For almost 20 years now this group has offered to anyone the opportunity to dig in the Zortman area because the owner of the Zortman Motel, Candy and John, give permission to the club to use their claim for that weekend. People gather and sign up the Friday night before Memorial Day weekend and they have an opening on Saturday morning where you get assigned to either a morning or afternoon dig of 4 hours.
You travel up the river in trucks with your buckets and shovels to either of 3 spots where they have high bankers stationed. You dig along the hillside putting your gravel in buckets.
The buckets are then dumped in a trough and sorted with a rake knocking out the big ones and processing the smaller rocks over rushing water. An attendant periodically stops the machine to take out gravel and you get reports as to whether there has been any nuggets found.
At the end of the shift the team members receive a bag of concentrate to take home and pan. The nuggets are put into a group for the final draw of the weekend. You do this for both days if you want. Sunday night they have a banquet with meat provided for a fee and people bring sides to donate.
Monday morning there is a drawing, raffle, and auction that takes almost the entire morning. You can bid on all kinds of things donated and you can donate some as well. That is how the club gets its money.
The final deal is the line up of participants for the chance at a nugget. Some can draw a blank, and some can get a number. There were 55 nuggets found this time, and 120 people. Many got a blank, but all got concentrate to pan.
You meet people from all over the US and Canada and everyone is welcome. It is a wonderful group experience with no hazing or making anyone feel uncomfortable. Put this on your calendar to not miss. The campground nearby is perfect to camp and there are cabins to rent plus the motel. It is gorgeous. So worth every moment of it.