Left over from my recent trip to AZ/NV, here’s the story of one very tough old man Nana would have appreciated. His adventure reads like a page out of True Grit, and I can’t help but admire his cojones even as I have to question his good sense. Exploring abandoned mines is a very dangerous hobby and rappelling down into an old shaft solo borders on the suicidal. Years ago I spent some time tagging along with the state’s Abandoned Mine Lands team surveying the country around Madrid, Golden and Hagan south of Santa Fe. There are at a minimum several hundred and by most estimates a thousand or more abandoned mines in the state, ranging from extensive underground complexes like the labyrinth under Madrid to rough prospect holes scratched a dozen or a hundred feet under the surface. These doghole miners never heard of today’s mine safety regs and they likely would have paid no attention to them if they had. What sketchy shoring they put in place they salvaged as they pulled out. Another danger, as the Arizona guy discovered, is that the old shafts and nearby building foundations attract snakes. One of my archeologist acquaintances described the ruins of Hagan as a scene out of Raiders of the Lost Ark. The only thing worse than being trapped in a cave-in, in my nightmarish imagination, would be to be trapped in the dark with a den of buzzworms for company.