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Tunnel Dive in Ontario

Tunnel Dive in Ontario - Ontario Caving

Tunnel Dive in Ontario – Ontario Caving – a bubbling resurgence

I took today off from my normal routine as of late (which is posting on the Edgehill Press site in support of my new book, “Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica“, it is a work of fiction about 3 unlikely heroes in Costa Rica who by various underhanded ways achieve some measure of success in the surfer town of Tamarindo). Instead I went out looking for caves so as to prepare for my usual summer of assorted caving explorations.

Our initial leads fell short today. We spent some time near Short Hills Provincial park investigating a rumor, as we were unsuccessful JC and I visited this spot out in the forest hoping to find other sinkholes. There are several other similar pools beside a river that runs along the edge of farmland. This spot was located by an associate who was using aerial photographs.

The pools bubble in the spring – and after a rainstorm they boil like a kettle. Though the nearby stream entirely sinks about 500 meters upstream and then resurges 50 meters away there is apparently no connection to the water that is bubbling out here.

Some years ago, in an effort to trace the source, two friends of mine dug out a fair bit of rock (the pool is about waist deep) and then one of them wiggled up a pheratic tube for about 200 feet. There was some obstruction at that point and he had to turn back. You will notice that the water is milky with the clayish soil from nearby fields. In exploring the underwater tunnel it was done entirely by feel, and I would imagine – pushing the tank along in front.

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Edgehill Press has just released their new book, “Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica – the author, yours truly.

If you intend to visit Costa Rica this is essential reading, a humorous account of the practices of two drug dealers and a lizard who start a company that offers Vespa tours to surfers in the town of Tamarindo.

See the book here…. Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica

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Arbag – Fuel line burst, hot gas on the engine 10K into the bush (Tom’s picture – unknown photographer)

Aside from the hum of the mosquitoes under a grey, cloud-laden sky the northern forest is quiet. It is as though man had never touched this raw and rugged land. From somewhere there arises a faint revving sound, it intrudes into the otherwise pristine morning growing louder over a period of about 15 minutes. Bone jarring thumps reverberate through the trees and soon human voices can also be heard. Now visible, a convoy of several vehicles jolts into view. It looks like something out of a northern version of a Mad Max movie. Mud spattered vehicles with various oddments of human survival strapped atop. Whooping, shouting and cheering the off roaders do their stuff.

A green Neon is of particular interest, why is it out here? The convoy is several miles from the nearest passable road, this is dense bush, its crazy! Tom is the driver. Blond hair, pony tail and ragged beard, he is in his mid 20’s, dressed as per normal in his trademark color, “baby blue.” The sunroof is open, the road is crap and Tom is in his element. As he explained, “My intention is to do a few rock pitches, get the car dirty, I’m a bit of an off road groupie.” The vehicles enter a clearing, it is just a huge expanse of rock, polished by the glaciers, its deeper hollows filled by mud and bog grass.

As I’m sure you can imagine it can be very expensive. Tom has had his neon for two years and as he says, “It looks like xxxx” “I have been my cars own worst enemy.” He confesses. “All the damage is because of me,” he whispers. People say it looks like garbage and regrettably there are a few mechanical problems. I have no power steering and the ball joints are gone, it makes a horrible grinding noise when it goes around a corner, it has no starter so I put it in first and roll it along till the engine kicks in. The car always overheats and it has to be stopped sometimes on the way to work. If you ride in my car most people want to get out quickly because they think it is unsafe but it is not, there are just a lot of little things. (I will clarify this for the reader, it is Tom’s driving style that concerns his passengers.) I have tape on the lights, the mirror is missing, no hubcaps, some of the door handles are off and as Najeeb pointed out, “It smells like weed.” Tom corrects him, “most of that smell is the burning from the engine.”

Off roading is not for everyone, as you can see there are consequences but both Tom and Pablo say, it’s a great way to see the outdoors. They explore any little trail they can find and were most excited when I told them of the lost settlers roads that span the province, overgrown by trees and forgotten to all but the most aged historian. If you find a battered green neon far out in the forest you will know where it came from and you will know that Tom and Pablo have probably graduated to a farmer auto.

While on the topic of misfortunes and accidents, check out this incident when the rope broke in Dewdney’s Cave … Here

Or more to the point, the accident with the Leopard tank … Here

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scan0003, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This is what a burn site looks like – typical of the kind of terrain a tree planter works in.

The planter is a guy called Don who was a film student in Ryerson, he carries ‘container stock’ and is using a pottie (potty) to put his trees in the ground.

The idea is that you take your seedling out of your planting bag – roots neatly encased in a little cardboard roll – and drop it down the red tube that Don is holding. At the bottom of the tube is a spike that is driven into the ground. The measure of a well planted tree is whether the duff (organic matter) has been kicked out of the way first. Stomping on a lever at the bottom of the pottie, the spike opens up and the seedling is dropped into the hole that the spike has made.

