Author Topic: Caving  (Read 268 times)

Woodland Mike

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Caving
« on: September 10, 2018, 08:36:27 PM »
I posted this a while ago on TSN site, but here is a slight variation.
Not that many years ago I was a keen caver and potholer and I wrote a lot about my exploits. I would seek out new systems (that is the term for underground passageways). Digging was a hobby and that is with an “I” and not an “O”. Digging is where you literally remove material from a passageway by various means. Those means may just be your hands removing lumps of rock, but I eventually used explosives as it was quicker to open up the passages so humans could go beyond what nature had barred. However all that activity came to an end when I had my kids. Not quite.
In 1992 I was camping at Selside Farm in the Yorkshire Dales where I had previously spent a good deal of time with my parents and mates (1970’s and early 1980’s) whilst on cycle camping trips, but with my young family I decided to take them to a cave that I love. Long Churn Cave near Alum Pot (look it up on Google). The cave was wet as it has a stream running through it and caves are, well, dark. In fact so dark you cannot see. My young un’s at the time were 5 and 6. I had a campervan (a VW Devon or as folk called it, a gypsy waggon – how perceptions have changed as everyone wants one now) and I had a mate with me. My mate stayed with the van and my adopted son and put the grub on to cook which would usually have included some freshly caught rabbits or tickled trout and food from the fields. I took my two up to the caves with a view to just have a look at the entrance and go in so far and return.
It had been raining (It does in Yorkshire), but I entered the cave with one daughter on my back and the other on my neck.
The first section is where the roof is about 5 feet from the floor, so I had to do a crouched double shuffle to keep my girls in comfort. Then the cave opens up and the passageway is maybe 15 feet high. Had I felt uncomfortable I would have stopped the experience then and returned to the camp site, but no. I was hot (as you the reader would be after carrying two up a steep hill for 2 miles). The water was lapping my legs at calf height, but I felt confident.
Do I continue and get wet? All that wet clobber would be a drag. What if I slip?.................Down dark caves in Yorkshire the rock is not slippery at all.
I felt confident in my lighting (spares) and I knew the only difficult bit would be Dr Bannister’s Hand basin (maybe half a mile away underground) which I had climbed a dozen times before. But what about my clobber that would get wet? Dr Bannister’s Hand Basin is a shallow pool underground and is about three feet deep. The only way out is up a 5 feet waterfall or return the way you have come.
My naturist instinct took over and I removed all my clobber and put it onto a rock ledge. So I was naked, bar the boots. Was I cold? No. Was it draughty? Yes. I am a Yorkshire guy from Doncaster who was brought up tough.
I then embarked on the trip or journey through the cave system. The water was waist deep in places and I had to fight against the force of the current. The cool wind was welcome. At times the water would splash on my chest. Some sections I had to bridge where you put your feet on each side of the passageway and shuffle to gain height.  After a while I arrived at the shallow pool. Dr Bannister’s Hand Basin. The waterfall looked daunting, but I was a confident young guy. It is a steep climb and I had done it before several times. But with a kid on my back and a kid on my neck? This confident guy just climbed up taking extra care, really extra care. After that one emerges into the day world where the air feels warm. Still with the kids enjoying the trip I walked back to the first cave entrance to recover my clobber.
My mate still reminds to this day that I was late for the stew and my girls get slightly embarrassed if I recall the tale.

Yes, caving naked can be fun. Would I do it again? I have been back a few times without the now grownups and that instinct is still there.

BlueTrain

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Re: Caving
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2018, 09:15:12 PM »
An acquaintance in college (we both had Land-Rovers) was an enthusiastic spelunker. He even had professional papers published about underground water while he was still an undergraduate. It took him forever to finish college but he went on to get a masters. He had a consulting business on water for municipalities. In fact, in the school (Forestry) yearbook, for which he took most of the photos, he is pictured in a cave, no less.

But he was not a nudist. Nobody's perfect.

jbeegoode

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Re: Caving
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2018, 11:50:23 PM »
Dusty, dirty muddy, parasites in the water along with the  dangerous bacteria. Claustrophobia, a place where no one can hear ya. Pitch black, blind as a bat...bats, errant snakes. Wrong turns to get lost in, drop offs and slippery spots. Caves are an odd spot, a challenge, a dare, creepy to me. I find that I prefer being outside. There is so much outside.

What is the attraction for you? I keep looking for a reason that would spurn me to spelunking, but the challenge/dare thing is all that registers.
Jbee
Barefoot all over, all over.

Woodland Mike

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Re: Caving
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2018, 03:33:55 PM »
Many caves are dusty, but in the UK we have lots of wet caves with active waterways that wash any mud away. These are mainly in our more hilly areas where the water is pretty clean and bacteria levels are very low and rarely dangerous. Claustrophobia is a personal thing, but is not an issue for me. Having no one to hear you can be exciting, but at the same time no noise of aircraft or distant traffic. Modern head torches are brilliant and I always carry a spare. Turning off the light can be fun. We don't get snakes in caves in the UK and if you keep to a streamway you can't really get lost. Because there is no natural light the rocks are not at all slippy. For me it is the freedom and that back to basics that exploring naked gives one. Obviously it is an occasional activity as I do prefer to be in the open air.

jmf

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Re: Caving
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2018, 06:19:20 PM »


What is the attraction for you? I keep looking for a reason that would spurn me to spelunking,
Jbee

It'sbeautifil!
http://www.randonnues.fr/?p=1488
I like hiking, running, kayaking, biking, sailing, geocaching...naked of course!

eyesup

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Re: Caving
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2018, 08:42:15 PM »
Great shots, jmf!
Those look like most caves I’ve been in.
They are beautiful and amazing places. And obviously old.

Duane

nuduke

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Re: Caving
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2018, 12:02:44 PM »

Les Grottes sont tres belles et, quand les explorateurs sont en nués, elles sont formidable!,
John