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Archive for the ‘ice formations’ Category

Ice Storm 2013, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

We seem to be at the tail end of a most disastrous ice storm. The storm began last Saturday and continued on till Monday morning. Tree limbs were tearing from trunks and crashing down all over Guelph, it was like something out of a disaster movie. It was not possible to even drive down the road without having to weave all over to avoid the debris. We lost power for a few hours, but it appears that there will be over 200,000 people in Toronto who will be cold and dark through Christmas.

For us, the sun is shining now and trees are glittering like forests of diamonds.

See a video of the 2013 ice storm (Guelph) here.

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Embryo2, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This past weekend Rob, Jeff and I visited Embryo Cave with the intention of digging out something of the earth plug at the lower end of the cave’s main stream passage.

see video of Cave Exploration in Canada (video) here

lying pressed between the rock and the dirt it was an experience from which I was unable to shake the feeling that it was as though we were returning to mother earth. We dug for some time in the earth as we suspected that in breaching an earthen crest up ahead we would possibly break into tunnel that led onwards and downwards. There appears to be a lower water filled level in this cave. The flowing stream bubbles up in sand part way along the main trunk passage and it sinks again just short of the earthen plug.

Sadly we tired before we got through the dirt, but it was close and next time we visit we will certainly complete the job.

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The above picture is of the inside of Travertine Cave, which is situated at location near Toronto, Canada. We visited one winter day quite recently. While at University I often remember sitting there wondering what I could find to do aside from studying (of which I did precious little) (Toronto University, or possibly University of Guelph, or McMaster University – Hamilton, are close to here).

In the accompanying video – What to do on a winter day in Toronto Canada – Ice Caving Adventure (Toronto University) I detail my attempts to explore the cave and the unfortunate accident that I had which now leaves me aching and bruised.

Of particular interest was the observation that deeper into the cave – well past the flowing water at the entrance, was the realization that water was also flowing outward from within. I had always thought that Travertine Cave was simply a shelter that had formed as Tufa seeped over the edge of a low cliff. Water flowing from within might suggest the possibility of a solution cave and tunnels that are more extensive than I had imagined.

The ice formations in Travertine Cave were also very unusual. A strong breeze blows through the cave and the resulting icicles are flat and bladed with square protuberances at the bottom of each hanging pendant. I am left wondering what freak of climate or geography would so consistently create that unusual shape amongst not one, but all of the icicles hanging in a certain area of the entry grotto.

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Some time ago I did some winter hiking near Toronto (Niagara Escarpment) and explored behind a waterfall to see how it would look with all the icicles. Needless to say it was amazing – exceeded my most hopeful expectations. Most impressive was this low rumbling sound that filled the whole cavity, it was a new dimension to my unusual Ontario based travels – sound.

Check out this video of behind an Ontario waterfall – here.

In line with the publication of my first book in 2005 (Rockwatching), in the video that I have linked to just above, I show a little bit of the local rock and the contact between the Queenston Shale and the Whirlpool Sandstone.

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Caves near Guelph, Canada, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Jeff and I believe that this small group of shelter-like caves near Guelph, Ontario, Canada might well be the resurging exits to a system that slopes downward from the river valley along the bedding plane. It appears that from the visit that we made, the tunnels all slope downward and are soon filled with clay and gravel.

See the video on a few areas that we were looking at here

It appears that since our visit the previous weekend, the ice crawl into the #8 cave has got significantly tighter. The February thaw and then flash-freeze has almost closed some passages in places. I vaguely entertained the thought of the tunnel freezing shut behind me. That would be a nasty way to die, especially considering that lying on the ice, with my coat pulled up from my stomach I was getting a taste of how it would feel to be slowly freezing.

Anyway, we did find a spot with blowing air on our previous visit and we also saw 2 likely spots where digging might open further passage. I am reminded of the dig and railway system that I had once seen in the Cheddar Cave. Eventually those cavers reached the river Axe and from there some incredible stories of underground and underwater exploration.

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Further to my exploration of Canadian geography in the the winter, JC and I found an icy precipice down which we could slither into the Elora Gorge. Being more agile JC had led the way, and I followed tentatively, wondering if I could make my way back up again. Admittedly it’s been too long and my lack of confidence was misplaced, tree roots, hanging branches and rocks made for easy climbing and soon our discovery of cool ice formations and a frozen waterfall led me to believe that the effort had been worthwhile.

JC had found a picture of a low slot-like cavity on Flickr, I recall seeing this years ago, but it was never so exposed above the water. Either the water has got lower in the Elora Gorge or my memory is faulty. Elora Gorge is mentioned in several caving manuscripts for it’s shallow shelter caves, and as there are usually more challenging explorations around, I’ve never really paid too much attention – but today, we’re just marking time till warmer weather and then it’s back to real caving. If you are looking for cool things to do near Toronto, a visit to the Elora Gorge would certainly top my list – Just be sure you’re safe, the edge of the gorge is very dangerous, especially in the winter.

We figured that we could reach the slot pictured on flickr by descending into the gorge and then picking our way along the river bank. Sadly this was not possible as the river cut off our expected riverbank access. This hollow might well be a shelter cave, but in looking at the sloping rock wall above it I wonder if it might again be some kind of tuffa formation. You will possibly remember my posts on Travertine Cave, there are some spectacular formations within it (See my book Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst – here) and if the river level has dropped and opened this new passage, I wonder if there are similar hidden treasures – but then again its probably like all the others, a rather disappointing shelter cave.

Any way when we realized we could not reach our intended destination we headed down stream and discovered this cavity in beneath a joint. Elora has beautiful thick bedding planes in many places (lower down) and so you never know what you might come across. Being formed by running river water from the gorge, this cavity does not go in too far, but being curious – cavers usually are, JC stood on my shoulders and as I stood, he hand-walked up the wall to get a look inside the tunnel up above, it too was relatively short. The real treat in Elora are the ice formations, and the frozen water falls – here is one that I saw. Short of re-visiting in the summer to check out the river level slot, winter is the time to go there.

I’ve heard rumor of a few other caves along the river bank – does anyone want to share?

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