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Old 11-01-2012, 07:25 PM   #1
Mr_Wilson OP
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Gold Rush, ADVrider Style

Let me start by saying my friend, Lee, and I are rank amateurs when it comes to gold panning, prospecting or anything related to finding minerals. We were bitten by the gold bug with the proliferation of Alaska gold shows on cable. We had been planning an adventure trip for a couple of years now, and I came up with the idea to combine our new found interest in gold with this trip. So....we bought some gold pans, folding shovels and watched a video, we were ready.



We did some practice panning ealier this year while attending March Moto Madness in Telico Plains, TN (a known gold deposit area). We thought we found gold, but learned we were "fooled". Bill at Bill's Pit Stop, Coker Creek, TN gave us a quick demo and pointers ( www.goldpanTN.com ).



Our goal was to head west and north (from middle Tennessee) panning along the way, eventually getting to the mother load in Alaska. We quickly realized this was not possible with the two weeks vacation time alloted. We would have to limit our trip to the lower 48. But where do we go to maximize our chances of finding gold, and have a pleasant, memorable ride? Some feverish research came up with this site:
http://www.goldmapsonline.com/index.html

The maps available here show active and abandoned gold claims on federal lands in 12 states using Google Earth (we have no affiliation with this company). We could now pick some sites where we know gold is located plus avoid panning on someones claim.

I would be riding my 2012 BMW F650GS (twin). Lee is riding his 2009 KLR650 which he bought earlier this year for this trip. (poor choice as he would soon learn). We departed September 4th for the first panning destination near Buena Vista, Colorado.



Our traveling plans were to avoid Interstate highways as much as possible and do about a 50/50 mix of camping / moteling. Since we would be traveling to some remote areas, and the gas tank on the BMW is limited, I added a Roto Pack gas can to my pannier, Lee's KLR is good with tank capacity.



The first two days were uneventful and HOT! We elected to motel it the first two nights because of the heat, first night near Mountain Grove, Missouri, then Dodge City, KS. An interesting diversion just into Kansas off Hwy 400 and related to our adventure since it was used for strip mining, was 'Big Brutus'.
http://www.bigbrutus.org/about.html



Better size perspective, me by the bucket
:


This thing is HUGE! Built in 1962 and weighs 11 million pounds. It was all electric, and had a giant extension cord run to it for power. It was abandoned in place and donated to the museum built on site. We toured the inside of this beast, and it reminded me of a naval battleship.

It was on a short stertch of interstate during this segment that the first problem with Lee's KLR surfaced. The big panniers, loaded, combined with high winds and large trucks led to buffeting. It was buffeting the KLR so severly, Lee was having a hard time keeping it on the road. We had to greatly limit the speed as a result.
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:29 PM   #2
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Looks good. Waiting to see if you found gold!
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:02 PM   #3
Mr_Wilson OP
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On the third day we made it to our first panning destination, the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation area near Buena Vista, CO. We would be camping near the Railroad Bridge Campground.

Road to the campground:



We set up camp, the only ones at the campsite except for the campsite host, Kathy:



It was chilly here, elevation around 6000ft:



Here is what the campsite is named for, the railroad is no longer in use:




we started panning after getting camp set up:



It was very hard to get a pan full of material from this river. It was mostly larger rocks. We did find a few grains of gold, so we were encouraged. After two days we decided to strike out for our next destination, Medicine Bow National forest in Wyoming.

The morning of our departure, a major problem surfaced with Lee's KLR. Lee hasn't owned this bike thru a winter yet, and with the temperature at the campsite this morning in the 30's (and possibly the altitude), found the bike refusing to start. We decided to double into town for breakfast to let it warm up a bit. On our return, it still refused to start, and by now the battery was flat. Lukily a camper (w/trailer) had arrived, they had jumper cables and were kind enough to jump it off, finally starting. We were off, a little later than planned.
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Old 11-01-2012, 08:13 PM   #4
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Nice pictures, I hope your panning ambitions were fulfilled and you enjoyed an excellent trip.


Cheers,
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:03 PM   #5
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Very cool!
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:35 PM   #6
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Cool trip! Looking forward to the next installment.
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:45 AM   #7
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Interesting, for sure!
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Old 11-02-2012, 06:55 AM   #8
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You should have asked to borrow Big Brutus for a week!
It's got a little bigger "pan" to work with! Did they let you climb the bucket mast?
Anyone on 400 just west of Pittsburg Kansas should stop and see Brutus.
Here's the gps coords 37.273233 -94.939556. copy and paste in google maps for a satellite view.
Hope you found some gold, looks like a fun trip!
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:43 AM   #9
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If you make your way to California I can show you what Gold Country looks like. My folks actually own a gold claim. I don't go often but I can pan.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:56 AM   #10
1955BIKER
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Hope you found enough gold to pay for the trip.
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:00 AM   #11
Old_Crow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_Wilson View Post
We did find a few grains of gold, so we were encouraged. After two days we decided to strike out for our next destination, Medicine Bow National forest in Wyoming.
I was just in southern Medicine Bow last month. Loads of riding on both sides of the border, and plenty of well maintained gravel roads if that's your thing. There was a lot of logging on the WY side unfortunately, but this probably contributed to the quality of the roads. This is the reservoir in Medicine Bow:



Edit: you left for a trip like this without jumper cables?!
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:08 AM   #12
Phone Guy
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The problem with the KLR sounds like the "KACR" Kawasaki Automatic Compression Release.
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Old 11-02-2012, 12:56 PM   #13
mrbreeze
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I think they must have hit it big, because they have since been seen hitting the upscale eateries around Nashville....



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Old 11-02-2012, 01:59 PM   #14
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Very cool, thanks for the heads up Breeze!
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Old 11-02-2012, 03:17 PM   #15
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Am I watching Discovery Channel..? Because I felt like that... =)
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