Posts Tagged ‘Caving in Canada’

New Ontario Cave - Flooded out

New Ontario Cave - Flooded out

It rained all night last night so JC and I slogged through the marshy forest – clumps of gooey clay sticking to our boots, only to find the entrance to Wasteland Waterway completely submerged, though it was taking everything that was washed in to it there was no airspace for a caver.

Important point – rainfall on clay surface above karst equals death trap for those who are caving down below.

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Well as much as I have used the post title before, it comes as no surprise that it should be used again, because if you keep on looking, you just keep on finding. As seems apparent both JC and I are two stubborn dogs who just won’t quit looking so we find our share of local (Ontario) caves each year. Last year it was “Broken rowboat Cave, the year before it was “Broken glass Cave”, now it’s wasteland waterway”

Sitting in the Centennial Parkway parking lot of the Home Depot we checked out the aerial photos of our target area. Jeff pointed out that there had been past mention of sinks around the destination. Well we drove there and after about an hour of slogging through the forest we came across a karsty sort of terrain – sinks about 20 feet deep and runnels cut through the clay overburden within which flowed cappuccino colored streams. We followed one such stream to where it disappeared underground and we had our first glimpse of the cave that we baptized “the Wasteland Waterway’ – henceforth it will be called as such.

As you can see, size-wise, the entry tunnel is about 4 feet wide and about 3 feet high and a brisk stream flows within. I believe there are some similarities to Nexus Cave and as we soon hope to discover, possible size comparisons as well, but being a cave and not knowing what is around the corner till you get there we also remain realistic to the possibility of disappointment – more to follow soon.

Oh, BTW – check out my new book “Tamarindo; Crooked times in Costa Rica” here.

And on the subject of books, I am giving serious consideration to another book on Caving in Ontario (Rockwatching was my first).

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Jeff in Broken Boat Cave, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

JC and I have recently found a cave in a relatively well traveled area. It looks like just a simple undercut that is easily discounted. At the time I was tired and waited while JC pushed it. Needless to say we were both pretty excited when he returned with pictures.

Admittedly the cave was blowing cold air quite strongly so that should have been a hint. We had intended to re-visit this weekend as there is a craw tube deeper in from which the cold air comes and for which neither of us had energy, but Maggie wants to go to Toronto so the exploration will have to wait (more details and pictures to come tonight).

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Toronto Caving Group

Another  new Cave near Lake Erie 

A question that is commonly asked by people who visit this site is, How do I become a caver? or, How do I start caving in Ontario?

Well, aside from the obvious (start caving on your own) Join a caving club.

I had been caving for many years as an independant before I joined the Toronto Caving Group. I had initially taken a caving course in the army while I had been stationed in Gibraltar but that only covered the basics of sport caving. To really cave as an independant required far more knowledge than that.

A caver needs to know how to find caves and short of that knowledge, you need to align yourself with people who already have that skill to learn. Your first caving trip with the TCG (Toronto Caving Group) will likely be to the Niagra Escarpment caves (e.g. Mount Nemo or Rattle Snake Point), but after that, and with the appropriate contact (That you will make in the club) your horizons begin to expand. Later caving trips might be down to Dewdney,s or Moira caves and then later with more experience – Friars Hole in West Virginia. Somewhere along there you begin picking up the skills to progress further in the field of caving.

This picture was taken yesterday and it is above a new cave that Jeff discovered last weekend. The cave (“Bed of Glass”) is buried beneath a pile of rusting wire fencing and old car parts. A dry stream weaves through a nearby woodlot and disappears beneath the big pile of crap. Jeff had made a hole and down this hole we went. My first task had been to ascertain the absence of snakes. I had seen several in the grass that day and I hate snakes. Nowhere more appealing to snakes than beneath a big pile of garbage just like this.

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Pool in Dead Mouse Cave

IMG_7892, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I suppose it would not be unreasonable to assume that I have managed to fit in a significant amount of study since the last post went up, but unfortunatly I was again distracted and ended up visiting my good Friend Jeff (SNAFU).

Jeff M. is a techie, I am not. I’ve been trying to figure out how to record a fire alarm sound and then play it at work for the betterment of those who do not understand our two-tone system. It had seemed like an impossible task. Fortunately, my frustration was soon aleviated by Jeff who said that I had the wrong connections at the back of my boom box. You see the peole at Futureshop had sold me the wrong connection, or maybe I had bought the wrong connection – either way, I’ve been feeling pretty frustrated. Problem solved, SNFU knew the solution right away and now everything is good.

