This video was taken near the end of the day when I was getting better at working my pan. You experts out there will know I'm still not getting enough water in my pan, but hey, it's better than how I started out!
After Larry Weilnau shoveled out dirt from a spot away from the creek into a five-gallon bucket, he carried it to the creek. He also dug out two holes in the creek so we would have enough water for panning. The creek is low this time of the year, but Cache Creek has always had a problem with enough water flow. I put some dirt in the pan and began washing it.
In the video, you can see two different motions. With the first motion I vigorously agitate the pan side to side and slightly swirl it. This lets the heavier particles of gold settle to the bottom. Gold panning works because gold is 19 times heavier than water and will fall to the bottom of the pan. Next I swish the pan forward, washing out the lighter sand and rocks while the creases or "riffles" in the pan hold the heavier gold. I repeat this over and over until the pan of dirt decreases to a small amount of black sand.
More about the rest of the process in the next post...