Gold panning is a very enjoyable hobby that can be done by all. However, like most hobbies, there are things that you can do to make it more enjoyable.
The following is a list of things that I have found to make my trips more enjoyable.
One of the most important things is mindset. Regardless of what you are doing, if you have a positive attitude you will enjoy it.
Gold panning can be very frustrating, but the experience is what you make of it. Gold is where gold is, meaning you can never predict where it is or why it will be there. When gold panning, you will have days when you make some excellent finds and you will have days when you find nothing — even in the same spot!
For me it is a matter of deciding before I leave that no matter what happens, I will enjoy the day. At the end of the day, my vial of gold may not be as full of gold as I would like, but it will be full of stories and fond memories. And that is more important than finding a sellable amount of gold.
Researching an area where you are going to be gold panning may be very valuable. The history of areas can be intriguing and may indicate things that you would not have been aware of.
The information does not have to be of lost treasures. Also important can be details of past mineral claims, geological history, and other people’s experiences there. Learning how the area was formed, where the gold may be coming from, and where it is normally found will increase your chances of finding more gold.
An interesting example of history in my area is a tiny hill in the plains that has mine shafts and claim markers on it. This hill is known as a glacial push, meaning that glaciers sheared off this piece of mountain and deposited it in the middle of nowhere. Without research into land usage in this area, I would never have known what it was and may have missed out on a gold strike.
To be successful, it really helps to know your equipment and what you are doing with it.
You could be standing on pay dirt and never know it because of poor gold panning technique. Do some research into what to do and what to look for when panning. If possible, try to venture out with someone who has found gold before, as their first hand knowledge will be extremely helpful.
Learn what type of rocks surround the river that you are on and what they mean. You may not be in a gold bearing area, but there could be rubies or emeralds.
Be prepared for anything. Have a small day-pack with you that has convenience items. I use a military spec load-bearing vest, because of all the pockets and clips for holding things.
Essential things that I always carry are as follows:
- Trail mix. Mine is made from dry roasted peanuts; hickory smoked peanuts, golden raisins and Smarties. Many times this snack has been an extremely welcome friend during a long day. Not as good as proper food, but will keep you going for the afternoon.
- Another really good food item is a candy bar. In the event that you get cold or experience low blood sugar, this is the key. The peanuts will give you some lasting energy and the chocolate will give you instant energy.
- Hand sanitizing is always a good idea. Many streams will have potentially harmful bacteria in it, so a healthy option for washing after using the bathroom or before eating. Sickness from impure water is very serious and this will reduce some of the risk.
- If you do a lot of hiking, you may wish to invest in a portable water filtering system. The one I have is a small system designed for filling water bottles. It removes 99% of contaminants and is small enough that it is ideal for any sort of out door adventuring.
- Toilet paper. Forgetting this is one mistake that you will only make once. Keep your toilet paper in a zip lock baggie, so that it stays dry along with a packet of matches. In the event of an emergency, you now have a source of fire.
- A small survival kit. Problems can arise and you should be prepared. If you plan on going out in the woods, it is a good idea to do a little research into field medicine. Hopefully you will never need it, but if some one is injured, it may be vital to know what to do.
The most important thing to keep in mind is common sense. You will not always find gold. On some days you will fall into the river. You will get rained upon.
But if you have a positive attitude, it will still be better than working.