A helicopter crew from the California Highway Patrol rescued a father and son Wednesday from the banks of the North Fork of the American River below Sawtooth Ridge.
Denny McCloud and his son, Denny McCloud Jr., were stranded on the banks after descending steep inclines in pursuit of gold. McCloud Jr., 40, an experienced climber, had never tried gold panning and his father planned to show him the ropes. They headed out with a family friend,Wayne Gamblin, who returned to camp Tuesday night. But the McClouds continued down the riverbank’s steep inclines.
“We wanted to get to the river to go looking for our gold,” McCloud Jr. said. “We committed going down, but once you get that far, there’s no going back.”
The pair made it to the river. McCloud Jr. said they then tried heading back to camp, but his father couldn’t make the climb. The elder McCloud, 66, had panned other rivers but wasn’t prepared for the rugged terrain under Sawtooth Ridge.
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“I started crying,” said McCloud Jr., a construction worker. “I was so scared.”
The two were stranded through the night and a large part of Wednesday before help arrived – Gamblin called the Placer County Sheriff’s Office after he returned to the river Wednesday and couldn’t find his friends. The McClouds were hoisted to the safety of a helicopter and flown to the Blue Canyon Airport.
Recovering Thursday at his home in Sacramento, McCloud Jr. thanked the rescuers and offered a few suggestions for would-be miners.
“Just be prepared, do your research,” he suggested. “Don’t get gold fever.”
McCloud Jr. declined to say whether they found any gold.