The Canyon - Adventurous Gamblers Will Find Gold Anywhere

The Canyon - Adventurous Gamblers Will Find Gold Anywhere

From the highway it wasn't much to look at. Just a narrow crevasse between two mountains that make up the spectacular scenery on the long drive between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

But I was curious. As a gold panner who made a practice of carrying my equipment in the trunk of my car, I wondered what secrets the canyon held. Since it was just off the highway, I thought I might delay one of my usual forays to Glitter Guch and spend a little time prospecting for gold.

I realize, of course, that most gamblers search for their gold in casinos. That's all well and good. But I have a bit of the western outlaw in my makeup that tends to bring me to less traveled roads. I figured the mysterious canyon was one of those roads.

It was located north of Wikieup, which bills itself as the 'rattlesnake capital of the world'. And so one Saturday I decided to drive to Las Vegas early Saturday morning rather than after work on Friday.

It was a perfect day for traveling. Arizona sunshine is something people take for granted. I never do. I like the moods of the desert, the changing colors, the deep shadows that envelop the distant mesas and that make me feel a part of the immense desert country that has become part of my existence.

As I topped a rise, I saw the narrow fissure between the two hills off to my right. I pulled my car off the road, cut the engine and popped the trunk. Gathering up my green plastic gold pan, a small sledge hammer, my Ruger .22 caliber revolver with the mini-mags, a chisel and a plastic vial for the gold, I made my way down into the canyon.

The desert is alive with movement and life.

I watched my step as I eased my way down the rocky trail. Something slithered off into the rocks -- either a Gila Monster or a sidewinder, I suspected. I was glad I had the Ruger just in case.


It's hard to pan for gold without water. As I walked through the canyon, I searched for water and wasn't disappointed when I found a pool of it a couple hundred yards up the trail. Perfect, I thought.

Gold is trapped in bedrock, and that was what I was searching for. Sure enough, there was a flat fissure of rock that represented the bedrock and it was partly submerged by water.

It was cooler in the canyon than on the highway, at least 10 degrees cooler. I took my chisel and sledge hammer and began peeling away the layers of rock, wiping away hundreds, thousands, maybe millions of years in the process.

As the rock broke apart, I placed the broken pieces into my gold pan. Insects buzzed around me. A slight movement off to my right was a cottontail rabbit peering at me from the safety of a creosote bush.

When my gold pan was filled, I began swirling it in the couple of inches of water. It would have been better if it was a flowing stream, but I was content to do it this way. Back and forth I tilted the pan, separating the larger pieces of rock and tossing them away.

And then I saw it. Gold.

It wasn't a large nugget. Less than the size of a pea. But it was real. No fool's gold for me on this Saturday morning in an Arizona canyon.

Detecting a small movement on a rock shelf, I adjusted my eyes. It was a Gila Monster just sitting there with slithering tongue. The orange and black reptile seemed to be part of the rock. I saluted it and continued panning.

I worked the canyon for a couple of hours. The small gold nugget was all I found, but that was enough. I put it away in my plastic vial, collected my equipment and headed back to the car, ready for Las Vegas.

“And then I saw it. Gold.”

  • I kinda felt the story lent my imagination a sense of the mood, calm and quiet, and the place, sunny, warm, dry and imbued with solitude. And the enterprise digging for gold in such peaceful environs, so different than the drunken hubbub and whirling overstimulation of a casino or blood serious competition of a poker tournament.
  • After reading your story, I see you brought the gun to pick off creatures of the desert that may try to stop your little adventure. I was thinking that you brought the gun to protect the gold fortune you found from bandits and thieves out there in the desert. So, how much was that (smaller than a pea size) gold nugget worth or did you just hang on to it as a souvenir or maybe even a good luck charm. Cute story, maybe a little anticlimactic, don't ya think. I have to admit, I felt a little down at the end.........
  • Nice story for dreamy people :)
  • I remember growing up as a kid wanting to go out and find money on the ground in the form of gold. I never did end up following those dreams, other than researching the most likely places to find gold in the Midwest, southern Minnesota being the best candidate.

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