As I sit here attempting to begin this paper, over and over again the thought crashes headlong into reality, where do I begin? There are so many aspects of any particular thing, how do I cover them all, where do I begin? And then like a cheap cliché it comes to me, start at the beginning.

And that's exactly what I did, but in doing so, I decided to do it a bit differently and instead of trying to recap my adventure, I've decided to pull quotes directly from my personal journal and use these to tell this year's story. This and one other little wild card; pictures! Gloria and I picked up a digital camera this last year and for the first time, I'd like to incorporate pictures into the telling of my Challis adventure. And so, with the introduction made, sit back, get comfortable and prepare to be whisked off to another world, to one I call...

Sun, Snakes and Storms; We Must Be Back In Challis!
By John Cornish

Well, here we are, this year's Challis report, my fingers are crossed it'll be the best yet!

I hate good-byes.

Sunday June 5th, I was up early and on the road at 5:11 a.m. ... I pulled into Challis exactly 13 hours after leaving Mom and Dad's... just moments after the town's only grocery stores had closed. ARRG! Ah well, what could I do... I'd have to go back tomorrow for supplies... I still had camp to make. It'd been raining in Challis... but like a blessing, the evening was fair and I was able to make camp... After that, one beer and I went to bed.

Monday the 6th, I had a very fitful night's sleep and yet as I write, I feel very refreshed. By 6:00 I had my cocoa going and Porcupine Tree playing on the CD player. Two antelope seeing me rise took off over the hill. It's been breezy and rainy, but not bad at all.

My humble camp. I've still the curtains to hang, but you can get a "feel" for the rustic theme I'm hoping for.

Antelope are among the area wildlife I share the claim with. Once I started puttering around camp these two decided to high tail it out of there.

The Excavator had been mobed (transported) in... the day before, Sunday. (My operator) showed up... and we talked things over... (and additionally have a) front end loader (coming). (With things moving ahead and the trench now being opened for this year's mining)... I took off (to go prospecting. I)... looked and looked, there was lots of quartz and calcite junk, some crystals (of) both and some agate too.

A broken pocket exposed and weathering on the hill among the weeds and flowers.

A close up of the agate and crystal shard seen in the middle, left hand side of the last photo. These types of "common" crystallization's were quite prevalent in the area I'd chosen for prospecting, unfortunately, the crystals never really developed into anything really worthy of collecting. Oh, it made great kids rock, tumbling rock, etc., it just wasn't the treasure I was hoping for..

... the place is a riot of color. All (of) the hills have a distinctive green hue to them from all (of) the new growth brightly accentuated by many different kinds of flowers... varied greens... and whites and yellows, pinks, purples, reds, oranges and always the promise of new flowers, particularly from the cactus which all have flower buds.

Another decent sized quartz plate weathering on the surface with a pretty group of little white flowers. Note all of the varying shades of green too, this is high desert country at about 6500 feet elevation.

I just loved finding these beautiful flowers. They were rare and seemed particularly fine with their dual colored blossoms.

... a rain storm approaching. I curtailed further explorations and headed back to camp. I reinforced the tarp... after that, a Cup O Noodles and a candy bar, several glasses of water and here we are... I think I'll head up and take some action shots of the guys... Well, maybe not, a new squall is just about to come over, the clouds are a thick sheet and rain drops are splattering on the tarp, which is fitfully trying to rip itself apart in an escalating wind.

I waited out the rain and then headed up... and took several more photos. I noticed the Excavator was running with its hood up... (the) equipment wasn't working right and was overheating. What could I do? I told him to do the best he could. Using this as an excuse, I made for town. I met (my local friends) coming up with my groceries... said my thanks... and headed back to camp. (The guys) had already left... (though they) came back later and pulled the radiator and cleaned it of a bunch of (stuff which had been) choking the shroud. I took off again (for town)... and filed my paperwork for another year and from there, I headed out of town for Garden Creek and Keystone... (and had to) turn around by near white-out conditions. Driving winds and snow, snow, snow. I had dinner (with my friends), it was good and hot. Better then Cup O Noodles! I headed out around 9:00... at 9:30 I was back in camp in the cold, damp rain... I put another layer on... it was cold.

An absolutely gorgeous scene.

This is a great shot of the guys working at opening the new trench. Here they're removing the overburden to expose the productive horizon beneath it which we'll mine later in the week for specimens. Note the threatening look to the sky surrounding the guys, there's no place to hide on a bald hill.

Tuesday the 7th, I woke once in the night and found camp white in clouds. In the morning it was clearer and the clouds a bit higher. Snow covered the hills to the east... (My guy) got the Excavator going... and (has) had zero problems after that (thank goodness)... The day, it was cold, cold and windy, windy. And then it snowed and snowed and rained when it wasn't... We've a decent trench about 100 feet long and when fully opened up, maybe 20 feet wide. Tomorrow looks like the first day of actual mining. Boy, oh boy, fingers crossed!!

Wednesday the 8th, I got up and cooked up some cocoa. It snowed last night and four more times today and is snowing and raining now. The sky is dark and there is more fun coming. I started to feel it around 4:00 pm'ish... there has been virtually no heulandite... quartz geodes have been decently abundant, the largest was 2 x 1 foot... mordenite pockets have also been large on occasion and up to 1 1/2 foot wide and a foot tall. Big wide open things and nearly all dirty, stained... the majority of the recovered calcites have come from mordenite pockets... and small clay covered stilbites... (and) two laumontite pockets too... There were times when there were over a dozen pockets exposed on the wall, I just wish so much that they'd contained heulandite! And so the expenses continue to mount... (I had) a nice evening, it's now 10:29 and things are winding down.

Pockets, pockets everywhere and the heulandite I'm mining for? Non-existent. These are quartz and mordenite lined pockets.

Whoopee! Look at all that treasure! One hundred feet of trench, 3 days with two pieces of equipment and what do I have to shown for it... squat! I'll have to do a lot better then this!

Thursday the 9th, It froze last night... and basically, I'm trying to stay warm... Over the course of the day we opened the largest pocket thus far from the claim. It was 4 1/2 by nearly 1 1/2 foot (in diameter). It was choked full of mordenite and calcite and was more or less (junk), still what a monster. Now if only I could find a killer heulandite pocket that big!

Working away at an all too familiar appearing blank wall.

That's one big black hole there in that wall. Too bad that with a pocket that large, that its plates were only worth discarding to the ground below.

Report continued . . . . . . .

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