Subject to my failure a few years ago to find a particular marble cave I have always felt this sadness whenever anyone mentions Ontario Marble caves. Well this coming Tuesday I am again going to attempt to locate the “P-Lake Cave” and photograph the beautiful stream that runs within. This picture was taken of me in another Ontario marble cave.
It’s rather a grim and rainy day outside and I’ve spent most of it here in front of my computer – working on my soon to be released book “Caving in Ontario; An exploration of Karst”. The name may have changed a little since I last mentioned it, but I think this title better captures the true content of the material. Here is part of the foreword and if you are waiting (and I know some are) you will not be disappointed. I am taking longer than expected because the work needs to be perfection.
Foreword to “Caving in Ontario”
“Caving in Ontario” has been written as my second book on Ontario caves – the first being “Rockwatching” which was published by Boston Mills in 2005.
I am still left with the feeling that I want to be more specific about what it means to be a caver in Ontario. And so in writing this book I am writing for a specific reader; those who want to understand caves and the subculture of the caver in a part of the country where many believe that caves do not exist.”
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 …
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.
Wasteland Waterway - an Ontario cave that just keeps on getting bigger
Our aim today had been to reach the underside of a sink some 200 surface meters as the crow flies from the “Blue Barrel sink”.
The initial squeeze beyond the blue barrel sink seemed tighter than I remembered it last visit, but beyond that, as expected, the tunnels opened up well beyond our most hopeful expectations. The above picture was at the squeeze just beyond “Blue Barrel Sink”.
JC and I followed into a vadose trench where the roof was soon well above our heads. We left a decorated upper level behind (with it’s own exploration possibilities) and found ourselves following a zig zag course downward through sheets of rock and layers deeply pitted with scallops.
Today’s exploration ended in a shallow pool with 3 choices of tunnel moving forward. I suspect that a rightward leading tunnel could well underlie the sink for which we had been heading – but then it’s just purely speculation (well not entirely). We must already be quite deep beneath the surface and confirmation as to this passage’s eventual termination would require a stoop walk along the said passage which at first glance looks very jagged – though to it’s credit it is a little above the trunk passage in height so possibly a feeder passage leading from the suspected sink.
As an Ontario cave this one ranks up there with other more impressive local caves – who knows how big it will eventually get, it certainly blows a healthy draft. So far the formations have not quite matched those of Spanky’s Paradise, but they come a close second. This cave is certainly deeper than most Ontario caves (and I have been in most Ontario caves that are known to the caving community). As a straight line tunnel – thus far only branching now, it is definitely impressive for Ontario.
Today’s push in Wasteland Waterway, a new cave that JC and I recently discovered has thus far exceeded our best imaginings. As you can see the entry crawl is wet and it gets wetter and more laborious as you go deeper in. We passed the blue barrel in the sink – our bailout route if the water level increases while we are in there. I must admit I began to suspect that it was rising as we were leaving. At times the roof is almost touching the water and you must pick your path to keep yourself in air.
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.
The big passage in Broken Rowboat Cave ends in a jumble of rock leading downward at one end and a sediment blockage at the other end. The big passage is met about midway along by a crawl tube from the outside and another tube leads off from it that is blowing cold air.
Its kind of funny in a way as there is a worn depression in the dirt that leads from the outside, down the entry tube, into the big passage, and then down the passage that is blowing air – the depression is likely trodden by some little cave dwelling animal (porcupine, raccoon). I saw no scat or other clues around – maybe its gnomes!!!
Anyway, as the cave is not so far below the surface and yet quite heavily marked by large scallops, I wonder if the sediment blocked end had once taken running water from the surface. There are many large soil filled grykes in the around there.
In the above picture JC is investigating crevices in the area. We are wondering if there are other entrances. The cave must go downward as because of the topography the tunnels can’t be too extensive at the level that we were exploring.
Downward would seem a likely possibility for several reasons – one is that at one end of the big passage there already is a rubbly pit in that direction, secondly, because water flows downward, thirdly, because the joints in this area are especially wide – so why not deep as well? And also because it would seem a logical route for the water to flow as there seems to be obstructions on the surface that might make it the most logical route to follow.
I suppose the tube that is blowing cold air will reveal to us whether our exploration will continue, or whether it will stop right there with the usual crushed expectations. I suppose we can’t complain, if every hill had a cave beneath it – well looking for caves wouldn’t be quite so rewarding.
Following the release some time ago of my book "Rockwatching; Adventures above and below Ontario", I am pleased to announce the release of my new book "Tamarindo; Crooked Times in Costa Rica". It is a story of opportunity. Edgehill Press is the publisher. (www.edgehillpress.com)