Either from watching ‘Yukon Gold‘ or plain boredom we decided to head out to Hope to try our hand at gold panning. Lucky for us our our now, antique goldpan was still safely stored with some camping gear and had not been thrown on the scrap heap. The only other equipment required was a small garden trowel for digging plus pack a lunch. The British Columbia government has kindly set aside a kilometre and a half stretch of the Fraser River in Hope for recreational gold panning, which means you get to keep all the gold you find but are restricted to a pan and shovel as your only tools. No backhoes or giant sluice boxes allowed. With the spring high water there was a limited shore area and being on the south side of the river out of the sun, it was still rather cool so we packed up and headed for Yale, a further 24 kilometres upstream.
Perfect. Another recreational panning reserve on the north side fully bathed in sun and a 50 foot wide beach of sand, gravel and boulders to find paydirt. Then just a simple matter of digging up some material from behind a boulder, chucking it in the pan, heading down to the water and trying to remember how to properly swirl everything around to find the good stuff. And there we remained for four hours, happily taking turns trying our luck with about fourteen pan fulls, enjoying the sun, the warm weather and the sound of the rushing water.
Alas, the pickings were slim. No shrieks of joy pulling out shiny nuggets. We did get black sand concentrate in every pan with a few flecks of flour gold – not worth picking out – plus a lot of millimetre sized garnets. While we were there a couple of tourists with a brand spanking new goldpan came over to ask if they could watch and learn. So Jan gave them some quick pointers and they busily spent a couple of hours using their pristine pan.
Not that I’ve caught gold fever but back at home I did read up on methods to recover fine gold from concentrate. Who knows?