Marcus Buck, D and I had arrived that Janurary morning to hopefully map this tunnel, we had thought that it might be going cave passage. D had discovered the cave by an exhaustive search of local ariel photos. On any Sunday morning that you arrive at his house he will be glued to his computer scanning through endless files of maps and pictures. A faint shadow or gully in a field warrants great excitement and speculation. They suggest to us the possibility of collapsed cave tunnels beneath the soil, sinkholes where surface water disappears or resurgences where the underground streams return to the surface again.
Physically laid up by serious ailments as of late D has had the time to develop a most extensive mental map of the likely underground cavities in the area. Numerous graphic compilations plot his suspicions on the ground. We pour over one such map that he has drawn up; marker pins indicate the trend between the well known Eramosa Karst, Smithville Cave and other features that he has found. He had long suspected the existance of a large plain of buried karst above Hamilton, now we see it laid out on paper, it is most telling. I feel that he has unearthed an important piece of Ontario’s geography. How had it gone unnoticed for so long?
At one particularly promising hollow we dug for several weeks, following the disappearance of a surface stream down into a dirt embankment. Working our way through a shelf of solid limestone we found ourselves in a crevice choked with huge glacial boulders. Greg Warchol made short work of these with his micro blaster. Beneath there was a muddy stream that disappeared into a low, elliptical passage.
To cut a long story short, we broke through the initial obstacles and I found myself on my back some short distance in, freezing muddy water trickling past; my breath fogging the tiny space in which I was slotted. Tipping my head back I could see what appeared to be “going passage” and so I slithered back out to let the others know.
Sadly it was not exactly as I had perceived it and the mapping that morning came abruptly to a stop with a low wide sump that we found just beyond the “S” bend. There is quite an echo coming back from the gap between the water and the tunnel roof, our breath is sucked off along there as though by a vaccume cleaner. To me it suggests further caving possibilities and in a torturous weekend I am sure we can dredge a channel in the gravel and progress onwards. I backed out over top of Marcus to give him access to the sump view. I could feel the warm reflection from his carbide light on my legs and I briefly entertained the none-to-happy possibility of becoming trapped above him in the almost non-existance space. Not only would it make a bizzare story for tabloids but I also imagined the warmth turning to searing heat as the lamp burned its way into my flesh. Thankfully things did not go that route.
D suspects that this stream resurges in a boiling pool about a kilometer away. It is a muddy pond about as wide as one’s arm breadth. After a rain storm its coffee coloured water churns like crazy, a stream flowing from within. More on that later.