Many people spend heaps of cash on a regular schedule in an effort to strike it rich. Casinos, lottery games, scratch tickets all promise a better life once you’re an instant millionaire. The desire to be filthy rich isn’t a new concept, or a new dream. Since the days we placed value on tiny, metal disks, mankind has been in pursuit of wealth.
This past summer Q and I followed in the steps of the pioneers of the great Klondike gold rush. The largest the world had ever seen, would be prospectors migrated from all corners of the globe to this remote location in Canada’s most north-western territory. Most found little to nothing. Few actually hit the mother load.
Reaching Dawson City Yukon, we were eager to find some yellow rock! But to ensure we knew how to actually pan for the special mellow yellow, we headed out to Claim 33, where for a nominal fee they teach you how to pan, and you get to keep the gold you’re taught with as a souvenir.
Our teacher, which I can’t remember her name and I’m so mad I didn’t write it down, was amazing! Panning for gold is still active in her family and she showed us nuggets found by her husband in a nearby river. We were stoked to begin and sensing our excitement, she grabbed our pans filled with dirt and we headed out to a water trough set up on site. Now believe it or not, there is a technique which I was surprised to learn. Apparently gold is 19 times heavier than water. Who knew? When the pan is tilted slightly and dipped (not plunged) into the water, all the sand, gravel and rocks float away but the gold sticks to the pan like a magnet. If you tilt the pan too much or plunge to hard even the gold will eventually fall out.
Once we were certified gold prospectors we headed over to Claim #6, a Yukon government-owned claim where you can pan for free. The best part? If you actually find any gold you get to keep it. We had been told how the week prior a German tourist had found a $2000 gold nugget at this exact location. We’re still unsure whether the government planted it there to keep the tourists coming in droves or whether this particular lady had a horseshoe up her… well you get my point.
Q and I spent 4 hours digging and dipping and we were drenched. We started at the water’s edge, and as instructed with our back towards the flow of the river. We were told to be careful as these fasting moving rivers are frigid any time of year. By the end of the day our legs were submerged in the river and we were now sitting in any position that made us comfortable but was not necessarily beneficial to panning gold or keeping our self safe.
As cold and disappointing as it was (we never found any nugget, not even a spec of gold) we had great fun. Note, it is addictive though and in the silence I often wondered whether a bear would step around the corner, not aware we were there because we were quiet. So I was nervous as hell.
To visit Claim #33 and #6 take the famous Bonanza Road to approximately kilometre 10 for the first claim site and then follow down the same road to kilometre 18 to the latter destination.
~ True North Nomad
Have you been lucky enough to win a lottery? Have you ever panned for gold?
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