If you can’t find the gold where you are, go to the gold.
In addition to willing gold into existence on our own property, I’ve decided to drive to it; about sixty miles to a place called Sheep Creek. This in response to a phone call last week from a fellow prospector who suggested we camp and pan for the weekend.
I’m not giving up on my thought experiment of materializing gold out of dirt and rock here at home but I figured it was about time to increase our odds of finding the shiny and holy substance. The caller is a guy we met about a year ago who shares this mental illness called Gold Fever.
The fever causes one to become irrational and obsessed with either conjuring up the elusive metal through the use of chemical processes to spending hour after backbreaking hour in the sun sifting through bucket after bucket of gravel in search of even one tiny morsel of goodness.
Stricken with this disease, my husband and I gladly crammed the back of our Dodge Durango with every manner of implement designed to aid in the finding of the noble metal.
Classifiers of every size, sluices, buckets, shovels, picks, hammers, and as many containers as one can fit as you can never have too many. All of this plus everything but our cookware (my husband recalled later, putting it away on a shelf in the shed) went into the hatch and off we went.
After an unsuccessful exploratory expedition to find a new spot, we turned around about five-hundred feet shy of the Canadian border and headed for the sure-fire place for gold: Sheep Creek.
The creek is in the Colville National Forest and we found a good campsite for the first night. There wasn’t much time for panning so we set up and planned on heading out in the morning.
Several Sloppy Joes, ten cigarettes, and two UFO’s later we called it a night.
Worth mentioning is that on our way to find a suitable spot, we found a mine, or hole dug into solid rock along the road. It went about twenty feet in before dead-ending. We scraped some samples into some buckets (never enough containers), before continuing on.
The next morning we found a great spot near a rapids, moved camp downstream, and set to work. This is where all of those tools come in handy. Gold is heavy and you have to dig for it under very large rocks and in low-pressure zones in the water or where the water was at the high mark.
You have to ask yourself where gold would logically travel and fall out when being tumbled downstream. It tends to move along with the big stuff and settle with the heavy stuff so you look for those kinds of things and those locations and dig.
We are all amateurs but three sets of hands and brains is better than one. I jumped all over the place digging and sampling while the men found a good spot and kept at it for most of the time. They were rewarded for their efforts.
We spent the better part of the day and half of the next moving large boulders, scooping up buckets-full of sand and gravel and either running it through our sluices or hand-panning.
Our friend had the best of the luck, finding a nice wafer-shaped “picker” about three millimeters in diameter. My husband found some good ones and I managed to eek out a couple of specs with my fishing magnet.
If you throw a powerful magnet into the river, it picks up iron which in turn sometimes picks up gold with it. You separate it later.
By the last day, the fatigue was setting in and it was time to pack up and go. Our treasures were stored in one of the many many containers we’d brought to be separated from the black sands once we got home.
That night, our friend put away all of his camping and prospecting gear and sifted through his black sands to reveal his trophies.
Our car is still mostly loaded and we at least began the process of recovering our gold today. We got home day before yesterday.