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Beautiful day on the Peace River, 04-06-2021


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Bone Daddy

I've been scarce around the forum lately and equally scarce on the river this season. I just haven't had as much time as I would like, but the wife and I finally got out again yesterday for just the second time this season. Headed out to Gardner bright and early and hit got to the ramp about 9am. Hardly anyone was there - when you pull up and see only one vehicle besides your own, then it's going to be a quiet peaceful day on the river. The weather was (is) gorgeous. High around 80, low humidity, lots of sun, and a nice breeze. You cannot ask for better river weather. 

 

We got the kayak loaded up with our gear and launched into the river. First thing I noticed was how low and slow the water was. I've seen Gardner low, but this was the lowest I had ever seen it. I spent half of my time paddling and the other half wading while pulling the kayak behind me. Although I was looking for a specific gravel bed I had found on a previous trip, the low water levels gave me chances to explore other areas along the way - areas that are usually too deep to mess with. The wife and I both did a lot of surface scanning - bending and stooping like we were shelling on the beach. Found a few oddballs this way - just laying in an inch of water or less, right on the surface of the sand or rock. After a couple hours of walking/paddling, we reached our target spot. We stopped, had lunch (some coldcut sammiches, chips, and energy drinks) and started digging and sifting.

 

I had been running low on common-grade fossils that I use for giveaways and trades - small teeth, turtle scutes, dugong ribs, etc. When my wife and I were discussing the trip prior to going, I said - "Keep everything. Don't be picky." And that's exactly what we did. I kept every little bitty tooth, every chunkasaurus, every thing fossil that came up in our sifters. Sorry folks, but that particular gravel bed is picked clean. LOL. Well, there's some bits left, because that bar was littered with stuff. Nothing sexy or rare, but just lots of common pieces like turtle scutes and bones, ivory chunks, etc. I brought home a duffel bag filled with that stuff. We also grabbed some chunks of Miocene "micro matrix" material that had eroded out of the banks and fallen into the river - I will be searching those later this summer when the river is too high to hunt.

 

I honestly didn't find one highlight piece. No megs at all, other than a couple of broken pieces. I did find one decent broken chunk of mammoth tooth, but that's about it other than the previously-mentioned common bits. Our finds are drying out now and I will post a couple of pics of them tomorrow.

 

Here are a few shots from the river :
 

Just rolled up on the gravel bed and got out to do some bending and stooping in the shallows. A lot of scutes and chunkasaurus bone bits in this area. If the river had been a foot higher, this bed would be submerged. Another two feet higher and you might paddle right over it without knowing it was there - if the sky was cloudy and the water was dark.


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Beautiful day. We saw a total of four other people on the river all day. Two guys in a canoe and a couple walking in the shallows not far from the ramp. Our spot was far from the ramp and quite secluded. It was a nice spot for a picnic.  

 

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Look at how "lit up" the river is. The sun was directly overhead and you could see everything - fossils or critters. I love it when it's like this. Even though I have been doing it for many years, I still get a little apprehensive when wading into deep dark water where visibility is zero.

 

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Sorry this photo is blurry, we were moving in the kayak. This is one of those spots where Miocene limestone hash is eroding into the river. Some of these pieces are solid limestone and others are conglomerates with bits of rock and fossils cemented together by mineral-rich sand. I always grab a few of these. It's like a scratch-off lottery ticket - most of the time you don't find anything in it, but once in a while you win and find something.

 

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Spot the shy cow.

 

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Florida's scenic Peace River. Even if I didn't find a single fossil all day, the scenery and wildlife is worth it. Insects, fish, turtles, birds, and reptiles. My wife took about 400 photos yesterday and caught a lot of cool critters. I usually don't post too many of those because they aren't fossil relevant.

 

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But here's one. A little gator walking tall and tough like he's a big bull. Who's a toothy boy? You are! Look at you!

 

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We have a front coming in the forecast for the weekend. Hopefully we don't get much rain. I'd like the river to stay low so we can get out there again next week or week after. Until next time.  :)

 

Will post some swag/finds photos tomorrow.  

