It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Weekend at the Mill Pond: Hole in the Wall and Twin

Rob drives the boat
Since I was temporarily without a drysuit, and Keith was off repairing my drysuit, the plan was to do both a morning and an afternoon dive.  I came along in the morning, planning to read on the boat while the others were in the water.  But when we all met up at Edd's, Meredith presented me with both of her suits, and told me that if either fit, I was welcome to borrow it.  We originally thought it wouldn't work because of the boots, but it turns out both suits had, if anything, boots that were a bit big for me -- I guess Meredith wears way thicker sockwear than I do.  Both suits were probably diveable, but one was a bit shorter in the arms than the other, so I picked the one with the longer arms, and now I was just left feeling guilty that Keith had driven all the way home to fix my suit.  We loaded the boat and then headed over to Hole in the Wall.  Once we were there, we decided on teams; I dove with Kevin and Don.  There was a lot of brown goo on the surface of the water.  It was definitely less inviting than it has been in the past.  It was really hot and really sunny, and the sunblock I had slathered on was practically melting on my face (this isn't just random whining, it will be significant later).

We tossed our tanks in and got into our suits for a cool-down swim, during which my mask kept fogging up.  After our swim in the goo, we eventually got into our gear and got back into the water.  Rob and Meredith had headed in first, but as we were swimming over toward the entrance, they reappeared and told us that there was a team deco'ing in the restriction.  And I guess there was some sort of exchange that led them to believe they would be doing a fair amount of deco in the restriction.  I guess 30' is the new 20' or something.  So we puttered around on the surface for a bit, where my mask kept fogging, and I kept spitting in it and hoping for the best.  Eventually Rob and Meredith saw the team was in the cavern, so they headed in.  And a few minutes later we headed in.  We headed downstream (both teams were heading downstream).  We had a pretty simple plan, to head up the mainline for a while, going left (I think) at any Ts that we encountered.  Or maybe the plan was to go the way that seemed like the bigger passage at any Ts.  I can't quite remember.  I was leading the dive.  My mask kept fogging, so I kept flooding and clearing it.  This went on for a while, but eventually I couldn't stand it anymore, so I stopped and switched to my backup mask.  I think there is some kind of Hole-in-the-Wall foggy mask curse.  Once I switched masks, all was well.  Cave diving is a lot more fun when you can see stuff.

We dropped our stages just after the E, and not too terribly far past that, we came upon a jump that Rob and Meredith had taken, to the right.  I haven’t been too far up (down) this line before, but I found the first half hour or so to be pretty consistent with the part that I had seem before.  Relatively tall passages, which sometimes pinched down to smaller (but not small, in absolute terms) “rooms”, some of which had goethite “chandeliers” on the ceilings.  But at some point there seemed to be fewer rooms and more just straight segments of tunnel.  Eventually we came to a point where the tunnel headed up quite a bit shallower, taking us into a sort of room, and then the line headed down a relatively narrow, relatively vertical crack. Looking down the crack from the top, it looked like the line just ended at the bottom.  I headed down the crack, assuming it would become obvious what to do once at the bottom, and indeed, once down there the line actually turned under a ledge and kept going under a briefly low but wide, flat passage.  Once we popped out of that passage the tunnel opened up again.  The shallow room and then the drop down a shaft and the little passage after it was the most significant “feature” of the dive, I thought.  We continued a bit past that, and eventually I turned it, I think on time, definitely not on gas.  Maybe just on getting a little bored.

The exit was pretty uneventful.  We passed Rob and Meredith in the shallow room, they were now heading up (down) the mainline (after their little jaunt to the right, which was apparently very silty) as we were heading out.  When we got back to the cavern, we had it all to ourselves and started our deco.  Rob and Meredith eventually appeared from the restriction; actually Rob appeared and waited and then it seemed quite a while later that Meredith finally came out.  I guess Rob just wasn’t that into a 30 foot stop :P  When we finally surfaced, Rob and Meredith still had a bit of deco left, so I went for a swim, which was actually a bit icky because of all of the brown goo on the surface of the water.

