Narrow Trail of Winter

Treasure hunting has greater perils in winter. But the serenity and absolute silence are worth the risk especially for an old man determined to receive the benefits of forest bathing. While the adventure cost me everything I had, the call couldn’t be ignored.

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Winter in Rock Creek Canyon

Winter has returned to once again securely lock the two gold bars in nature’s protective vault. This image is years old; I don’t know the current amount of snow in the canyon. This old man wishes he were once again there to absorb the absolute silence nature allowed me to absorb into my soul. Urban life is saturated with noise that rarely subsides. I walk streets spotted with dog urine and poop, some in bags. If I stopped to relieve myself on a tree, I’d be ticketed or at least chastised by anyone who saw the infraction. Oh sweet rural lifestyle, I miss you. But I had to be where great doctors worked their miracles so for now, I stay. When my end comes in perhaps a decade, maybe two, let it be in the silence of nature, under a sky studded with a million stars. Please.

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Correct Gold Bar Weights

During seven years of research for the book, this was the only source that I found for the accurate bullion weight. I had photographed a Provincial Police letter in the Royal BC Archives that listed the weights but they didn’t add up properly. Human error can be found where you least expect it. Eventually I browsed through all the reports from the Boundary Historical Society as found online. That’s where I found this gem of information. Shortly after the robbery, Chief Constable McMynn in Midway, BC sent a letter to the Spokane, Washington Police Chief in the off chance that someone tried to sell one or three rough bullion bars. By giving the accurate weights, there would have been enough cause to hold a suspect for further questioning. Court records indicate the smallest bar was sold to a jeweller in Seattle. We can then be certain the two lost bars weigh 258 and 272.5 troy ounces respectfully, an impressive 530.5 ounces at 625 fines or per cent purity.

Publishing the book and learning about marketing has left me busy, broke, and staying close to home. I should be camping in Rock Creek canyon and enjoying the health benefits of bonding with nature. Those were great times as I explored and appreciated every moment of it. But age changes the body in so many ways. Get out there and enjoy nature while you can. And carry a copy of my book along to follow the treasure map. Take a selfie at the Bre-X shack and I will set up a venue for that purpose. Be safe.

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The Book is on Amazon

Starting August 1, Chasing Stolen Gold went live on It will follow in Canada, the U.K. and other countries over the next week. The “Look Inside” feature is live but only shows up to page 14 with some pages missing. My understanding is this will increase up to 20% but as I have yet to contact a human there, so we shall see. The high price is due to color printing costs and wide distribution. Freight costs are hurting us all. My royalty per book is five dollars and change so please don’t shoot the messenger. My hope is that libraries and brick and mortar stores will take notice. But if you’re looking for a treasure map, there has never been a better time.

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Publication of a Memoir

In 2015, I hired an editor to draw up an outline for my adventure to locate the lost gold bars of Camp McKinney. Several years later a ‘blue pencil’ consultation through the Vancouver Public Library added more direction to my confusion of ideas and ramblings. Despite the failings, the second editor appreciated the storyline and my writing voice. Her remarks were great encouragement for me to continue.

The hardest portion of the quest for me was to admit I did not locate the lost gold, pick an ending for the memoir and stick with it. I never expected it to end in anything less than a golden success. Of course, it still can even as I prepare to share my search details in the memoir. Mathew Roderick’s spirit related to me that the treasure was not what I thought. Those words mystified me for years until at last, I realize the real treasure may well be the story itself. It certainly has been for me and with the right words and nearly two hundred photos, maps and illustrations, it can be for the reader too.

The third editor continued the brutal assault on my words and provided an excellent path for me to travel in order to improve the read. I canceled my addictive tv subscription and spent six months using Pro Writing Aid and Grammarly for a great purpose. Two more years passed as I lived my slow-motion writing dream to develop a book worth reading. That same editor is presently hammering my words into still better blends with the results expected soon.

Meanwhile, I continued to uncover images and maps that have been previously unpublished in stories about the gold mine. I have benefits of the electronic age that local authors Barlee, Basque, and Paterson, among others, did not. Libraries on both sides of the border have been able to do likewise and I am blessed with all the information available. While gathering material for the Endnotes, I also hired a talented woman to create the front and back cover. Between us, we are trying to display the right blend of words and images to attract potential readers. The cover will appear here soon, perhaps both versions.

In my writing ignorance, I have learned much and continue to move ever closer to “casting my little book upon the waters” of the marketplace to see if it sinks or provides me with a golden reward. With luck, my old gray matter might remember who quoted the line several hundred years ago. And finally, publish a book. (Sir Francis Bacon).

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Gold Veins in Quartz

Although the quartz sample shown is from Sonoma, California, it shows what hard rock miners were searching for. The quartz samples I have seen from Camp McKinney vary from this specimen. As the Cariboo-Amelia workings went deeper, the quartz vein went from a milky-white color to light blue and occasionally reached an incredible ten feet in width. Gold was unique to certain areas and thieves were often convicted after claiming they had mined their gold in one place only to learn it came from another mine, one where a robbery occurred. The lure of gold was especially strong at a time when it existed as the main currency over paper. In historic BC, the American dollar and British pound were both available, but gold was king.

Marcel Clemens/ Photo
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Dewdney Trail

Trail portion between Hope and Princeton, just off Highway 3. Built by the Royal Engineers, this portion had been widened for wagons.

