A few days ago Dan and myself followed up on a tip from Mike one of our underground members on an opening he found while exploring the woods in Northwest NJ. Sure enough from his directions we found the opening to an iron mine. At ABM we have certain safety rules that we follow ALL the time. On this day it paid off.
Once we slid inside the opening, 3 feet of water greeted us. The mine went in about 20 feet and made a sharp right. Our policy when we go into wet mines is that the point guy is always looking down into the water to search for hidden sharp objects an floor integrity. We also go in real slow so as not to churn up the silt on the bottom. As we approached the bend we noticed a winze along the right wall under the water. (A winze is an opening in the floor that leads to a lower level). Usually we just avoid it and walk around them. This mine though had a surprise for us. Taking a little more time to study the floor we noticed that there was really a wooden floor over the whole width of the area in front of us. The opening on the side was where planks were but were missing. Silt had covered the wood hiding it from view. We really had to scrutinize the floor to see this trap. If we didn’t follow our safety protocols, we could have easily walked on this old rotted flooring and fell into the shaft. Falling into a water filled shaft with waders on in 55 degree water would not make our day! We have been in mines that go on for miles, this mine was was no more that 30 feet long. Seemed like a no brainer. But it held a hidden danger.
Lesson- Never let your guard down, even for a mine that seems mundane. Once you start to feel invincible and cut corners, that is when fate comes out and bites you.