The New Beginnings Mining Claim
Custer County, Idaho
Part II - Claimed Ground
October 2009
Report by John Cornish

Last November, I wrote Part I of this merry little adventure (Click Here for Report). Since that time, there have been many changes in my life. Too many. Thankfully, even in the chaos, some things are still a satisfying comfort, as examples, my love for the out of doors, and the appreciation and joy I feel when hunting for and finding the natural treasures that surround me. This new mining claim, New Beginnings, is more than just a spot to dig, for me, it's a symbol representing better days ahead. A new beginning, a new chapter in a life worthy of living.

And one things for sure, this little chunk of ground out in the middle of nowhere, what a joy it's going to be! Many are the glorious treasures that are going to be found here and many are the smiles that are going to be shared. This mining claim, this paper, Part II, is all about appreciating the simple pleasures of the things we love.

During the days separating last November and September of this year, I'd been haunted by the idea that I'd made a terrible mistake by not claiming the ground we'd opened. As soon as I could, I planned on changing this very thing. And then one thing happened and another and time just sort of ceased to exist. After the Denver Show (Click Here for Report), when opportunity allowed, I jumped at the chance to get back to Challis to stake this newest claim.

It was a crazy time still, but it was time to get out and get back to the things I love. Joining me in this grand adventure would be returning good friends Fred and Amy Gribler, and joining us, my friend from Sequim, Washington, Al Zukofsky. This would be Al's first time in the Challis area and I was anticipating his arrival and the fun he was going to have. On site first were Fred and Amy. They brought their two dogs, Tully and Cedar and they'd very quickly met the neighbor's, 8 wild horses! There was antelope about and far off we could hear the night cries of the coyotes. They set up camp at a pre-arranged place and that's where I found them a day later when I pulled in.


Fred had already found treasure. Lots more of the same types of glorious goodies he'd found the year before, quartz this and that and calcite and some neat mordenite too. As I surveyed the accumulation he had framing the new pit he'd started, I couldn't help but smile that goofy lop-sided grin of mine. It was good to be back!




This was my fun day. I used it to survey the area, walking about taking mental notes. Since I'd arrived on a Sunday, tomorrow everything would get serious and I'd be making several trips to town and back, visiting the offices of the BLM. So today, I was walking the ground. Looking at the lay of the crystal bearing flow and figuring where I'd be claiming. Fred had a GPS unit and with it, we took some rudimentary coordinates, something to start with back at the BLM. I took the camera with me as I wandered and snapped off several photos. And then all too soon, the sun began to set and it was time to set up camp and get some dinner going. It'd been a wonderful sunny day and we were all looking forward to a sky a' twinkle with a million-trillion stars. Today was a good day and again I thought, it's nice to be back in Challis!

On Monday, Fred and I woke early as usual and set about our morning chores while Amy slept in. After a time, and a cup of cocoa or two, it was time for me to start the truck and head myself into town. While there, I'd also be doing my grocery shopping. My visit to the BLM went great and soon I was back on the road. Back at camp, Fred and I walked the ground and checked the coordinates offered by the BLM. They were close, but they needed a little tweaking. With that done, I was back on the road.

That meeting went as equally well and with the "final" coordinates in hand, I was making tracks soon thereafter back to the claim. There, once again, Fred and I set out to find the corners of my proposed newest property. With them located, and with them being acceptable, we marked the spots. Later, I'd make another trip back to these points and would dig in and plant the corner posts marking my claim. As I finished the last post, I felt immensely satisfied.


While in town, folk's had mentioned a storm coming in. I'd bought groceries for several days and very much hoped we'd get a break. Al hadn't even arrived yet and here everyone was telling me it was going to turn miserable with rain and snow. I kept my fingers crossed and made my last run of the evening back to camp.

As I got closer, I could tell someone had traveled before me. The gates I had to navigate had all been set back in a different position, with fingers crossed, I hoped I'd find Al in camp. Well, I didn't have to wait that long as soon after passing through the last gate, I spotted Al driving the road just ahead of me. Moments after he arrived, I crested the hill and dropped down into camp too.