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My apologies for the long delay in posting. I have been working diligently, for a seventy-year-old, on the story with a plan to self-publish a memoir. The book will be saturated with photos of my ten-year adventure being part treasure map and part spiritual journey. My love of nature shines throughout the quest. The story will be a thorough investigation into where the stolen gold bars have been secured for one hundred and twenty-five years. Stay tuned.

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Rock Creek Canyon 2021

More than two million acres burned in the summer heat and drought. I kept watch on the BC wildfire map and appreciated that my ten year search area remained untouched. In late September, I rented a large SUV and smiled my way to the canyon. Once a year has proven to be a difficult scenario but appreciated all the more. I had been too long away from the silence of the forest.

At seventy years of age, my tired body has seen enough medical improvements to keep me active. Daily exercise and a good diet help too. This year I had artificial lenses inserted into my eyeballs and the forest has never looked so good. At night I could gaze up at the stars shining on my presence without having to reach for glasses. The tradeoff is I now need glasses just to check the time on my phone but I couldn’t be happier with the current state of my vision.

During one of my evening meals before sundown, I boiled up a bag of ichiban noodles and added a can of smoked sardines. After a tiring day, this had to be considered a good meal. Standing at the stove, I had just shovelled a fourth spoonful into my mouth when a death beetle flew in and dropped his inch-long carcass into my pot. The burying beetle features the unmistakable orange belly band. I had seen them often on the prairies working to bury a dead rodent or sparrow but here in my evening meal; unthinkable.

He moved quickly over my food as the heat may have been a surprise for his sensory receivers. I reacted quickly and we sparred for a few seconds before I flicked the intruder onto the forest floor. Several spoonfuls were shared with my guest in case his excitement caused him to release any body excrement. We continued our meal in silence like a couple who have been together too long with nothing further to say. I suspect the devious insect, Nicrophorus spp., used its amazing receptors to detect the dead sardines and pounced. Like the tick from several years ago that followed my body heat, we underestimate the animal world and their amazing adaptations to their world.

Winter and the spring melt left marks in the area that denied my travel to the usual spot. I had to remain in a more public area. On my second day, I returned to Camp SUV to find a couple waiting, scoped rifles over their shoulders. I thought of the movie Deliverance before relaxing and hearing their tale of woe. They tried to skirt Little Fish Lake and slid into the water. Could I give hubby a lift to a friends in hopes of hiring a rescue? The beginning rainshower meant I could. The lady decided she would return to the truck with her rifle, purse puppy in a pink carryall, and a few joints. Her comfies were shredded as if a cougar had narrowly missed removing her flesh. I cannot pretend to understand her world. But she was enjoying the outdoors and that can only be seen as a good thing. They were able to secure rescue and I returned to the silence of the forest.

At the creek, the low flow of late summer on a dry year allowed the water to gurgle over and around rocks of all sizes and shapes. The proverbial babbling brook sounded like voices from a distance. The unusual sound tricks our brain into thinking it’s something familiar, like voices. I heard it several years ago and my first exposure to it was interesting. I wonder how the effect played on the miners who were in that area in 1858 and beyond. 

I did not find the lost gold bars of Camp McKinney on trip number seventy-eight. Of course, I had once again hoped to, wanted to, and worked hard to try and make it happen. Being in that same search area helped to bring me a sense of closure although it’s not the preferred ending for a treasure hunt. Yet the decade of my search has been nothing short of exciting as I stayed optimistic while experiencing nature and learning about spirituality. I’ll continue writing and editing in hopes of developing a story worthy of your reading time.

And that faint, distant voice you might hear in Rock Creek Canyon during the late summer or fall? It just might be the voices of miners long gone and forgotten who want to tell you their story. 

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The age of the internet has given so many ways of learning the smallest details that add to a story. Newspapers from New York City, of which there are a few, Deadwood in South Dakota, and Seattle have helped me to build a solid timeline of Mathew Roderick’s life and movements. Mary’s too.

Librairies are a great source of knowledge and the people working there know how to find answers to unusual questions. The Royal BC Museum Archives have also been a great source of records with access given to the BCPP records. The records contained correspondance to and from many detachments as well as court room documents.

During the trial of Joseph Keane for the shooting death of Roderick, Simon Dillabaugh, a Washington State resident, had worked with Roderick underground at the Cariboo-Amelia mine. Dillabaugh listened to Roderick’s plan for pulling off a heist so often that he threatened to ask the foreman for a new working partner. He had also seen Roderick’s Bowie knife, Colt pistol, and full-stock Winchester rifle when Roderick stayed in the company bunkhouse. Later Roderick moved to the Lynch cabin for more secrecy.

Dillabaugh also stated under oath that Roderick had a jeweller prepared to buy any gold he could provide “no questions asked.” But he could only remember that the name had the word silver in it. By 1896, the number of jewellers in Seattle had doubled to thirty-six. I asked a Seattle librarian if there was a way to check the names of city jewellers at that time. Yes there was.

The probable buyer of the small bar of gold Roderick sold after the heist was Afiel Silverstein. Competition likely forced Silverstein to buy gold the cheapest way possible. Dillabaugh added that Roderick even had a retired judge prepared to swear to an alibi for him if needed. Wish I had that name. It’s possible a glass of whiskey and a game of cards provided many sources for Roderick’s needs including the keys that opened the office of the Cariboo-Amelia.

A writer never knows where a good story might lead. For me, the internet has been a blessing. For others, it has convinced them to suck on a tube of animal dewormer instead of trusting a validated medical injection. Please shut the internet off for a while and take a walk in nature. The life you save might be your own.

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