It's about diving. And cats.

Me diving

Monday, July 23, 2012

Weekend at the Mill Pond: Hole in the Wall Upstream

Fully loaded boat
Monday morning, I dove with Rob and Meredith at Hole in the Wall.  We did a dive to “Sheck’s Bottle” which I really knew nothing about.  I would call it an epic dive, not only in the colloquial sense of the word, but also in the long Greek poem sense.  The dive had many different parts, several of which were really cool, and while there was a “destination”, getting there would not have been necessary to make it a really awesome dive.  Kevin and Keith were doing a different dive at Hole in the Wall, which also called for several stages and scooters, so we loaded the boat at Edd’s to what must have been pretty close to capacity and then inched our way up (or is it down?) the pond to the site.  We let the guys enter ahead of us, since I think we expected their dive to be longer (or maybe it was arbitrary, I’m not sure).

Meredith led the dive at the beginning (with me in second), since there was a little bit of navigation to be done.  But once we got to the scooter drop, where there was nowhere to go but straight, she shooed us ahead of her, so we could get the better view in front.  We headed up the mainline, where the viz was not so great in the first few hundred feet, to the funny T that looks like a jump, just before Alford’s room.  Actually we took a quick jaunt up to Alford’s room, and then returned to the T and headed to the right (if you were going in, but we were actually going left at that point, I guess).  This takes you to the so-called century tunnel, which I haven’t been to before.  It is a fun tunnel, twisty turny and small enough to see tunnel all around you, but not small.  Definitely worth a visit even on its own.  It does get a bit low in some places, too low to comfortably scooter (but not what I’d call low if you are swimming).  It was convenient to be following Meredith instead of leading, so I could see what spots to go off the trigger.  Eventually, just as I was thinking that I really needed to drop my scooter soon, we popped out of the tunnel and into a big tall, long room that sloped up.  We dropped our scooters and stages here.  Then I took over the lead.
Headed to Hole in the Wall

After getting to the top of the slope, the line took a hard left into another big tall room, which, after crossing the room and taking a hard right, the line exits essentially diagonally across the room from where it entered.  The next section of cave was really fun, with lots of crevices and ups and downs where you can’t tell where the heck the line is going until you drop down a crevice or pop up into a vertical crack.  More like underwater rock climbing than anything.  I found it highly amusing, and it was good to lead, though a bit intimidating to drop into cracks that I couldn’t see an exit from :)  This section of cave was not constantly up and down, there was one nice little deeper tunnel, that was (in my head anyway) like a smaller version of the century tunnel.

Eventually the underwater rock climbing came to an end, and we ended up in a really pretty section of tunnel that was fairly small, a bit taller than it was wide, with a little ledge occasionally jutting out so that you had to either go over the ledge or under the ledge.  I always followed the line, which seemed to often go underneath where it seemed it would have been easier to go over.  Anyway, since I couldn’t see where the line ended up, I just had to follow it, and then Rob had the benefit of seeing where I popped out and going whichever way was easier.  I think this tunnel would be really photogenic, but I suspect I would have a hard time convincing Rob to drag his camera all the way back there.  After being in this section of tunnel for a while, it got a bit darker behind me, I thought because somewhere moved their light, but then a moment later I got a signal and saw that Rob’s light had died.  We looked at each other sadly and thumbed it, but then Meredith swooped in and pointed out that she had an extra canister (for her suit heater).  So Rob popped his light head off and plugged it in, and we were back in business.  Rob and I were both about 100 psi from turn at this point, but Meredith assured us that would be enough.  And indeed, it was about another 2 or 3 minutes before we got to the end of the line, and the bottle.  It was a bit anti-climactic… the path to the bottle was a zillion times cooler than the bottle itself.

Someone else uses purple tape on their snaps!
The swim out was pretty uneventful.  This time I got to be in the back, so I could see the easy way to go at all of the under/overpasses.  Also, I found it highly amusing to watch Rob “climb” through the various crevices ahead of us.  Before you know it, we were back in the big tall room, and we found our scooters right where we left them.  When we picked up the scooters, we reordered again back to how we had entered, just by virtue of our scooters’ positions on the line.  So now I was in the middle again, with Rob in front.  Somewhere in the century tunnel, Meredith’s light died, and after a quick reordering, I finished the dive in the back.  It was uneventful.  Like the way in, but in reverse.

When we got back to the reel, there was some further reordering, since Meredith was on a scout light.  I didn’t entirely understand the reordering, but I think it left me in the front, and Rob in the back.  When we got to the cavern, Keith and Kevin were there, about to finish their deco (which I was a bit surprised by).  We started our deco, and a couple minutes later, Kevin came over to collect our spent bottles to take out with him.  How convenient!  He took bottles from two of us, and then turned to leave, and I signaled him with my light, mostly just because I wanted to see him have to turn around with 7 bottles on, and then I pointed to the last two bottles, and he actually took them.  I guess that 9-bottle drill in T2 comes in handy :)  At our 10 foot stop, Meredith and I passed the time by decorating Rob’s manifold with hydrilla.  He looked like a Christmas tree when we were finished, and had no clue what we had done.

The elusive Team Kitty, who did not actually dive together 
Once we were back on the boat, there was a general disinterest in doing a second dive with Don, since everyone had great dives.  But I knew that Rob (and was pretty sure that Keith) would take one for the team if necessary.  So after calling Don to check that he really did want to dive, they headed to Jackson Blue for a dive, and the rest of us headed for snacks at the Mexican place, and then we all met up for dinner at Madison’s Warehouse.

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