July 10, 2000
Well, it rained all day today. I think it's England's way of tell in Paul "we've had enough of you, go home Yankee". He left in the early afternoon for Edinburgh to catch an early flight home tomorrow. I knew as soon as he left we would hit something. We did.
We started the day with just Dave and I at the mine. Byron, Jonina, Bill, Paul and a local, Dave Rennison, were going to the Hilton Mine for the day to dig on the dumps. The rain wasn't going to make the 3 mile hike in very pleasant nor was working on the dumps, so Byron and Paul arrived at the mine around 10 AM and Jonina went back to cleaning specimens. They'll go another day.
We have been working ourselves into a rat hole digging specimens, so I was about to fire up the compressor and use the 80 LB jackhammer to break up the rock and open up the area for better access when they arrived. Byron and I took turns beating ourselves to death with that large breaker but were able to remove large portions of the footwall that was in our way. We then used a smaller chipping hammer to remove rock from around the cavities making sure that we weren't damaging any crystals.
After spending the better half of the day digging marginal quality specimens from the floor we dropped the large rocks from the face and ceiling and gained about another 2 feet enabling us to reach further into the main cavity. We are now a bit closer to the large crystal hanging from the ceiling in the back of this pocket. Paul spent the time wrapping specimens as they came out and taking them down to the car. He left around 2 PM with a load of specimens to take to Jonina and to say his good-byes. I knew when he left we would find something, Murphy's Mining Law. He tricked Murphy however, by forgetting his jacket and returned to the mine around 4. Byron had been washing and poking around the main cavity feeling for loose crystals in the mud. Dave went in to tell him it was time to close up and came out with a grin on his face with one hand held out holding a nice 3 inch stalactite and his other hand held behind his back. He was holding another stalactite more than 6 inches in length with crystals larger than anything found last year. Byron then came out with a grin on his face saying "what do you think?". I said, "do you know what this means? The cavity is opening up, where did you find it?" He had found it on the right side of the large crystal feeling around in the mud with his fingers. He said he reached up as far as he could after he pulled the stalactite out and couldn't feel anything except mud. We're all sure better stuff is yet to come.
I just want it noted that I haven't been able to measure the specimen yet and I'm trying to be conservative in my estimate of it's dimensions. When I have the piece here at the house I will give the exact measurements. It is, however, better than anything found last year, by far!
First thing on the agenda for tomorrow is to get more diesel, we have been waiting for almost a week and all the machines are low. Then we will muck out the debris and dig like banshees for that large opening that Byron had uncovered. Forget the marginal stuff on the floor. Jonina will transport the remaining explosives to the new location closer to the mine so we can get it as we need it.
More tomorrow, Cheers, Jim