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Thread: PAK's Big Adventure

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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    So I had an adventure this past Saturday. On a field trip with the rock club I am a member of, I got a rare opportunity to enter Morefield Mine in Amelia, VA. Amelia sits on top of a pegmatite and produces many fine minerals. This mine tour was a special opportunity because the mine might be closing and if it closes, it closes forever. Morefield Mine is a pay-to-dig business although the digging is all done on the surface. You are not allowed in the mine as its still an active working mine. You can find garnet, clevelandite, amazonite, quartz, smokey quartz, amethyst, ametrine, star quartz, moonstone, kyanite and unakite to name a few minerals. Its a great place to take kids to play in the dirt and mud.

    So...I was very nervous about doing this because I knew we had to descend and ascend 60 feet of vertical ladders. I'm not too keen on heights. I also knew this was a physical challenge.

    I am decked out in the required gear...steeltoed boots (brand new $120 LaCrosse boots for $19 on eBay!), hard hat and head lamp. We had to take oxygen units with us. I had to stuff mine in my pocket because nobody told me to bring a belt or pack. Hmmph! So I was pretty bulgy. We have to sign all kinds of papers and have all the rules read to us. Then off we go. We go to the smaller entrance and I see where I have to go. I'm terrified!! lol A small wood platform with a hole cut in it...and a ladder disappearing into the dark. From this point on...it is only fear-produced adrenalin that moves me.



    We actually didn't enter here but its one of the mine shaft entrance/exits. We exited here at the end of the tour.

    We had to descend a vertical wood ladder to a wood platform...turn around...descend another ladder to a platform...turn around...descend another ladder to a platform. Down, down, down. I was TERRIFIED! lol I discovered that mine ladders were not built for short people. Some of rungs were spaced rather far apart and I could barely reach them with my arms and legs. But...it was too late. It was do it or die! On this first round we descended about 50-60 feet into the earth.



    Once in the mine corridor...I was fine. It was cool and very wet. Some areas were lighted but most of it was dark and you needed your head lamps. The mine was awsome! It was beautiful with all the many minerals in layers and veins.



    Seven club members went in...and we had one mining engineer as a tour guide (he's in the black Tshirt). The rest were wimps and stayed outside to dig. hehe (Yeah, I'm a wimp...just a wimp down in a deeeeeeep hole.)



    There were more ladders down. This is one of the shafts going dow another level. At this point water was pouring down like rain. I actually opted out of this one descent as we were warned about the water and our cameras. I stayed on this level and tried to avoid the falling water. Amazingly I saw a tiny frog and a lizard! Yup, I was alone in a dark tunnel with creepy crawlies...



    This is a terrible photo but my camera doesn't focus well in low light. This little guy never moved a muscle. Anyone know what it is? I wondered if it were blind. Maybe it was after the little frog...



    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Some of the minerals:

    There were TONS of mica...huge plates of it. This was over a foot across.



    Morefield Mine is famous for its amazonite. Its used a lot in jewelry. You find this everywhere on the ground there, along with so much mica the ground sparkles like diamonds.



    My favorite mineral, fluorite. A rare find there. I was happy to see it and get this shot. I want to find some there myself.



    A mixture of stuff. All this formed millions of years ago...aren't all the layers and mineral zones COOL?!



    OK...not expecting to see a hoe. Don't ask me how or why. lol



    There is a display for Morefield Mine in the Smithsonian Institute. And this scene is what they chose to use for the model they created to represent the mine. So this is a "famous" scene.

    After all the cavorting in the mine, we worked our way back. This meant...climbing the ladders. That was the WORST! I had trouble getting hold of some rungs (mines aren't made for short people)...my hard hat fell off!!! ("Watch out belooooooow!")....I was clinging to the ladders so tight King Kong couldn't have plucked me off. As scared as I was, I forced myself to go on...one rung at a time. Ladder after ladder after ladder.... Looking up was as bad and looking down so I looked at the wall and struggled my way up.




    AT LAST we were up! We came out at the place in the first photo. Still in a huge hole, we had to climb one more ladder... a breeze since it was slightly slanted. (The photo is blurry because my camera immediately began to fog up because of the moisture it had been exposed to. So my last shots are all foggy.)

    I SURVIVED! I CONQUERED TALL VERTICAL LADDERS IN DARK HOLES! I STARED DOWN A LIZARD (who probably couldn't see me). I AM WOMAN!

    I am one sore and achin' woman. The trip was a rollercoaster of terror and thrill! The mine was great! The ladders were a nightmare.

    They have scheduled another trip in the fall. I can work on building some muscle but knowing how difficult it was for me to reach some of the rungs and the fear-of-heights thing...I'm not sure I could do it again. But I'm glad I did it once!



    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    SirKristoff is a poopiehead Ozzy's Avatar
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    The lizard looks like a fence lizard.

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    WOWWWWWW!!! Looks that that amazonite..oh oh oh!!! WEll, you've one upped me _ I have never been down in a deep dark hole like that, just average holes dug at various collecting sites.

    Folks PAK talks brave but when I talked to her that night she was a quakin' in her steel toes boots (required equipment to tour a mine).

    The whole area is amazing for its mineralization, and famous for its amazonite.

    Quite an experience, and one to test the spirit and mettle of anyone. So now you know how tough you really are. You survived and you have an experience few will ever match. Mining and rockhounding is HARD work, pretty much wherever you do it, but this is what we do to experience the magic of the Earth and the incredible beauty of the crystals and minerals hidden in the deep and dark.

    Way cool, and thanks for sharing!
    "Grow More, Share More"

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    Illinois droseraguy's Avatar
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    That was totally cool PAK thanks for posting the photos. I take my son to caves in the summer but that mine would be awesome.
    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and The American G. I. One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.
    Romans 10: 9-13
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    Moderator Schmoderator Fluorescent fluorite, England PlantAKiss's Avatar
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    Thanks. Yeah, the mine was awsome.

    Quote Originally Posted by [b
    Quote[/b] ]Folks PAK talks brave but when I talked to her that night she was a quakin' in her steel toes boots
    When did I talk brave?? lol I admitted to everyone that I was terrified on the ladders. It wasn't bravery that motivated me. It was sheer terror that 1) no way up or down but the ladders so "just do it!" 2) there were people behind me so I had to keep my rump moving. My fear of heights isn't paralyzing but its enough to have made that part of the experience unpleasant.

    But if you ever get a chance to go into a mine...GO! Its amazing. You are sooo deep into the ground.
    "Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs." - Jerome K. Jerome

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    As a fellow person with a 'thing' about heights, I doff my hat to you, Milady. Truly a feat of bravery, with a totally gorgeous reward.

    setep
    Droserae will inherit the earth.

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    So, how big is that mica plate?
    "Grow More, Share More"

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