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Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

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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Abandoned mine in Quebec – Bristol Mine

P1020339, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Had an interesting time last weekend. I went to see the old abandoned Bristol Mine along the banks of the Ottawa River. The “town” of bristol mines still exists and the old mine property is still obvious for its enormous heaps tailings.

Bristol Mines had been opened in 1872 and by the mid 1950’s over 350 people were employed with shafts dropping down below 1200 feet (iron ore).

From the fence line you could see this piece of machinery, it is at the one end of a concrete building. I believe it is part of the “concentrator”. I suspect that there is still industry of some kind taking place on the property, the roads are plowed.

The day was incredibly cold and our time outside the car felt like were were on some kind of polar expedition – snow above the knees and icy wid that numbed the face. I think I will have to return in the summer and pay better attention to the whole area. We were on “Gold mine road Sud”. There has to be a reason for that name as well as a nearby lake “Lac de oro” and other well known mines and possible rockhounding sites (Moss mine etc).

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Lake of the Dahlias somewhere beyond

P1010079, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Here it is – over the hump. I pressed through this low slot and on to the passage beyond – an elliptical tunnel that wound off into gloom. Its hard to imagine but somewhere further on the helictites become so dense and interwoven that it is impossible to go onwards without damaging them. I did not get much further than this, but I was shown a map that indicated the most fantastic formations were isolated beneath a military zone. After my little private jaunt I saw a 3D movie that the curators were making of what was deep within – unbelievable!

One General Frederico F. Gavada wrote in 1870 in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine of his experience in the Cuevas de Bellamar saying that he eventually reached an underground lake, 18 feet deep and 180 feet long. He called it the “Lake of Dahlias” for the crystals that looked like petaled flowers.

As the general wrote …

“These dahlias are formed by triangular, concave crystals, starting from a common centre, in layers one above the other, precisely as the petals of dahlias are arranged. They vary from three to five inches in diameter. Their greatest beauty consists in the exquisite manner in which they are tinted with veins of violet and blue and delicate yellow and pale crimson. These colors are probably due to the presence of mineral salts which filter down with the water from the overlying strata.

Here, then, we have an enchanted lake in which the most fastidious of naiads would not refuse to dwell. A lake with its surrounding landscape of fantastic, sparry forms and its beds of wondrous flowers, and with its own sky bending above it full of sparkling constellations – a lake on which the sun has never shone, and whose smooth and silver surface the light wings of the breeze have never rippled, nor the rage of the tempest ever maddened into foam”.

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Wading deeper into tunnels

IMG_7649, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

In pursuit of the slurping sound I waded onward down the watery tunnel. The water was about 5 feet deep, clear and greenish tinged. Remarkably the floor was composed of pea gravel – tiny little rocks worn smooth and translucent by the running water. I wondered where the pebbles had come from – I am in a dolostone terrain and some of those pebbles were igneous in origin.

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Dangerous Ontario cave

IMG_7591, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

The thing with Marmora is that you need to get a feeling for the sinking and resurging channels. Here we are walking up a section of stream bed where the water resurges strongly in the spring from a blind valley. The valley is fed by a number of tunnels. At this time it is possible to explore the tunnels as they are mostly dry but when the water is high – no chance.

The Marmora Maze caves switch back and forth beneath a low escarpment somewhere off in the bush. Josh (my son) and I, had long suspected the existence of tunnels there and one Saturday morning we dug away the debris beneath a joint to open a passage into the maze caves.

The Marmora Maze cave consists of tunnels that have only been explored a little in either direction, both up and down stream. It would seem that the tunnels upstream are low and trough-like beneath a rocky shelf, while down stream there are deeper trench-like passages.

The rock of the area is the Bobcaygeon Formation – rich in fossils, namely some pretty sizeable cephalopods. A couple of years ago we had visited the area with some Russian cavers and one happened to be a specialist in Cephalopds. A cephalopod is like an ice cream cone in appearance, chambered through the cone and with tentacles coming out of the top of the cone.

The entrance to the Maze Caves looked pretty unstable today, a good bump will likely to bring several tons of rock down on your head. I think the entrance needs re-digging before anyone enters there again.

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