men might well have solved this great puzzle quicker than I have, I don’t believe that any have.
Six full years of searching the rugged back-country over seventy-five trips and several hundred days camping in that great paradise have allowed me to fill journals, notebooks and to write a book worth reading. But more than that, the experience for me has been a great journey of personal healing and an awareness of my spirituality embraces the forest.
Winter once more protects the gold bars frozen within nature’s vault. I had limited searches this year but know I will return, at least once more…
August did not end well for me. Yet again I have to admit I have failed to uncover the hiding place for the lost gold. While that doesn’t mean it’s simply not there, it does show that I may be running out of options. I reduced my target area from a large area of rugged forest down to the size of my small kitchen, yet the possible depth and type of material don’t allow for my detectors to receive a signal. Does anyone have experience with a dowsing rod?
The tinder dry forest is a cause for concern. In the hours I spent at the target, small flakes of ash fell on the truck. Somewhere high above the prevailing air current carried the ash in my direction lending concern about my presence there. Thankfully when my truck died the previous week it was on the highway with cellular service and not in the forest.
Perhaps cooler fall weather will provide better results for my efforts.
As summer continues, the smokey air finally cleared in the Vancouver area allowing us to breathe easier, especially us older treasure hunters with lung damage. Some fool kid smoked for a dozen years, then spent twenty-five years breathing animal dander and alfalfa dust during his years in agricultural paradise. But I feel there is enough good health for one more treasure hunting adventure and I will use it wisely.
With good luck and a sharp mental focus, I’ll return to the forest and finish what I began more than five years ago. Hopefully cooler weather will prevail and my target area will remain free of the devastating fires still rampaging across central BC. Meanwhile, I continue to write and edit, trying to create the best read that I can.
My return to Rock Creek canyon revealed the changes brought about by the massive torrent that flowed through the canyon this spring. The small section that I’m familiar with showed some stream bank erosion and an older log dam had been completely removed. Mother nature rearranged a few things. Nearby, the water had flooded more of the canyon floor as it has occasionally over time.
When I left the area, I noticed the mushroom cloud of forest fire smoke far to the north. The time to return and continue this adventure needs to be timed with area fires and clean air. My old lungs can’t handle much smoke these days. Cooler temperatures would be appreciated too. With forests tinder dry and limited trail access, I need to be aware of the conditions and know how quickly it can change.