Sunday, September 4, 2011

Gold in Maine!

Gold in Maine? What's that got to do with hiking? I don't know...

Hello hiker and non-hiker friends,

I got a bit off the beaten path with this topic, but I just had to say... there's GOLD in Maine!... and I found some! This week I made two trips to a local river, and tried my hand at learning to pan. I journeyed to New Portland, more specifically, I arrived at the "Wire Bridge", on the Carrabassett River. Now, let me just say... although I was hopeful to find a two ounce nugget, I knew I would be happy just panning some gravel down to the heavier "black sand". I don't know of anyone who has tried to pan there, and it is not listed as a place to find any gold in Maine. (The popular and productive place to hobby pan is the Swift River, up around Byron). Well, on my first outing, I had panned seven or so pans of gravel down to the black sand, and, in continuing to pan out, found no gold. I did find some nails, old glass, and strangely, a "jack", from the old game of "Jacks". I know... some of you are scratching your head... The game of Jacks consisted of a bunch of "jacks", and a ball. You bounced the ball, and scooped up the jacks... not as easy as you would think!

The next pan of gravel was slowly panned down to black sand, and once to that point, I worked it a bit longer. I decided that there was nothing in the pan other than dirt, when... a flash of gold! My first ever! Yeah, it was small, but...

I came home, proud as a peacock, proclaiming to my dear wife that I had struck gold. When she asked where it was, I said, "Right here! Look!". I had left it, all by itself, in the gold pan. She took a look, and said,"Where is it?!?"

...yeah, it was small!

Yet, the rewards of getting out there to pan were huge! The river, rough with large boulders that accent it's cascading waters, meanders down and around the mountains. Kind of reminds me of the Appalachian Trail in wet weather! The river bottom was very difficult to walk on, but the cool waters were so soothing to the feet. The gentle rushing of water relaxed me, as did the quiet beauty all around. Occasionally, a vehicle would cross over the spectacular Wire Bridge, stirring me back to some sense of here and now, and I would do a time check. I didn't really want to leave... scooping up another helping of dirt and a splash of water, I would start the gentle swishing/washing that complimented the rythms of my breathing...

The river drew me back today, and I spent a couple of happy afternoon hours standing in it, sampling small bits of it's gravels with my trowel and pan. No gold, but "lodes" of fun and relaxation! The only finds of the day were, again, as interesting to me as gold. Bits of blue glass that had been worn to a rough smoothness, some nice specimens of jasper that turn bright blood red when wet, and an old penny. LUCKY!!!

I think it does one's body,(and mind), well to occasionally stop doing, and start doing nothing. You likely won't make any money doing nothing, but it won't cost you a lot, either.

So... go hike a trail, or go hike a river. Watch your step, and look around, too! Not all treasures are made of gold...

May your pan be full of blessings!