How to Pan for Gold With Andy Parry

Step one: Don’t quit your day job

Andy Parry panning for gold. PHOTO: COURTESY ANDY PARRY

After ACL surgery, the dedicated skier is left with an entire half year to moan over the circumstances of their injury and figure out how to maintain sanity. Some attack their rehab with a singular focus. Others rot their brains in front of the television. After reaching his capacity for brainwashing doing the latter, Andy Parry decided to take up a more off beat hobby--gold panning. It's not paying the bills yet, but for those looking to follow in his mineral extracting footprints here's a step-by-step guide to ski-bum gold panning.

1) Buy yourself an amateur gold panning kit--usually around $30 at a major outdoors store. It will include a prospecting pan, a backpacking pan, a classifier, two vials for the gold you likely won't find, and tweezers to pick out the miniscule amount of gold you might dredge up.

2) The best place to look for gold is wherever it's been found before, like old mining claims or areas of national forest that have been removed from mineral extraction. "You really need to get onto a claim before you find some gold," Parry says.

3) It's hard out there for an independent gold panner, so it's worth it to join a gold panner's club--Parry joined the Utah chapter. It'll help you identify better areas for gold and get on better claims.

4) Pack up food and beer and head into the woods. Then spend eight hours hunched over some random stream trying desperately to find the smallest flake of gold. Andy's record is around a ½ gram, so expect to invest more in gas, supplies, and booze than you get back in sellable precious medals.

5) Don't quit your job at Pizza Hut (Parry did) and consider picking up cans on the side. You'll make more money this way than you will finding gold, and you'll need a way to pay off all your futile gold-finding expenses.