Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunday's