2016 Mine Recap

2016 was not a great year for me, for my body, I mean. I tore my shoulder in February to the point of requiring surgery to regain mobility, which then started the process of physical therapy. Now six months later I'm almost back to 100%, but it was a process and involved several weeks in an immobilizer with no mobility and lots of learning yoga poses and dorking around with elastic bands and whatnot. It'll be a bit before I'm as strong as I used to be before the accident, but it's been good progress. Then there was the whole "heart" thing, but that's another story.

Normally, summer is prime season for mine exploration. I got a late start this year and didn't even get underground until mid June, and even then didn't get many days in. That said, here is a recap of new developments in the Colorado mine exploration front.

In June, my exploring partner Tyler and I met up at the dinosaur lots to drive up and hike around a well-known mine area. On a previous trip he'd found an adit that looked promising with some decent airflow. We poked around a bit outside, then decided to come back with the full set of gear the following week.

It took a bit of... creativity to gain access, and once we got in we were met with a flood just a few meters in. We could see past it though, so we were not deterred in the slightest - at least Tyler wasn't. He popped his boots off and immediately started wading in barefoot, at points with water well above the knee, and called back that I should join him. Crazy, I thought, but then again this hobby has its fair share of crazy. I shed my boots and followed behind him with my pack and boots on my back. My bare feet inched carefully on the rusted rail line, at some points slipping in the muck below, praying that there was nothing sharp to snag a toe on.

On the far side with boots back on we were greeted with some nice relics. There were some intact ore buckets leftover from an aerial tramway, and a good sized single piston hoist.

The level wasn't huge, but it was a haulage for some other workings above and below. The only access was through some very sketchy ladders, rotten with moisture, so we made the prudent decision to not go vertical.

All in all, a good find!

At the end of July, Tyler and I decided to visit an old friend. We have been exploring a collection of historic mines for several years now, finding new entrances to once-lost mines - sometimes even digging them out by hand to gain access. This trip we used an entrance we found last year with the aim to explore new sections underground. Unfortunately I left my camera pretty near the top, but we did get some good exploring in.

One of the sections I wanted to visit was a length filled with ... what looks like something you might find on the moon. It gave under body weight, so we didn't follow that path very far.

I did take some snapshots with my phone - best camera is still the one you have with you ;)

We followed the tunnel to the haulage level, and donned waders once again to visit the mine pool. The water level seemed a bit lower than in the past, but that could be attributed to the late season.

It's been a warm October, and we took some advantage of it to visit my favorite high country mine. The entrance is over 13,000 feet up and given the year-round cold it experiences, it's covered with ice crystals like you wouldn't believe.

This trip was all about exploring new areas as well, so I didn't get many great shots. I did carry the camera around with the wide zoom and took a bunch of snapshots with the speedlight, so I'll let those photos do the talking.

So all in all not a terrible summer! I can't wait to heal up to 100% and get my full strength back to get back to rope work and some deeper explorations further into these exciting mines.