Tribune: Eureka 2.0!

If you’re already making plans for your summer vacation, here’s something to add to the mix: gold prospecting in California’s El Dorado County. Talk about some real and raw fun! You’ll be taking advantage of what’s known as “Gold Rush 2.0,” which is a result of the unusually wet winter and deep snowpack that brings cascading water and all the materials, like gold, that come with it. According to Mark Dayton, a metal detector expert, “It’s one of those 100-years events … material [gold] is being ripped literally right off the walls of the creeks as they reshape themselves.”1 Yikes! Maybe we can all go on vacation AND make money too!

But hold on, this is California, so there are a lot of regulations specific to different regions. For example, some areas only allow for panning – or hands-and-pans – which means you can’t use a shovel to dig. At state parks, you’re only allowed to gather up to 15 pounds of mineral material per day, which can’t be sold or used commercially for profit (so much for making money). There’s also sniping and sluicing. Sniping involves lying down in a creek bed and prying gold out from the bedrock (this qualifies as working on your vacation, which is a big no; also, the water is probably freezing because it’s from the snowpack; a tropical beach vacation is sounding better).

Prospectors can stake a claim on public lands, however, but before doing so, they must check for prior claims and abide by the “Detecting Mining Code of Ethics.” Uh-oh, due diligence. That means there’s a whole list of practices you need to adhere to, like “leaving as little sign of your passing as possible,”2 and reporting all finds to landowners (umm, so we have to split?).

Panning and sluicing will reportedly be best in June once the water levels go down and drowning is less likely, so plan accordingly. There are some five-star reviews for campgrounds in the area, which is promising, although nothing that would qualify as “glamping,” so count me out. Plus there are bears in the campground that reportedly don’t like to interact with people and because I qualify as a person, that’s also a negative. I’m thinking the tropical beach wins my vote.