 

Don looks pretty clean so either he was bathing in the swamp near the camp or I took the picture within about five minutes of beginning work. I remember by the end of that two week contract we were totally black and nobody bathed, firstly it attracted bugs and secondly the leaches in the swamp were these huge ribbony things that would flitter through the water toward whoever was in it.

One of my jobs was flagging the land and I would be out there marking off the planting areas for the next day long after the planters had all gone back to camp. I remember one evening I was way off in some burn site and the sun had already set, it was real spooky and I was convinced that there was some creature following me – maybe it was a bear or coyote or something, but at the time I was thinking it was a Sasquatch.

I believe this burn site was somewhere near Bancroft.

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Before and After Tree Planting

Looks a bit like before and after crack!

It seems that there is a lot of controversy and speculation about the worth of a summer tree planting experience, I believe it did me good. I refer you to the above two pictures as evidence.

A friend of mine sent me a video on the worth of a tree planting experience.I believe there is one especially truthful part. In suggesting the worth of a tree planting experience the counter-point argument goes something like  this; “In seeing your crew, you will initially wonder who let the freaks out of the circus, but after spending months in the bush with the same filthy degenerates while being shunned by the rest of society your brain will trick you into thinking that everyone looks like Brad Pitt in “Legends of the Fall”.

See tree planting video here … Tree planting video

In many respects it is quite accurate, but I do argue the point about the ability to make money. The video suggests that in your first year you end up owing the company money, that is possible, but if you have a decent straight-up company I can’t see that happening. Reputation is important – ensure you get references from many other planters who have worked for the same company that you intend to plant for.

YOU CAN MAKE MONEY IF YOU WORK HARD, BUT AS IN LIFE YOU DON’T GET MONEY FOR FREE, YOU GOTTA WORK FOR IT!

See my post on how tree planting works  here … Tree planting in Northern Ontario

See what happens when things go wrong here …  Lighten up a bit won’t you

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Fluor-richterite – Rockhound in Bancroft Ontario

At first glance the Essonville Road Cut looked much like many others in the area – gnawed upon by rockhounds and strewn with shards of calcite and sand. Most immediately obvious were the huge black crystals that protruded from the calcite – a dyke that is theorized to run off into a southerly direction onto private property. A sign on the fence behind the cutting advertises “Rockhound Eco-tours”. A rockhound eco-tour? It almost seemed contradictory.

“You’re a rockhound?” I asked the fellow crossing the road from the pickup he had parked on the opposite shoulder – “You might say that”, I was told with a grin. “I am more a prospector and I operate the eco-tours – like to show the minerals on my property but we prefer not to set pick or hammer to them. We like to think of ourselves more as stewards”. “Stewards?” “Yeah, caring for the land. I know it sounds hokey, but I think we were meant to have our property – to look after it. Collecting can be destructive”.

I kind of edge my rock hammer around behind me. “Is there a problem with us collecting here I ask? Nah, its public land. Place is already trashed with all the blasting”.

In reverent terms Mark explained, what had formed in the cutting was Fluor-richterite. You will notice that some of the crystals have a metallic sheen – kind of stained by an iridescence, Its only a skin of goethite, beneath it is still fluor-richterite, one of the few minerals that can really be called “totally Canadian”. It was only distinguished from hornblende and recognized as a separate species in 1976”.

“So, in truth, you would have a hard time distinguishing between the two?” “Not really” my eco-teacher told me. “They are both amphiboles and they form a solid solution series, but fluor-richterite has a scaly white surface and it forms in prisms that are longer and thinner than those of hornblende”.

“Do you sell any specimens?” I ask hopefully. “How can you put a dollar value on them?” I am chastised.

As fortune would have it, I found myself in the company of Lee Clark later that afternoon. Having seen the township’s blasting Lee had asked for the debris to be dumped beside his barn; he had scooped the lion’s share – enormous boulders with fluor-richterite spines and as Lee pointed out hexagonally appearing prisms that cleave away in flakes. “phlogopite mica; they used it for windows in the old wood stoves.

Having weathered out of the calcite there were doubly terminated prisms lying amongst shards and unusually shaped prisms that appeared fully formed on the one edge and flattened on the other. I was in the process of trying to decide what unusual growth condition had so stunted the crystals when Lee apparently read my thoughts “The prisms frequently cleave down their center,” he slipped me a smaller perfectly formed specimen that he had been carrying in his pocket. “It’s my worry stone” he explained, “You take it; folks down south have greater use for that than I”.

Check out my visit to Princess Sodalite mine here …

Check out the Richardson Fission Mine here … Richardson Fission Mine

Check out abandoned silver Mine in Northern Ontario here … Abandoned Silver mine

Collecting apatite in Bancroft here … Apatite in Bancroft

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diamond mine, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Check out Anne Gordon’s incredible description of her descent into South Africa’s Bultfontein Diamond Mine – “Here“.

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