Saturday, September 5, 2009
Around 30 people a year die in abandoned mine accidents in the United States. One of those this year, just last month, was someone I know. Not one of my wrecking crew, fortunately, and not a close friend, but someone I was on nodding basis with in the grocery store. They found him, missing for some time, floating in water at the bottom of an abandoned shaft called the Iron Mask Mine. He had, apparently, been setting up in attempt to re-claim and start working the Iron Mask. His passing is a timely reminder. The mines are dangerous. They call to men, a siren song, and some will find fortune. Others, destruction. David found destruction.
I've been exploring abandoned mines for over a year now, and with increasing seriousness and professionalism. It's as valid a sport as spelunking, and as challenging, with its own unique risks. There is nothing else like it. It is my great adventure, at least of the moment, and becoming a professional endeavor as well.
The crew of friends I go exploring drifts with (Does that make us Drifters?) have planned another trip for this coming Sunday. I'm looking forward to it immensely. Haven't been down hole since June 27th.
The excitement rises, and I feel the familiar tug. Desire, overcoming trepidation. I'll spend part of tomorrow pulling out all of my gear, checking it, and re-packing it in preparation. Old mine dust will fall from the pack, scattering on the kitchen floor. Small flakes of pyrite and galena will glint and shine in the summer sun coming through the door thrown wide. I'll knock the dust out of my helmet, replace the batteries in the headlamp and ducttape the lamp back in place again. The medical kit, the tools pouch, will get checked and mounted on my chest harness. All will once more be returned to the much traveled Lowe-Alpine pack, which will set by the door waiting.
Sunday, in the darkness, I'll rise. Energy and demand thrumming in my blood, a hand with claws curled into my very will and pulling. I'll throw everything in the truck and drive South. For the hike up to an adit, where the cool air will blow from the depths – A whispering promise of the relief, the fulfillment, within. And I'll not question if it is goodness or guile – I know it is only what I bring down. And once more, I'll answer the call of Abaddon.