Heading to Twin Caves
After we retrieved Rob and Meredith, we headed back to Edd’s, where we found Keith.  I wanted to dive at Twin in the afternoon, which is apparently the least cool cave ever, so only Rob was willing to dive it with me (and only because he kind of had to).  Don had originally planned to join us, but wanted to let his ears rest.  So after getting some fills and stuffing some bars that sort of resumed food into my piehole, Rob and I headed back out on the boat to Twin, while Kevin and Keith headed to JB.  When we arrived, there were two boats hanging out on top of the entrance, fishing I guess.  As we were getting ready to go, they headed out.

So, there’s been a lot of talk about this invasive plant in the Mill Pond, and I wasn’t completely sure of which plant it was (though I thought there was more greenery at the mouth of the restriction in Hole in the Wall).  But looking down into the entrance of Twin, I knew exactly which plant it must be, because the entrance is covered in fluffy green boas.  We headed in, with me leading, and Rob getting annoyed at how I ran the line (which is pretty much the baseline, so I guess I shouldn’t be bothered by it too much).  We dropped down the little chimney, and the viz was not great but not bad either.  Next it cleared a bit, but then around 400 or 500 feet, it got quite bad.  It was pretty milky, and sort of ruined the Twin experience.  I like looking down the very radially-symmetric tunnel and just seeing straight round borehole forever.  But when the viz is 20 feet, it’s just not terribly impressive.  I suppose most would say it’s never impressive, but I like it :P  After maybe 300 feet of this viz, it did clear up, but was still not really pristine.

We came to the T, which I prefer to call a Y, and dropped our stages so we could do the circuit (why we bothered to bring a stage for this dive is a question for another time).  We headed down to the right, because, well, that’s the way I’ve done it before, so is there really any other way?  Once we descended into the deeper water, the viz went to hell again.  It didn’t stay that way for too long though.  The viz down there was pretty interesting – it seemed like there were clouds of bad viz hanging in some spots, plus generally not so great viz.  As we came around the circuit, Rob checked out a couple of jumps.  The first one he poked his head down was small.  But just before we came back on the other side, there was a jump which he thought worthy of exploring.  I told him we’d have to do it another time (if Rob ever agrees to dive Twin again), since I was just in the mood for a quick little swim around the circuit.  It was the second dive of the day after all, and I am a one-dive wonder.

After we came up the chute on the other side, the viz got really good in that nice little smaller tunnel before you come back on the other side of the Y.  This was definitely the nicest part of the dive for me.  We got back to the Y, picked up our stages, and headed out.  I think we reordered there, since it was only fair to let Rob lead out.  The path out was uneventful, but slightly better knowing where the bad viz would end :)  We came back to our O2 bottles in the cavern, and did a teeny bit of deco.  It was a nice short afternoon dive.  I think I might be able to extract one more Twin dive with Rob in our lifetimes, since there is that jump he wants to take.

Kevin and Keith were still in the water at JB, but everyone else was quite hungry, so we decided to find some food without them.  We went to this Mexican place in the plaza next door to Walmart.  I wasn’t really expecting much (but it was Sunday, so our options were even more limited than usual), but I thought the food was quite tasty.  They make very tasty guacamole (table-side).

Planning tomorrow's dive
Once Keith and Kevin reappeared, their options were even more limited, because it was late, so they headed to Ruby Tuesday, and we joined for dessert.  Then we returned to the motel and enjoyed the heart-shaped jacuzzi.  We also plotted our dive for the next day.  Don wanted to do JB (since he hadn’t yet) and the rest of us wanted to do various dives at Hole in the Wall.  So the plan was a dive in the morning at HitW for two teams (sans Don), and then an afternoon/early evening dive at JB.

1 comment:

Lynne said...

I don't know why everybody hates Twin. I love the sculpted walls of the Subway Tunnel, and they're FULL of fossils, and there are some bones low on the right-hand wall, a couple hundred feet in. I enjoy the challenge of the chimneys, and that little circuit with the low ceiling. No, it's not the most amazing cave ever, but I like it. I'll dive it with you!