Gold Is Where You Find It.

I think just about every kid who grew-up in the 60s and 70s watched any number of Western movies and television series, like Gunsmoke or Bonanza, that often depicted life in the Gold-Rush towns of the late 1800s.

The storylines of many episodes went something like this…

A miner works long hours in the hot, sunbaked mountains panning for gold nuggets in a slow flowing creek.  He discovers a lucrative spot and finds a small fortune.  The miner then packs-up his mule, with gold in a small felt-pouch of course and heads to the nearest town to cash-in his nuggets.  He then goes to the local saloon to drink way too much whiskey, loses most of his money playing-poker, and once sufficiently drunk he gets a hot bath from Miss Kitty and who knows what else.  After a few days in town, the miner is completely broke and heads back to the mountains to seek another small fortune!

The excitement of a miner with nothing one day, striking it rich the next, makes for a great story today just like it did 100 + years ago.  Who wouldn’t like to be hiking along a mountain stream, look down and find a gold nugget the size of a grape?

I remember those storylines well and have always wanted to try my hand at panning for gold!

Last week I spent a few days with my friend Stan panning for gold along Lynx Creek in Prescott, Arizona.  I certainly didn’t expect to find nuggets but I thought with a little luck, I may find some specks or flakes of the shiny stuff.  Lucky for me, Stan has been panning for gold for years!  He’s extremely knowledgeable and was kind enough to show me how it’s done.  After a few hours of instruction on proper panning technique, I was able to slowly work my way through a 5 gallon bucket of riverbed dirt and in the process found a dozen flakes of gold.  I didn’t exactly strike it rich but I had a great time and learned something new!  It’s not always about the money!  I spent a few days in the fresh mountain-air, surrounded by tall pines and listened to the sound of fresh water rushing over granite rocks… not a bad way to spend a few days!

Life Lesson:  After day two of panning, I asked Stan… how do you know the best place to find gold?  He said, “… there are numerous signs indicating where you are likely to find gold… but basically… gold is where you find it.”  Kind of like anything in life… you can find gold wherever you are, if you look hard enough!


Stan panning for gold!


Extracting the dirt and rocks and looking for gold!


After proper extraction, a few flakes of gold appear.


A few to the “tools” necessary to pan for gold sit on the rock, ready for action!




On a Slow Horse to Bagdad.

One of the best things about Prescott, Arizona and the surrounding area is that there are literally thousands of miles of trails for ATV and adventure-motorcycle enthusiast!  Anyone who has a dual-sport motorcycle will probably agree, the real fun begins beyond the pavement!  Just a few miles from downtown Prescott, the ponderosa pine-lined trails cut through the mountains in all directions, leading to places like Skull Valley and Bagdad!  Who can possibly pass-up a dusty trail ride to places with names like Skull Valley or Bagdad on a motorcycle?  A few days ago, my buddy Emilio and I hit the trails.  We were anxious to take advantage of the unseasonably awesome weather we have been having in central Arizona.  While much of the USA (hello Boston) is in the deep freeze… fortunately for me, Prescott has been beautiful the last few weeks!  It’s been sunny and in the high 60s during the day and at night the temps drop only into the mid-30s.  Pretty nice weather for this time of year!  Our ride destination was the mining town of Bagdad, Arizona.  Not because there is anything particularly noteworthy to do in Baghdad, but the route there goes through some really nice terrain!


On the trail to Camp Wood.


The horses of Camp Wood.


My horse meets the horses of Camp Wood!


The mountains surrounding the town of Bagdad, Arizona.

Our trip was a big-loop from Prescott, to Williamson Valley, through Camp Wood and on to Bagdad.  On the way back from Bagdad we passed through Kirkland and then briefly stopped in Skull Valley and over the mountains back to Prescott.  Our total milage was about 140 miles of which about 100 miles were on trails!  Just past the hunting lodge at Camp Wood, we encountered half a dozen, 100 yard stretches of trail with deep tire-ruts and thick muddy patches!  No problem, that’s what dual sport motorcycles were made for!  We only passed 2 trucks and one ATV during the entire 100 miles on trail and after about 4 hours in the saddle we returned safely to Prescott!

It was a great day of exploration indeed!