February 14, 2005
We did our most enjoyable shore excursions in Juneau, the capital city of Alaska. We started off with the Pan for Gold excursion. I'll admit that I didn't have high expectations for this one, but I ended up having a ball. The tour guide gives you a short tour of Juneau and then takes you up a hill to Gold Creek. The goal of this excursion is to give you an idea of what it must have been like to be a prospector during the Gold Rush days. When we arrived at the river, our guide gave us a demonstration of how to pan for gold--a simple but tedious process. We were then given a pan of dirt. Each pan appeared to have been pre-filled with a few gold specs hidden in the dirt. We practiced the panning technique in the freezing cold river. The guide gave us small vials to put our gold into after we successfully uncovered it. After that, he took a shovel and scooped up dirt from the bottom of the river and filled our pans. This time, I didn't get any gold. However, by my fourth pan, I was able to uncover a few gold specs. We spent approximately an hour panning for gold and only found extremely small amounts of it. Our guide told us that people would sometimes pan the river for more than 12 hours per day in the prospecting days and often never find anything. If nothing else, this excursion gave me an appreciation for how determined people were to strike it rich during the Gold Rush.
From journal Princess Heart Of Alaska Cruise Tour