Saturday, August 18, 2012

Greetings from Weardale.

The brief spell of summer-like weather we had earlier in the week has gone, and things are back to normal. Rain. It came down much of the day yesterday, sometimes fairly hard, and the waterfalls in the quarry have been successfully revived. The temperature remained fairly high, however, which made it feel quite muggy and humid. This morning begins much the same, with heavy overcast and periodic showers.

The past few days at the mine have been spent wrapping things up for the season. Thursday morning Ian and I finished crating up the big rock, and in the afternoon Cal and Andrew put together the final pallet of blue bins. In total, we have 60 blue bins of specimens plus the crate containing The Giant, making five pallets. Last year we sent home only three, so everyone is feeling pleased with how things have gone this year. Yesterday around 10:00 the pallets were picked up by our shipper (in the pouring rain) and should be on their way back to California soon.

On Wednesday Dave got off a shot in the new side tunnel that will link up with the north side of the pocket zone where we have done much of our collecting this summer. A final blast was done yesterday at the head of alcove in the crosscut. Hopefully the two will now be linked up and will give us better access to the area for collecting next summer.

The other main task remaining for the summer was to complete the reinforcement of the mine portal. The current entrance was constructed around 1994 by Lindsay and Mick following a collapse at their original portal. Over the years the roof has been taking on weight from rock debris that washes down from above over winter, and when opening up last May we noticed that the I-beam at the front was being pushed outward to a dangerous degree. Rather than try to rebuild the entire structure (which would have taken a good bit of the summer) we decided to reinforce it with several steal beams. The first one was installed back in June, but we needed to get the job complete before another winter comes, so much of the past two days has been spent completing the process. The final two beams were pulled up to the mine and on Thursday Dave and the two lads installed the second of the two supports on the outside of the portal. Today’s photo shows Dave inspecting the job after the second one was put in. The third beam will be used as a cross-brace under the timber lagging that forms the roof of the portal, and was hoisted into place at the end of the day.

Yesterday, after seeing the shipment off, Cal and I spent the afternoon pulling in the water line, cleaning and lubricating the chain saw, and packing away tools and supplies that will be needed when we return next May. Late afternoon, Dave set off the final blast for the season. Afterward, we pulled the last of our unused timber up to the mine with the winch, stacked it inside the mine, and closed the doors. Another season over. It all goes so quickly.

This morning, Cal and Kerith are off on their return journey to California and then on to the Denver show next month. Ian’s wife Di has arrived, and I will be picking up Joan at the Newcastle airport in a couple hours to spend a few days vacation here before getting back to our other lives as well.

That’s all for now, see you at the shows…


Jesse, Ian, Cal & Kerith

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