The view from the hilltop
The woods had been rearranged since any of us had been here previously
Before that happened I had a sneaky look in a side passage; it had pretty drippies, and it lead along another stope of which the false floors had collapsed.
When I came back David had rigged the second pitch. Soon he was down, and confirmed there was a way out from there; we could make this a through trip. Small complication was that either we would have to re-rig the top pitch as a pull-through (not easy in this situation) or someone would have to walk back up and retrieve the rope.
I came down too. Next down would be Brian. I had just scampered out of a hole back towards David when Brian shouted a warning. David said "maybe stay where you are for now"; the warning had related to rocks falling. Unfortunately, where I was happened to actually be in their path, and I had an unpleasant (though solidly undramatic) encounter with one of them. I decided to go back down the hole for now...
A bit later most of us were down, and it was clear we would have to retrieve the rope. I was keen on not being home too late (as usual) so I said I'd go out, get the rope, and meet the others at the exit. I went out with Brian, as he lives in the Wirral and has a long trip home, and was thinking the same as me. I went up the hill where beautiful pink evening skies flaunted their stuff, and tried to pull the rope up and roll it up neatly while keeping off the midges. That wasn't working! I tucked the messy tangle under my arm and walked back to the adit. There I had a second attempt. I hoped by then the others would have appeared, but they hadn't. I decided to go back in and speed things up. Brian decided to not wait and go back to the cars.
I went in, and soon saw light. I found the men at another pitch down we could do. What most of them would do was their decision, but David was my passenger so I could not leave without him. I had warned him in advance I would have another Welsh exam the next morning and wouldn't want to make it a late night, but that tends not to be enough. Such trips are full of people who vent good intentions of early nights at the start of the trip, but who get carried away and end up lingering like there's no tomorrow. I tend to stick with my opinions, so I started to pull David's sleeve with my catchphrase "can we go home now?". Some exchange of opinions followed. Fortunately, that exchange did have the desired result. We headed for the exit.
There was cake, courtesy of Mick who due to his physical state could not he there, but which hadn't stopped him from supplying baked stuff, and I knew I could not whisk David home without enjoying such. Finally we could leave. The end of a successful trip. But the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Thursday Nighters.
The next morning, minutes before the Welsh exam, I got an ominous email from David. It just asked me to call him ASAP. Oh dear. I did, and he told me Phil had had an accident on the way back from our mine trip. No! We were still coping with Mick only just having escaped death and paralysis and having a full-time job revalidating for the coming months, while he recovered from heavy back surgery, and now we had Phil in hospital. How long would he be out of the running? Hopefully not long! And there even was a member of the club I had never met because of a traffic accident. He had not only got seriously injured, but had also caused the accident, landing him in prison. It could well be all three men would resurface around the same time; we might have to schedule some easy trips for our damaged friends! Clearly, if you want to be a mine explorer and stay safe, then don't come out of the mine! Inside you might just sustain a small dent due to a fallen rock, but in the outside world you risk leg and back! I hope all men are back to immaculate health soon...