Everyone seemed to understand the reasons why we love this area and why we have "gold fever". It's an illness that never goes away... a sickness with benefits.
Like the gold ring on a merry-go-round, you reach... you try... and there is always the possibility that you may find the prize in your hand.
But, the overriding question was.... Did you find any GOLD?
So without further delay, I bring you Gold Recovery 101.
One of my jobs is to sort through the pile of bigger gravel just in case there might be some HUGE nuggets (Hope springs eternal.) that couldn't get through the screens.
Nope, no nuggets. But you never know... you need to check everything and dump nothing.
We're not talking 1848 here, just before the Gold Rush, when you could reach down into the rivers and pick nuggets out of the water. The original dream is gone. The 2011 dream is to find a place that no one has been before (rare) and go down to the bedrock. Read the river for signs that tell you it's a good place. Then you take sample pans and see if there is any "color". This is very fine gold that might indicate more in that area. Then you do the hard work which can been made easier by investing in some good equipment. The Sluice box is the answer to hours of back breaking work with a gold pan. This article can explain what sluicing is and how it works.
The Prospector has connected two sluice boxes together to catch as much "fine" gold as possible.
He turns on the pump. The water flows down over the sluice boxes and into the metal trough. The water is then sucked back up into the pump and reused.
Gold is very heavy. I mean very, very heavy. It's 20 times heavier than water and you realize how heavy it is just by holding it in your hand. This is the best, quick assay of what's gold and what isn't.
Because gold is so heavy, it SINKS below the water fast and in a sluice box it gets caught in the riffles and the miner's moss (matting that traps and holds heavy values inside woven vinyl fibers) below the riffles.
Are you still awake?
Here's a small diversion to keep you from saying, "Why did I ever ask her if she found any gold?"
I walked over to him and started talking to him and rubbing his head. Then I said something like " Oh, Brownie. I just love you. You're such a good goat. I'm glad that you're still here with us.", etc, etc, etc. And I kept rubbing his head as I talked to him.
Well ,guess what he did?
He sniffed my face, as goats do.... and then he smiled.
He has mellowed so much. He use to be so annoyed all the time. Injustices were an everyday occurrences. But since his accident, he has become a sweet old goat that loves being paid attention to, especially when the other goats aren't around.
That was a smile and it was for me. I just know it.
OK! Back to finding the gold.
We stopped the pump and cleaned out the sluice box.
We pulled the riffled screen up and rolled the miner's moss into a pan filled with water. The fine gold will be in the fabric of the moss. You want to catch as much as possible.
They have not traveled very far. The roughness of each piece tells us that they haven't move over rocks and down streams very far because they are not rounded and worn. This is gold that indicates there may be more in that area.
I wish I could get closer so you could see how very beautiful this precious metal is. We would have never quit our jobs to do this but many did in 1849 and, with no work at all, in the depression of the 1930's. Some made fortunes. More folks went back home broke.
We are retired and this is a hobby. A SERIOUS hobby with a lot of "toys". We really enjoy gold panning, metal detecting and sometimes dredging, like fisherman love fishing and kayakers love kayaking.
The state has seen fit to stopped recreational dredging in this state. The Prospector is very angry about this. I will not get into a political discussion about our feelings on the subject. I won't even give you a link to information about it because I don't want to fire up an already touchy subject. I will only say that legislation of a dredging ban has been signed by the governor, without proof, and awaits a thorough environmental study. I want to see proof that dredging, on a small scale, does damage to spawning salmon and other wildlife. I'm waiting and I'm listening. But, I want the truth.
This is some of the gold we have worked for in the last week or so. It's not going to buy us more fencing or add on a room to our house but when I look at it I know that we worked hard for it and that it's out there for everyone.
It's a fine balance of personal freedom, recreation and a love of wilderness . A compromise will be made eventually... I hope. I don't know what else to say.
All of these things are starting to look endangered.
Maybe I've said enough.