BATH, N.H. – It's a 45-degree October morning just several days removed from the first frost of the fall and Chad Roy is knee-deep in brisk river water in pursuit of hidden treasure.
More specifically, Roy is searching for gold.
He's been mining along the Wild Ammonoosuc River for the past six years years. In fact, his passion for gold – and the effort that goes into finding it – originated during his childhood.
"Seeing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, looking for treasure – I've always been interested in finding it."
These days, Roy's day job involves owning several local businesses, most notably the Maplewood Lodge in St. Johnsbury. However, his real passion is hunting for treasure.
"We heard that New Hampshire has gold," Roy explains. "So we started doing a lot of research."
Roy owns several acres along the river that are laden with gold sediment. The area was mined extensively in the 1880s, but Tropical Storm Irene and other recent storms stirred the riverbed and revealed more gold.
"Every handful of dirt, we find gold," Roy says.
In an effort to preserve his unique side gig, he has surveillance and security systems in place to keep other prospectors off of his turf.
"I just happened to stumble across this property and that's kind of how it got started," he explains.
A typical gold mining excursion requires an assortment of tools, including shovels, pans, and even a baster similar to those used on Thanksgiving.
Roy uses a long, shallow pan to collect soil from the riverbed and then filters the sediment into a bucket. Rocks and sand stay on top of the filter, while gold pieces fall to the bottom of the bucket because they are smaller.
All of this is done in the river, although Roy sticks to the shallow spots that are only a foot or two deep at most. On cold fall days, it's a labor of love that often involves hours of extreme cold for Roy's exposed feet and legs.
The Wild Ammonoosuc River features two different types of gold. There's glacial gold and gold from volcanic activity, which is the brighter of the two varieties, according to Roy.
The current market value for an ounce of gold is $1,300.
Roy has collected several hundred ounces of gold during his prospecting career. He says he plans to sell his collection – and the hotel – once the price of gold increases. From there, he'll continue to mine and live off of his earnings from both ventures.
While Roy is protective of his gold mining operation, he does want to give people a chance to learn about his pastime. Besides gold, he's made some interesting finds.
"The rocks are fascinating," he says. "We want to share that with people. You can drive 30 minutes from St. Johnsbury and have a great experience."