Gold Panning on the Similkameen

Photo: Gold Panning on the Similkameen
Photo by Sean Walsh

Hiking and gold panning replaced Vermilion Forks Field Naturalists’ customary fishing trip on a recent field trip along the banks of the Similkameen River in the Allenby area. Six of us, led by Peter Antonick, slogged through rain, forest and wet grasses as we climbed to a craggy ridge high on the cliffs, overlooking the river and offering spectacular views. As we traversed the ridge, heading north and then east, our outlook changed from steep canyons and the Copper Mtn. Mine site, to an isolated resort, extensive green meadows, and intriguing formations along the river bank itself. We hiked 2 ½ hours before gradually descending to a secluded spot along the shore, where we enjoyed intermittent sunshine as we ate our lunches and panned for gold. Although flecks of gold and platinum were discovered, we left these treasures behind!

The riches that we did enjoy that day included a Bald Eagle standing sentry over us while Canada Geese swam nearby, two coyote pups romping through the woods, a Cooper’s Hawk, a Raven family vociferously protecting their young, and several Blue Grouse lurking in the grasses. We sampled sweet salmon berries, wild raspberries and the less palatable Oregon-grape berries. The fitting finish, however, was sipping Peter’s cherry wine at his home after our 5-hour field trip had ended!