Deep in the Forest, Remnants of Treasure

By Mahlon Kriebel

“Swirl, be aggressive. Swirl the pan counter-clockwise, the way a toilet flushes in the Northern Hemisphere. Give me the pan and I’ll show you again.” In calf-deep water of an old dredge pond near Warren, Wayne Schaffer bent over and vigorously rotated the pan underwater, causing a murky slurry of dirt, gravel, and sand to spill over the lip. “Gold particles are heavy and sink to the bottom,” he grunted as he raked the top two inches of gravel and sand from the pan. “Here,” he said, handing the pan back to Oliver Brown.

“Now shake and pull. Shake the pan hard from side to side just under the surface, then pull backwards to spill sand until there’s only about a cup remaining.” We had met Wayne the previous day in front of his summer tent site. He suggested if we wanted to take a break from fishing and pan for gold, he would teach us how.

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Mahlon Kriebel

About Mahlon Kriebel

Mahlon Kriebel was born and raised in Garfield, Washington and returned to the family farm on retirement. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Washington in zoology and general physiology, and studied and taught neuroscience for thirty-four years at the State University Health Science Center in Syracuse, New York. A recipient of the Alexander von Humboldt Prize, he studied at the Max Planck Institute in Germany and held visiting professorships here and abroad. A lifelong devotee of fishing, hiking and hunting, Mahlon now enjoys writing about nature for general readers.

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