 

 

 

Edited by Bone Daddy
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grandpa

Good to see you back on-line.  Those are some great photos.  Makes me want to pack my gear and head to FL, but not quite yet.  Maybe next season. 

Love the gator pict.

Thanks for sharing the great photos.

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Shellseeker

I was on the river yesterday, maybe 15 miles north of your selected spot.  The day was everything you say,  the water was as low as I have ever seen it (and I have been hunting the Peace for 15 years). and I had a great day.  Not so much in the fossils I was finding, but definitely with nature, the weather,  the flow of the river.

Glad to have you back.  

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1 hour ago, Shellseeker said:

I was on the river yesterday, maybe 15 miles north of your selected spot.  The day was everything you say,  the water was as low as I have ever seen it (and I have been hunting the Peace for 15 years). and I had a great day.  Not so much in the fossils I was finding, but definitely with nature, the weather,  the flow of the river.

Glad to have you back.  

 

Jack. the Zolfo gauge isn't in the 3' levels yet. There's just a lot of sand in the river this year. Monday I had to walk my kayak under the Rt 17 bridge where the water is usually 4 or 5 feet deep.

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Ccolvin968

Thanks for sharing your photos! I need to get out soon now that it's warming up in the great white North! :)

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PODIGGER

Glad to see you are back out hunting!  I was out Monday and agree with your take on the river depth and clarity.  My last two visits I was able to just reach down and pick up nice sized chunks of mammoth teeth.  I am heading back out tomorrow as I don't want to miss the chance to take advantage of these great conditions.

 

Good Luck and Good Hunting!

Found this one Monday.

 

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Jim W.

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1 hour ago, Sacha said:

There's just a lot of sand in the river this year.

I've noticed this too when I was out last week. Hurricane Irma scoured off lots of sand banks and uncovered some nice gravel piles. Those piles are disappearing again under a blanket of fresh sand. There is a definite window to take advantage of changes in the river before it changes again in a way unfavorable to hunting.

 

Good to see @PODIGGER back and active again. We look forward to seeing your finds even if they are not mastodon skulls or articulated glyptodonts. ;)

 

3 hours ago, grandpa said:

Makes me want to pack my gear and head to FL, but not quite yet.  Maybe next season. 

Probably not quite yet as we are nearing the end of the season as we approach the rainy part of the year. Depending on the weather we may have another month plus or we could get early rains and we might be done in a matter of weeks. The river really has been too unpredictable in the last handful of years to be able to count on anything. It's a make hay while the sun shines kind of thing and take advantage of any day you have free to hunt while the river is low. We'll soon rotate from fossil hunting season to fossil hiding season when the river rises and runs fast over the summer.

 

Assuming the world has returned to some sort of normal (even if it is a 'new normal') the dry season at the end of hurricane season this year will be time to keep an eye on the river levels. Here in Florida we make copious use of the USGS gauges as remote reconnaissance to determine when we need to pack up and travel to the river. For those out of state you can simply monitor the new posts after October or November and see when Peace River hunting trips start turning up on the forum. I'd place money on Jack @Shellseeker posting the first. ;) When the river is right and we're all vaccinated and safe again we'd love to host @grandpa on a visit to Florida and make your trip worth the effort. Till then don't drool too much on your keyboard looking at all the enviable finds that we manage to pull out of the river before summer. :)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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20 minutes ago, PODIGGER said:

I was able to just reach down and pick up nice sized chunks of mammoth teeth

That's a respectable chunk. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy
Posted (edited)

Thanks for kind comments gang. It felt good to get out there again. I'll post the find photos a little bit later today. I'm still sore and I haven't even finished unloading the truck yet. It's still sitting in the driveway with a kayak strapped onto it and backseat full of soggy gear. After not doing much of anything physical for almost two months, this trip kicked my tail. I don't bounce back like I used to and this back of mine is getting crankier every year. LOL.

 

We went further from the ramp than we had ever been before at Gardner. It was a really nice paddle/walk. Gardner is weird. Parts are similar to Zolfo Springs (very rocky) and parts remind me of Bartow (very sandy). There are long stretches of both that seem to alternate. It looks like a lot of sand got moved around and didn't get flushed out by a major flood surge like it usually does. This past wet season didn't get to flood stage (it got really close once), so we didn't get that high-energy event that really mixes things up. Previous seasons had seen at least one major rain event break/exceed the USGS flood stage on the Zolfo gauge. Maybe that's why it's so sandy this year? Perhaps a hydro-geologist could chime in (Josh!).

