Several weekends back, we returned, yet again, to Monte Ne and brought my family along.
Hiccup and I headed down from Springfield that day to my mother's house, where she and my stepfather, brother, and uncle loaded up and followed us down to Monte Ne. My mom had seen Monte Ne on KY3 and decided she wanted to see it. She even claimed that she'd be willing to climb up the tower, but I knew beforehand that she was full of it.
When we arrived at Monte Ne, the first thing I noticed was that there were WAY more people than the other times we had visited. There were cars everywhere down by the amphitheater. It shouldn't have been surprising since it wasn't long after the Monte Ne story had aired, but it was.
We walked down to the amphitheater and checked it out. The water level had dropped about another two feet since the last time Hiccup and I had been there, so there was lots more exposed. I was pretty sure I could see one of the underground chambers in the amphitheater just under the surface.
After that, we drove over to the tower, which was also crawling with people. We walked down along the servants' quarters beneath Oklahoma Row and checked them out first, then headed up to the tower. As I expected, no one except my brother was willing to climb it. Since he's about as good of a climber as I am, we both just skipped hauling out my ladder and climbed right on up to the roof. While we were doing that, everyone else walked through the trees and down the shore to check out the rest of the old foundations.
Like other times, people saw us climbing the tower and decided they wanted to try it, too. Some of them gave up, but some of them made it to the second or third floors. No one besides my brother and I were dumb enough to climb to the roof, though.
Back on the ground, when my family got back, they decided they were ready to head out. I asked Hiccup if she minded if we stayed and I let some of those people attempting to climb the tower use my cable ladder to get the roof. She didn't mind, so I got the ladder out of the trunk while my family started driving home. I put the ladder in a backpack so I could get it up to the roof easier and started going.
Right away, I noticed something. Climbing the tower might've been easy normally, but it wasn't so easy carrying a heavy, stuffed backpack while doing it. Despite that, I got up to roof and hooked it up, and a couple people who had wanted to were able to get to the roof and join me.
While we were up there, someone on the third floor wanted to use it to bring their kids up from the second floor, so I lowered it down. Which meant I had to climb back down and bring it up again, so the people on the roof could get back down. Doing that last pullup to get up on the roof, while wearing the backpack, was even harder the second time around.
Eventually, when everyone who had wanted to see it had come up, we all headed back down. Some people used my ladder, while some simply climbed back down. But everyone got down there one way or another.
Down on the ground, I chatted for a bit with one of the guys who I'd helped up and made some caving plans. We exchanged contact information and I told him about the website. After he left, a couple who had overheard me talking about the site approached me wanting to know if my site had information about Monte Ne. I told them it had some, but it had some links to sites with more information than mine. They seemed pretty interested, so I gave them a sticker.
When we were done chatting with all our new friends, Hiccup and I headed back to the car and started driving back to Springfield.
Several weekends back, we returned to Rush, Arkansas to check out some more mines that the Arkansas guys had found.
Hiccup and I got up early that morning and headed down into Arkansas, where we once again met the Arkansas guys at a supermarket in Yellville. This time, though, it was just Firediver and Korb there to explore with us. We went ahead and followed them down to Rush, where we parked at the campground.
The first thing we did when we got there was to strap on our chest-high waders. The mine was across the river, and it was going to be the easiest way to get over there. And since it was fairly cold out that day, there was no way we were wading across it without them.
Once across, we ditched our waders and put our shoes back on, then started heading up the hill. We passed some concrete structures on the way, as well as a large pile of spoils, before coming up to the entrance of a fairly gigantic mine.
We climbed over the boulders and rubble in and around the entrance and went inside. The mine was large inside and fairly uneven, with the floor sloping up and down periodically. There was lots of rotting wood scattered about, as well as support beams still standing in places. There was also an old ore cart, some pieces of cart track, and flat places of piled rock made into small "roads" that had apparently been for ore track.
Although it would've been hard to get lost in there despite its size, someone had arranged pieces of wood into arrows throughout the mine. Most of the tunnels were big enough to drive an SUV through, and they snaked around randomly and branched off constantly. It wasn't that confusing to navigate them, but it did take a while to poke around in every little side tunnel to see where they led, which was always to an eventual dead end.
