Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Greetings from Weardale.

The weather here the past few days has been typical for the North Pennines, cool, cloudy and occasionally rainy. This morning shows little change from this. At least we have been spared too many torrential down-pours, so the quarry hasnít turned into a mud pit. On Saturday Ian and I were taking a walk up Rookhope Burn looking at the wild flowers and ruins of several old mines. Being focused on taking photos, we didnít notice the dark cloud heading our way and got caught in a passing squall. Unfortunately, we were a good way out from the village and were pretty well soaked by the time we made it back to the Rookhope Inn. The consolation prize was a good pint of Timothy Taylorís Landlord (one of the best beers in these parts) as we sat dripping in the seats at the pub.

Tom and Asia were back from their travels on Saturday afternoon, this time in the company of Jolyon Ralph (of Mindat.org fame), who had rescued them from a broken down rental car somewhere in the Lakes District of Cumbria. On Sunday the entire crew, consisting of Cal, Ian, me, Tom, Asia and Jolyon, along with friends American friends Al and Sue Leibtrau paid a visit to another mineral exposure in the quarry to do a bit of digging. Tom was particularly successful in his efforts and came away with a large fluorite-covered rock, which we subsequently made a bit smaller for him with the chain saw. Todayís photo is of Tom and Asia posing with their find. Iím not sure just how they will get it onto the airline flight back to Warsaw, but Tom was confident that it would be no problem.

On Monday Cal got out the new chain saw and we had at a bunch of large specimens that had been accumulating about the mine. Many of these have been coming out of the remains of the Rat Hole portion of the West Cross Cut. There were several areas of the pocket that had fluorite remaining on the pocket walls, The rock was too tight to collect by hand, so we have been slowly breaking it out with light blasts, while timbering the area to prevent any roof collapse. Monday afternoon, Dave installed more timber in the area and shot another portion of the pocket wall, which Cal, Ian and I collected yesterday. Another round or two in this area and we will likely have much of what remains. We have been working forward from the rear of the flats, near the Rat Tail pocket, and backfilling the zone as we go. The West Cross Cut has been our best-producing area of the mine, and has sustained much of the operation since we found it in 2001. Looks like we will soon have pretty much all it has to offer. I just hope we can find another mineralized flat like it.

Today we will likely get out the chain saw again, to deal with the large bits we collected yesterday. There is also a bit of backlog of specimens needing to be washed and packed into shipping bins. Dave and Joe will likely finish mucking the main face, so we can examine it and collect anything that has turned up. Afterwards, we will decide where to head for our last week here. There is an interesting looking pocket that we collected two weeks ago on the east side of the tunnel, just back from the face. The general consensus seems to be that we will start another cross cut here in hopes that it continues away from the main vein. It still feels very strange to be doing all this without Byron.

Until next time,

Cheers,

Jesse & Crew



Tom and Asia with their find.

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