The Rocker Box Blog Archive

Make the Best Use of Winter – Part 3

 

My 2-cents

 

I like to think of myself as a “Spontaneous” person. I like the adventure of getting into the pickup, and taking off in a cardinal direction and see where I end up. I’m well known as the “King of the Backroads,” and I have no problem in taking a road I’ve never been on before just to see where it goes. I learn a lot about an area that way, and it has saved me countless hours of sitting in interstate car parks. But, when it comes to traveling with a specific intent in mind (say…looking for a river with a good probability of gold in it just waiting for my arrival), I tend to be a lot less spontaneous and a lot more organized. When it comes to my enjoyment of gold prospecting or treasure hunting, the less wasted time I have the better I like it. I can reduce unforeseen issues, problems, and pitfalls to near zero by doing a good “risk analysis and trip planning” process, and winter is a great time to do it. Today, we’ll concentrate on Risk Analysis.

 

Risk Analysis? What’s that?

 

There’s an old Murphy’s Law that says, “What can go wrong, will go wrong.” I cannot tell you how true that is. Inclement weather, broken shovel handles, dead batteries, torn tents, water soaked clothing, and the list goes on and on, and I’ve come to the very philosophical conclusion that I cannot stop Murphy from wielding his ugly head, but I can do what I can to minimize his effects.

 

Simply put, Risk Analysis is looking at a future situation or activity, “analyzing it” for possible issues, problems, and pitfalls, and preparing for them by prior preparations, adjusting my plan, providing a backup, or otherwise preparing for that occurance. In other words, play the "What if" game, and mitigate a possible bad outcome by preparing for it.

Here’s an example. After retiring (the first time), I took a summer trip to Northern California to dredge for gold in the Klamath River. I had a truck load of “stuff” for camping, and a utility trailer of “stuff” for dredging. I had tents, cots, tarps, tables, food, kitchen sets, chairs, clothing, even a portable shower. Throw in all the gear needed for dredging and prospecting, and add to that a portable generator, gas, oil, tools…you get the idea. I was ready for anything. Anything, that is, except for the one thing I hadn’t planned for. I’ve had my utility trailer for years. It has served me very well in hauling…good stuff to junk. For this trip, I replaced the tongue jack, greased the bearings, checked the wiring, and checked the air in the tires. I did everything, except making sure I had a spare tire. Guess what happened. Yep…a flat tire and no spare. I spent years dragging this trailer around and never had a flat. But this trip, Murphy reached down and touched my trailer, and down the tire went. Had I done a proper Risk Analysis, I would have prepared for the possibility, and if not wanting to carry a spare tire, at least have a can of fix-a-flat.

 
Risk Analysis can be a time-consuming process if you’ve never done it before. After a little experience, it becomes second nature and takes very little time, but is so important. Let’s look at an average treasure hunting day-trip, and divide it into three or four segments or phases.

 

Phase 1: Travel to location
Phase 2: Activities at location
Phase 3: Return from location

 

Phase 1 is just traveling from home to wherever you want to hunt at. You’re going by vehicle, so let’s look at that first:

 

Risk: Vehicle breaks down because of improper maintenance. Mitigation: Make sure vehicle has been properly serviced in at least the following areas: oil and oil filter change; air filter; fuel filter; battery charge; coolant; windshield wipers and washer fluid; power steering fluid; brakes and brake fluid. Have a roadside emergency kit onboard that has warning markers, jumper cables, and other items to assist “if” a breakdown occurs.

 

Risk: Flat tire. Mitigation: Check all tires for tread wear and proper pressure. Check to make sure the spare is present, in good condition, and properly inflated. Check to make sure a jack, handle, tire iron, and other tire changing needs are present and adequate, and I know how to use them. As a backup, carry a can of fix-a-flat.

 

Risk: Run out of gas. Mitigation: Ensure the gas tank is topped-off prior to beginning travel. If necessary, top-off again prior to final drive to the location (especially if off primary roads). If necessary, carry a spare fuel can that has been topped-off and treated with fuel stabilizer for emergency use.

 

OK…base on our Risk Analysis and measures we’ve taken to minimize the impact ‘if” any of those risks occur, we should be good-to-go in getting to our hunting location.

 

Phase 2 activities are ‘analyzed” in the same manner. I’ll give a few examples, but I won’t go through a complete list.

