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Archive for the ‘Scuba Diving’ Category

Xibalba, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I have produced a short Mexican documentary on the Yucatan entitled ‘Cenotes in Tulum’. In this video I visit a number of cenotes around tulum, all reachable by bike from the town.

the cenotes are a favourite dive site and their density and their extent makes Tulum arguably, the cave dive capital of the world. admittedly, I think they mean cavern dive.

See the Mexican documentary on the Yucatan and Cenotes in Tulum here.

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For some this would be a winter caving hell, and admittedly, the weather was 30 below zero and wallowing around in that muddy tube was getting a little cold. We cleared a space through about 5 feet of bedrock, dredged the water down by bailing with buckets and rubber boots, then we entered the tunnel on our bellies – see short video on Winter caving hell – adventure sport in Canada – here

At the end of this tube the water and tunnel roof came to within about an inch of each other and there was a good breeze blowing through the gap. Unfortunately I finally lost my nerve as the tunnel along which we’d come was refilling with water, and underground water (midwinter or otherwise) can be a little numbing. My caving partner at the time had traced the resurgence of the water in this passage to a spot several hundred meters distant.

When I finally emerged from the tube the front of my wet suit was pierced by innumerable¬†rusty spines from the barbed wire that had once lain over the top of the feature, I suppose I must have looked like an industrial-age porcupine that had run into decline like the many factories of the region. Oddly, though my skin had also been punctured I had never felt a thing, but knowing they were there and pulling them out was a little creepy – I’m surprised I never got tetnus.

This project took place around 10 years ago and it certainly presented a few challenges, amongst those obstacles the need for me to loose around 20 pounds to fit in the tube and make it back alive.

 

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Cenotes in Tulum, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

In case you were wondering why I stopped posting, I’ve been in Tulum for the last little while – exploring cenotes and just generally enjoying the culture of the Yucatan.

Check out this video on some cenotes near Tulum here.

we stayed in our usual hotel, the Punta Posada Piedra, spent time learning Spanish from Santiago, the night watchman, watched turtles crawling up on the beach to lay eggs – and one that changed its mind. We visited the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and to me, most significantly visited several local cenotes and snorkled in them.

Cenotes that I have documented on the video link above are Gran Cenote, Cenote Calavara (Temple of Doom), Manati Cenote and Dos Ojos. Of course there are plenty of others, but those are the ones that are most easily reached from Tulum.

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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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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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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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A combined project between the Toronto Cave Group and Ontario Cave Divers

old pics 117, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Not bad for Ontario eh?

Beleive it or not this is a cave dig. The TCG and Ontario cave divers all worked on this project for a number of years. As you can see, it proogresed on through the winter. Generally speaking, at its lowest level the water was about knee deep when the pumps were running. As soon as the power stopped the pit began to quickly fill with icy water.

That tube that looks like a fire hose hanging into the pit was connected to a suction nozzle that sucked up gravel, clay and dirty water which were dumped out in the adjacent field.

Many believe that this is a tunnel that had formed before the ice age in an area known as “The roof of Ontario”. It would appear that the exposed rock in the area had once been an active karst but as it was buried under clay it stopped developing. We found numerous large bones in this pit (ice age caribou amongst them), but inexplicably the project ground to a halt shortly after we reached the source of the water – an underwater tunnel.

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Ontario cave with a scary past.

IMG_4403, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

The picture is a little blurry but I thought that I would post it today in memory of a time not so long ago when I was able to go outside without my nose almost freezing solid.

This is Donald of the SQS – a Quebec caving organization. Donald, Corneilie, Marc Andre and I had entered this Ontario cave and we followed it to its sump where there had been an especially harrowing diving accident some years ago. Two divers followed the underwater tunnels inward and only one returned. Fortunately the diver who came back went back to the surface for extra air tanks and then returned to rescue his buddy who had found an airpocket somewhere.

What was especially cool about this cave – aside from the dip at the entrance was the bats. They were fluttering around in the tunnels in significant numbers – possibly leaving the passages by an entrance other than the one we had used.

In reaching the furthest extent of the passages I was very interested to see the sandbars which seem re-worked each year. I cant be sure – maybe I was just confused by the map but in retrospect I think that maybe a passage; that is not mapped has been exposed from behind a sand bar. I hope to visit when the weather warms up to be certain. I was reluctant to probe further on my last visit as I did not want to disturb the sediment but with a map in hand I can seperate my confusion from reality. It’s probably just wishfull thinking though.

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IMG_4377, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Here Corneille emerges from the freezing pool. She handled the “duck” with far greater ease than I had. It is a good thing that the Petzyl caving gear is quite waterproof. Your battery powered light illuminates the passage even when you are under water. Caving is a filthy environment and your equipment takes a hell of a beating.

WHAT DO YOU SUPPOSE HAD FOLLOWED CORNEILLE THROUGH THE TUNNEL?

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IMG_4376

Originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I sit in the darkend cavity waiting expectantly. Sure enough, the water ripples and sloshes in the pool and to the accompanyment of clinking boulders I hear one of my fellow cavers begin the claustrophobic wriggle. Technically speaking, this is a duck. It is possible to traverse this watery section of passage by holding ones breath or wriggling carefully with ones nose above the water.

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