It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Friday, March 9, 2012

Eagle's Nest, Upstream-er

So, after our dive on Wednesday at Eagle's Nest, we were left with some backgas tanks that were basically full of 15/55.  And since they weren't our own tanks, if we left the gas, it would just be gone.  What a waste that would be.  So naturally, we cooked up an excuse to use the gas :)  Or not use the gas, I guess, since the whole idea is that we never really touched backgas on the dive (except for stage switches, backgas breaks, and the like).  So we were thinking we could go back to Eagle's Nest and go downstream.  But after talking about it, and looking at the map, then we thought we should go upstream again, but this time we could make it to the end (or at least further than we had).  On the first dive, we stopped in each "room" to look around for a minute or two, so if we saved our lollygagging for the rooms that were further in, we should cover a bit more ground.  The two maps that we were looking at both showed the upstream tunnel ending at 2060 feet in a giant room.  Since both our gas and our deco plan gave us 20 minutes on the way in, we should have plenty of time to make it to this room.

The second time around, we had a much more successful journey to the site.  First, we didn't leave anything behind and have to turn around 40 minutes into it :)  We made it to the turnoff from the highway in about 2 hours.  Just after we passed the iron ranger, we crossed paths with a ranger (the non-iron kind), or whatever you call the guys in SUVs with badges in the Chassahowitzka Wildlife Area.  We stopped and chatted with him, and he told us about the other dive sites in the park (which we hadn't known about).  I missed my big chance to ask someone who would actually know how to pronounce the name of the park.  Dang.  Anyhoo, from there it took about 20 minutes to get to the hole in the ground, err, spring.  There were a couple of guys who had just shown up to do some fishing there.  They were friendly, and didn't seem psychotic, and asked if there were catfish down in them there waters.  I felt like an idiot because I really couldn't remember.  I saw plenty of fish on the deco last time, but didn't remember any catfish in particular.  Since we had setup all of our bottles the day before at EE, we were much snappier about getting our gear, and then ourselves, into the water.  The water level in the spring was quite a bit higher than it had been on Wednesday.  I guess there is some sort of tidal influence, which I don't really understand.  And I try not to think too hard about things which I don't understand.

Even though I had admitted after the dive on Wednesday that pre-dropping our O2 bottles wasn't strictly necessary, I opted to do it again anyway.  Then after fickling about it a bit, I decided where to put which bottles, and did it a little differently than before.  In the end it really didn't matter though, and was not worth fickling about :P  I was leading this dive, so naturally I was mad with power.  The plan was pretty much the same as it had been on Wednesday, but I promised not to change the deco around to avoid time in the chute.  On the way down, the chute seemed a lot bigger than it did before.  We dropped our stuff as planned and we were off.  I spied a catfish a couple hundred feet into the cave.  So there, there are catfish at Eagle's Nest!  We were pretty much on the trigger flat out once we got going.  From the duck under before the super room to 1800 feet or so, I think I stopped twice, and the first time was to de-pitch my scooter and wait for slow Bob to catch up.  How is it that my trim sucks but I can always trounce him on a scooter?  We stopped in the room that we had just made it to on the last dive, to look around a bit, before continuing on.  In just a minute, we were in a giant room.  In addition to being huge around (like about the size of the super room), it was really really tall.  But we continued on, because I figured we were going to hit the end of the line, and then we could decide what we wanted to spend our leftover time looking at.  When I hit the 2100' arrow, I was getting a bit suspicious, since the line appeared to keep going.  Then it started to get smaller.  Not small, but no longer a giant room, more of a tunnel, that was getting progressively smaller.  And the bottom was now a lovely shade of mud, instead of big boulders being strewn about.  It just wasn't looking as cool as the super giant room.  So, when I hit the 2250' arrow, and realized I really had no idea when the line would end, I called turn, because I wanted to check out the huge room.  So we retreated back to the big room, and just kicked around in it a bit.  It is really tall.  If you are on the line, which has the feeling of being closer to the bottom than the top, the bottom is still at least 30 or so feet below.  According to the profile view, it is about 80 feet tall at its tallest point in the room.  So cool!

We wiled away the time until we hit the 20 minute mark, and then we headed out. We stopped a couple of times on the way out, once we were a bit closer to the exit, since we were way ahead of schedule.  Before you know it, we were back to the slope, and started our deep stops, such as they were.  From there, the deco was uneventful and for some strange reason, very similar to the previous dive here :)  Except that the viz in the basin sucked at 20 feet.  And at 70 feet, I got a chance to look around in the ballroom a bit.

When we finally surfaced, there was a guy there with his dog.  At least I thought there must be a dog, because I saw a water bowl and a leash snaking around behind his legs.  And then I finally saw his puppy, once of the cutest puppies I have ever met.  She was a 12 week old Siberian husky, who definitely hadn't grown into her paws yet :)  She was extremely excited to meet us, and was so excited that at one point, she was hopping around on the little deck/bridge thing, and fell off the side into the water.  And then she had the adorable wet-rat look in addition to her giant paws.  Well, that's all I will say about the puppy, since Pepper doesn't approve of me writing about adorable non-felines on here.

By the time we were packed up and ready to go, it was 2 or 3, so we figured we could stop for a late lunch/afternoon snack and then still be ready for a celebratory dinner with Ted (celebrating his impending success in C2, and our return to Eagle's Nest without any crazed redneck encounters).  We stopped in Crystal River at a place called Oysters, because I wanted oysters, and I thought there was a good chance they would have them.  And they did not disappoint.  We got some raw oysters and some sort of seafood platter to share.  Everything was good, but Rob and I agreed that if we were to do it again, we'd just get oysters (a lot of them!).

We got back to High Springs and eventually reunited with Ted, who had a shiny new C2 card.  Since we lack creativity, we went back to the BBQ place in Newberry for dinner (and beer, because Ted promised we'd have beer if he passed the class, and more beer if he didn't).

Oh, and later on in the trip, when we were talking to Dan at EE, he told us that the line ends at like 2400'.  Doh!

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