Recently I’ve been busy with work, and doing a boat load of research on another project I am working on that I hope to be able to talk about a little in the coming months more openly.  So it is no surprise, that when I get the chance to finally just head somewhere, I take it.

A couple of weeks back, my buddy Jeff started talking about Gold Panning in our Live Chat session on PNW Riders.

I was actually interested in the discussion, as I grew up always wanting to try it, but living in the desert with no abundant water source, nor really in an area that was ever known for gold, it just wasn’t feasible.

So, with that, I started asking Jeff questions about it, and decided to drop some coin on a gold pan and the other needed essentials such as a snuffer bottle and gold vial.

Actually, I ended up buying a complete Garrett Detectors gold panning kit off of Amazon for a killer price. In fact, so killer, that when I checked a week later, it had gone up 8 bucks. I think it was listed wrong, as it was a good 20 dollars cheaper than the next cheapest place I could find.

So 25 dollars for the kit, which included both a 14″ gold pan, as well as a 10.5″ gold pan, 2 vials, a snuffer bottle, classifier, tweezers, and a “How to find Gold” book, that covers more about using a gold detector than it really does about panning, nor does it tell me where the gold is, bummer, as I guess we’ll just have to figure this one out ourselves.

The kit shipped out quickly, and arrived a few short days later. It was at this point, that I really started to get excited.

I knew I needed a couple other things, so I hopped on over to a local hardware store and picked up myself a pair of rubber irrigation boots, as well as some rubber coated gloves to make sure my feet and hands remained dry while standing around panning in the cold mountain river.

A quick run to Harbor Freight to pick up a gardening trowel set for 5 bucks (included two difference sized trowels, a hand rake, and a picker jabber thing-a-ma-jig, and I was ready!

To round off the items I took with me, I put the panniers on my bike, loaded them with the above equipment, and some other miscellaneous equipment.

Since my camping weekend was canceled due to the area we had originally planed on going still being covered in about 3 feet of snow, I occupied my Saturday with WMRRA, helping out a few buddies at the races, while Jeff and I made plans to go out for a few hours on Sunday, as he had to be back in town around 1pm.

So we left his place at 7am in the morning, and rode up to the Cascades with all our needed gear pack away on our bikes.

Sunday, was supposed to be a nice day. Weather showed that it was supposed to be a clear morning without precipitation. We quickly learned that the weatherman was still a lier.

We ran into a bit of rain on our trek up the mountain, and eventually hit snow on the side of the road, than snow in the road.

We took our time to keep the bikes upright, and eventually the rain turned into a slight bit of snow coming down. It was rather pretty though, in its own sort of way, riding along with the snowflakes coming down.  While riding up, I remembered the year prior, on the camping trip we did in March, riding up the same road with snow coming down much more fierce.  Awww the memories.

We eventually came to the spot that Jeff had picked out the week before as our destination. We made it up there around 8:30 and proceeded to unpack our tools and put on our gear for the mornings experience.

A little history of the Northern Cascades.

Over  a century ago, this area was littered with small boom towns and mines for both Silver and Gold. Eventually, the amount of gold for the investment dwindled, and a lot of area’s were abandoned. Still today though, people still hold claims, and the area is littered with treasures to be found. Jeff and I, decided to start in an area known at one time to have gold. It seems reasonable, and this really is a hobby to kill some time, and hope for the excitement of finding something worth taking home.

One has to be careful where they decide to gather material, as you do not want to be caught on someones claim.  Checks with the BLM will verify if there are any pending or active claim on the spot you wish to set up on for the day, so you’ll want to do a bit of research prior to just heading out.

Our first bit of material we gathered we quickly went through. Jeff gathered the initial material, and we went down to the river bank and panned it away. Not giving us much of anything.

Our second attempt at getting material, Jeff worked in one area, while I concentrated on a small crevice.

The crevice, had been pushing up clay and dirt, so I thought with that, that material would eventually be pushed up with it from below.

Back down to the river to pan through our material we gathered.  Jeff said I was way more patient than he was with the material, I’m just learning to pan, so I will admit, I am very slow, taking my time.  I had spent the previous week watching a megaton of YouTube video’s on how to pan, and even mimicking the movements with my pan while watching them. Just to get the feel.

Taking my time, I panned the gravel out, settling what was left of the heavier material and started to slowly remove it from the black sand concentrate left.

Pulling back the black sand, revealed what we came up here for.

We had, during this entire time, lost track of time, and before long it was already noon, so we decided to take off. I quickly went through my last bit of material, and sucked up the remaining heavier bits with my snuffer bottle to finish out at home.

Once at home, it took me a couple of days to go through it. I transferred everything to my small 10.5″ pan, and panned it out over a large mixing bowl, and removed the black sand from the material with a magnet that I have that is from an old hard drive (these things are powerful!). I was happy with my take, and it was a great start to a new hobby to enjoy.

I will have to admit though, I learned a very important lesson a few days later.

While I had the gold sitting in the snuffer bottle, I decided one morning that I really should transfer it to my vial. That being said, while holding both the vial and the snuffer over the sink, I accidentally pushed the vial out of my finger tips with the snuffer bottle, dropping it into the garbage disposal.

I lost just over half of the material I had found from the previous Sunday into the garbage disposal.  I had to let the better part of logic talk myself out of ripping the garbage disposal out and trying to retrieve what was in it, as if I had manage to somehow break it, the cost of that far exceeded what little value I had in that vial.

I did fish the vial out, but I’m rather bummed about my stupidity.

I am very happy with the end result. Even if I didn’t find anything, I would have been happy, as it was just a fun experience.

I’m looking forward to more trips up into the mountains. Especially the exploration part of it, which I think is what will be a huge driving factor.  Trying to find a spot that we can pan at, and possibly claim in the future just sounds like a lot of fun to me.

It ended up being a great day. It made for lots of fun, and I enjoyed myself tremendously.

We are already discussing building a sluice box to help speed up our process. We want to build it, so we can make sure it will fit properly on our bikes. I also will be swiping the unused Metal Detector from my parents place, next time I am in Oregon, in hopes of putting it to good use.

 

A quick cell phone picture of what I brought home. It looks like a lot more than really is there. That is the bottom of a 10.5 inch pan, and it has some water over it, magnifying the contents.

 

Shiny Golden Stuff
Shiny Golden Stuff

 

Until Next Time!

Recently I’ve been busy with work, and doing a boat load of research on another project I am working on that I hope to be able to talk about a little in the coming months more openly.  So it is no surprise, that when I get the chance to finally just head somewhere, I take it.

A couple of weeks back, my buddy Jeff started talking about Gold Panning in our Live Chat session on PNW Riders.

I was actually interested in the discussion, as I grew up always wanting to try it, but living in the desert with no abundant water source, nor really in an area that was ever known for gold, it just wasn’t feasible.

So, with that, I started asking Jeff questions about it, and decided to drop some coin on a gold pan and the other needed essentials such as a snuffer bottle and gold vial.

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1 Comment

  1. May 16, 2011 at 5:32 PM — Reply

    Gold panning is a unique and interesting hobby. Looking forward to reading and hearing more about your adventures!

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