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Vacation at Lake Elizabeth, California

Updated on October 6, 2016

Natural Scenic Beauty

My family spent many vacations at Lake Elizabeth, California, located in the Los Angeles National Forest. We had been spending our vacations there for several years because of the great camping, fishing, hiking and natural scenic beauty of the area. And cabins were relatively inexpensive.

Usually our entire family, including my parents, aunts, uncles, siblings and their families, as well as a few cousins thrown in for good measure came. There were lots of fun things to do like barbecuing, fishing, and swimming if you could stand the ice cold waters that filled the lake from the surrounding snow capped mountains. Actually I had no choice in the matter of swimming. A raft my brothers and I had built of logs and twine came apart and we fell in.

Small gold mining caves also dotted the mountainsides. I had heard they had been dug by Chinese immigrant workers in the mid 18th century working for copper mining companies.

So, what has all this to do with gold? David, my youngest brother, somehow got the idea they were gold mines. (I wonder where he could have gotten a silly idea like that? Wink, wink, poke, poke.) He had always been interested in gold and silver coins and had quite a collection. The revelation these were actual gold mines was too much of a temptation for the youngster and he became bitten with the fever.

The mines were easily accessible by much worn tourist paths leading to them. Unbeknownst to us David had slipped off to make his fortune. The rest of us had already ventured forth earlier and toured a few of the closer mines. Of course, nothing of any value was discovered.

David was gone about 5 hours before returning back to camp. It was obvious he was trying to hide something under his shirt, but we said nothing. We didn’t have to. Behind him was a trail of golden flecks leading back towards the mines which told the entire story. My other brothers and I silently followed and observed what he was up to. David began searching for a place to hide his loot. Apparently he had discovered something we had missed in one of the caves.

We waited until he finished hiding his treasure and left then we went to see what he had actually found. A sack of Iron Pyrite. commonly known as “fool’s gold”. We thought we would have a little fun with this information.

Therefore, we proceeded to take the sack and hide it somewhere else. We left a trail a blind man could follow and as expected he came to us demanding to know where his gold was. At first we denied any knowledge of gold and let him squirm a while. Later we made a deal that if would cut us in for a 10%-90% cut, the 10 being his, we’d return the gold. He haggled aggressively for an hour but reluctantly agreed. A bargain was struck that, in addition to the split, he had to do all the work. What a dejected young boy we had on our hands.

We couldn’t stand seeing our brother in such misery so we finally told him his treasure was nothing but worthless “fool’s gold”. However, that didn’t cheer him up at all. He explained it had taken him all afternoon of back bending work to acquire the small amount he had managed to collect.

And that was one of our great vacations there!


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    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Oh...what mean little kids...poor little guy! Well, I'm sure he's over it by now!

      I used to own property in Downieville, Ca. on Scenic Rt. 49 in Sierra County...Sierra foothills. There were 3 rivers which ran through the N. end and intersected one another in two places; one in town, the other S. of town. Beautiful, clean water w/! Many miners panned for gold there (this was '84 - '97) and, I understand, many still do. I saw my share of 'fools' gold,' too.

      Great tale of brothers being a fun family atmosphere..such a sweet childhood. I envy you.

      UP Awesome Beautiful and "Hella Funny!!"

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 7 years ago

      Enjoyed the read and humor of it. I lived in that area for 23 years and even tried my hand at panning gold---farther north.

      wrote a hub (Jacobs Gold)