Gold-mining and a Peace Marathon

There is a mountain that I see everyday from my office window. It has been beckoning me ever since I’ve arrived. It is said to have the remains of an old Russian gold mine at the summit, and it’s true that gold can be found in the area. Zimbabwean gold-diggers have dug many deep pits in the banks of the Mutare River and panned for gold in the river for years. I understand that every so often one is rewarded with a gold nugget.

On Saturday afternoon, I crossed the river and an adjacent canal on precarious foot-bridges, and then I saw many pits that have been dug on the other side of the river. Some of them were eight or ten feet deep, but some were fifteen to twenty feet deep. It would be dangerous to walk that area at night, because if one fell into a pit, there would be no way of getting out. The side-walls are straight up and done, with no hand or footholds.

I found a trail going up the mountain, but it took me around to the other side of the mountain instead of to the summit, so then I clambered up the back side of the mountain. It took a while to get there, but the view from the top was great. Some serious mining had been done two or three decades ago. I found a very deep shaft going straight down for a hundred feet or more. I could not see the bottom. It was about ten feet square at the rim. An old barbed wire fence protected anyone from falling into the shaft. I was glad that precaution had been taken!

On my way down the other side of the mountain, I stumbled across the old rough roadway that had been graded into the side of the mountain years ago. Fallen boulders and trees growing in the roadway make it impassible for any vehicle now, but a small four-wheel drive truck could have taken it to the top a few decades ago. I went back to nearly the top of the mountain following the old roadway with its switch-backs, and it was neat.

Saturday evening, Larry Kies (pronounce Keys) asked me if I would be interested in walking with him to prepare for the annual Peace Marathon sponsored by Africa University. Last year he walked the half marathon, and he plans to again this year. I said “Sure,” so he said to meet him by his gate at 6:30 this morning. He warned me that he sets a fast pace in these training walks, and he wasn’t kidding. I had to really step out to keep up with him. Even so, we had a great four mile walk this morning. The Peace Marathon is in four weeks, so we’ll be increasing our distance each week to get ready for it. It will be an interesting event, regardless of how long it takes me to walk it!

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