Friday, June 19, 2009

Greetings from Weardale.

Yesterday it was quite windy and cold. Did not see much sunshine either, but at least the rain held off until we were leaving the mine for the day. This morning the wind is still up, to the point that gusts are occasionally pruning bits off of some trees around here. Clouds are fast-moving but the sun does shine through sometimes. At least the quarry should be relatively dry.

Dave was off yesterday for a school graduation event for his daughter, Shanade, who will be going on to university in the fall. Byron, Greg and I spent the better part of the day at the newly timbered face. The exposures of fluorite now wrap completely around from the forward face well back along the east side of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the exposures are currently fairly high up and some sort of ladder is needed to effectively get at most. Byron got in first and had the proper ladder, while Greg had to settle for a little four-rung sort of thing that barely elevated him enough to reach the fluorite. I needed to stop on the way in and order some new water-proof coveralls from one of our local suppliers. As a result, I was last in and got no ladder at all. I did manage to find a spot where I could position myself on a rock lip near the fluorite and dig away. Unfortunately, each time I needed to use a large bar to pry out a rock I ended up levering myself off the rock ledge and back down into the tunnel instead. With Gregís help I finally managed to fashion a platform to stand on with some timber and got some digging in. Not that this really did much good as the section of the fluorite seam I had chosen to work appeared to be pretty well broken up and nothing worthwhile came out.

Byron and Greg had only marginally better luck. By the end of the day, a lot of rock had been shifted from the face to the tunnel floor, and several tubs had been filled with stuff destined for wholesale flats, but only a couple specimens of real interest had turned up. Late in the afternoon Greg exposed what looked like a large, mud-filled cavity, and we all took turns washing and digging at it. It was full of fluorite, but unfortunately, the roof layer (where the best specimens are usually found) had become detached from the actual roof of the cavity. This left the fluorite layer with no matrix rock to hold it together and the whole thing crumbled to bits as we tried to extract it.

Back up dale, we decided to try the Weardale Inn for dinner. Upon arrival we were treated to a freshly tapped cask of Timothy Taylorís Landlord, which washed away some of the dayís frustration. Isabel, however, was busy getting set up for a large weekend event that had been booked, and only had time to get some chicken salad sandwiches on for us. At least it was decent food and I didnít have to prepare it.

Today we will be back at the face digging once again in search of fame and fortune. Dave plans to drill and shoot the new cross cut weíve begun heading east near the area of the Jewel Box Pocket, about 15 meters or so back from the face. Iím quite interested to see what we can find in that area given the quality that turned up along the main tunnel in 2007 and early 2008.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron



Working at the main face.

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