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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Staycation- Gold panning at Crow Creek Mine

Today, we went out goldpanning at Crow Creek Mine.
The drive out to Girdwood has always seemed magic to me, as a child who loved epic fantasy and had too early an exposure to Tolkien, it formed a lot of the movie in my mind of the stories. Passing through the mountains wrapped in clouds and set with streaks of white snow, purple fireweed and green trees always seemed like just through the next set of mountains, you'd find Middle Earth or a fairy land. It's still like that to me. It was hard to get any good pictures because the sun was so bright though, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

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None of us found much gold, but it was a lot of fun. The sun was out. So were the big classic Alaska mosquitoes. I think I may have lost a couple lbs in blood loss. The creek was cold and we got to play in the mud. It's gorgeous out there. Leaving Anchorage, you pass by Indian Valley Mine to get to Girdwood where Crow Creek Mine is. Just keep going, pass it by. Because after a long drive down a very bumpy dirt road, you hit a slice of Alaskan heaven. Worth the blood price extorted by the mosquitoes. There are some structures that have been standing since the late 1800s, early 1900s. It's sort of like an amusement park, Alaska style. You can take the walking tour of the old structures, see the rusty implements used to plow, cook, etc. They are super friendly out there, and DO have a bottle of bug spray available if you didn't realize how bad it was going to be. You pay your 15 dollars, and learn how to pan gold, then they give you a gold pan, a bag of gravel seeded with specks of gold to practice with, a shovel to get your gravel and sand, and get told "Just walk down that trail to the creek." or you can use the panning shed if you just can't make the walk. The walk is not handicap friendly. I had some issues on it, but it's a gorgeous walk. Surrounded by forest walking a path edged with forget-me-nots and cow parsnip so tall that some stalks were literally curving over Mike's 6 feet plus height.

Shown at 100%, it's just cropped out of a larger image of lots more forget-me-nots
Before you leave the little Crow Creek settlement, you see a little pool of cold creek water off to one side filled with soda and a bucket that says 1.00 each. Honor system soda. Definitely not in the city now! The kids were charmed, and so was I, so I gave them a dollar each.
You get down to the creek, and there is a little pool of almost still water, and the rapidly running creek. Heaven. We did the practice stuff, and then got to getting spadefuls of dirt and panning. The sun was hot, the creek was cold, and somehow William kept his feet dry. The rest of us got soaked and dirty.

Paper clone me looking for a dry place to stand
It was a lot of fun. I'm talked to my dr. at my last check up to see how much of a danger melanomas were to me, and since it turns out "Not very." I skipped sunscreen and just soaked up the rays and the resulting freckles. I'm pretty sure I'll have a couple more after today.
After we decided my back just couldn't handle anymore and still make the walk back to the car, we left. We stopped in Girdwood proper for malted shakes and I picked up a hairfork made by a local artist and the kids got pretty fused glass stars to remember the day with. Then we started the drive back to town.

Shown at 25%, contact me if you want the full size version
You can email me at shala *at* donteatthepaste *dot* com.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you had a wonderful day, Shala. Too bad you didn't find much gold though. LOL


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