panning for gold on the Sacandaga
Thursday, September 5 2013
location: Tall Pines Cabin, rural Hope Township, Hamilton County, New York
Today was the first anniversary of Sally's death. We might have forgotten, but our friend Kirsti actually put it on her calendar.
The weather had taken a turn for the even colder this morning, making it uncomfortable to be outside unless one was int he sun. Fortunately, the sun was shining with its usual mix of black-body radiation ranging from ultraviolet downward.
After morning coffee, Gretchen drove with the dogs to Wells for another rendezvous with the global communication network. She returned with photographs of our Honda Civic Hybrid that Onesha had mailed. The damage looked to be entirely cosmetic. The hood had some additional wrinkles in it and some plastic was missing from the illuminated back of the rearview mirror. But no functionality had been lost. It's possible we won't end up doing anything to repair the car.
For some reason Gretchen was all about being lazy and getting fucked up today. I think this was a consequence of a number of things: we'd gone on that long never-ending hike yesterday, the weather had turned cold, and tomorrow we'd be heading back to Hurley. So this afternoon we both smoked some pot, drank some wine, and watched a classic Alfred Hitchcock movie entitled Notorious (it was in Tall Pines' DVD library). It was great, and for me the most memorable scene was the one early in the film in which Ingrid Bergman and Cary Grant walked around with each other, their faces never more than about two inches apart. Part of what made the film so appealing (at least in my marijuana-altered state) was that it was 67 years old. Some of the acting was a bit stiff and unnatural, as was the style in those days, but occasionally I had the feeling that I was glimpsing real life from that time period. And who wouldn't want to get with Ingrid Bergman?
After watching many seasons of the various gold mining shows, I decided it might be fun to pan for gold in the Sacandaga River. The rock of the Adirondacks is metamorphosed igneous basement rock, usually in the form of granite, and such rock can potentially contain anything except fossils and artifacts. And even if gold isn't present anywhere in the Sacandaga watershed, glaciers have pushed rocks into it from other watersheds, some as far away as Canada. The Adirondacks were heavily-mined for a great many minerals and metals, though I don't know of any profitable gold mines. In any case, I set out with a pan and the two dogs. A little south (downstream) of the place where the steps lead down to the water there is an outside bend on the east bank, so perhaps the heaviest of particles would collect here among the boulders. I found some sand and panned it down to fine material, though there was nothing in it that sparkled except for flakes of mica. I panned a couple more pans, all with the same result, and then gave up. The lack of gold wasn't surprising, though I think if I were a real gold bug I would have panned in a few more places. Eleanor evidently was bored by my panning and headed for home, so only Ramona stayed with me for the rest of this particular walk. I ended walking on the riverside cobblestones all the way down to what looked like a downstream forking of the river (I say that because I saw water flowing into, not out of, the fork) to form an island on the eastern shore just south of the redneck RV campground (43.333786N, 74.271312W). Both Ramona and I noticed, by the way, that a couple of the camps in the redneck RV campground had tossed oceanic clam shells out onto the cobblestones. Happilym none had thrown any glass bottles or other non-organic material. Still, I was a little surprised to find clams to be so popular amongst RV campers.
It's easier to walk on a dirt road than it is to look with every step while walking on football-sized cobblestones, so I came up from the river at one of the boat landings associated with the redneck RV campground. I'd been looking so carefully before taking every step on the "beach," but once I left it I thought I was completely safe. That was how I badly stubbed the "ring toe" of my left foot on a root that was sticking out of the ground. The initial injury was cripplingly painful, but then the pain subsided into almost nothing. I didn't examine the resulting injury other than to note the slowly-forming pool of dark blood atop the toe.
Back at the house, I found myself watching the first half of Inglorious Basterds, a much better Tarantino movie than Reservoir Dogs. But the resolution of the version I'd downloaded was crappy, so I eventually quit watching until such time as I can download a better copy.
Since tonight would be our last night at Tall Pines, we followed the ritual of making our last supper a barbecue of tofurky sausages with grilled onions and mushrooms. There was an available bag of charcoal and a compatible grill, but no lighter fluid. But it turns out that it isn't too hard to get charcoal burning using a little paper and some cheap cooking oil.
We ate our meal in front of a wood-and-paper-trash fire in the official Tall Pines fire pit. That second fire was difficult to coax into sustained hear-production (which, on this chilly evening, was an important requirement), but eventually it burned nicely. Eventually Gretchen spontaneously started singing various James Taylor songs including "Sweet Baby James." Gretchen has a lovely singing voice, and she always improves upon the original when she sings it.
Later I smoked some pot and took another bath in that tiny Tall Pines bathtub because, fuck it, I was on vacation, playas!
For linking purposes this article's URL is:feedback
previous | next