Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Greetings from Weardale,

Yesterday was fairly warm for the North Pennines, highs around 20C/68F, but remained cloudy all day. Only the occasional rain shower passed through, however. This morning dawns warm and clear with only a slight breeze. Looks nice, but has the potential to develop into prime midge weather.

The shot in the northwest cross cut, where the Vein Pocket is currently exposed went well, and upon arriving at the mine we were greeted by a large pile of fine rubble clogging the drift. Cal had stuffed the pocket with a couple rolls of bubble wrap in hopes of protecting the exposed fluorite from the effects of the blast. Unfortunately, Iím not sure a couple rolls of plastic were quite up to the job, and what we found was a shredded mass of plastic jammed into the far end of the pocket. Todayís photo is of the results.

Cal, Eric and I spent the morning shoveling muck out of the pocket and Cal managed to pluck several decent specimens from the muck in the process. After cleaning out the pocket sufficiently for two of us to get in, we spent a few frustrating hours trying to hammer some of the remaining fluorite clusters from the pocket wall. We managed to get a few more specimens out, but the rock in the vein is so hard and unfractured what we got, for the most part, was sore muscles from swinging a hammer over our heads.

Byron spent more time in the pocket at the face and dug a few more tubs of wholesale-quality specimens. Shortly before lunch break, he managed to pull a large, fluorite-coated boulder out of the pocket floor. Unfortunately, the rock likely weighs well over 100 kilos, so we have yet to figure out how to get it out of the pocket and out to the landing for sawing.

After lunch, Dave set to drilling the main face for blasting at end of the day. Being forced to vacate the pocket, Byron set up the chain saw on the landing and spent the afternoon cutting up an accumulation of larger specimens. Nothing truly astounding came out of it, but we did get some good filler for wholesale flats. After helping Byron with the sawing, I went up to the face and spent the end of day helping Dave clear out all the equipment and water hose prior to shooting the face.

This morning Dave will be busy mucking out the face, so no collecting will be possible until it is cleaned out and secured with timbering. We have an accumulation of cleaned specimens that need to be wrapped and binned, so that will likely be the first task of the day for Cal and me. Our German friend and dealer Jurgen Margraf should be arriving mid-day for a visit. Hopefully he will adapt to right-hand drive and English beer without too much bother.

Until next time,

Jesse & Crew

So much for the padding.



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