 

Risk: Dead metal detector batteries. Mitigation: Load metal detector with fresh batteries prior to departure. Carry a spare set.

 

Risk: Rain. Mitigation: Carry rain suit, hat, poncho and other rain protection. If walking a distance from the vehicle, have it packed in a knapsack that I carry. Ensure I have rain protection for my metal detector, radio, cell phone, and other electronics or other items that might be damaged by rain.

 

Risk: Injury (leg, ankle, foot, back, shoulder, whatever). Mitigation: Carry first aid kit for minor cuts, scrapes, bruises. Carry small instant ice pack/heat pad with a means to “strap” it onto injured part. Provide travel plan/itinerary to friend/relative. Have “contact plan” for friend/relative in case of emergency. Pre-program numbers into phone or have contact channels/frequencies preprogrammed into radio. Test the “contact plan” prior to departure (or entrance into remote area).

 

Risk: Get lost/disoriented. Mitigation: Carry survival kit and know how to use the contents. Carry sufficient rations/water for a night. Carry poncho liner and poncho for warmth. Carry small flashlight for light and signaling. Exercise “Contact Plan.”

 

There are many more Risks that could occur on location on our trip, but you get the idea.

 

Phase 3 is pretty much Phase 1 in reverse, unless there are other specifics involved. We’ll just say ours is simply returning home.

 

Risk: Vehicle breaks down because of improper maintenance. Mitigation: Make sure vehicle has been properly serviced in at least the following areas: oil and oil filter change; air filter; fuel filter; battery charge; coolant; windshield wipers and washer fluid; power steering fluid; brakes and brake fluid. Have a roadside emergency kit onboard that has warning markers, jumper cables, and other items to assist “if” a breakdown occurs.

 

Risk: Flat tire. Mitigation: Check all tires for tread wear and proper pressure. Check to make sure spare is present, in good condition, and properly inflated. Check to make sure jack, handle, tire iron, and other tire changing needs are present and adequate, and I know how to use them. As a backup, carry a can of fix-a-flat.

 

Risk: Run out of gas. Mitigation: Ensure gas tank topped-off prior to beginning travel. If necessary, carry spare fuel can that has been topped-off and treated with fuel stabilizer for emergency use.

 

Make sure that any supplies you used during the other phases of the trip are replenished locally before beginning travel (i.e., fix-a-flat, feul, etc).

 

Well, there you have it. A good Risk Analysis that we’ve done on our next treasure hunting trip. If any of the risks occur, we are prepared to respond to it in a way that it doesn’t completely ruin our trip 9unless of course it ends in a rescue…but that’s another story).

 

Winter is a great time to do this. Some of the mitigation takes just a trip to the store, but others may take some time in getting the vehicle serviced, acquiring equipment and supplies, or learning how to properly use them. Don’t spend valuable treasure hunting time doing that which can be done “off season.” Do it in winter and enjoy the hunt.

 

Here's a few references and items to help you along the way.

 

Camping & Wilderness Survival        Snake Guards   GOAL ZERO Venture 30 Solar Kit   WISE Food Co. 5-Day 64-Piece Survival BackPack

 

Full Disclosure: The supplies, equipment, tips, techniques, and procedures I recommend are based on my evaluation and experience. I link items I recommend to companies I have an affiliate agreement with (or to The Rocker Box Catalog) from which I receive a small percentage of sales if sales are made during your visit to their website. The recommendations are mine, and mine alone. I use any proceeds to pay for The Rocker Box website, and to generate future articles and activities. I thank you in advance for your patronage and support to further the great recreations, hobbies, and vocations of treasure hunting, gold prospecting, metal detecting, ghost town hunting, and rock hounding.


30-Second Bio: I am a retired soldier of the US Army Special Forces (aka Green Berets),The Author: Mark Prewitt serving for over 25 years. My specialties were communications, medicine, operations and intelligence, with extensive cross training in weapons and demolitions. I was a paratrooper, jumpmaster, combat diver, combat dive supervisor, combat dive medic, sniper, and pathfinder. I’ve been deployed countless times to locations on four continents, and have participated in operations in open water, riverine, jungle, mountain, desert, arctic, and urban environments…but I’ve been a “treasure Hunter” since I was eight. The End.