Sunday, June 21, 2014

Good Morning from Weardale.

Our cycle of cool and cloudy in the morning, sun in the afternoon, and nice clear evenings continues with daytime temperatures comfortably around 18C/65F. There has been little rain this week so almost all of our mud puddles in the quarry have now dried up. On the down side, we havenít had much in the way of any strong breeze, either, and evenings have been quite midgey. This makes lingering outside in hopes of catching a nice sunset a less than thoroughly pleasant experience, but I did manage to get a decent shot of mid-summerís eve here in the North, as seen below.

Last Wednesday evening while sharing supper with friends Lloyd and Helen, Lloyd mentioned that he thought they might have exposed the start of a nice cavity while digging in last summerís crosscut that day. Not being one to pass up on the possibility of finding something good in our expensive little mud hole, Cal and I decided to crawl our way back into the crosscut on Thursday and see what we could find. The problem with this place is that it has now become a narrow, hand-excavated tunnel about 30 feet/10 meters long. Only one person at a time can get in and one must work laying in the mud and water while trying to reach over oneís head to get at the potential specimens. This is why we are trying to intersect the pocket zone with the main drift a bit further to the north. We havenít yet encountered the pocket zone on the main heading, and the lure of good specimens is too hard to resist, so back in to the crosscut we went.

After about 4-5 hours of trading places at the head of the tunnel, we had both gotten thoroughly covered with mud, and Cal had managed to fill one of his wellie boots with water, but we had our first decent haul of specimens for the summer. It appears as if the pocket zone continues, but is now well out of reach to any human of normal anatomical proportions. If we are to continue collecting in the crosscut we will once again need to muck it out by hand in order to make enough room to work. My back goes into spasms just thinking about this, but if we donít get to the pocket zone via the main heading soon, I may consider it.

While Cal and I were thrashing about in the crosscut, Dave spent much of the day scaling loose rock from the main face, installing a new set of sliders at the end of the track, and finishing the timber set. With our temporary diversion into the crosscut, we decided that we would plan on another small blast at the face to square up the tunnel before having at the newly exposed alteration zone.

Friday morning Dave set to drilling the face first thing while Cal and I picked up the dayís explosives from our store. We were scheduled to have our annual visit from the constable who issues our explosives permit, and he said he would be bringing along one of his co-workers to see our operation. We held the shot, thinking they would like to witness it, but no one showed up, so we finally fired after lunch break. The shot was fairly small so we were able to get the face mucked out by dayís end, which would allow Cal and I the chance to dig at the altered zone on Saturday, while Dave worked on his bike in anticipation of his next race.

Yesterday morning, first order of business was a trip to Bishop Auckland for some needed supplies. The further we tunnel, the more water line we need to keep water available at the face. The line pressure of our water supply is fairly high, meaning that if we try to use ordinary garden hose for the job, it just explodes on us in short order. A couple years back we brought a roll of high-pressure hose with us from home, but that is now used up. Fortunately, one of our regular tool and supply stops had something that looked like it might work, so we got another 20 meters, which should keep us going for a while. Second stop was an electrical supplier to look for a high capacity fan to improve the air circulation to the face. We found one that looked right for the job, but there evidently was a higher capacity model of the same unit that the shop did not have in stock. Fortunately, they were able to order it for us and say it should be here in a couple days.

Finally at the mine, Cal and I had at the altered zone at the face with water and hand tools for a couple hours. Though there is a lot of fluorite and galena showing, the entire zone (so far) looks like it has been put through a grinder on the ďcoarse chopĒ setting. By mid-afternoon we had created a sizeable pile of rock and mud, and found a lot of green-colored fragments for our efforts, but only one or two things that might qualify as true mineral specimens. Guess itís time to roll the dice and shoot the face again on Monday. I know weíre getting close Ė I hope!

Until next time,

Jesse, Cal & Kerith



Mid-summer's eve in the North.

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