Friday, June 12, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather yesterday was positively schizophrenic, alternating between periods of pleasant sun and torrential downpours. The cycle repeated itself at least three times during the day. At one point, while we were all taking our lunch down in the storage container, I watched it as the sunlight faded, the temperature dropped several degrees, and it began to hail. This was followed shortly by heavy rains, but within 45 minutes the sun was out again. This morning it is sunny with a few puffy white clouds floating by, but I guess this could change without warning.

Yesterday, Byron, Greg and I spent most of the day collecting at the face. While there is still plenty of fluorite showing, the rock at the face has tightened up considerably, and production is down this week as a result. Both Byron and I continued digging around the large rock mentioned yesterday, but by day’s end we still had not found the backside of it. The area around it has now been excavated into a long narrow crawlspace, and both the floor and ceiling are quite solid, resisting all attempts to dig them out to create more workspace. Because of this, we will likely need to drill and shoot the floor below the fluorite seams to loosen it up before much more work can be done in the area.

Despite not being able to get out the large rock, which has been the object of our fixation for a couple days now, I did manage to get out 5-6 large fluorite-covered sections of a seam exposed on the side of the cavity we’ve dug. All look destined for wholesale flats except for one, which is a real show-stopper. I hope we can find a few more like it. Today’s photo is of Byron having a go at the face.

Dave’s day was even more frustrating. It seems that he was correct, and there was a problem with the round we tried to shoot Wednesday afternoon. Only a couple of the holes actually fired, so we now must figure out if it is a problem with the detonators or a problem with out exploder. Until we get this sorted, however, we won’t be driving much tunnel. Being ever the optimist, Dave continued his drilling yesterday afternoon. His chosen spot to drill was the west side of the tunnel near the face, so collecting was a noisy and bone-rattling experience for a bit. Thankfully, everyone had earplugs.

I was tired of cooking last night, and as there were no other volunteers from the crew, we went to see Isabel and Jeffery at the Weardale Inn for supper. They’ve considerably remodeled the place over winter and it no longer has the run-down, 1970s era Spanish villa feel to it. Better yet, they had Timothy Taylor’s Landlord on, which is, in the humble estimation of the author, one of the best beers to be had in the country. Isabel also had a new little Jack Russell puppy, which insisted that I throw a squeaky toy around for it to fetch for most of the evening.

Back to it, shortly. More digging at the face today. Shanade will be back for more specimen cleaning on Monday and we need enough to keep her busy. Dave has some theories about what our blasting problem is, which will be tested at day’s end.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

Byron collecting at the face.

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