Desert Prospecting With BBMG (continued)

By the time BillBrew found the truck, he'd worked up a powerful thirst. That wasn't a problem as there was plenty of thirst quenching stuff on ice. Grivy has happy to see him as BillBrew had been gone several hours and he was beginning to worry about him. Not that he really cared that much about BillBrew but Bill had the keys to the truck in his pocket and sooner or later he would need them when they ran out of ice. If BillBrew didn't find his way back by then, Grivy would have to leave the truck and go find him, or what was left of him, to get the keys to the truck. 

After a few beers rest, BillBrew told Grivy about the mineshaft he had found. As they downed a few more beers each, they discussed their plan. If they both carried backpacks, they should be able to get their necessary supplies to the mine site. About a case of beer each ought to last them until darkness forced them to return to the truck. With a little bit of luck they might even be able to take along a few small prospecting items. Finally after much discussion they packed up and hiked off towards the mine site.

One of the shafts

After a short search, they found a shaft. This couldn't be the one all of the tailings had came out of as it didn't seem big enough. After examining it, they decided that they would continue the search. There had to be more shafts in the area.

Chipping off a few samples

Soon they found another shaft a short distance from the first. This one looked a lot more promising. They could see a rose quartz vein at the rock face while standing at the surface. They decided to chip away a sample of the vein face to take back to civilization to have assayed. They flipped a coin to see who would crawl down into the hole. BillBrew lost. The next problem was what to put the sample into. A beer bottle top opening was too small. They had a real good supply of those. This was a real problem! They both sat down and broke out a couple more cool one's to drink as they sought a solution. A six pack later BillBrew noticed, "Hey!! Our beer is iced down in 5 gallon buckets. If we drink a few more, we can combine the two buckets into one bucket and use the empty one to place the samples in"! After solving the problem with a stroke of pure brilliance, the transfer was quickly made and soon BillBrew was scrambling down into the hole. A selection of areas across the rock face was chipped off and stored in the plastic bucket. Feeling good about finally doing a little prospecting, they decided to look around some more. Soon they found an even larger shaft. This one was actually a tunnel.

Inside a shaft

After carefully inspecting the rock surrounding the opening, they decided that it would be safe to go in.  I know by now after reading about their adventures to this point that all of you can tell that they were highly experienced miners and they would make nothing but the best of decisions about prospecting safety. Entering old mining shafts should be left to highly trained, clear thinking professionals who can make good safety decisions. As they examined the tunnel, they could tell this hadn't been worked for quite a while. The timbering was old, falling in, and rotten. This was the time to take a few minutes to discuss the various mining engineering techniques for shoring up tunnels before they proceeded. As they sat on their buckets with a couple more beers in their hands they mentally ran through a check list of safety items. This didn't take too long as they both could only think of one thing. Make sure the flashlight works. There were snakes in some of these tunnels and they didn't want to run into any in the dark. After finishing their beers off, they went into the darkness of the tunnel, their one flashlight in Grivy's hands.

Looking up through an air shaft

As they went deeper into the mountain, they found an air shaft. This could have also been used to haul ore up to the surface. Just about the only way to tell would be on the surface. If there was waste rock scattered around, it probably was an ore shaft. 

Further exploration produced more ore samples for the bucket. Soon it was getting too heavy to add more to. Even though they were continually lightening the other bucket with the beer in it, the weight of the bucket with the samples in it was adding up faster. It was time to leave. Carefully winding their way back out, they were soon rewarded with bright sunlight and fresh air. After a short rest on the buckets, only a beer apiece this time, they hiked back to the truck for an evening of rest and relaxation. 

Who knows what tomorrow's exploration will find.

Any resemblance between this and a true story would be purely coincidental. I wasn't there and I don't even know BillBrew other than a few emails. I did meet Grivy as chronicled in The Denver stopover of the Arizona Expedition on another page on this site. This is merely my imagination running wild about a desert prospecting trip with the two of them based on my brief meeting with Grivy.  I hope to join them on a desert prospecting trip in the near future. I'm a beer drinker too!
The Golden Optimist

Footnote 02/27/2002
I have since met BillBrew and prospected with him in much of the same area. The beer truck/prospecting van has been replaced with an old jeep with the drivers seat propped upright with a piece of wood which occasionally falls out of place allowing the seat to fall backwards into a full-reclining position making for an interesting desert driving experience.

All photographs courtesy of Mike Gryvnak (Grivy)