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The Fire Within - Prospecting Story


I cant remember the exact day, but I do remember I was 11 years old when my father Charlie Sr. took me prospecting for the first time. That’s the day the fire and passion for gold was first ignited in me. I was born and raised in Grand Forks B.C. and was lucky enough to have a gold bearing creek about 10 miles from our home.

We loaded up the gold pans and shovels and hopped in the old 1963 beige Mercury Comet (yep the road was good enough for a car), and headed for May Creek. It was my first trip up there, and I was pretty excited. I was out with my dad, and was looking forward to trying something new. When we got to the creek, we had to walk upstream about ¼ mile to get where the gold was. I was pretty much bewildered when we got there because there were 3 other “old timers” there, and they were digging up on the bank, and not in the creek? I had always thought that you had to get gold in the creek.

My dad introduced me to Old Al, Theissen, and Red. Each one of them had a much more elaborate setup than us (we only had pans, shovels, and whisk brooms), and they had sluice boxes, grizzlies, pumps, picks, screens and sieves of all kinds. One of the first things dad taught me was that you respect where someone else is digging, this was open ground, but once a person was in a hole, it was “his”.

We walked a little further up the creek, to where someone had stopped digging to dig our hole. Dad next explained that you get rid of overburden, this is the upper most layer of material that contains leaves, twigs, topsoil, moss roots and is not gravel like material. We dug down far enough for me to see the change in the material, and notice the rocks, sand and clay, this my dad said “is where the gold is”. We each filled our pans with the gold bearing gravel, and hiked it down to the creek to pan. Once we got there my dad explained and showed me how to pan. I was amazed at how the material seperated, and to see how large rocks would almost seem to “float” up out of the rest of the material where we could scrape them off, and get down to finer material. Im guessing that first pan took me at least 30 minutes, a sore back, cold hands, and wet feet to where I could look. When dad showed me how to swirl the material around to see what was in it, I was excited to see that he had yellow flakes and black sand in his pan. He then told me to try it, and when I did, I jumped, and screamed at the same time, I had 5 little nuggets in my material!! They were about the size of a match head, but when your 11 years old, and had never seen gold in a pan before they looked like tennis balls!

Since that first day, the passion for gold in me has never abated, and if anything it has grown a lot stronger. I have in the past 28 (wow) years since then, gotten a lot more involved with this hobby. I have been prospecting from Arizona to Alaska. I have panned for gold, dredged for gold, metal detected for gold, been in the bottom of a 100 foot water filled hole for gold, lived in a tent for 4 months for gold, started my own website about gold (www.motherlodegold.com) , and maybe most importantly of all, met and associated with hundreds of people about gold.

When people meet me for the first time, and I start telling them about this hobby, one of the first question I get asked is “how much money did you make?”, in response to that I always say “how much money did you make fishing this weekend, or hunting?” Its definitely NOT about making money, as any of you that are already into prospecting already know, but about the fire and passion this hobby creates. To paraphrase Jim Straight, “GOLD comes in many forms” in my opinion, stronger words couldn’t be said about this hobby. Next time you go out, think about taking your kid, the neighbors kid, or your nephew or niece, and lighting the fire in them, this will be more valuable than gold for you, in the years to come.

Dave is a wonderful contributor to the world of recreational prospecting. I count him as a friend and trusted source for all things related to natural gold. Dave can be found at motherlodegold.com and more recently at his new site: goldbay.com.

Test your panning with one of our gold concentrate bags. Loaded with gold it will allow you to practice at home before going out on the river. Great for hand panning practice too!


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