Before long, we made it to the other side of the mine, where another set of entrances led outside. In this area, the ceiling was extremely high, with huge dug out places in the ground. I joked that this would've been an awesome place for a rope swing, and it really would've been.
We went out and started walking along the river, heading toward another mine that the guys had seen but hadn't been able to check out last time. While we were walking, I kept running up the hill or down it to check out what might be caves or mines. It wasn't long before I had left everyone behind, although I didn't realize how far behind, and I felt bad when I realized I'd let Hiccup fall back to the rear.
I found the mine the guys had seen and stopped there to wait. It was just a pit that went straight down about thirty or forty feet. It was hard to see if it went anywhere else at the bottom, because it was sloped around the edges of the pit and that made it impossible to lean over and look down.
Korb and Hiccup caught up with me at the mine while Firediver waited up the hill for us. Korb had a rope, and I was extremely tempted to try and go down into the pit with it. If the rope had been long enough, I was sure I could've made it, but we weren't positive it was long enough. In the end, we just went on walking.
We followed the river for quite a while, but the ground leveled out and didn't seem to have any mines. We did, however, find a collapsed barn that we checked out. And when we decided to turn around and go back the way we'd come, we found another smaller pit mine that I was able to crawl down inside. There were two small chambers at the bottom that you could crawl into, but they didn't really go anywhere.
When we were done there, we walked back down to our waders, waded across the river to our cars, and drove down to where the trails were to check out some of the mines in that area. There was one particular mine I wanted to check out, although I wasn't sure we'd find a way in. However, while we were looking around, one of the guys managed to find a way in to a mine directly above it, and we went inside. We hoped that it would connect to the one I was wanting to get into.
This mine seemed to be a linear one, with one tunnel stretching back. But, just inside the entrance, it connected to another mine that was set lower in the hillside. So you ended up standing on a ledge about fifteen feet high looking down into the other mine, which was filled with a few feet of water. I had also wanted to get into that mine, and now that I had a way, I was determined to do it, but we needed to check out the one we were in first.
We headed inside, passing an old rock wall, and started checking out the mine. As we'd thought, it was one long stretch of tunnel, although there were two levels to the tunnel, with one set higher and off to the side. There was still ore cart track running the length of the lower level, as well as metal pipe.
At the end of the tunnel, we found a big area with a wooden platform where they'd apparently filled up the ore carts with rock. There was even an extremely large ore cart still half buried in the rubble. There was a small side tunnel there as well, but it didn't really go anywhere.
After that, we went back to the entrance area and I made a half-assed attempt to climb down into the second mine. However, it just wasn't do-able without a rope or ladder, so I decided I wanted to go back to my car and get my rope, my waders, and possibly my cable ladder as well. Korb and Firediver weren't too into it so they decided to head in for the day when we reached our vehicles, but I couldn't leave without seeing what was down there.
With the rope and waders in hand, Hiccup and I headed back to the mine. I tied the rope off to something secure and started going down. Because the ledge I was climbing against sloped inward in places, I kept having to walk from side to side against the wall to places where it didn't do that. Eventually, though, I reached the bottom and had Hiccup throw my waders down to me.
Inside the second mine, there was a large pool of water where the mine had flooded, with what appeared to be two partially submerged tunnels. I strapped myself into my waders and headed into the water. One of the tunnels turned out to not even be a tunnel, just a hollowed out area. The second one was definitely a tunnel, and I had to wade up to the very edge of my waders to check it out. Unfortunately, I could see that it was collapsed back inside, so it was a bust as well. I was still glad I had satisfied my curiosity, though.
I took a few pictures of the second mine while I was down there, then had Hiccup pull up my backpack and the box my waders were in. Then I started climbing back up the rope, which turned out to be slightly harder than going down had been. I had to have Hiccup move the rope from side to side for me so that I could climb around the concave areas in the ledge again, but I made it back up just fine.
With that, Hiccup and I headed back to the car with our gear and started back toward Springfield.
Here you can read about White Rabbit's day-to-day explorations and adventures.
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