Summertime Gold Panning
September 2016 by Chris RalphI have smaller pans for cleaning black sand concentrates, big pans for taking large samples, pans with corners for pouring out materials, and pans with lots of special riffles. This variation is why I have so many pans—they each have their specialty.
I woke up on Sunday morning, August 10, to heavy smoke. I saw where it was coming from, but it seemed like it was a long way off so I thought I was okay for the time being.
Every time we prospected here we found gold, sometimes some really coarse flakes, but no large nuggets (yet).
My plan was to go up the canyon along a ridge and then drop into the canyon whenever I came across a spot that might give me reasonable access.
Ground sluicing, surfacing and scratching are a few names given to the recovery of gold in shallow areas. Where I live, the hills are dotted with small surface diggings.
I couldn’t wait to get started. With no field budget, an assay budget of $100/year, a 1975-Ford Bronco that was a road hazard, a gas card, a topo map and full support of the director, I headed to the State Line district near Tie Siding along US Highway 287 to begin mapping kimberlite.
Nuggets make for the best memories and this patch was just adding to mine. In the hours of daylight I had left, I worked from that nugget to the bottom of the patch, collecting eight more nuggets.
Ditches almost always started in the high country and contoured the mountainsides, making a long drop, usually many miles away, to the goldfields. There are ditches in Trinity County that originate at seven and eight thousand feet in the Trinity Alps that carried water almost thirty miles.
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