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Posts Tagged ‘ice formations’

Caves near Guelph, Canada, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Jeff and I believe that this small group of shelter-like caves near Guelph, Ontario, Canada might well be the resurging exits to a system that slopes downward from the river valley along the bedding plane. It appears that from the visit that we made, the tunnels all slope downward and are soon filled with clay and gravel.

See the video on a few areas that we were looking at here

It appears that since our visit the previous weekend, the ice crawl into the #8 cave has got significantly tighter. The February thaw and then flash-freeze has almost closed some passages in places. I vaguely entertained the thought of the tunnel freezing shut behind me. That would be a nasty way to die, especially considering that lying on the ice, with my coat pulled up from my stomach I was getting a taste of how it would feel to be slowly freezing.

Anyway, we did find a spot with blowing air on our previous visit and we also saw 2 likely spots where digging might open further passage. I am reminded of the dig and railway system that I had once seen in the Cheddar Cave. Eventually those cavers reached the river Axe and from there some incredible stories of underground and underwater exploration.

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Winter cave trip – Rockwood, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

I love the underground ice formations, they are especially abundant after the type of recent freeze and thaw that we have been experiencing here in Ontario. Most of the more impressive decorations are concentrated at cave entrances.

Up in Marmora the cave ice is greatly varied – in particular in the tunnels at the entrance to Spanky’s paradise. I recall beautiful crystal clear curtains that I actually wacked my helmet up against before I realized they blocked the passage. It seems that in Rockwood it is the ice stalagmites that are most common. see the video here of a short excursion that we made into the entrance of number 8 cave.

See video of Rockwood cave ice formations here.

We avoided the main cave as bats are sometimes known to over-winter there – the extent to which there are any surviving bats in the Rockwood Caves is questionable as they are heavily traveled and badly trashed. We did however discover a small hole with some future potential exploration – a summer trip. The amount of roof encrusted ice crystals indicated the possibility of air blowing from within. These crystals lined the roof along the passage for at least 10 feet and shortly past the entrance the air became moist and foggy.

Check out this video of a cave trip in the UK – wish I was there, looks warmer – near tropical in fact

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Further to my exploration of Canadian geography in the the winter, JC and I found an icy precipice down which we could slither into the Elora Gorge. Being more agile JC had led the way, and I followed tentatively, wondering if I could make my way back up again. Admittedly it’s been too long and my lack of confidence was misplaced, tree roots, hanging branches and rocks made for easy climbing and soon our discovery of cool ice formations and a frozen waterfall led me to believe that the effort had been worthwhile.

JC had found a picture of a low slot-like cavity on Flickr, I recall seeing this years ago, but it was never so exposed above the water. Either the water has got lower in the Elora Gorge or my memory is faulty. Elora Gorge is mentioned in several caving manuscripts for it’s shallow shelter caves, and as there are usually more challenging explorations around, I’ve never really paid too much attention – but today, we’re just marking time till warmer weather and then it’s back to real caving. If you are looking for cool things to do near Toronto, a visit to the Elora Gorge would certainly top my list – Just be sure you’re safe, the edge of the gorge is very dangerous, especially in the winter.

We figured that we could reach the slot pictured on flickr by descending into the gorge and then picking our way along the river bank. Sadly this was not possible as the river cut off our expected riverbank access. This hollow might well be a shelter cave, but in looking at the sloping rock wall above it I wonder if it might again be some kind of tuffa formation. You will possibly remember my posts on Travertine Cave, there are some spectacular formations within it (See my book Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst – here) and if the river level has dropped and opened this new passage, I wonder if there are similar hidden treasures – but then again its probably like all the others, a rather disappointing shelter cave.

Any way when we realized we could not reach our intended destination we headed down stream and discovered this cavity in beneath a joint. Elora has beautiful thick bedding planes in many places (lower down) and so you never know what you might come across. Being formed by running river water from the gorge, this cavity does not go in too far, but being curious – cavers usually are, JC stood on my shoulders and as I stood, he hand-walked up the wall to get a look inside the tunnel up above, it too was relatively short. The real treat in Elora are the ice formations, and the frozen water falls – here is one that I saw. Short of re-visiting in the summer to check out the river level slot, winter is the time to go there.

I’ve heard rumor of a few other caves along the river bank – does anyone want to share?

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