Gold in them thar hills

Jul 2, 2016 | 0 comments

The day after our hike was quite a bit more low-key. We spent the morning catching up on asset management and shooting b-roll around camp.

My attic bedroom/workspace


The kitchen and general social area of camp

The outhouse was an experience in every way, and deserves its very own mention. As you can see, privacy was minimal, though it was set back in the woods, with a little “stop/go” sign at the front of the path to deter any awkward encounters. I must say, I actually became quite fond of the outhouse. Inside, there was a sharpie marker hanging on a string, and people would leave messages, such as counting what species of birds they saw or heard while pooping, the names of the seals in the river, favorite quotes, or humorous musings. In the corner above the toilet paper, there was a shelf with an airhorn and bear spray, just in case the unwanted predator wandered by at an inopportune time. It was quite considerate, actually.

The “Real Alaska Experience” outhouse

Anyway, at some point early in the day, one of the technicians invited us to go out gold panning with him. Although we all knew there really was no gold to be found in these hills, besides perhaps a bit of gold dust, we were all game to give it a go. We watched a YouTube video on how to pan for gold, packed up some snacks and water, boarded one of the three boats they had, and motored upriver to a crystal clear stream running down from the mountains.

Trying the YouTube method

As expected, we didn’t really find anything except some possible gold dust, but nonetheless, we had a lovely lazy afternoon playing around on the river bank and filming. The exciting part came in when we decided to head back: the boat motor decided it no longer wanted to be a motor. It made some sounds as if it was trying, and then decided it was too much, and gave up on us. Fortunately, we had a smaller backup motor and only had to float downstream to get back to camp, but the ride home was about twice as long as it had been to get out there. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the scenery and the leisurely ride back. Though we returned empty-handed without any gold, I felt like the richest woman in the world in mind and spirit by the end of the day. I know it sounds kind of cliche, but I’m also totally serious — if I could have these adventures for the rest of my life, I don’t need anything more than I have right now, in fact, I could be just as happy with even less. I got the distinct feeling that the folks who live out at Baird feel much the same way. WS0A8454_new As if a case in point, that evening, they got all excited to set up their homemade wood-fired “hot tub.” It was quite the spectacle. They spent a couple hours getting it ready, setting up a big barrel with firewood and hooking up hoses to circulate the river water through to heat. I laughed out loud when I saw the thing, three people crammed inside of it, sharing a cigar. It was truly fantastic. 20160621_BC_boat_darrenandmegan_AMW_1 The next morning we were up bright and early at 5:45am to shadow the technicians again for the morning sampling session.  It was cold, foggy and rainy, yet still somehow the glacial dust persisted in the air, stinging our faces and getting in our eyes as we sped down the river to the fishwheels. 20160621_BC_fishwheel_megananddarren_AMW_2 By now we were pretty used to the routine, so we focused on getting specific shots to fill in anything we’d missed in the days before. 20160621_BC_fishwheel_megan_AMW_320160621_BC_fishwheel_detail_AMW_320160621_BC_fishwheel_megananddarren_AMW_5 And so began another day out on the river, our time at Baird soon coming to a close.


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