We had a wonderful night Monday. We were all here safe and there was treasure back at the hole. I had my claim posts all set and tomorrow I'd finish the paperwork with both the BLM and the County to record my claim. But for now, with friends all around and Al whipping up some steak-vegetable fantasy concoction which smelled just way too good, life is good, heck, life is great! And the stars all glimmered in an ebony sky.

Tuesday and I'm up and ready for the day. There are a few clouds about, but nothing ominous... that was coming later!

The paperwork went real smooth in town and after a few hours, I had everything in hand and an envelope in the mail on its way to the BLM's main offices in Boise. Everything was going great, except now everyone was talking of the storm coming in. It sounded ugly!

Back at camp and a little paranoid, I had everyone break camp and move to another area. If the weather did come in, where we were currently, we'd all be stuck. The ground here about is extremely clay rich and with just the smallest amount of water becomes slick like ice. We had no choice but to move. So, in anticipation of things going bad, we all hauled our tools and treasure from the hill. This took several hours and multiple loads were hauled out by everyone.

With that accomplished, we set out for the new camp. Fred and Amy opted for a night in town and left at 8:00. At 8:10 the rain started. At 8:05 Al and I had sat down to dinner. As we ate, the rain steadily built up. It was completely black outside and everything left out was soaked. With each chew I fretted our leaving.

But, lazy and satisfied with a warm full belly and a dry bedroll, I made a bad call. I decided to stay...

That evening the rain ramped up and then when the temperatures dropped, it first started to intensely hail and then later, the snow came. By morning, everything was frozen and the wind was frigid. What had I done?! I woke Al and together, we started breaking down our respective camps. In that wind, every moment outside was a misery. Both of us started our rigs, hoping desperately for any heat we could coax out of our heaters. Soon or a lifetime later, we were ready. Al slipped the clutch in, slowly released it and promptly started to spin his tires. I know a worried look instantly appeared on both our faces.

Our drive out wasn't long, but it was slightly down hill and for fun, the road was slightly canted into a truck swallowing ditch. These next moments would be critical. In the howling freezing wind, Al set the wheels straight and started again, this time gaining a bit of ground. His tires spinning, he began his trip out. Al in his full size 2-wheel drive did great. He was swinging wildly to the left and then to the right as he made his way towards the first gate out and was doing o.k. Then a second later, fast as you please, he was sliding off the road towards the ditch. Just gracefully sliding towards disaster. If he went too far, we were totally screwed, it wouldn't be until the ground dried that we'd be able to get him out. And then, thankfully, he hung up on a wall of sage and there came to a rest, back tires solid against the sage. As this was happening, back up the road a spell in my truck, I knew things were bad. I turned off the engine and exited figuring I could try to push/assist him. I'd made my way almost to the truck when it thundered back to life and Al gave 'er another go. The tires were spinning, but they were also gripping just enough of the sage that he was able to slowly make forward progress back onto the road and then swinging and swaying his way from right to left, he just kept going until eventually he moved out of sight. I was ecstatic! We'd really escaped the reaper that time and then it dawned on me, I still had to get through!

It was slick boy, let me tell you, and I can't thank my lil ol' S-10 enough for getting me out of there, for getting me out safe! Side to side, swinging and swaying and then there was Al waiting at the gate. We'd made it! Oh, we still had another mile or so to go, but thank goodness this was all on flat ground! Minutes later we were through the gate and then soon thereafter we were on our way to town, chunks and clods of mud flying free of our tires and fenders as we gained speed on the highway.

We were lucky this time. I'd really made a bad call and we'd gotten lucky. As we chowed down a hot breakfast in town, I thanked my lucky stars that things had gone so well.

And so, just like that our trip came to an end. I'd had just the exact amount of time I'd needed to stake the claim and not hardly a second more. It was enough.

As I headed back to Washington, I had lots of time to think and while intense (as usual), everything had worked out and everyone had a great time. A claim was staked and crystals were found and as friends, we did it all together.

As I drove, if you'd have seen me, you'd have noticed me driving with a silly lop-sided grin.

If I did have a negative to report regarding this adventure, it would be that I took way to few pictures of the pockets and the crystals that were found, I just wasn't there, always off running. Don't worry though, I know I'll soon be back and you know me, soon thereafter there'll be another paper following!

Thanks for coming along and sharing in the fun.

Be true and be kind.
All the very best,