September 3, 2002

Good Morning All:

Yesterday was sunny and cool - the perfect autumn day. This morning there is a bit of ground fog in the dale but looks like the weather will be much the same. A welcome change after this mostly rainy summer.

Spent yesterday at the mine with Byron. He spent the morning with the chainsaw carving up most of the large bits that remained scattered about the tunnels. He had been hording a new chain - the last one - but finally broke down and installed it as the old one was so worn that he couldn't saw without the blade binding up in the cut. The Dipper - the small alcove heading east from the Birthday pocket area that Byron and I began in early June - has been quite productive for it's size. Lately it has offered up some truly large and fine fluorite-covered plates. As a result of Byron's efforts though, it was now becoming rather long and narrow, making it difficult to reach the back. My chosen task for the morning was to remedy the situation. After several hours of moving rock, the situation had improved somewhat, but I think we will have to do some light blasting first thing next spring to really open it up. For a change, the roof in this pocket appears all to stable and resisted my best efforts to enlarge the pocket in this direction.

After bait (lunch in the local dialect) we traded off, and I took over the saw while Byron poked in the Dipper. Between his efforts and mine, we managed to come up with about half a dozen really nice pieces from the pocket. One that Byron pulled out was a fluorite-covered plate, about 4x6 inches. Nice dark gemmy crystals, and a circular depression toward one corner. A while later he pulled out a stalactite-like knob that fit nicely over the depression.

Called it quits around 6pm and stopped at the Grey Bull for a pint of Black Sheep.While discussing the plans for our last week, Byron casually pulled a large, gemmy, twinned fluorite crystal out of his pocket. The thing must have been close to an inch on edge and largely flawless. Now, if we can only find some still attached to the matrix. Upon returning to the cottage, we found that Jonina and crew had managed to clear the table in the garage and had boxed quite a few specimens. Jonina had also made a shopping run to the Safeway in Consett, only to find they had rearranged the entire store again and many of the desired items were not on the shelves yet. When inquiring about things such as chicken breasts, she was told that they had them but they wouldn't be put out until tomorrow. So much for customer service.

After moving rock and sawing most of the day, I had little energy for fixing dinner, and Jonina was in similar shape. As a result, it was a crackers and cheese dinner, after which Jonina quickly retired.

Today Byron and I are planning on taking the saw into the West Cross Cut and extracting some large specimens that are exposed, including a large plate of fluorite crystals covered with white calcite. Tonight we have a dinner date with John and Marie Land at the Mill Race.

Today's photo is of one of the little bits Byron has recovered from the Dipper in recent days.


Jesse, Byron and Jonina

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