 

The two guys I saw in the canoe were fossil hunters. I wonder if they are members here?

 

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Shellseeker
59 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

The two guys I saw in the canoe were fossil hunters. I wonder if they are members here?

You have to ask them when you see them.  Tell them it is a great place for fossil hunters , especially of the Peace River

 

You might be interested in Page #4 of this pdf. It talks about a trip from Zolfo to Gardner by kayak.

http://www.fcolc.com/newsletters/news1112.pdf

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Bone Daddy
1 hour ago, Shellseeker said:

You have to ask them when you see them.  Tell them it is a great place for fossil hunters , especially of the Peace River

 

You might be interested in Page #4 of this pdf. It talks about a trip from Zolfo to Gardner by kayak.

http://www.fcolc.com/newsletters/news1112.pdf

I used to ask people when I would see them, but I always got weird looks and some variation of - "The fossil what? Huh?" 

 

The one time I got a response, they thought I was talking about a Facebook group. I avoid FB like the plague because it is actively trying to kill off sites and forums like this one. Facebook is predatory and has wiped out countless independent forums. I don't encourage it's use. I flipped the script and acted like I didn't know what Facebook was. Got a weird look in return. LOL.

 

I've been wanting to do the Zolfo to Gardner run - make it an overnighter and hit some remote spots. But, the pandemic happened, and now logistics for such a trip are trickier. I am not piling into a shuttle bus with a bunch of random strangers until I get vaccinated (and other folks too). I don't trust leaving my vehicle overnight at Gardner, and it's too far from home to expect a friend to drop us off and pick us up - two hours of driving each way, for a total of eight hours of driving for whoever volunteers for that job. So that trip will have to wait until we get Covid under control here in Florida.

 

My GPS was not working properly, so I could not get a fix on our exact location during this last trip. Using previous GPS fixes to estimate, I would say we made it just short of Limestone Creek on the Google Earth map (going upstream). A pretty good paddle, but not nearly as far as I would like to go. Where we ended up looked secluded at first glance, but I did see spoil piles from other hunters, so it wasn't *that* far apparently. I really need to build a motor mount - I have a perfectly good trolling motor waiting to be used, but no way to mount it without doing some jerry-rigging which I still need to figure out.

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Bone Daddy said:

I used to ask people when I would see them, but I always got weird looks and some variation of - "The fossil what? Huh?" 

 

The one time I got a response, they thought I was talking about a Facebook group. I avoid FB like the plague because it is actively trying to kill off sites and forums like this one. Facebook is predatory and has wiped out countless independent forums. I don't encourage it's use. I flipped the script and acted like I didn't know what Facebook was. Got a weird look in return. LOL.

What is this Farcebook of which you speak? :shrug::P

 

When I meet novice collectors on the Peace River (as I did last time I was out) I usually help them to ID their finds. The guy last week had a nice myliobatid tooth plate with half a dozen pavement teeth articulated into a good size chunk of the upper tooth plate. I usually recommend that they do an internet search for "the fossil forum" and at least lurk for a bit. No telling how many follow through but I always feel it is my obligation to enlighten folks when the opportunity presents. :)

 

1 hour ago, Bone Daddy said:

I am not piling into a shuttle bus with a bunch of random strangers until I get vaccinated

Luckily, I'm a week away from my second vaccination after which I'll be a card-carrying member of the herd immunity community. ;) We have the luxury of going on weekdays. We did the Canoe Outpost bus ride up to Brownville Park on Tuesday and we were the only others on the bus aside from the driver. We saw a total of 4 other canoes all day long on the river. That's my idea of decent social distancing. :) I too would be leery of getting on a bus on a weekend morning with a mix of strangers who have differing ideas of pandemic protocols.

 

 

Be safe, be healthy, find fossils, post reports. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy
43 minutes ago, digit said:

What is this Farcebook of which you speak? :shrug::P

 

When I meet novice collectors on the Peace River (as I did last time I was out) I usually help them to ID their finds. The guy last week had a nice myliobatid tooth plate with half a dozen pavement teeth articulated into a good size chunk of the upper tooth plate. I usually recommend that they do an internet search for "the fossil forum" and at least lurk for a bit. No telling how many follow through but I always feel it is my obligation to enlighten folks when the opportunity presents. :)

 

Luckily, I'm a week away from my second vaccination after which I'll be a card-carrying member of the herd immunity community. ;) We have the luxury of going on weekdays. We did the Canoe Outpost bus ride up to Brownville Park on Tuesday and we were the only others on the bus aside from the driver. We saw a total of 4 other canoes all day long on the river. That's my idea of decent social distancing. :) I too would be leery of getting on a bus on a weekend morning with a mix of strangers who have differing ideas of pandemic protocols.

 

 

Be safe, be healthy, find fossils, post reports. ;)

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

Agree on all points. If we eventually do the shuttle thing, pandemic or not, it definitely won't be on the weekend. I try to avoid weekends at all costs. 

 

Here are the swag photos I promised. As I said before, it's all quantity and very little quality. But, that was our goal this time, so no complaints from me.

 

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Lots of bone bits (chunkasaurus). Some of the lighter-colored "blob-like" pieces are sandstone concretions that caught my wife's eye (not fossils).

 

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Second photo shows some larger chunkasaurus. Looks Pleistocene. Only a short list of critters have bones that make broken fragments that large. Mammoth, mastodon, giant ground sloth, etc. There's really no way to tell with most of them because they are very short on identifiable features.

 

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Third photo shows a little piece of mammoth tooth. Not that big, but at least it's identifiable, unlike most of my finds.

 

Last photo shows a big cat-litter bucket full of that micro-matrix hash. That will get searched in a few months when the river is too high.

 

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You must have been a vacuum cleaner salesman in a previous lifetime as it looks like you Hoovered that river spotlessly clean. :P Looks like you are loaded with fossil giveaways for a while.

 

9 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

Last photo shows a big cat-litter bucket full of that micro-matrix hash. That will get searched in a few months when the river is too high.

 

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I had to smirk at this as we use the very same cat litter buckets to remove excavated matrix at the Montbrook site. They have decent capacity, stack well, and have comfortable handles. We have a huge collection of these at the site and every volunteer grabs a couple to carry away the sand and clay matrix to the spoil pile throughout the day. Yesterday, I didn't make trips to the spoil pile as I was busy filling plastic sandbags which will be needed when we tarp and sandbag this site when we put it to bed over the rainy summer months. Filled 40+ sandbags and carried them up out of the pit--who needs a gym membership? :oO:

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

P4038267.jpg

 

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Bone Daddy
6 minutes ago, digit said:

You must have been a vacuum cleaner salesman in a previous lifetime as it looks like you Hoovered that river spotlessly clean. :P Looks like you are loaded with fossil giveaways for a while.

 

 

I had to smirk at this as we use the very same cat litter buckets to remove excavated matrix at the Montbrook site. They have decent capacity, stack well, and have comfortable handles. We have a huge collection of these at the site and every volunteer grabs a couple to carry away the sand and clay matrix to the spoil pile throughout the day. Yesterday, I didn't make trips to the spoil pile as I was busy filling plastic sandbags which will be needed when we tarp and sandbag this site when we put it to bed over the rainy summer months. Filled 40+ sandbags and carried them up out of the pit--who needs a gym membership? :oO:

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

P4038267.jpg

 

 

Yup, those yellow litter buckets are very handy. I use them to store all sorts of stuff. Like you said, they stack pretty well. The handle is nice and the molded-in hand holds are good too. I have a bunch of these in the garage stacked up and labeled with a black sharpie on the lid.

 

What is that partially-excavated object on the floor of the pit? (just under the bucket in the photo)

 

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1 hour ago, Bone Daddy said:

What is that partially-excavated object on the floor of the pit? (just under the bucket in the photo)

 

That's the partial (sadly) juvenile gomphothere jaw that we jacketed yesterday. We'll probably flip it and lug it out on Sunday.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Shellseeker

 

18 minutes ago, digit said:

That's the partial (sadly) juvenile gomphothere jaw that we jacketed yesterday. We'll probably flip it and lug it out on Sunday.

Cheers.  -Ken

I love gomph  :wub:

I do not think their world was all that friendly to newborns and juveniles.

IMG_5980.thumb.JPEG.ceb73471f53a0ada40b7b3131a06402c.JPEG

 

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I heard Richard Hulbert explain the presumed ecology of the site while out on the dig yesterday. We get some relatively intact articulated sections of gomph anatomy at the site. Many of the other mammals are just isolated bones and the thought is that these perished away from the river system (that seems to be what the site was 5 Ma). These isolated elements look to have washed into the river but the gomph bones are reasonably numerous and many are juveniles. The thought is that herds of these animals may have frequently crossed the river and some may have gotten mired in soft sands or sucking clay/mud and died on site. This would account for the larger number of juveniles at the site and the rarity of full size adults. Apparently, similar death demographics can be seen in elephants crossing water features in present day Africa. Interesting the presumed paleo-ecology and taphonomy than can be inferred from an accumulation of clues.

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy

Well, there goes the river for the next couple of weeks, if not longer (depending on whether we get more rain). It's jumped a foot and a half in the last 24 hours and it's not done rising.

 

Thanks rain. (*sarcasm*)

 

I'm glad we finally got out there when we did.

 

 

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Shellseeker
10 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

Well, there goes the river for the next couple of weeks, if not longer (depending on whether we get more rain). It's jumped a foot and a half in the last 24 hours and it's not done rising.

 

Thanks rain. (*sarcasm*)

 

I'm glad we finally got out there when we did.

 

One man's nightmare is another man's dream.  If I attempted what you are doing in this photo,  I would be in traction for a week..

BoneDaddy.JPG.4a5438c843400e7dfd8ef75a08deea7b.JPG

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Bone Daddy
Just now, Shellseeker said:

 

One man's nightmare is another man's dream.  If I attempted what you are doing in this photo,  I would be in traction for a week..

BoneDaddy.JPG.4a5438c843400e7dfd8ef75a08deea7b.JPG

 

I make it look easy don't I?  LOL.

 

My back is still hurting from that trip. Not quite traction, but I'm definitely paying a price for it. 

 

I bet that gravel bar is completely submerged now.

 

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I've a bad back to start and so I've learned that starting a diet of NSAIDs even before getting into the canoe and paddling down the Peace can mitigate the hours of recovery post trip. Tammy and I are volunteer digging at the Montbrook site twice a week which generally means a lot of sitting in oddly contorted poses (paleo-yoga) while digging in your grid square. Combine this with lugging cat litter buckets full of sandy clay matrix out to the spoil pile all through the day and it certainly makes up for not being able to go to the gym.

 

I've seen folks sifting on the Peace River bending over their sifting screens floating in the water or holding the back of the screen with one hand resting it against their waist as they pick through it. I wouldn't make it past lunchtime before my back insisted I cease and desist. I've learned early on to plant the shovel I'm digging with in the bottom while I shake the sand out of my sifting screen. I shake the gravel to the back of the screen and then prop the back edge on the end of the shovel handle. I can then easily support the front edge of the sifting screen with one hand while pushing the gravel around looking for fossils. Using the shovel handle as a support takes most of the weight and allows me to pick through the screen standing straight up to keep my back happy.

 

I've got a 3+ hour trip back from the Peace River and I know I've behaved if I don't need ropes and pulleys to drag my sorry carcass out of the car at the end of the trip. :oO::P

 

We've got maybe another month or so left in this season so rest-up and let's see what else we can pull out of the river.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy
36 minutes ago, digit said:

I've a bad back to start and so I've learned that starting a diet of NSAIDs even before getting into the canoe and paddling down the Peace can mitigate the hours of recovery post trip. Tammy and I are volunteer digging at the Montbrook site twice a week which generally means a lot of sitting in oddly contorted poses (paleo-yoga) while digging in your grid square. Combine this with lugging cat litter buckets full of sandy clay matrix out to the spoil pile all through the day and it certainly makes up for not being able to go to the gym.

 

I've seen folks sifting on the Peace River bending over their sifting screens floating in the water or holding the back of the screen with one hand resting it against their waist as they pick through it. I wouldn't make it past lunchtime before my back insisted I cease and desist. I've learned early on to plant the shovel I'm digging with in the bottom while I shake the sand out of my sifting screen. I shake the gravel to the back of the screen and then prop the back edge on the end of the shovel handle. I can then easily support the front edge of the sifting screen with one hand while pushing the gravel around looking for fossils. Using the shovel handle as a support takes most of the weight and allows me to pick through the screen standing straight up to keep my back happy.

 

I've got a 3+ hour trip back from the Peace River and I know I've behaved if I don't need ropes and pulleys to drag my sorry carcass out of the car at the end of the trip. :oO::P

 

We've got maybe another month or so left in this season so rest-up and let's see what else we can pull out of the river.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

I used to eat NSAIDs like candy in my thirties and now I have ulcers - not sure if the NSAIDs caused the ulcers, but they probably didn't help. Be careful with those. I load up on tylenol and CBD oil before hitting the river. The latter seems to help my pain more than the tylenol alone and the tandem of tylenol/CBD seems quite effective in my case. I would recommend it. It has no psychoactive properties, so you don't get "stoned" by taking it. The first couple of times I took it, it made me a little drowsy, but that was the only negative side effect that I noticed. Now, I don't notice any drowsiness, but downing a couple of Red Bulls after my coffee probably cancels that out. LOL.

 

I have used your shovel trick off and on for a few years now after first hearing about it in one of your posts a while back. It definitely helps. I am thinking of getting a folding TV tray (or something similar) to hold the sifter in place. My main problem is having to bend over to wash the gravel - I'm so darn tall that I practically have to double over if the water is low. I rarely sift in deep water, so the water level is usually calf or ankle deep where I am doing my washing. 

 

Getting old stinks. I don't recommend it. LOL.

 

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3 minutes ago, Bone Daddy said:

I'm so darn tall that I practically have to double over if the water is low. I rarely sift in deep water, so the water level is usually calf or ankle deep where I am doing my washing.

Yup. That is unavoidable when the water is low low low. Jack @Shellseeker won't even go out when the water is too low as he doesn't like bending over too far while sifting. He also goes out when the water is higher/faster than most folks will dare so he definitely has a different depth preference. ;)

 

Looks like the water is up around 4" at the Arcadia gauge (a bit downstream). I expect it to rise a bit more as the water pulse from recent rains works its way downstream. The river was actually a bit low for some of the normal spots (ankle deep as you mentioned). My deeper spots were well accessible with the low low water and I'm hoping they hold a bit longer before the end of season.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Bone Daddy
16 minutes ago, digit said:

Yup. That is unavoidable when the water is low low low. Jack @Shellseeker won't even go out when the water is too low as he doesn't like bending over too far while sifting. He also goes out when the water is higher/faster than most folks will dare so he definitely has a different depth preference. ;)

 

Looks like the water is up around 4" at the Arcadia gauge (a bit downstream). I expect it to rise a bit more as the water pulse from recent rains works its way downstream. The river was actually a bit low for some of the normal spots (ankle deep as you mentioned). My deeper spots were well accessible with the low low water and I'm hoping they hold a bit longer before the end of season.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

Yeah, Jack goes into deeper darker water than I prefer. But, he also finds better stuff on average than I do, so to the brave go the spoils. Before Josh moved to CO, he would push me out of my comfort zone and make me follow him into that deeper coffee water. Now, I am a little less brave because my wife is usually 50 yards away on the far bank taking photos of butterflies and birds. 

 

I had hoped to make it out there at least one more time before the season ends. My grandson wanted to go last time, but he had school. His birthday is coming up and we were going to let him play hooky and go out on the river with us. But now, it might be too high by then. As you said, that rain needs to drain out of the basin and into the river. It's not done rising yet and we have more rain in the forecast later this week. Let's keep our fingers crossed. This season has been a wet one.

 

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