It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, December 30, 2016

Jackson Blue, toward Crinoid Glory

I flew into Jacksonville on Thursday, and Rob was kind enough to pick me up (he and Kevin had dived Madison that day) and then we booked it to Marianna, getting into town just before Ruby Tuesday closed (which is, as far as I can tell, the latest place to get food other than fast food). Kevin met us there and we had some snacks and beer, as I was reminded for the nth time that Marianna doesn't have hard liquor. We came up with a tentative plan for the rest of the week... JB on Friday, Hole in the Wall on Saturday, then down to Tallahassee to Emerald, then back to Newberry (home base) for either Alachua Sink or Eagle's Nest on Monday.

We headed to Edd's in the morning, to get a little gas (Argon, O2) and sign in to Jackson Blue. It was pretty crowded there, and once we headed over to JB, it was a little crowded there too.  Well there were a few other cars there already.  We couldn't find a real map of JB but we'd taken a look at a map on a T shirt at Edd's so we could formulate a plan, which was to head up toward Crinoid Glory. I've headed up to that area before, but I don't think I've ever technically made it there. But I don't know; I'm not sure what part of the cave is technically called that :P

Anyhoo, Kevin was leading, followed by me and then Rob. We schlepped our gear to the water (not that bad of a schlep... gotta love Matt and Leah's scooters!) and off we went. So, it's been about two years since I've been on a cave dive. And as I was puttering into the cavern, I realized that I hadn't turned my light on. Doh. I guess that's what the cavern zone is for. Kevin and I dumped our O2 bottles in the cavern, and I remembered to check whose bottle I had... I was pretty surprised to see it had my name on it, since it seemed like we had a lot of borrowed gear :P. We headed toward the mainline, and around 30 feet, before we even got to the line, my ear locked up. For a while I thought I might have to turn the dive, but eventually I managed to get down to 40 feet.

When we came to the chimney, I took pretty much forever to get down. Kevin was waiting patiently at the bottom.  For some reason I had the dumb idea to switch my PPO2 at the top of the chimney. I realized immediately that it was a dumb moment to do it, but didn't switch it back. So in addition to dealing with my ears, I was dealing with venting gas on the way down :). I can't even blame that on my lack of recent cave diving :P. Not too long after the chimney, after I think we had just gone through another small down area, Kevin stopped and gave me a hand signal which I thought was suggesting that he and I switch. I was thinking he wanted to do this so that we could go through the ups and downs at whatever speed worked for me.  I kind of waved him off because I didn't really want to lead (into the dark scary cave) but he kept signalling. So finally I just scootered past him and led us from there. I stayed in the lead until the second set of Ts, when I let him take back the lead. I paused there because I didn't really want to go first, and he just scooted by.

We took the usual scootering path to the right at the first set of Ts and to the left at the second.  We were going pretty slowly. I know that Kevin will deny it, but I think his Gavin is the slowest scooter in the history of the world. He would probably say that he likes to dawdle on the way in on the trigger (especially when gas is not an issue). Anyhoo, we ambled along through the trash room and all that, and before you know it, we got to the jump. By the time that you see the jump, there is not a good drop point for scooters and bottles. So Rob and I went back a bit to the first rubble pile and dropped our stuff there. Kevin made do closer to the jump (but he kept his bottle). Once we made the jump, we quickly started passing gazillions of Ts. I somehow drew the short straw and got stuck dropping cookies. I think I was down to about two cookies left before Kevin started to contribute. 

So, I don't really know where we were going, and I didn't necessarily know that Kevin did either. Not that there's anything wrong with that... I'm always happy to just poke around. But I thought the area that we went to was really nice. The water was SO clear and the walls were quite bright.  I remember the last time I was back there, there was a far amount of percolation, but today is was just so clear and quiet!  At some point we made it to some areas that were a little lower, and Kevin dropped his bottle. Eventually after I think around 9 Ts, we swam over a T where Kevin dropped a cookie, and I pointed out that on the other side of the T was a cookie I had dropped earlier. A sure sign that it's time to turn the dive :P. So we headed back.  My ears were starting to get persnickety, so it was a good time to turn back anyway. 

On the way back to the mainline, I saw what seemed like the biggest cave crayfish I'd ever seen. It was pretty cool, but now that I think back to it, it was kind of creepy.  When we got back to the mainline, there was some slight discussion about heading further in, or calling it. I called it because of my ears but I pretty much immediately regretted that... There aren't that many ups and downs further up the mainline, so I should have just gone for it. Oh well. We kind of took our time on the way out. It was pretty uneventful, though between the last two Ts, I became convinced that I must have swum over the last T and not seen it, because it seemed like I'd been going and going and not seen it yet. And then we passed the T. I guess we were just going that slowly :P. 

Coming up the chimney was not great. My ears were driving me nuts and I kind of felt like my eye balls were leaking out of my nose. We meandered pretty slowly back to the cavern, and then hung out there for about 15 minutes. I laid on the rock bottom and practiced using my p-valve. While Kevin video'd me. Apparently he didn't realize what I was doing ;)

When deco was finished, we drifted back to the surface and splashed about for a bit. I had a bloody nose. I guess it wasn't my eye balls leaking into my nose :P

No comments: