Archive for the ‘sandstone’ Category

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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Caving in Ontario – Exploration of Buried Karst – JC following up a cave tunnel

“The newly published book, “Caving in Ontario; Exploration of Buried Karst”, is now available for purchase from Lulu at this link – “Caving in Ontario” – buy the book. On the Lulu web page you will be able to preview several pages and in paying on their site you can choose shipping options that range from single day to 1 week delivery time.

“Caving in Ontario” has been a joy to write, it records the underground caving explorations that I and those that I know have taken over the last 2 decades in Ontario. There have been some extremely hazardous, world class adventures beneath the rock of this province and I felt the need to document those as well as saying something of the culture of those who are involved in extreme sports such as this.

If you are in any way interested in what lies beneath your feet, the rock and tunnels of Ontario – this book is for you. I am personally attracted by the beauty of the underground and the mystery of what lies beyond. In “Caving in Ontario” I write of many of the known caves and some that are known only to me and my closest caving friends.  I summarize two decades of exploration and tell prospective cavers how to find their own caves. Finding caves involves understanding local geology and the clues of surface geographical features.

Buy the book “Caving in Ontario”. I look forward to hearing of your own discoveries, there’s plenty more to find.

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Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal


scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

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Church and coffin in Chester Sandstone – Chester

Just recently Maggie and I had spent the day walking around the walls of the ancient Roman city of Chester – the town from which her father came and in which her mother had worked as a nurse. Apparently the two of them met when her father was choking after an appendix operation and her mother applied her nursing skills.

We had visited Chester some twenty years ago and had stayed in a bed and breakfast down on the banks of the River Dee.

This ruin was situated above Chester’s Roman Wall and it is part of the structure of the church of Saint John the Baptist. Set up into the wall there is a most unusual feature – a medieval coffin of solid oak. It looks like the coffin was cut from a solid tree trunk and inside it is inscribed “ashes to ashes.”

Nobody really knows the exact story behind the coffin but there are many theories – everything from, “it was bought from gypsies,” to “somebody dug it up while digging another grave.”

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Fish underground

What enticed me into the tunnel was the sound of roaring water somewhere up ahead in the dark – and of course the sparkling brook which ran out into the forest. In fact it was kind of like some sort of Tolkien thing. Like maybe the elves lived in amongst the cedars.

It occurs to me now as I sip from my tumbler – the water seems to be the color of Tamdhu – a fine scotch from Speyside on the eastern edge of Scotland.

Jeff and I proceeded inward at a stooped walk, shin deep in the stream. Ahead there was a trout who raced and darted in our headlamp beams. As we progressed the noise got louder and the draught picked up to quite a gusty breeze.

I managed to snap this picture of the fish part way along the tunnel.

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Tunnel in Ontario (Forks of the Credit)

I spend a lot of time chasing rumors looking for old abandoned tunnels, forgotten structures and caves – especially caves. Caves beat all things because there need not be an ending, they inspire awe and wonder in me and they say so much about the geology.

Anyway, as of late some friends and I have been exploring the Forks of the Credit area for possible entrances to the old sandstone mines. One of the locals told me of a nearby house beneath which they had to pump a huge amount of cement to shore up the foundations which were dug in and over hollow spaces. We saw the house and also the closed up cavities from which the concrete leaked.

You will see the local rock in this picture – or at least the layer that was so popular – a reddish sandstone that was used in the construction of several of Toronto’s older and finer buildings.

My friend (Jeff C) had heard of a starirway that led down a shaft somewhere in the forest along the edge of the valley by Belfountain. We have done a lot of looking and are still speculating as to where this shaft and ladder might be.

In searching through the woods we found this drainage tunnel – constructed of the famous Whirlpool Sandstone and beckoning to those who are curious about what lies beneath. This was no stairway, but still it was an interesting diversion.

We followed up this streamway and next post I will show you what we found.

Can anyone tell me where this ancient ladder might be?

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Under the waterfall at night

IMG_6094, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

This is quite interesting – it shows the junction of the Whirlpool Sandstone and the Queenstone shale layer. My good friend SNAFU and I had visited this place on a cold winter night. As we approached falls the noise was totally deafening and the spray and wind was phenomenal. We had to climb up slippery ice slicked rocks in the dark but what an amazing place to visit under those circumstances.

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Looking for Lizards in the Valley of Fire – Sounds psychadelic – something Jim Morrison might come up with.

old pics 143, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Maggie and I won a free trip to Las Vegas some time ago. We rented a car and drove up the side of Lake Mead into the valley of fire.

Amongst the more memorable experiences were my being chased by wild mules after mistakenly agravating them (Long story – my fault) and also trying to coerce Maggie from tipping over rocks and looking for lizards. She first spotted them at a road side fireworks, guns and alchol place. We had wandered out around the surrounding contryside with a bottle of tequila to observe the litter of old pyrotechnics and everywhere there were things that moved and skittered for cover under the rocks. My concern was her upending a rock and coming face to face with a rattler.

In the above photo Maggie continues her “critter spotting” practices in an area of worn red sandstone. It is this red hue that the area derives its name from – “Valley of Fire”.

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