Wednesday, May 29, 2002
As if to make up for a day of glorious weather, it was cold and drippy all day yesterday, and this morning I woke up to a torrential downpour. All part of the "Weardale" experience, I guess. If the weather here in the Dale helps keep modern civilization and its trappings (traffic, chainstores, theme parks, etc.) at bay, I figure it's a fair trade.
Retrieved the last of our stored supplies from Little Allercleugh yesterday morning. After dropping of the stuff at the Mine House Byron and I headed off to open up the mine, so Jonina had a day to get her new workspace organized without everyone else standing around offering "helpful" suggestions. First stop for us was to pick up the Peugot from Watson's Garage. That accomplished, we headed up to the mine to survey any over-winter damage and re-install the water lines. Everything was pretty much as we left it last fall, and mercifully no major rock slides on the landing to deal with.
Byron began the task of reconnecting all the water line, and I did my part as a manual laborer and cleared accumulated dirt and rocks away from the tracks at the mine entrance. About the time I finished (meaning got tired) I saw Byron down at the storage container squeezing the hose nozzle to no effect. Given what should have happened, I took this as a bad sign and went down to offer my moral support. As I suspected, Byron had hooked everything up but was getting no water. Momentary sinking feeling - if we have a real blockage somewhere it's going to be hell finding it in all the buried line. So we start at the mains. Pressure there. Check the first junction where we tied in for the mine. Nothing coming out. After fiddling with the valve a bit Byron gets a gusher so we figure the problem is a bad valve. Byron takes it apart and can find nothing wrong, so back together it goes and we are in business. Much relief at not having to dig up line looking for the problem, but it would have been nice to know just what the problem was incase it happens again. Oh well.
Next thing on Byron's adjenda was, of course some collecting and in short order he was into a small pocket near the face of the western tunnel. At the end of last year he covered any likely looking spot with mud in order to hide them, kinda like a squirrel burying acorns. He seemed to remember where they all were and found a productive one in short order. It didn't produce a lot of good looking material, but a few have promise. I'll put them in a dithionite bath today to get a better idea if the pocket is worth more work. All-in-all, not a bad start, however.
Stopped at the Grey Bull (Isabelle's other pub in Stanhope),which seems to be the only place to get a pint of Black Sheep in the valley right now. It's a cozy little pub with a nice fire going, so we were warmed up if not dried off in short order. Back home and the resident chef fixed a simple spaghetti dinner for the crew and everyone turned in fairly early.
Today will be a full day at the mine for Byron and me, and Jonina is currently compiling a list of the day's chores. Today's postcard is of the official mine opening ceremony for the season. Until tomorrow….
Jesse, Byron and Jonina
Open for business, once again.