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Posts Tagged ‘Caves near Toronto’

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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Skull Cave, Finding caves in Ontario

This past Sunday JC and I took a little trip out into the insipid February sunshine. It was just warm enough to feel a taste of spring, you could smell the decaying leaves and the fungus in the soil. As usual we were following up on cave leads and in crawling inwards through a crumbling passage, Jeff discovered a small solution tunnel.

There is something to be said for discovering caves where others have already been and discounted what was there because it seemed improbable and others have been there before. There were several places where we had suspected there might be tunnels, but it seemed that they all required tight and muddy squeezes. And having to ride in Jeff’s pristine 4X4 we were both reluctant to get too dirty.  Opting for the sunny side of a low escarpment, I waited outside a crevice while Jeff crawled in to check it out. I was entertained by the antics of a vast colony of tiny black-headed birds in a tangle of vines along the cliff face. Suddenly they all went dead silent and a fellow hiker peered over to inquire whether I was following a path. Soon Jeff returned with a discovery. Admittedly the passage started like any other crevice cave, but in turning around a bend it suddenly adopted the classic shape of a solution passage in a joint. See Jeff’s pictures.

For the worn rock slabs up top, the sinkholes and the springs that are flowing out along the sides of the plateau we are optimistic of better passages lower down.

This coming weekend we expect to be busting into some virgin passage at Wasteland Waterway with Wolfmaan. It is another of our recent discoveries – this cave being large and challenging and at this time with an end that still eludes us. No doubt Wolfmaan will take some high quality video.

After discovering caves the next logical step is exploring caves and that is exactly what we intend to do. There is a spot in Wasteland Waterway beyond which we haven’t ventured. Our intent will be to squeeze beneath a rock that Jeff had named the ‘aerofoil’ and from there a short squeeze through the ‘porthole’. It will take us into nowhere land. From what I could tell the tunnel widens out beyond the porthole. At Wasteland Waterway we are already into a significant passage that is dropping down deep and stretching high in places. For more on the discovery of Wasteland Waterway check out my book on caves, ‘Caving in Ontario; Exploring buried Karst’.

For more on Skull Cave check out Jeff’s map and pictures here.

To hear more of our exploration this coming weekend visit again.

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Success in the Filth Pit, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Digging for caves mid-winter through a matt of frozen leaves. Need I mention how cold it is. My hands are frozen numb. In walking back through the fields to our car my muddy clothing was frozen into a shell of ice.

I suppose success is relative to your frame of reference. To me, success is finding human sized cave tunnel irrespective of the conditions or work required to get there. The dig at Shelburne took place over several years and despite the massive effort and quantity of bones that met the sunlight like crumbling logs, going cave tunnel – though just beneath the water was never entered. Here JC and I dug on only 2 consecutive weekends and beneath us there is a crevice in the rock that when enlargened opens into a crawl tunnel that possibly connects to another nearby system.

See the video here – video to the Filth Pit

Important note: (Jan 21st) – Expect just a brief delay in the availability of my newly published book, “Caving in Ontario”, I am making some brief adjustments to the global distribution rights. This being said, I need to re-check the finished manuscript and then it will go back into general access and you will again be able to purchase from Lulu. or if you are a bookstore or library or person who would prefer not to use Lulu, then you can buy from Amazon at wholesale price etc. For the private individual your best deal will be from Lulu as I have marked it for a 15% discount. ‘Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst’ should be accessible on-line again by mid next week (25th of Jan 2012)

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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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