Calif. -- High gold prices turned prospecting into the hottest new hobby for
California's weekend warriors.
precious metal still selling for more than $1,600 an ounce even after a mild
correction, amateurs and even a few pros are hiking mountain trails and
panning streams in the Golden State, enjoying nature and, with any luck,
turning a profit in the process.
are looking for fun that doesn't cost a whole lot of money," Central
Valley Prospectors president Nancy Roberts said. "But maybe you can make
been a gold hunter for more than a quarter of a century and found plenty of
the yellow stuff. She carries a one-ounce nugget in her purse and, in a
pinch, sold gold she found to make ends meet.
paid bills, I've paid rent, I've bought tires for my truck, I've fixed my
vehicle," Roberts said. "I didn't find gold in order to pay for
stuff or to sell it. I really found gold because I really had a great
interest in it, and I still do."
her tips and techniques with members of the Central Valley Prospectors,
taking them to the San Joaquin River in the Friant area
of Fresno, where they pan tributaries for flecks of gold washed down from the
Sierra Nevada Mountains.
just out in the beautiful country. It's the way God wanted it,"
according to Betty Beggs, who at age 86 is a
14-year veteran of weekend prospecting. "I love it."
The gold boom
has people flocking to California's old mining ghost towns, according to the
Department of Conservation Office of Mine Reclamation. But not all of the
state's new wave of gold hunters are innocent