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Archive for April, 2011

Ontario Cave - Down the rabbit Hole

Ontario Cave - Down the rabbit Hole - Wasteland Water Way

Though we were disappointed by the flooded entrance to Wasteland Waterway we decided to check a nearby sink and in hearing noise JC and I burrowed away and opened a karst window in the bottom of what looked like a meteor crater – the roar from within was encouraging.

The picture above shows what my camera picked up, a vadose passage that had airspace and was sucking more from the hole through which we peered. as we left we packed the sticky soil over a framework of sticks to keep our tunnel safe till we return next week. Hopefully the water will have dropped by then and we can push the cave.

From the guy who bought you the book Rockwatching, stay posted for the release of my new book about 2-3 months from now on caving in Ontario it will feature some 38 good Ontario solution caves (some possibly unknown even to experienced local cavers), along with details of their exploration and formation, lots of pics (no locations). Check out my last book –  Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica here.

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New Ontario Cave - Flooded out

New Ontario Cave - Flooded out

It rained all night last night so JC and I slogged through the marshy forest – clumps of gooey clay sticking to our boots, only to find the entrance to Wasteland Waterway completely submerged, though it was taking everything that was washed in to it there was no airspace for a caver.

Important point – rainfall on clay surface above karst equals death trap for those who are caving down below.

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IMG_8521, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Usually in seeing a sinkhole it suggests that the surface is being nibbled away from beneath. Not surprisingly there are tunnels under this farmer’s field. At the bottom of this sinkhole there is a barrel in the hole.

This feature beside which JC is standing sits about 50 meters from our newly discovered cave – Wasteland Waterway. All along the front of this buried ridge – not easily seen from a distance there are numerous sinkholes, several of which are taking streams from a marshy area nearby. On second thought, it might also be a buried fissure, it’s hard to tell as there is so much overburden.

JC and I are still trying to understand the local geology. We are optimistic that the cave we have found connects several of these sinks.

In about two or three weeks we are returning to follow the passage for a greater distance. We think we are on to something that could be substantial if it doesn’t sump. Then again XS Wire also looked a bit like this (but smaller) and it sumped pretty quick.

Seeing that the tunnel beyond where we had crawled begins meandering it might suggest a lot of open bedding plane space. The layer in which the passage has formed is very much pitted and corroded, the layer above the tunnel seems to erode much more smoothly. There is evidence of flooding up beyond the tunnel entrance so I’d imagine that this is not the place to be on a rainy day.

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IMG_8539, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

As my son said – looks like some kind of science fiction scene – well in a sense it feels that way as well. today I am on the hunt for a new wetsuit to accommodate the needed exploration. I guess I’ve been bitten by the caving bug again. Here’s my plan – video this first time exploration, I mean there’s something to be said for exploration in southern Ontario where you’d expect that everyone’s been before -but not here. the geography of southern Ontario remains unexplored in certain special places.

This photo was taken with some difficulty with my little hand-held canon (no flash). Next trip I’ll have video.

It is so odd that there is this karst geography in southern Ontario and people living close by and nobody knowing a thing about it – nobody knows about the underground tunnels beneath their farm or house, or nobody cares – WOW, get off your sofa and have a look!

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IMG_8547, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

It should come as no surprise that an Ontario cave is cold and wet and smelly – so much so in fact that we have named a nearby sink “the stink sink”. Anyway, here is me crawling from the entrance of the cave, the snow is yet to fully melt on the nearby slopes, but when you find an undiscovered cave (undiscovered to cavers that is) you have no choice but to explore it.

We only went in a short distance today as we need wetsuits, I believe we must have seen about 100 feet of tunnel. It gets more spacious once you pass the entrance and the tunnel meanders in a limestone bedding plane. By the gently curved roof, it would not be unreasonable to suspect that the passage had initially developed beneath the water table, and by the multitude of other nearby karst features you absolutely know that numerous other sinks will be linking up as you get deeper in. Looking over the hill above the cave we can only speculate the route of the underground passage, a nearby sink leads us to suspect the first part of the route, but after that who knows? Unlike the relatively predictable route of a joint oriented tunnel like my recent trip to the Casselman Cave, the bedding plane orientation (without joints thus far noticed) is a crap shoot.

If this passage does not dip beneath the water table soon it will be a provincially significant find – it can only get larger.

Not tio diverge, but check out my new book “Tamarindo; Crooked times in Costa Rica“. If you have read my first book Rockwatching, you will certainly want my second.

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Well as much as I have used the post title before, it comes as no surprise that it should be used again, because if you keep on looking, you just keep on finding. As seems apparent both JC and I are two stubborn dogs who just won’t quit looking so we find our share of local (Ontario) caves each year. Last year it was “Broken rowboat Cave, the year before it was “Broken glass Cave”, now it’s wasteland waterway”

Sitting in the Centennial Parkway parking lot of the Home Depot we checked out the aerial photos of our target area. Jeff pointed out that there had been past mention of sinks around the destination. Well we drove there and after about an hour of slogging through the forest we came across a karsty sort of terrain – sinks about 20 feet deep and runnels cut through the clay overburden within which flowed cappuccino colored streams. We followed one such stream to where it disappeared underground and we had our first glimpse of the cave that we baptized “the Wasteland Waterway’ – henceforth it will be called as such.

As you can see, size-wise, the entry tunnel is about 4 feet wide and about 3 feet high and a brisk stream flows within. I believe there are some similarities to Nexus Cave and as we soon hope to discover, possible size comparisons as well, but being a cave and not knowing what is around the corner till you get there we also remain realistic to the possibility of disappointment – more to follow soon.

Oh, BTW – check out my new book “Tamarindo; Crooked times in Costa Rica” here.

And on the subject of books, I am giving serious consideration to another book on Caving in Ontario (Rockwatching was my first).

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