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Posts Tagged ‘karst in Ontario’

IMGP2229, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

It is a well known fact that 90-95% of Ontario’s caves are within 100 feet of a road. As of late we have taken to exploration in dense tracts of forest over a karst terrain that has been long suspected to harbor the best caving possibilities in Ontario.

As a rough guide we have been using an old manuscript that was produced by Martin Davis, he had already visited the area andf for the most part his initial reconnaisance has been invaluable to our success in finding, or re-finding significant karst features. we believe this shaft was first marked on one of Martin’s maps and in looking down it appears to exceed the depth of the abyssthat we found last month and also several other cave shaft features that we had recently happened upon. Most exciting about this shaft is the belling out of the bottom reaches so that we cannot see the bottom of the wall beneath where Jeff is standing – in fact we are believing that it could be a tunnel as a surface joint also leads in that direction. We are intending to descend the pit this coming weekend and answer the question as to whether there is going cave tunnel at the bottom.

Check out this video of the cave shaft and also another feature that we are calling the void – cave shaft video here.

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Greetings cavers and cave interested readers. As you might have gathered by the photo, I have spent some time underground today in the solitary and yet thought provoking pursuit of extreme cave digging. Admittedly there were times when it felt like I was buried alive and there were also the issues of trying to squeeze back out of the hole by which I had entered this tunnel.

JC and I have delayed a return to the shafts that we found last weekend (so as not to bother the land owner too much) and instead we investigated another lead. Somewhere near that lead we found a blind valley and in clearing the sticks and leaves away we found a pheratic tube that is choked with yellow clay.

As I was digging there was plenty of time for reflection and I came up with the thought that this tube must have drained the lake that we think must have existed in the hollow of a nearby field. Although the field is in an area of highly developed karst, it’s contact with the rock is sealed by this clay and so not surprisingly the drainage points are limited to a few locations – this is one of them. again, this geographic situation is similar to the geography of the cave system that we found in Hamilton last year – Wasteland Waterway (Consider this when looking for caves in Ontario).

We are still unsure of when the cave tunnels were choked (glacial or at the initial clearance of the land), but it must have been some time ago as calcite has dripped down onto the surface of the fill and formed a solid scab in places. Obviously our excavations have to be very carefully performed as we do not want to damage speleothems. The tube appears to be elliptical in shape and the formations fill the airspace between the clay choke and the roof. whatever we excavate will be our crawlspace.

See the video we took of some bones that were discovered. Video of the newly discovered Tooth Tube (tentatively called that until we settle on a final name). also check out my book on caving here – ‘Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst

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FOTEK Dinner and Dance, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Tucked away in the back of Michaelangelo’s plush event room is the dinner table of several Ontario cavers. The event was FOTEK’s annual dinner and dance fundraiser 2012. There were at least 400 people present. After dinner conversation was punctuated by various speechs from politicians and the raffling of a print of Josh Tiessen’s, ‘Guardian of the Karst’ painting. Josh is a member of FOTEK – Friends of the Eramosa Karst’. Our table won 5 of the 20 door prizes. It felt like the odds were in our favor, so it was especially hard to accept our loss of that wonderful painting to a non-caving guest.

Dinner was either beef or chicken, roasted potatoes pasta to start and steamed vegetables – money well spent for both the cause and the company. Moving around the table left to right, myself, Jeff Collens (my regular caving partner), Steve Worthington and Marcus Buck (co-authors of the report – Earth Sciences Inventory and evaluation of the Eramosa Karst Area of Natural Scientific Interest), Marcus’s wife Norma, two ladies who I had not met, and Nina. People who were present but not in the picture were Greg Warchol – schmoozing with some local dignitaries and my wife Maggie who took the picture.

It was Greg Warchol who had first investigated the Eramosa karst area and exposed the significance and possible loss of valuable Niagara escarpment features to the caving community – in particular Marcus Buck, and it was Marcus (who had been the key-note speaker at last year’s event) in co-operation with Steve Worthington who had undertaken all the scientific study to legitimize the Eramosa Karst’s value as an area of natural scientific interest – thus preserved from the impending developments. Derek Ford, a world renown cave scientist from McMaster University had supported the project in saying that the Eramosa Karst was one of the gems of the Niagara Escarpment.

Of greatest interest to cavers are the features of Nexus and Potruff Cave. Unbeknown to everyone in the the room (with the exception of our table) is the incredible occurrence of another similar caving feature within about a 15 minute drive of the Michaelangelo’s Conference room. Jeff and I had discovered the cave last spring and since then we have made several forays into the tunnels. we call the feature Wasteland Waterway and in response to our request to Marcus to accompany us in the near future on a mapping expedition Norma said, “he’ll have to bring his walker.” (there’s a story to be told on that). Anyway, the point is, there’s a lot more in Ontario than people might imagine – especially around the Hamilton area, my book Caving in Ontario; Exploring Buried Karst speaks of the province’s undiscovered and yet exciting caving potential.

