Instead, a group of skeletons decided it was high time for me to take a good long time-out in a column of lava, beginning today's adventures in messy death.
Next, I went back into the cave, recovered what I could (which did not include the diamond pick, because of course it didn't) and set out to mine some more - this ended with me using water to pillar up to a lava source and get shot into it by a skeleton. Dead again.
So I set off on another rescue mission, climbed near where I died, lagged out, and logged back in. Dead again.
So I dropped back into the cavern with no tools at all, ran past a bomb-shop quartet, and finished climbing to where I died and lost the rest of everything.
I recovered nothing but 19 redstone, a stick, and a bucket.
So, at this point, I'm sitting in a cave with 21 melon slices, and I'm pretty angry. I'd just used most of my iron reserve trying to save my own precious behind, and I had exactly nothing to show for it.
So I start dismantling the planks of the mineshaft I'm in, and I make a wooden sword and a wooden pickaxe, and I declare to the server at large my intention to maul every living thing underground.
An hour and a half later I bob to the surface of a river, hauling 3 stacks of rails, 2 stacks of iron, a stack of coal, 16-ish gold, a bit of redstone, some lapis, and various other odds and ends.