It’s a new day and I’m starting a new blog category–one I have been planning for a while, actually. It’s gold hunting!
Ever since I moved to Fairplay, Colorado last November, I have been interested in finding gold. I mean, we’re not far from where they found Tom’s Baby, the 13 lb gold nugget, back in the gold fever days. So after I got here I dragged Gregg across every tailings pile we could find, looking for treasure. The search has definitely been one of learning by trial and error. Much of the information I’ve gleaned to date has been from piecing together obscure pieces of information as they come my way.
For example, I’ve read up on gold in every ancient gold hunting book I found in the house, and these are replete with antiquated and flavorful stories–like how to separate gold from other metals by hollowing out a cavity for it in a potato and baking it together with mercury to cause the gold to conglomerate. (Right, so we modern people don’t do it that way anymore because of the whole mercury poisoning thing.) And then, if you have a particularly pesky mother-in-law, the same book states, you can feed her the mercury potato. (Again, do NOT try this at home.) It’s a good thing for Gregg’s mom, I guess, that he and I are not married!
Anyhoo, my interest in gold hunting peaked and then waned, being replaced this spring and summer by my obsession with wild edible plants instead.
Until this afternoon, that is.
In the morning, Gregg and I headed down to Fairplay for the town’s annual Burro Days, which celebrates the treasured animal that got so many a miner through the long, hard, mining days not to mention cold nights as well. Each year they race burros up and back down Mosquito Pass, making a 30-mile trek peaking out at 13,500 feet, if I heard the announcer correctly. The race starts and ends back in Fairplay, which hosts an arts and crafts festival to entertain folks while they’re waiting for the burros’ and trail runners’ return.
After the race’s start, the burros having all galloped down the street and off into the mountains, Gregg and I sought out kettle corn and small donuts. Finding ourselves out of cash, however, we were starting to head home when we came upon the booth of the Gold Prospectors of Colorado. To my intense joy, they had a full imitation gold panning operation set up right there on the town green!
Many thanks go out to Ken for spending so much time teaching us how to pan gold in the trough they had set up. We learned how to swish the lighter material out of the pan, which was immersed in water, to get it down to the gold-containing black sands, and then how to separate the gold from that too. Gregg was better at it than me.
Ken showed us his gold collection and also the Desert Fox machine that he uses to separate his gold from the black sands. I wish I had taken pictures! I was envious of his stories of sitting out back, watching the game, swilling a beer while swishing the sands to collect enough gold to give each of his 13 grandkids a vial full of it.
Anyway, Ken made a good pitch for the Gold Prospectors of Colorado and Gregg and I are seriously considering joining. The annual rate for individuals is $25 or $35 for the family membership, and it includes access to the organization’s claims, not to mention the knowledge we stand to gain from the expertise of this crew!
I keep telling Gregg I think it would be a nice gesture if he were to gather enough gold to melt it into a piece of jewelery for me. Now, it looks like, he might get a chance to make good on that offer I offered for him to offer.