Now an explanation of the cave picture.

This is what lies at the furthest extent of where I was willing to crawl in “Dead Mouse”. It is a strange little dam that holds back a crystal-clear pool of water behind(not the muddy one you can see in front) and Jeff C. who I was with at the time said that he might have been able to push the passage further as it is wide and curves sharply off to the left beyond this picture. For me, this is as far as I will be going in dead mouse. There are better options in the area of which I was then aware and I will explain that morning’s big success in my next set of posts – I just wanted to finish off on the “Dead Mouse story before diverging off onto more exciting news.

Oh, one kind of interesting thing. You might have noticed that rock in the middle of the dam, its kind of like a cork in a dyke. It had forced its way into the hole from behind.

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A disapponting conclusion – I’m to fat to go much further


IMG_7898, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Just a quick post as promised – a conclusion to the newly discovered cave – “Dead Mouse”. In one sense, you did not miss out to much here Greg. The cave soon changed to something less explorable, but it was the exploration earlier in the day at another spot found by Jeff that really made the journey worthwhile.

I am again supposed to be studying for a health and safety exam. This is the last of the delay tactics that I can employ – a quick update that I will build upon in a following few posts later this evening.

As we have discovered over the weeks since our last visit, the Onondaga Escarpment (south of Hamilton) is a rich caving ground if you know what to look for. The escarpment winds all wriggly and convoluted across the top of Lake Erie – interspersed with layers of chert and some fabulous fossils.

More to come soon.

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Check out the scalloping

An Ontario cave near Lake Erie

Notice the scalloping – wear features shaped like spoon scoops, they are indicative of the water speed and direction of flow. The roof above is grey and hard and worn smooth – no sign of the ceiling joint that governs passage direction in many Ontario caves (e.g. Ongleys Hole/ Dewdney’s Cave), so as for water just trickling in from the fields above, that does not seem to be an option at this time. The water certainly rises high in the tunnels, but today it is drizzling outside and no sign of raised water levels.

Up ahead there appears to be either deeper water or less rubble in a “T” junction. I wonder if the left leading junction meets up with the surface depression that we saw? Does it function as an overflow conduit like in Little Stream?

We are left considering the possibility of some kind of dendritic feeding system, or a single point at which the water sinks. The passage seems to be widening up ahead and so we resolve to return to “Dead Mouse” in about two weeks with the appropriate equipment and push on deeper in.

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Penance in suffering

Exploring a newly found Ontario Cave 

I am crawling along on sharp edged cobbles, a lot of the time with my flashlight in my mouth. For the dead mouse that we found, we decided to call this cave “Dead Mouse” – as in, “Wear kneepadswhen you are visiting “Dead Mouse”, and be prepared to get wet as I can see that there will be a belly crawl up ahead”.

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A cave like Nexus, but way south of there

Caving in Ontario

We realized that we were inadequately prepared to explore this new cave, we had only one flashlight and crawling on the cobbles without knee pads was painful to say the least. We resolved to poke our heads in a short distance and see what lay ahead with the intention of surmising what lay beyond that.

I am left with the impression of a system somewhat similar in appearance to Nexus cave in the Eramosa Karst (Hamilton), but the tunnels are a little larger in this passage.

I believe that the cave at the entrance is only a short distance beneath the rock, but with around 15 feet of dirt above the rock – that’s unusual in ontario, most Ontario caves are just beneath the cedars – little in the way of dirt above them. I do not see much in the way of mud and sediment banks in the trenchway that I am crawling along. Like Nexus, the rock is thinly bedded and from what I could see, much of it juts out into the passage.

Soon the water is getting deeper. The big mystery to us is still where does the water come from, a sinking stream, percolating throught the farmer’s fields, just dripping out of the strata with the snowmelt?

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We speculate as to the distance that the cave goes in

No sucking air 

Immediate impressions at the entrance –  the tunnel sloped down into water, a wide trench had been worn into the floor and though the water was not flowing at the time, it certainly flowed some times as the debris out front suggests a significant rush of water. Bigger slabs were deeper into the tunnel and with distance from the mouth, the debris got smaller.

Both Jeff and I were extremely excited, I know of no other cave down along the shore of Lake Erie in Devonian age rock – though both Ongley and Martin Davis make reference to that possibility. I suspect one of them might even mark a Lake Erie cave on one of their manuscript maps (I’ll have to check it out tonight).

Has anyone else out there discovered caves or a cave along the northern shore of Lake Erie?

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