It is incredible my wife and I discovered in our own back yard when taking the time to go exploring. All summer long we walked around our neighborhood not realizing its potential until one day on our foray we encountered a bicyclist walking his bike because of a flat tire. We asked. “How do we find the entrance to the bike path you were on?” To our amazement it was just down the street a short distance where we live.
It was a beautiful Friday afternoon when we decided to go exploring the nature along the bike path for the first time. Denver has excellent developed trails throughout the metro area for biking, horseback riding, walking and picnicking. The trail in our neighborhood is home to many different animals and birds just north of downtown Denver. There are even a signs warning of coyotes. It is a very interesting landscape because it is so well camouflaged beneath Denver’s busy highway system passing overhead.
As we strolled leisurely along we were overtaken by bicyclists traveling in both directions on trail reminiscence of a ribbon of concrete. Since we love to go mushroom hunting we left the trail to explore for mushrooms because the land and trees seemed to hold the possibility of there having been mushrooms during midsummer.
Moving on we passed under the first of the many bridges that span this diverse inland estuary tucked away from civilization. The humming sounds of passing cars overhead filled the air while ducks, geese, cranes, and small groups of people wading in the creek with shovels, buckets, and fish nets could be observed.
We walked several miles along the trail before turning back to return to our home. The trip back proved to be much more enlightening because the people who were wading out in the creek were gone. The bicycle path was now becoming more active with bikes and people walking their dogs. As we were about to pass under the last of the bridges two men were walking towards us carrying something in both hands. We stopped and I asked, “What are you hunting?” “Gold!”
They continued to walk by. I couldn’t resist following after them. I sensed a story here and I wanted to talk with the two men further. Years ago back in Montana my brother and I had done a little gold prospecting of our own without success. These two men had captured my curiosity.
To get to where they were going we had to use large stones that were placed in the stream to get to a gravel island where they had gone to set up their prospecting equipment. I hailed them to ask if it would be okay to take some pictures of their gold mining operation. When I told them we were from Ukraine they agreed.
One of the men belonged to a gold prospector’s club and gave us its link. (http://www.goldprospectors.org/)
When I asked how many other people were in the club, He said, “There were about 15 other people who come to this one stream to search for gold.” We told him that we had seen two other groups of people earlier on our walk and wondered what they were doing.
Within minutes of their setting up, my wife begin to take pictures to document what was taken place as I continue to talk with the leader. He places a few shovels of gravel onto a small circular screen that fit over a 5 gallon buck to separate the larger gravel from the smaller. He took some of the fines and began to pan. He had been coming to this spot for two weeks. It was his partner’s second outing. As he continued to swirl the fines around in his pan a couple flakes of gold could be seen. His partner was as surprised, as we were when the flakes of gold appeared.
Gold being discovered in the Denver area is not new. Prospectors in the early years discovered gold in the small streams that flowed from the mountains. What is new is the renaissance of the urban prospector seeking the glitter of gold practically in downtown Denver. It is amazing what we found right in our own back yard hidden right under our own noses all summer long thanks to a man walking his bicycle because of a flat tire. Life is good!