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Me diving

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Peacock Springs: The Grand Traverse

After some overnight mulling, we decided to do the traverse from Orange Grove to Peacock. We had one set of doubles and two stages each. So we decided to burn the first stage (and possibly a teeny bit of backgas) on the setup from Peacock to Olson, and that should leave us plenty of gas to do the whole traverse on the second dive. We planned to take the Peanut line and the Crossover tunnel to Olson, since it's shallower and barely any longer (I think). We stopped at the Luraville Country Store to get some of their tasty sandwiches for lunch. Rob also got a sausage and egg biscuit for breakfast, which was quite tasty. Mmm, I love biscuits. When we first pulled into Peacock, it was totally empty. There were no cars at Orange Grove, and one car at Peacock. By the time we got geared up and ready to get in the water, there were a couple more cars at Peacock.

I led the dive (again), and Rob was pretty good about not being pushy about where to run the line. Not that there is much line to run to the Peanut line, in fact, I just used a spool. We got going and in my zeal to make it to Olson, I was going a bit fast. Rob said that he could barely keep up in the Peanut tunnel. I figured this out when I hit the 600' marker and did some mental math to realize I'd been swimming like 70 feet per minute since we had hit the 100' marker. I tried to slow down, though I'm not sure I did a particularly good job of that. We got to the Crossover jump, and headed down it. Before you know it, we were over to the Pothole line and once you are there, you are practically at Olson. It was even closer than I had thought. We dropped a cookie on the line we came from to officially mark where we had made it on this dive. We surfaced in Olson and chit-chatted a bit before heading back the way we came. It was a slightly more leisurely exit with Rob leading :) We managed to do the setup dive without touching our backgas, so we had plenty of gas for the second dive. I gave Rob one more chance to back out, though, since he would be the one tasked with walking from Peacock back to Orange Grove to fetch the car. Traverses really work better with two cars!

We drove over to Orange Grove, and had some lunch. Or elevensies anyway. By the time we finished the second dive, there were quite a few cars at Peacock, and Orange Grove was a zoo. But luckily none of the parking spots are really that much further from the entrance (or rather, they are all kind of far, so the distance of a couple more parking spots makes little difference). Rob put our bottles in the water while I visited the composting toilet, and then we got geared up and headed into the water. As is typical at Peacock, we saw a lot of cave critters (shrimp and little white "sea bugs" as I would call them), which I think are pretty cool. Also as is typical, the area right after the line sort of corkscrews down around 1000' was a bit siltier. Another team had just come from there, so it was even a bit siltier than usual. When we got to Challenge, I dropped a purple double ender to mark the side we wanted to go, which Rob was thoroughly amused by, and then we surfaced and chatted for a while. Challenge is a relatively small sink to share with someone else, and while sticking my face in the water to look at around, I noticed an area in the water was sort of wavy looking, like in a thermocline or halocline. Then I realized this part of the water was emanating from Rob's p-valve. Ewww, totally not cool to pee while we are sharing a tiny little sink!

After chastising Rob, and recording some numbers on how much gas we each used for future planning purposes, we headed toward the purple bolt snap :) Finally we were seeing some new cave! We passed another team shortly after we headed in from Challenge. There were a few different areas in there where the cave is more like a vertical crack or canyon than a tunnel shaped area. I thought that was cool. There was also a jump that I peered down a little closer to the Olson side than Challenge which looked like it would be fun to check out in the future. Just as we came close to Olson, it got canyon-like again. I think that was my favorite part of this segment of the dive. We hung out at Olson for a few minutes, and then another team appeared from the Peacock side. Then we headed back in the way they came.

I wanted to switch positions on the way out, so that I could cleanup the spools, but Rob rebelled against my plan to do everything, and so I agreed to lead the way out. But somehow when we descended, he ended up in front. So as we were approaching the first jump, to the Crossover tunnel, I asked if he wanted me to lead and we switched places. Also around this time, my stage bottle started to annoy the crap out of me, because I had just switched off of it at Olson. The second stage kept digging into my armpit, so I tried to push it down further, and it continued to annoy me. I finally realized that the top band was just too high, so even if the second stage was as far down as I could put it, it was too high. So I shimmied the band down a little and that finally fixed it. The exit was pretty uneventful, except that when we got back to the cavern zone at Peacock, it was rather crowded, and a bit stirred up. We hung out in the basin briefly and then headed up to the picnic tables. We dropped our gear there, and Rob headed over to get the car. Luckily he remembered as he was walking away that the key to the car was in my undergarment pocket :)

While he was fetching the car, I retrieved our stage bottles and then just hung out, trying to hide in the shade and avoid sunburn. Rob made it back with the car faster than I expected, and we headed back to Orange Grove. Without a doubt, the most annoying aspect of the traverse was having to get back in at Orange Grove for a 5 minute dive to pull the reel. It was made more annoying by the fact that my ears were totally acting up and I had to spend a minute hanging out at the secondary tie, waiting for them to cooperate. Then, to add insult to injury, when we got out of the water, my gear was totally covered in gillyweed (err, duckweed). So much for not needing to rinse your gear after cave diving! It's a lie -- don't believe it! After a quick stop at the Luraville Country Store for an emergency ice cream sandwich, we headed back to High Springs to shower and such before heading to David's for dinner and some puppy play.

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