The hidden years in Canada 81, Blinkin' gold

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 02 July 08:58

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Blinkin’ gold.

The road out of the village towards Deadhorse Creek was a bumpy path and ended in a playground at the banks of the stream. Left and right were some picnic tables. The bushes went right down to the water and it was clear that if you would like to follow the river, that at times you would have to wade through the water. The old Pontiac was parked as close as possible to the shore. Some cans went into Rico’s backpack and Don and I each, took one pan. There we were next to the rippling water. I felt a little foolish. Why would we find gold by just  panning a bit in a place where thousands of people had barbequed? The water was not deep and fast flowing over a bed of pebbles in all sizes that covered the riverbed, it was crystal clear. We got to the bank and in no time we were wading through the water.

In the middle was an island, actually more of a sandbank with some vegetation and I walked over there and sat there. Where should we start? Bev sat down,next to me and I thought of another island in the Bow River long ago where we had been ‘baptized’ into a unit, it looked thousands of years ago. ‘There big boy,’ she said, ‘what are we going to do?’ ‘I have no idea Bev,’ I replied, ‘we are here and I was so looking forward to it, that I had thought that the main objective would be to come here and that we would just go panning, but it doesn’t seem sensible anymore. You have to start somewhere but I do not know where. ‘ Bev raised her hand and beckoned the other two prospectors. ‘This way boys, let’s get together, it's time for a conclave.’ ‘Where do we start?’ I asked when we sat side by side and which way do we go downstream or against the flow?

‘What do you think boys,’ Bev said with a laughter that women who have when they have information which they may or may not share. Richard shrugged, ‘does not matter I guess we just have to start.’ Don also looked around in silence. ‘Give the pan over here,’ said Bev, ‘and I'll show you something. I spent some time sitting in the school library to understand a few basic things about gold panning. ‘ What do you notice about this pan, she asked Don. She obviously knew something we did not know and enjoyed the moment. ‘It is a pan,’ said Don. Subconsciously, I had to chuckle. ‘Wow,’ Richard said, ‘now we know everything.’ ‘You say it Richard,’ continued Bev. Richard looked at the pan carefully. 'There are grooves in the rim, three grooves and they do not go around, running until mid-periphery. ‘ ‘Yes,’ Don said, ‘I saw that too.’ ‘But we did not hear you,’ I said.

‘That's the front bit of the pan,’ said Bev. ‘Did you know that gold is nine times heavier than water?’ No, I thought how could we know? ‘The heavier compounds linger in the grooves, while the water has washed past, a bit like the tides on the beach. Without you all wondering where we're going to pan, you should keep yourself busy first with how to pan. Gold does not float on water, it is carried along just like cuttings of rocks and gravel and so on. Then drop off at quiet places in the river or where it comes to a barrier, for example a few larger pebbles. It sinks into fine sand which you call silt. ‘ I just started to give Bev an outing of admiration when it was my turn to answer a question. ‘What,’ she asked me, 'do you have to do to find gold as we know it settles and does not float? ‘

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‘First make an attempt where the river lays deposits down. ' ‘That's brilliant young Daniel,’ she said, imitating our former teacher in historical literature, ‘Look around yourself and name some of those places.’ I saw the creek bend and squirm and I understood what Bev had meant. ‘Just before and in that bend and not in the outflow, of the curve.’ ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘Look around you, all of you, name a few places.’ ‘Uh, in that flow acceleration,’ Richard said, ‘there is a natural edge of large stones and behind it is a kind of pan-shaped depth. You should of course take out a shovel and then rinse the pan. ‘ ‘Yes,’ said Bev 'and now Don, do you see anything? ‘ He said, ‘I see a lot of places now but I just remembered something that might be interesting.’ ‘Why do not you just say what you've read,’ I asked Bev? ‘Because,’ Bev said, ‘we are all thinking and are working on the issue. Enlighten  us young Don, what's your revelation so it may not escape us, ‘laughed Bev, with the almost perfect imitation of our sarcastic former teacher.

‘Yeah,’ began Don, ‘for what it's worth.’ ‘There are quite a few mountains around us and I can imagine that when the snow melts in the spring a lot of melt water runs off to the creek, if there is gold in it, then it slips away on the banks of the retired and swollen river. ‘ ‘Phew,’ Richard said, ‘it's almost hopeless task, looking here and looking there and in reality it is quite possible that the gold dust or nuggets were rinsed of a mountain range.’ ‘What do we learn from this,’ laughed Bev, ‘we are almost there..who knows may speak.’ It remained silent. 'Say it Bev, you have our attention, ‘I said,' we're eager to get started.’ ‘The location of gold dust or nuggets is never or almost never the place of origin. What you find has traveled and has stuck by the gravity or was beaten down. For example, at waterfalls. ‘ You don’t have those here, ‘said Don surprised? ‘No, Don,’ Bev said, ‘I've read about it under the waterfall is a worn cavity where heavy metals gather. It was an example. ‘

‘So if you just want to find some gold particles, for fun, then it applies to all of the above, but if your goal is to amass wealth then you can pan 100 years without having reached that goal.’ ‘Gosh, Bev,’ I said sincerely, ‘I'm glad you've held us back, it saves us a lot of work. How do you find that vein, then, that place of origin? ‘ ‘You find the concentration,’ said Bev, ‘it flushes loose hey, the vein crumbles so if you still have more gold particles in your pan and you walk another 100 meters higher up the river and you will find no more, then the place from origin lies, between the last panning and 100 meters. Then you walk back and your pan till you have the place where gold particles come into your pan. Then you minimize the distances to investigate and hit a claim which covers it al widely.'

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‘By thinking fifteen minutes and listening you have acquired a life of panning experience,’ said Bev. ‘Now the demonstration.’ She stepped into the water and we gathered around her. ‘You take a scoop of silt from the bottom,’ she said. ‘The big pebbles you get out by hand. It is a mistake to make a circular motion, that's the last thing you're doing. First let some water flow into the pan and spill out again, the ebb and flood hey, pans eh? Anything heavier than water how microscopic therefore  now lies in the grooves. Then finally, the circular motion and what was in the groove now spreads neatly on the bottom and you can see if there is something in between that shimmers.?

‘Hey,’ Don cried with sparkling eyes there and he pointed to the pan. The sunlight had hit something which blinked. Gold Fever, I thought.

San Daniel 2015

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