........My wife and I took our vacation in beautiful Northern California, where we spent two weeks camping and gold dredging. It's a long drive from Indiana, about 2400 miles, but definitely worth it The farther you go West, the more scenic it becomes, with the desert canyons and snow capped Rockies. I always find it difficult to keep my eyes on the road while driving through such geological wonders. It seems as if every road cut has exposed veins of white quartz, I wish I had time to stop and prospect them all. Though we did manage to make a couple pit stops in the Nevada desert to collect obsidian and fire agate, but our time was limited, so we had to press on.
........Finally, after 40 hours of driving we arrived in Happy Camp, California, which is actually an old mining town from the gold rush days. I'm a member of a club out there called "The New 49ers" and they have many miles of claims in that area. The spot we decided to set up camp was on Indian Creek, A small tributary of the Klamath River. I had been there before and had seen some nice nuggets dredged up on that particular claim. We pitched our tent overlooking the creek, nestled among the large Ponderosa Pines and Douglas Firs. Then before dark, I unloaded my 4" dredge and tied it off out in the water.
........The next morning after breakfast I anxiously suited up and headed for the creek, eager to get started. I had picked a spot with shallow overburden and lots of really rough bedrock in about 3 feet of water. The creeks out there are very cold and crystal clear, underwater you can see 40 or more feet. Amazingly after only dredging for 15 minutes, I spotted a nice size nugget wedged in a bedrock crevice. I carefully dislodged it and brought it to the surface where it glistened in the morning sunlight. Wow, what an exciting feeling that is, but there was more to come! A short time later I rolled a large boulder out of the way and started sucking up material, when I spotted more gold! A 3.5 dwt nugget and several smaller pieces just laying there on the bedrock, it seemed too good to be true. By the end of that first day I had over 8 penny weight, almost half an ounce of nuggets. Without a doubt, my most exciting day of dredging ever, even if I had found no more gold, I would have been happy. But I did find more gold, though not as much as that first day. I ended up with over 24 penny weight, mostly in nuggets.
........The gold was certainly nice, but the real fun was in the adventure of it all. The warm pine scented air, the unbelievably clear night sky with thousands of tiny stars. Listening to the mountain lions in the evening while sitting by the camp fire. Sharing stories with other prospectors who come from all over the country and of course seeing their gold. We even took the long way home through the Giant Redwoods and up along the Oregon coast, a very scenic area! We stopped there and had fresh cooked giant Dungeness Crabs, some of which weigh 3 lbs. Then drove along the Columbia River on the Washington/Oregon border. Finally coming home through Idaho and the Badlands of South Dakota. I was ready to go back the day after we arrived at home, I can hardly wait for next year and another adventure in the unspoiled West.