Tinkham Campground

We spent about four months on the road living in our 20′ Jayco Lite travel trailer after we sold our house in Snoqualmie Washington. We lived on the road for about four months, mostly in the Snoqualmie National Forest, while we looked for property. It was a memorable summer.

We spent the first month or so up the Middle Fork Road just outside North Bend but you’re supposed to only camp for two consecutive weeks at any time in the national forest so we were under pressure to keep moving. Still, the Sheriff did their jobs pretty well and it was tricky to keep two paces ahead of them. We were forest bandits.

We had to spend a week at the Summit At Snoqualmie Motel for awhile just to get out of the national forest for the prescribed time before we could go back. It cost us an arm and a leg but it was nice to be able to shower easily and be more comfortable.

We spent a couple of weeks at the Denny Creek campground near Snoqualmie Pass but it was under the control of Darth Dunder. He was an older gentleman who took his job way too seriously; and he was simply an asshole. I wrote about him in a previous post.

After spending a couple more weeks in another open camping area, we moved into Tinkham Campground for almost the last month on the road.

Tinkham was a breath of fresh air in that the hosts were super friendly and didn’t administer the camp like a internment facility. It was located about halfway between North Bend and the pass. As we were still “living” and working near our old home, we could still commute back and forth to Snoqualmie with relative ease. A quick drive up the forest service road to the freeway entrance and we could blast down I-90 in about twenty minutes. It was a beautiful commute.

We found an open spot on the river side of the campground with our own semi private trail to the river. I can’t remember if it was the north fork of the Snoqualmie or another river. Denny Creek fed into it just a mile or two up the road and was known for having gold.

We were at the river often to get water, prospect, or just to play around and throw rocks. The beach was extremely rocky and I noticed that someone had begun to build a trail of sorts from the tree line to the river’s edge. I seized upon the idea and spent many hours over the following weeks continuing with construction of the trail. I treated it like a patio. I would find the flattest rocks, dig shallow holes for them, put down the rock and fill in between them with sand. It looked pretty cool in the end.

Working on “my” trail became one of my favorite pastimes. It became somewhat symbolic to me. It was a contribution of sorts to those that would follow; an easier way to the water other than the ankle twisting journey one would normally have to take. It was an invitation of sorts to come and enjoy. It was a testament to the small dedication of one person to create something ordered out of chaotic jumble of stones lining the river. I hoped it would be enjoyed for months, maybe years ahead. I hoped other people would help to maintain it. I would like to go back and see if it’s still there.

The great solar eclipse happened while we were there. When the event happened, the shadows deepened in a surreal fashion. The light dimmed, and we headed to the beach, me with my camera, my husband with three pairs of sunglasses, to view what we could of the show.

I wanted to capture the eclipse on camera but although I could see the shadow of the moon creeping across the face of the sun, I couldn’t capture it on film. We all ended up taking turns putting on the multiple pairs of sunglasses to see what we could. It turned out to be anti climactic but was memorable all the same.

We went prospecting up at Denny Creek but had the usual bad luck in finding any gold. With the weeks I spent prospecting there, I realized just how difficult gold really is to find. Being so heavy, it sinks down to the bottom of the gravel and sand and you have to be experienced and have the right equipment in order to recover anything. Lessons learned though. Sometimes it’s learning how not to do something that teaches you how to do something. The process of elimination.

We were able to pull off more than the usually prescribed two weeks stay because the season was coming to a close for the winter and the hosts, being an older couple, were quite open to the idea of having us clean up the firepits. We worked over the course of about three days to finish all fifty or so campsites.

We found the property we were looking for and the negotiations finally went through in the last couple of weeks of September 2017. Winter was approaching and we now had somewhere to go. Somewhere to call home. It was time to go.

On the evening of September 17th of the year 2017, we loaded up the trailer and hitched it up to the truck in the pouring rain. We pulled out of our spot and stopped on our way out to say goodbye and say thank you to our hosts.

We pulled onto I-90 knowing western Washington was now behind us, most likely for the remainder of our lives but a new adventure awaited us ahead.

 

Prospecting

Our quest for gold.

I can’t figure out how to use my expensive metal detector. Steel signals the same as gold, iron signals the same as gold, bottle caps signal the same as gold, nails signal the same as gold. I’m exaggerating of course but not by much.

From what I’ve read, metal detecting unto itself, is almost an art form. So is prospecting for gold. So far, gold has totally eluded my husband and I. You could point us to a gold rich river and we would come up with only pyrite no matter where we dig, how deep we dig, how much we dig, how far we dig, how big we dig…you  get the idea.

All I ask is for a few little grains or flakes of that bright yellow stuff in the bottom of my pan. Just a few. I could die happy then.

I downloaded some maps from Gold Maps Online for Google Earth. I was satisfied with their product. It’s on overlay of gold claims and mines along with data from the BLM (Bureau of Land Management). You can plan ahead to find closed and open claims, check to see if they’re on private or public land (although that’s not always easy to ascertain). You can check terrain and roads beforehand. Like their website says, you really can do a lot of the footwork ahead of time virtually and save yourself a lot of gas and disappointment.

Our property even has what might be a perfect environment for discovering gold. Iron rich soil, quartz; white and greyish. Springs; I read that springs and faults and sometimes gold go together. Nothing so far though.  I even tried divining. Nothing.

I’ve gotten decent at panning though. My husband bought me a sluice which I’m pretty sure I’m using properly but alas, we both concede we need to learn from a pro.

Untitled-1I’ve gotten some ideas for improving the sluice as has everyone else and their uncle Charlie. I just don’t have the means to make prototypes nor a way to test them without help. If anyone out there would like to join me in testing my ideas, I’m game. I think they’re sound and are based on my limited experience in the field and just some thinking about the matter of “how could this work better”.

We panned all summer near Snoqualmie Pass and around North Bend, WA. to no avail. Denny Creek near the pass is supposed to bear gold but we came home empty handed.

One thing we did find recently is garnets. I was panning and found a bunch of reddish looking sand with small reddish/brownish rocks. They were heavy as they were the only thing left with “the heavies” as prospectors say. We took them into a local jeweler and they confirmed they were garnets. They said most creeks and rivers around these parts contain garnets.

I’d give up but I’ve been bitten by the gold bug as they say. I’ve heard even seasoned prospectors sometimes go long periods without finding anything so I figure my day will come. The husband isn’t so interested as myself. He contents himself with exploring the area while I prospect. He found a wolf skull just last week while exploring.

If anyone knows of a really solid place in Stevens County to pan, let me know. We need a guide, also.

🙂

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The wolf skull my husband found last week while I was panning.