The idea was to see if we could find a horizontal exit. And we would explore past a gaping hole we had not previously been able to negotiate. We started with looking for the exit; there was a level ending in a collapse, and we figured just behind it might be the woods. So armed with a tape measure we made a simple map of the mine, sent it up the rope to the surface dwellers who would try to look for the place where that collapse would come out at the surface, and started digging…
Hours later we had managed to remove lots and lots of rubble, but still had seen no sign of the surface. Time to go back to the shaft, report back to the surface men (who hadn’t found the site), retrieve the ladder they’d let down, cross the gaping hole, encounter the dead end only a few tens of meters behind it, and get back to our dig. We then displaced even more rubble, and made our very own cloud of fog; it’s a confined, unventilated space, and two hard-working people breathe and sweat it hazy in no time. I did realize that this was a bit of an unconventional way of spending a Sunday, but I enjoyed myself.
The other side of the gaping hole. Now we know what's there!
The day was progressing, and at some point we called it a day. We kitted back up and climbed out. No luck! But a day well spent. All together we probably found the place where our level came out at the hillside, but who knows how much rubble there still was between where we had been toiling, and the fresh air. We might go back there one day; give it another try.
Lionel (who else had this been?) and I were hungry by now. Finbar had to get back to his horses, but Rick was so kind as to accompany us to a nearby pub that would still serve food at this hour. The food never had a chance! By the time we left the pub the sky was already pink. And next weekend it should get even wilder! Much wilder…
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