No Name Canyon revisited

Jack wrote this in November, 2005:

Afternoon blogsters:

Yesterday I told you a bit about a happening early in the No Name Canyon debacle.  It was a beginning, of sorts.  But myriad other tales of foolishness were to come out of that channel before any sort of conclusion.  The lightning storm experienced just elevated the level of priority for solving the mysteries there.

A while after the lightning/shovel event my old buddy Mel King and I were in that canyon determined to move a lot of dirt some easier way than with a pick and shovel.  I’ve told you a bit about Mel in an earlier blog entry here.

The bottom of that canyon’s already been described as V-bottomed, which is was.  But in the small box where the channel began there was a sedimentation layer I guessed to be 6-8 feet deep, judging from the angle where the walls would intersect underneath the surface.  It was clear that water ceased to move enough of that sedimentation to stratify things a long time before all the current material arrived on the scene.  I’d been getting all the stuff from the earlier visit I described out of the soil about a foot below the surface, which didn’t involve hardpan or bedrock.

Mel and I were relatively convinced the bottom of the Vee underneath all that unstratified material would be a glory hole.  Our reasoning was that in the distant past there was enough water movement to create the channel, so it should have dumped the richest material early and taken it as deep as it could go.

Neither of us had an explosives license, dynamite had become a hard-to-get commodity, equipment other than shovels was out of the question, so we made up a mess of home-made black powder.

Mel, his man-sized son Eric, and I trekked in there with every intention of moving some serious dirt and rock.  We dug down at what we calculated to be the best spot, about 3.5 feet and placed a pound of powder into the hole inside a plastic bottle.  We made a fuse by pouring a powder train into a masking tape tube and stuck that down into the powder vessel.

Meanwhile, Eric gathered as many musk melon sized boulders as he could find and we carefully placed them around and above the charge up to about a foot below the surface with the fuse sticking a few inches above the covering material.

A herd of geniuses at work.

I lit a cigarette and slid the unlighted end about an inch down around the end of the fuse, and we hurried down canyon about 75 yards just around a bend to wait for the big event.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

After about half an hour it was clear we had a problem.  Someone had to go try to see if the cig had gone out, or what.  Naturally, we all went, each trying to say a bit behind the others.

We arrived on the scene, bent down over the fuse and all jumped backward in rolling runs down canyon.  There was smoke coming out of that hole.

We repeated this sequence twice before we decided we’d just come back another day and try to figure out what happened.

Never did get around to trying to explode that canyon bottom again.


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