25 November 2015

Bringing colleagues to an underground birthday party

If I take pics underground, I often place them in the depository of the big nation-wide mine exploration website. Some time ago, one of the men took one of these pics (the one with the partly flooded chamber) and placed it on Facebook. It was quite a nice pic; one of our PhD students commented it was very cool. It's always nice if people are enthusiastic! I said he should come with us next time. A lot of people say what we do is cool, but very few actually ever show up. But this chap, called Richard, did! And by sheer coincidence we went to the very same place. It would be a special night: Mick's fiancee had her birthday, and she had brought her son + significant other along to celebrate.

The car struggled a bit to get there. My exhaust is a bit low slung these days, and with four in a car it was dragging over the tarmac. Oh dear. But we got there. We greeted the festive party (they were already there) and got ready. I had brought my normal helmet (for Rich) and my old one (for me). The latter uses a lot of batteries, and I realised I had left a batch charging in my office. Oh dear! But I could borrow some and all was well.

We set off in much better weather than last time. Soon we got to the entrance. Rich was ecstatic. Good! We started on our way, the usual route, and soon were in the chamber I had taken the picture in. I figured it would be nicely symbolic to get Rich to stand where I had been standing when taking the picture that had inspired him. To get there you had to walk a narrow-ish, smooth slate ledge next to a deep pool, and you had to go back the same way too. There was a big metal pin to hold on to, though, so I figured it was fair. I told Rich to follow me. He wasn't too happy, but he did it! But when he realized he had to go back the same way he hated me.

I didn't do any more of that stuff. This was the only part of the mine I figured he really had to see! The rest was optional. But I was keen on a specific bit. The previous time we had seen a traverse, and this time we wanted to do it. I struggled to find it, though. Luckily Paul knows his way around there. After some general scampering and admiring artifacts we got to it.

 Pics by Rich

I went up with Zen, Mick's step-ex-daughter-in-law-to-be or something, who had come with us before. She was a bit nervous as on that traverse, you're very exposed. But she managed, of course. I helped her into the rope for the abseil at the end, and while I was at it, did the same for Rob's son who, since Bog mine, had become a regular and was there too (the average age has never been this low!). Then I could come down myself. Box ticked! Then we did a birthday group pic.

 Pic by Rich

 Birthday collage by David

We went on. This time we didn't linger as much in the rest of the mine, but we did make sure to see most fo the sights. And this time I wanted to come out through the main gate! It's quite a gate and a half, and looks like it gives entrance to Mordor or something. We needed wo attempts to find it but then we got there. And were out!

 Pic by Rich

Back at the cars we had special cake, and champagne. A special night! And Rich is hooked now!

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