My mining partner and I were working our placer claim on Sharps Creek this past weekend and had an experience that I would like to share with fellow miners. It could have been a dangerous experience but turned out to be a really good scare instead.
We had just finished our run for the day and were doing the clean-up and equipment breakdown...getting ready to head to town to get something to eat. We had about a quarter bucket of cons to quick-pan and my partner was doing that while I broke down the equipment to pack up to the vehicles. He was sitting on a larger rock, around mid-creek with his back to the hillside and I had just walked over to him to see the fruits of our labor for the day.
All of a sudden, we heard an extremely loud CRACK and the sound of breaking tree limbs and brush being crushed that was coming from up on the hillside. Our eyes got bigger as we watched a very large tree heading right towards us, cleaning off branches from the surrounding trees and throwing the debris everywhere as it fell towards us and the creek. It happened so fast that we were lucky that the falling tree glanced off a couple of larger fir trees, deflecting it's downhill path about 10-15 feet upstream from where we were working. When the tree finally hit the creekbed, the top literally exploded throwing chunks of bark, tree limbs, rocks and water in every direction.....the sound of it breaking up rattled the shirts we were wearing.
What caused the tree to suddenly snap? Who knows.....but it did. I'm just thankful that our engins were shut down and we heard the crack....Be alert when on the creek....the water and slick rocks are not the only things you need to be wary of........BE SAFE!