Panning for Gold;
At the RV Park we are staying in there are a few work campers who don’t mind sharing what they like to do during their free time and so far they have freely donated a lot of their time. Ray and Linda is one couple who enjoys going into the desert and gold panning and they decided to share what they know. They ran a couple of panning clinics in the RV Park so that people would get the technique and feel of gold panning.
After running the clinics they went out into the desert scouring for a good place where we might be successful in finding some gold. The time and date was set so we met in front of the office to make sure we all ended up in the same place.
I think that they had only expected a couple of people to show, but 14-15 were eager and ready to make the trip. fortunately there were 6 trucks to help take us through the rough area. We couldn’t leave our dogs in the RV by themselves for that length of time so we took our car and managed to park it and catch a ride when it became too rough.
It was only a short drive from where we parked and all of us managed to squeeze into a truck. We gathered around for a quick briefing about what we should look for and told to pick our own spots. We all had brought 5 gallon buckets that we filled by screening the dirt we had dug through a screen with 1/4″ squares.We then carried the buckets over to the one central area. A bucket of desert dirt is heavier than a bucket of water.
We then ran the dirt in our buckets through a “dry washer”, The dry washer is attached to a leaf blower and when it is started it shakes the bigger material off and blows the dust off as well. the shaking causes the heavier material (Gold and black sand) to settle in the lower parts of the washer. This operation has reduced the quantity of material about 1/2 of a gold pan full.
There were 2 totes in the back of a truck filled approximately 3/4 full of water and a healthy squirt of dish soap. The dish soap helps break the surface tension and enables the gold and black sand to sink to the bottom of the pan with a series of shaking and washing motions. Two totes are used because the water in the first one gets dirty very quickly and as soon as you have done the majority of the panning then you can switch over to the cleaner tote.
By the time you have finished panning in the second tote all you have left will be the magnetite or black sand and gold. The gold is pretty easy to see at this point and can be picked out with tweezers.
Fortunately everyone on this outing ended up with lots of sun and fresh air, and at least a small amount of gold.
Many thanks to Ray and Linda for facilitating our first prospectors outing, and to John for helping out. We were able to do this as guests of Ray and Linda but if we want to go out on our own we would have to pay $45.00 to become club members to enable us to have access to the lands.
If this is something you feel you would like to do; I would recommend finding out what the regulations are in your area before proceeding.