Well not Australia, but underground. On Friday Kenny, Diana, Stuart and I went on a cave spelunking tour.
This isn't the entrance, the entrance is this small hole that you need to drop through, my t-shirt and jacket where riding up around my armpits when I got down.
The first room is the ice room, during the winter the whole room covers in ice and icicles, now only another kilometer to go to the other end...
I had expected something like walking along a cobble stone street when I think of lava tubes, this was nothing like that! This was scrambling over lose shifting rocks from the size of a baseball, up to a small piano in size. You had to test every footstep before going. And to top it off I had a flashlight that kept flickering off.
About 600m in I felt like I was at the limit of my endurance, I was taking longer to recover each time I stopped and was stopping more often, to top it off I slipped and landed on my ankle and it HURT! ALLOT!!! Had to sit that one for a bit.
The problem with sitting is that you get hot moving, but when you sit you get cold fast, it is only about 6C in that part of the cave. So you cooled down fast! No matter how tired you where you got up and kept moving to stay warm.
We came across many interesting rock formations, I didn't dig the camera out for each of them, but we saw ledges like in Indiana Jones movies, we sat rock that had dripped down the side of the cave, we saw puddles of rock that had cracked clean through and we saw this where the rock had cooled while dripping from the ceiling.
We got past the 700m of rock scrambling and hit the lava tube, this part went smooth as it really was as smooth as a cobble stone street.
Saw a 15m deep lava pit, didn't take a picture of it, looks like a hole in the ground. We had lunch at the lava pit.
Then we realized we would have to do it all again to get back out..
The return trip went faster, I think as we knew what to expect. And made it back fairly quick, at least it seemed faster. Our guide I swear could teleport! I would be looking for a footing and he would be behind me by a few meters, then I would look up and he would be 10 meters in front of me... On the way back I think I figured out part of what he was doing. It seemed like the trick was to plan a half dozen steps ahead of time, then go, let your momentum carry you from one rock to the next and the next... He would stop and look then move across the tops of the rocks. He obviously didn't have a bum ankle like me, I tried what he was doing but my ankle would scream and I would falter.. I did get along better and if I pushed through the pain knowing that the next step would re-leave the pain I got along good.
We got back to the entrance and scrambling out that hole was challenging, we where then presented with the walk back to the van, that was another half hour walk in a traditional side-ways rain storm with a touch of hail added.
All toll it was not enjoyable but well worth the time and pain spent to see the lava tube, once I have recovered I will have fond memory of the trip.
X-387 by Pete Norris
4 days ago