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Hiking, camping, and panning trip: Advice?

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  • Hiking, camping, and panning trip: Advice?

    Hi all, I'm new. I signed up just to post this question and hopefully soak up some expertise.

    A friend and I might be able to take a short trip to Alaska this July. We want ideally to combine two things: wilderness camping (hiking/backpacking) and panning for gold. Granted there are no guarantees but we'd like to be able to offset at least a small part of the trip cost. And we'd like to be miles away from a single soul while we do it. Anywhere in Alaska would really work for us. Wilderness looks easy to find but I'm drawing a blank on where to look for gold since wherever it's reported it's because people are there getting it (hence no seclusion, obviously). Are there known but abandoned sites where at least a small amount of gold is present? Do people who know the territory much better than me have any hunches or inklings about "where they'd look," if they had to go looking? I would imagine that our chances of finding gold by plopping down on a random stream and commencing to swish are pretty slim.

    We'll only have around a week. We want ideally to be dropped off somewhere reasonably accessible (because we can't waste days or a fortune getting there) but on the edge of wilderness and spend maybe a day or so hiking further in, before finding a spot to camp and start panning. I know looking for gold will be the hard part and we might have to keep moving for a while till we find it. I'd just like to know we had a reasonable chance of finding some. If anybody has any advice or experience I'd love to hear it. I'm starting to worry this whole thing is a pipe dream.

  • #2
    You're right in that areas that were formerly worked or staked will likely have some gold remaining. Your search for an ideal place to start is confounded by two things:

    1) Gold is where you find it. Even within a given drainage the pay streaks are often so inconsistent that you can be in oz/yd pay on one side of a stream and mere color in the pan on the other side of the creek.

    2) Gold is a precious resource and information about it is even more precious. I anticipate that any information that is volunteered will be so general as to be all but useless. Folks are cagey about fishing holes, mum about hunting spots, and often hostile to inquiries about gold.

    Your trip sounds like it can be a lot of fun, but I think it will likely be more enjoyable if you dial back your expectations about getting enough gold to offset some costs. I would look at areas of state land in formerly active placer regions. There's a huge amount of info on the web, but the ARDF reports might be the most comprehensive. You can compare mining districts with historical production with the Alaska DNR online database with active mining claims.

    Another possibility might be to explore areas of federal land that withdrawn to staking. Old claims that have lapsed can't be restaked, so the land would be unencumbered by a claim. I'm pretty sure recreational panning would be allowed in most of those areas but you may want to check with the respective land managers to be certain.

    Links:

    ARDF reports are at http://ardf.wr.usgs.gov/

    Alaska Mapper: http://dnr.alaska.gov/MapAK/browser?set=map&id=1494

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    • #3
      Why only a week? It going to cost you a lot of money to come to Alaska, I've would spend no less than two weeks. Alaska is a big state not saying where you are going in Alaska. Would be like me asking the same question about going to the lower 48 states?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by MacGyver View Post
        Why only a week? It going to cost you a lot of money to come to Alaska, I've would spend no less than two weeks. Alaska is a big state not saying where you are going in Alaska. Would be like me asking the same question about going to the lower 48 states?
        Well, a week is the most I can possibly get off work at the moment (read these next couple years), so it's just one week or not at all. I have a pretty demanding job now BUT this is the first time in my life I could afford a trip to Alaska or really anywhere. Catch-22. As to where we're going, I'm still trying to figure that out. We'd be open to pretty much anywhere as long as we can camp and not see people. Panning for gold is something I always wanted to do. I'd hate to go Alaska, even for a week, and not try it.

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        • #5
          Makes sense, I figured as much. Those look like great sources though, when I have time to go over them. And yeah, we probably shouldn't have great expectations, but I'd like to know we have at least a decent chance of finding something -- or at least a plan. I'd hate to come back down here and tell people "Yeah, we went to Alaska and panned for gold -- and didn't get any." Especially for lack of proper research.

          What you posted looks like good place to start though. Thanks a bunch.

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          • #6
            Maybe you could drive out to McCarthy and hike around the Wrangles. Lots of old mines out in the national park there and open to panning.

            Look at the nps website for wrangle St Elias national park.


            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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            • #7
              You will likely only make less than $20,000.00 per week panning for GOLD.
              "Life Is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing" - Helen Keller

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              • #8
                I've rarely made more than 20K a week panning for gold... It's a tough gig! But I digress...

                If you realistically could make 20 bucks a day panning, that wouldn't be bad. I suggest you grab a gold bazooka and you could run a 300 times the gravel of a pan over the same amount of time. But it's an incredibly huge and hard amount of work. I do tours on my claims, and the most people last shoveling is about 2 hours. They usually pick up $10 to $40 in gold over that time, if 4 people are shoveling.

                If I knew a place (Besides my claims) where I could make any decent money with just a pan, I'd be there putting stakes in the ground!

                Good luck!
                Claude
                Experience Real Alaska! www.alpinecreeklodge.com

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by AK flyster View Post
                  Maybe you could drive out to McCarthy and hike around the Wrangles. Lots of old mines out in the national park there and open to panning.

                  Look at the nps website for wrangle St Elias national park.


                  Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
                  Looking at it now.
                  Much appreciated, thanks!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by denalihunter View Post
                    I've rarely made more than 20K a week panning for gold... It's a tough gig! But I digress...

                    If you realistically could make 20 bucks a day panning, that wouldn't be bad. I suggest you grab a gold bazooka and you could run a 300 times the gravel of a pan over the same amount of time. But it's an incredibly huge and hard amount of work. I do tours on my claims, and the most people last shoveling is about 2 hours. They usually pick up $10 to $40 in gold over that time, if 4 people are shoveling.

                    If I knew a place (Besides my claims) where I could make any decent money with just a pan, I'd be there putting stakes in the ground!

                    Good luck!
                    Claude
                    Well...maybe we should start working out now. But jokes aside, the gold bazooka looks fascinating. Maybe hard to transport though, if we do hike. I didn't know it existed.

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                    • #11
                      I assume you'll at least strap a small sluice box to your pack. Panning isn't a very efficient means of processing volume, even for the most deft of panners.

                      Edit: Well I went and actually looked at the Gold Bazooka and that's exactly what I was thinking. If you're in a spot that has some color, the only way to get any recoverable amount of gold is to process in volume. That means doing what Claude suggests, so I'd find a way to strap a bazooka or other sluice box to your packs.

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                      • #12
                        In this area, we have to stop dirt work on driveways and cabin sites, when the sun is bright. There is so much gold that the big nuggets blind the dozer operators.
                        "Life Is Either a Daring Adventure or Nothing" - Helen Keller

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ChugiakTinkerer View Post
                          I assume you'll at least strap a small sluice box to your pack. Panning isn't a very efficient means of processing volume, even for the most deft of panners.

                          Edit: Well I went and actually looked at the Gold Bazooka and that's exactly what I was thinking. If you're in a spot that has some color, the only way to get any recoverable amount of gold is to process in volume. That means doing what Claude suggests, so I'd find a way to strap a bazooka or other sluice box to your packs.
                          Duly noted, thanks

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                          • #14
                            Most places in Alaska that there is gold in any quantity is already claimed.

                            I'm sure I don't have to remind you that you don't want to get caught high-grading...
                            “Move that fat ass Henry!”
                            “Don’t swing your balls or you’ll swamp the boat!"

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                            • #15
                              You have never been to Hopeless there roads are pave with GOLD according to a local realtor. LOL

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