I’m Nick Cooper, your local GPAA member and I’m right here San Diego, California. I’ve been a member since January 2020, and I was introduced to prospecting back when I lived in Indiana. I was a Wilderness Survival Scout for about 10 years, and on a trip with my wife and daughter, we noticed people were digging in the rivers. When they told me they were digging for gold, BOOM! I was instantly intrigued.
From what I could tell, it looked easy enough, so I gave it a shot! I watched a few YouTube videos, got some gear online, put everything that I learned together and jumped right in!
Now, fast-forward to being a GPAA member living in San Diego, I usually drive about an hour to one of my local claims to find gold. I regularly prospect GPAA Claims Warrior 1 & 2, or Coleman Creek, which is also a good local spot that heads into Pine Valley.
My first try on Old Banner Road in Julian was really hard, but as I progressed, I started getting really good at panning and running different machines. There’s not a lot of water in San Diego unless you’re close to a river, so I’m usually running re-circulators or drywashers, and some of the better gold I find is away from the water in some of the old washes. In my trips, I also find a lot of tourmaline.
I love taking my kid, too — we always have fun when we go out as a family. It’s a cool hobby to have and it’s created a lot of quality time for us.
Gold is just about everywhere. It’s usually fine but sometimes I’ll find some rusty red gold coming off of the mine washes. San Diego County is a challenging area to work because of the canyons, but if you can get into them there’s some honey holes waiting for you! Prospecting aside, San Diego is beautiful to hike, as well as the remnants of all the gold and gemstone mines. But the gold is still out there and by this summer, you’ll see me around Arizona and Northern California!
I originally joined GPAA for this exact reason! I was referred by a fella named Saul up in Bakersfield when I was researching the East Fork San Gabriel River. He said, “Sign up and you’ll have access to all the claims,” so I did and have been with the organization ever since! I get to use the claims closest to me as much as I want AND I can travel when I have more time to any of the other claims in other states. I’m really looking forward to desert prospecting in Arizona, and I even started vlogging my adventures.
I’ve connected with a lot of really great members prospecting out on the claims and with the local clubs, making some awesome new friends. Rich, Danny, and Bill are just to name a few — so if you’re a GPAA member in the San Diego or Los Angeles areas, let’s connect and go get the gold!
You can find me very active on the GPAA Facebook Group