Lee, of Sonora, fell down the 100-foot shaft while exploring the mine Friday night. Authorities were contacted Saturday after a friend who went with him realized Lee had not returned home.
His rescue was briefly delayed while authorities waited for a search team to arrive from Los Angeles, about 300 miles to the southeast, with the right equipment and experience for the job. In the meantime, local authorities lowered Lee a helmet, food and water.
Lying in the back of a pickup truck, Lee apologized.
"I walked in there, and I fell. It was dark, and I didn't know when I was going to stop," he told the Union Democrat newspaper. "I'm so sorry; I'm so sorry."
Information from The Union Democrat: