Friday, May 28, 2010

Greetings from Weardale.

Everything hurts this morning! My arms, my shoulders, my neck, and specially the muscles in my right leg! Could be because Iíve spent much of the past three days laying on my side in mud and gravel, trying to crawl far enough into a small, convoluted cavity to hammer and pry at fluorite specimens covering the walls. The far end of the cavity is so small that to look around, I need to take my hardhat off and use it as a pillow. The floor of the cavity slopes away from the back end, so when ever I spray some water about to wash mud off the fluorite and see what I have, it lubricates the mud debris Iím laying on and I slide backwards out of the cavity. The only way to remain in place is to push against a large rock back in the tunnel with my foot. Every once in a while, I crawl out of the cavity, stretch my body back into some sort of proper shape, and shovel out the accumulated mud and gravel. This makes life in the pocket a bit easier, but soon the washing and hammering for specimens has replenished the muck I just removed, and I need to repeat the cycle. But enough of this whining. Now, the weatherÖ

Yesterday was mostly sunny, but rather cold as there was a strong wind coming from the northeast. A few rain showers drifted through, but not enough to get anything seriously wet. This morning the sun is out and it looks as if the wind has died down to a light breeze, so could be a nice day here in the North.

Yesterday was a mucking day for both Dave and Brian, who had at clearing out the two crosscuts near the face. Both were fired at the end of last summer, and as thereís no track for the Eimco going into them, they need to be mucked by hand. Shoveling rock is a rather single-minded task and if one can simply focus on the task, both time and muck will flow. By late afternoon both tunnels were largely cleared of debris, and several large heaps filled the main tunnel, awaiting the Eimco.

Bryon and Greg spent much of the day working the crushed zone on the west side of the tunnel near the face. There are currently two alcoves along the side of the tunnel with exposures of fluorite. Byron has been working the furthest one for the past few days and had so far only turned up broken bits and a few heavily damaged plates. Thereís a lot of nicely deep green fluorite showing, and by the end of the day his persistence started to pay off with a couple largely undamaged pieces. These are much like the material we got in 2008 out of the Blue Bell pocket, so hopefully as we dig to the west, away from the fracture zone following the main vein weíll get into ground that is less broken up and find better specimens.

I am not sure if Greg turned up anything from the area where he was working. He did, however, manage to drop a large and intrusive rock from the ceiling, which lodged itself right in the middle of his work area. He says that thereís some fluorite on the underside of the rock, but it evidently resisted all attempts to get it turned over.

My first two days in the Rat Tail were fairly productive, but the specimen production dwindled to a trickle yesterday, as most of the things not firmly attached to the cavity walls have obviously been had. I did manage to recover one nice hedgehog-like fluorite knob, and a few large plates that I was able to chisel off the walls. I suspect that we will need to do some light shots in the floor of the cavity in order to better access to what remains. Todayís photo is of the pocket, showing a large plate at the back. I spent much of the day yesterday trying to undercut it, but it remains resistant to extraction. When the pain subsides a bit, maybe Iíll have at it again.

Today will be a mechanized mucking day, and Brian will get his introduction to the Eimco in action. Iím sure that Byron and Greg will be back at digging up front. The specimens are starting to accumulate so Iíll likely start getting the washing station set up.

Until next time,

Jesse & Byron

The interior of the Rat Tail pocket.

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