It was the winter of 1979. I had been bouncing from state to state, job to job, and saloon to saloon since the end of my marriage–two and a half years prior. Bored and restless, craving purpose, freedom, and adventure, I quit my job as a welder at a Seattle shipyard just shy of New Year’s Day.
Thus, I became committed to the fulfillment of my lifelong dream—becoming a full-time gold prospector. I would pit my will and scanty resources against the magnificent, unforgiving, Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. I would arrive in the dead of winter, an utter greenhorn, gambling on being dealt a winning hand—whilst just a-knockin’ on poverty’s door.
I hoped to spend all winter camping and learning to prospect for gold—far and away from the nearest honky-tonk saloon—my nemesis of late. But if I were to last until spring, I would need to do more than just learn how to prospect for gold; it was vital that I actually find it and quickly turn it into cash. Failing that, I’d be forced to admit defeat and slink back to live and work in the concrete jungle from whence I had escaped.