August 28, 2002

Good Morning All:

Yesterday was about as nice as it gets here in Weardale - warm, sunny, a few clouds floating through on occasion. This morning we're back to business as usual, but it looks like the sun is doing battle with the cloud cover so we may have another nice one.

Yesterday was spent at the mine with Dmitiry and the crew. We turned Dmitiry loose in the Black Sheep pocket and during the course of the day he managed to extract some truly large specimens and get himself completely covered in our famous mud. Something I'm sure he doesn't have much chance to do back at the museum in Moscow.

Byron and I wrapped and sawed more of the specimens that were laying about the tunnel, while Dave and Andrew timbered the face of the west tunnel. I also got to spend a little time collecting in the west cross cut. Right now, this is a fun place - the walls look rather like a plum pudding with fluorite showing all over. The frustrating thing was that the water hose I had kept bursting at a repair joint, and I ended up collecting largely without water. This is difficult due to our afore-mentioned all-pervasive mud. I ended up with a pile of rocks that I thought might be good specimens and took them outside to wash off. Surprisingly, many were just that, so all was not in vain.

Mid-afternoon Dave made a call to Jonina with the blasting order and she picked up the season's remaining caps and dynamite. Dave had already drilled the north face in the West Cross Cut, and proceeded to drill the face of the east tunnel as well. The east tunnel face has broken through to the Solstice pocket, and the intention is to open this up so we can connect the east tunnel back with the west at this point. Byron and I did some final collecting around the east face and then let Dave get to work. As it turned out, we had a bit more dynamite than would have been needed for all the holes Dave had drilled, but rather than leave unused powder around over winter, he loaded the holes a bit heavy. When he shot the rounds at the end of the day we had quite a shake and a big blast of air out of the mine entrance. Dave looked at Byron and said in his understated way "well, I recon we'll be doing a bit of damage control tomorrow". I hope it didn't blow out too many support timbers. Guess we'll find out soon.

Got back to the cottage about 7pm and found Jonina, Mary and Bob putting together an impromptu barbeque. The weather was too nice not to. Simple faire - grilled Cumberland sausages, burgers, and a nice mix of potatoes and vegetables. I'm not sure I was very good company though. I've had an annoying dry cough for a few days and it had kept me awake a good bit of the previous night, so the first beer kind-of put me out. It was great to be able to sit outside and enjoy the evening, though. A rare happening in these parts.

Today continues our frenzy of activity heading up to shut-down. Jonina, Sarah and Rob ate in production cleaning mode, and I'm sure there will be a full day of mucking and "damage control" at the mine.

Today's photo is of Dmitiry with one of his smaller specimens.


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

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