McGrath Travel Blog

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Panning Colorado Creek

I curled warm in my flannel-lined sleeping bag for a good fifteen minutes after the generator fired up. Mark, the camp cook, would have coffee brewed by then. Camp food is always delicious and the breakfast of eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, and toast was a real treat - somehow tasting much better than in a home kitchen or an urban restaurant.


Once the geologists helicoptered into the hills for the day, I pulled a pair of tweezers and a dental pick from my toolbox and grabbed a plastic water bottle and my gold pan. With the eager anticipation of a big-time gambler strolling into a casino or a six-year-old on Christmas morning, I moseyed to the creek to see what I might uncover. The geologists  had suggested a good spot to do some panning. It was.


I had only panned for gold once before - on the beach in Nome in 1982 - where tiny specs barely visible had to be painstakingly probed from my pan.

About a quarter ounce of Alaska gold
But here on Colorado Creek, each and every pan of muck and gravel that I swished and swirled revealed small chunks and flakes, often by the dozen.Nuggets just large enough to hear plunk as I dropped them into the water bottle one by one provided a sound and thrill beyond description. 'Eureka!' 


I spent the entire day panning - through sun and drizzle . Gold fever gripped me and I ignored lunch, stopping just long enough to spray my cap, head, and arms with Cutters mosquito repellent. I thought of those early prospectors of the Great Alaska Gold Rush who discovered these sites without someone to point them in the right direction, a helicopter at their disposal, or the comforts of a modern day camp.

Probably the only thing that we shared in common is the thrill of seeing those fragments of Alaska gold sparkling in our well-used pans. From 1880 through the end of 2006, Alaska has produce a total of 39.4 million troy ounces of gold. That does not include the roughly quarter ounce that I found here today.


TRE69 says:
Dan were you able to keep the gold that you painstakingly panned for?
Posted on: Aug 05, 2008
alyssa_ob says:
Fun! At that rate, think of how much you'll have at the end of the summer!
Posted on: Jul 07, 2008
jenn79 says:
I've always wanted to try this! But a quarter ounce?! =( Hope you had some fun as well!
Posted on: Jul 06, 2008
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Panning Colorado Creek
Panning Colorado Creek
About a quarter ounce of Alaska go…
About a quarter ounce of Alaska g…
photo by: rotorhead85