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Posts Tagged ‘caves in Ontario’

JC and I have had some difficulty in locating these caves in the Elora Gorge, there are plenty of rumors out there, but because of the difficulty in viewing this area, with slippery ice and cliff edges that seem to blend into the drifted snow these caves had gone un-noticed until today.

As many of us live such an urban lifestyle most are hesitant to enjoy the winter – or at least the winter beyond the limits of a local ice rink. A ramble up the Elora Gorge is definitely a cool thing to do if you live in or near Toronto. The ice formations are amazing, especially with the warmer temperatures as of late and the rapid freeze to grow these incredible icicles. There was also an interesting bed of octagonal foam rafts that had floated down the river and gathered in an eddy. I managed to get down to the river and grab one. It was ice with a top of foam that had frozen. by their rubbing against each other the ice rafts had all developed this unusual geometric appearance and at their outer edge the rafts were being jostled out into the river and sucked back into the eddy further down to replenish the back end of this constantly moving carpet. It was like a natural conveyor belt.

Sadly – as much as photographing the ice formations is a cool thing, it looks like we will have to either wait for summer to reach the caves in the above picture, or we will have to wade across the river in less than ideal conditions. As seems to be the pattern, all caves that I’ve seen in the Elora Gorge are simple shelter caves – shallow cavities that have been scooped out by the water. Admittedly the caves present some interesting opportunities, but I’m not sure I’m ready to wade across the river in these temperatures. There also appears to be a possible scramble down the opposite cliff face. I will have to scout that out next weekend if I’m not with JC looking for abandoned gypsum mines – the landscape south of Hamilton is littered with them. JC just e-mailed to say that he visited a buried adit today from which 60 000 tonnes of rock had been removed. The land owner says that he had felt a breeze coming from there in the summer.

So will it be looking for caves or abandoned mines next weekend?

Cave near Kingston

One question – who is looking for a cave near Kingston?  Do you know something that I don’t? Leave a message so I can contact you – your lead and the knowledge of my various contacts might be able to locate the treasure for the both of us.

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While out looking for caves today we were unsuccessful, but it was not entirely a bust. We found this place where a vigorous stream bubbled up from the wall of a valley.

We had first seen this spot on an aerial photograph, a mysterious valley from which water seemed to flow. We spent most of the day searching the area in hopes that somewhere there would be accessible cave tunnels. According to the landowner, there are plenty of sinking streams on the plateau above this spot. Doug, (I believe that was his name), pointed out a ridge nearby and called it “the great Divide”, water on the far side flowed toward Lake Ontario and water on the side of this stream flows into Lake Erie – the separate watersheds are governed by the Grand River Conservation Authority and the Hamilton Conservation Authority.

Water in Ontario generally seeps from marshes or oozes from the soil, this natural spring was quite a treat. Somewhere on the plateau above this feature we will eventually find the sink point, in fact we have pinpointed several significant sinks from the map search. The biggest problem is to find landowners on a Sunday. As for the local geology it is promising in that the bedrock is limestone and it is exposed right at the surface just thinly covered by a clayish soil. To it’s detriment the rock is fractured and thinly bedded.

Water in Ontario seldom flows from the earth in the way you see in the accompanying picture, but I do know of one really cool spot near Guelph – the headwater’s of the Eramosa River. It is a place called Blue Springs (in a Scout camp), There is this really incredible pool that’s crystal clear with a carpet of the finest beach sand across it’s bottom. If you look carefully you can see the bottom of the pool churning as the water flows from the aquifer back to the surface. there is shattered karst all along the valley, but at this time the areas tunnels are yet to be revealed.

For more details on cave hunting techniques check out my new book on caving in Ontario here.

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Check out the article in Cave News here, book on caves,  Also my book on caves, ‘Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst’. Buy my caving book here

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Jeff and I spent the day digging for connecting tunnels around the Wasteland Waterway System.

At the end of a blind valley, where a stream disappears we began our excavation. Digging was mainly by following toward the sound of running water. Several times we bent down and listened for the noise and then that is the direction in which we dug. Being early January, despite the harsh sunlight, the water was very cold. Soon we were covered in a stinking goo of rotting leaves and slimy clay which when dried was very painful to pick free, it had matted like scabs on my arm hair and the only way to free yourself was with a garden hose and a frigid stream of water.

We hacked through clay and leaves and sticks. Finally with a puff of warmer cave air we found ourselves peering through a crevice into a passage underneath, and within there was the sound of running water. Next weekend we’ll break through the cap rock and then we’ll be into virgin tunnel. It looks like the passage is pretty clogged, but I’ll bet it is similar to the main entry, where it starts off tight and grows into something bigger. We can excavate some of the debris and crawling will be easier. This tunnel possibly links with the main Wasteland System, but there’s no guarantee.

See the mess that was our surface dig on youtube here – Digging for Caves in Ontario, and if you want to learn how to find your own caves, or just read about some really extreme explorations beneath Ontario, by divers, cave divers and explorers like myself buy my book,  Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst, here.

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crawling in ooze, P – Lake, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Consider that you  haven’t done any caving in Ontario until you’ve explored some of it’s beautiful marble passages that are scattered through the rock of the Canadian shield.

Long awaited, much anticipated, promised too many times and backed out of it too often. I am not proud of what i’d done to you (fellow cavers and eager blog followers). Well JC and I finally made it to P – Lake Cave. We found an easier, smarter route than over the miles and miles of beaver dams, and was it ever worth it.

This is me crawling from a room thus far unnamed, but from the pictures Maggie says we should call it “The theater”. JC took the picture.

P – Lake Cave cuts through solid marble – surrounded on either side by granite. Within there is a central passage that was dryer than we expected, but plenty of evidence of rushing water during a wetter season. My upcoming book on caving in Ontario will have full details of the experience.

Check out this amazing article on cave bacteria in New Mexico – Here – Cave Bacteria

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Beaver Valley, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I was out scouting for a possible cave dig location today. Caving in Ontario can sometimes involve a little digging. Beaver Valley has a few promising possibilities. Investigations from a past trip revealed the likelihood of a bedding plane tunnel, there was no remarkable amount of solution taking place. Again I was drawn back here. There is too much sinking and all the signs that would suggest that something very active is taking place beneath the surface – huge sinkholes all lined up, elevation, exposed rock (the right kind of rock) and plenty of serious corrosion on the surface.

There has to be more to this place than beautiful colored leaves.

Check this out – it was under the search term of a “sink”, but it’s really a washout, but still worth seeing. I gotta ask myself what the odds of catching this on video was. Here

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IMGP1675, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Might this be the hole down which the white rabbit disappeared?

JC and I found this in a valley. Two deep gullies lead up to this spot and there is some obvious overflow where the valley fills up under flood conditions and flows out across the land. The landowner said that he’d heard of this feature, but he’d never really looked.

I believe if I dived down here I might get at least 8 feet before the hole got too narrow and then I’d lie there wedged until my eyeballs popped out or the rabbit set me free. A point on that story (Alice in Wonderland), my mother used to work for the Dean of Christchurch (where Lewis Caroll was a Don) and there was a constant flow of people wanting chestnuts from the Cheshire Cat tree which was right outside her office window – sorry I diverge from caving in Ontario.

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