13 February 2017

Busy in the dig

Miles would be back, and this time, he'd bring backup. We had been making amazing progress, but he clearly thought it wasn't enough; he decided to ask his employees if they were interested in coming along and helping dig. So after a one week digging break I expected to go and meet him and one other chap. None of the other ThursdayNighters had indicated interest in a trip so it sounded like I'd have all the fun.

When the day came, an email with a proposed trip came around anyway (we're very late organising stuff these days). We'd all be in the digs! And "all" turned out to be also Don (who had been ill) and Paul (who is an expert procrastinator). Paul had forgotten his socks, so I gave him one of the pairs I normally wear in my wellies. They justabout fit...

We went up, in, and down. I was ahead (surprise) and went into Dig 2 where I soon heard voices. Then I saw faces: three of them! Not only I had come with more people than expected. I greeted Miles and got introduced to Pete and Matt, the other chaps. They had been in there since the afternoon, and had extended electricity to the working end of the dig. They had also started placing explosives in the entrance to the crawl.

I was keener on making the far end more pleasant, so within minutes of showing up I was drilling holes in one of the two rocks left over from the previous time. Pete had got the other one out with a mallet! Good job. While I was at it, Don and Paul arrived. They had an admiring look around, and then went to the other dig. I'd see them later! Soon afterwards we could blast both rounds. And then clean up! While the dust settled we had a hot beverage but soon we were back at work.

Miles wanted to do more blasting at the entrance, but I was keen to make progress rather than beautifying the place, so I suggested I'd go in and start drilling the wall of chamber Y, the next one on. I did want to bring some menacingly perched boulders along the way down. I didn't like the look of them!

I figured the boulders would have to be done first, and I did not want them to come down while I was behind them. I started wiggling a bit with the crowbar, and the first rock came down. Success. Now the next. That one was scary; I wanted a longer pole. I went back to see what I could find.

We had had a piece of inch-thick rebar, and Miles had used it to secure the ceiling in the previous chamber, but afterwards he had reinforced the whole structure with scaffolding, and that meant the rebar was now superfluous. When I got back with it, Matt was looking at more rocks, and wanted to bring more down. Be my guest!

He did with panache. What was left pendant seemed stable. I felt comfortable underneath! So I could get on with my scary boulder. It was about 1.2 x 0.5 x 0.3m. Big! But when it came down, it didn't bring much with it. A relief! But it was a big bugger and now it was in the way. I started drilling it! The passage onwards could wait; this had to be done first. Before I got drilling, Pete left. He had a long drive home...

When I placed charges I noticed the resin gun, with which I had had trouble earlier, had a blocked nozzle so I needed a new one. Matt went to get one. I offered to do it myself (it hadn't taken me long to realise I was also faster in tight spaces than him and Pete) but he insisted. That provided a pause!

I heard sounds that suggested Miles was climbing a scary void in the previous chamber; I decided to keep an eye on him, but he didn't need it; he got up and down without issues. Then I got my nozzle. By that time, however, Miles suggested he should scoot. I didn't want to block another nozzle, so I tended to the resin gun first, but then I said goodbye to the men.

When they left I had another fight with the uncooperative resin gun. I couldn't get it to work! I filled one hole, and plugged the other one with drill dust. It would have to do! Then I wired it all up. The resin of the one hole had to set, but it was close to 10PM, so I should go and see Don and Paul. When I got to the first collapse I found them there. They were fine with me going back, setting off the charges, and then going out with them! So I did. I did not go back to check the effect of the blast; it was late.

I went back to the men, and climbed out. At the top of the pitch I had a sandwich or two; other than the cup of tea with the Go Below folks I had not consumed anything that evening. I was hungry! But I had time, as both Paul and Don are slow on the ascent.

We walked back in the freezing cold. I had spent a lot of time in the water between Z1 and Y, so I had cold feet, especially with my single pair of socks. Buy the time I had changed into my normal clothes my feet hurt considerably. It would take half of the journey back, in a car with the heating on full blast, so get comfortable in the feet again! I hope that level gets drained soon...

Miles would be back the next week; so will I! It's still going very well in there...

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