THERE were two classes of men who came to the North in quest of gold. The prospectors would set out for undeveloped creeks where, by panning the surface gravels or by sinking trial holes to the bedrock of the valley, they would sample the ground for evidence of valuable deposits. This prospecting might yield them occasional good-sized nuggets and a small quantity of fine gold, but in its net results it always cost, merely in food and equipment, far more than a man ever regained. It was only after rich ground was discovered by prospecting that the money-making activity, the mining which actually developed the ground, was possible. The natural course was for a man to be first a prospector and then a miner, but many of the latter waited until some one else had done the fatiguing prospecting. On the other hand there were those who abhorred the steady grind of mining, and preferred to be roaming the hills in quest of something just a little richer than any one had ever found before.
"This prospecting's a funny game," Albert Ness once told me while we were reclining after a strenuous day in a lonely little cabin on the upper Middle Fork. "You never can tell for sure whether you're at the edge of a fortune or just a sucker. Look at old Harper. He worked his bench for four years without getting hardly anything. He told Poss he was