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Caving in Ontario

Exploring an Ontario Cave - Canada

Here are 2 links to video that I took this weekend. Both these short clips are of Pilgrim’s Crawl, an Ontario cave that is yet to be followed to it’s end. I’d say the biggest problem are the tunnel’s scallops, it’s like crawling against a cheese grater and my cave suit shows it after doing so.

Check these videos out – my first attempt with video of Ontario caving …

Pilgrim’s Crawl 1  – Caving in Ontario 1

Pilgrim’s crawl 2 – Caving in Ontario 2

At this time I’m still getting the hang of this video thing, I like it and see it’s potential for documenting our explorations in the newly discovered “Wasteland Waterway Cave”. One point is that I need to increase the lighting – especially as Wasteland  Waterway has much larger tunnels. Some are well above your head. More on that in the following weeks and hopefully I’ll have my new caving book in about 2 – 3 months. It’s taking a while because I’m trying to get it right.

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IMG_8705, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

JC, GW and I returned to this karstic area to make an attempt on this pit. This is but one sinkhole of many in this area – over 50 mapped nearby, all overlying a buried karst that likely hides caves that we would very much like to find.

We have taken a short break from Wasteland Waterway as it can get quite intense if you do it every weekend. Instead we thought to involve ourselves in something a little less serious – the C… sink was exactly what we needed. It was a sinkhole that had been dye traced by a local university, but inexplicably, with such a perfect pit, they never had the curiosity to descend it.

We carried our ladder for around a half hour through tangled, bush, nettles and along the edge of a corn field until we reached our destination.

At the end of a narrow, steep sided gulley we followed a barely flowing stream as it dribbled over a ledge for a free fall into the underground.

Down below the water pattered down upon us like a cloud-burst, we were soaked in seconds, but we stayed to clear debris from the mouth of a small triangular shaped tunnel. As GW points out, with a little persuasion we will be able to remove the boulder that blocks our way and then we’ve got a going cave dig.

We now have the luxury of one promising cave dig and 2 caves with virgin passage known only to myself, JC and soon to be Greg and Marcus.  For Ontario that really is quite remarkable and it becomes increasingly apparent that the karst is there and if you know what to look for, the tunnels soon make themselves apparent.

A short break next week as I’m off to the Bancroft Gemboree – I never miss it. I hear the CGA is there so I’ll stop by to touch base with old collegues. Gems are another of my interests.

Still working hard at getting the next cave book out – it’s looking good. If you are cave-interested, especially in Ontario caves, geology or geography I’m sure you’ll appreciate what I’ll have to offer – again discretion with locations, but like opening a treasure box if you’re a cave searcher you will be totally energised by what you hear and see.

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Ontario Cave - Down the rabbit Hole

Ontario Cave - Down the rabbit Hole - Wasteland Water Way

Though we were disappointed by the flooded entrance to Wasteland Waterway we decided to check a nearby sink and in hearing noise JC and I burrowed away and opened a karst window in the bottom of what looked like a meteor crater – the roar from within was encouraging.

The picture above shows what my camera picked up, a vadose passage that had airspace and was sucking more from the hole through which we peered. as we left we packed the sticky soil over a framework of sticks to keep our tunnel safe till we return next week. Hopefully the water will have dropped by then and we can push the cave.

From the guy who bought you the book Rockwatching, stay posted for the release of my new book about 2-3 months from now on caving in Ontario it will feature some 38 good Ontario solution caves (some possibly unknown even to experienced local cavers), along with details of their exploration and formation, lots of pics (no locations). Check out my last book –  Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica here.

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IMG_8539, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

As my son said – looks like some kind of science fiction scene – well in a sense it feels that way as well. today I am on the hunt for a new wetsuit to accommodate the needed exploration. I guess I’ve been bitten by the caving bug again. Here’s my plan – video this first time exploration, I mean there’s something to be said for exploration in southern Ontario where you’d expect that everyone’s been before -but not here. the geography of southern Ontario remains unexplored in certain special places.

This photo was taken with some difficulty with my little hand-held canon (no flash). Next trip I’ll have video.

It is so odd that there is this karst geography in southern Ontario and people living close by and nobody knowing a thing about it – nobody knows about the underground tunnels beneath their farm or house, or nobody cares – WOW, get off your sofa and have a look!

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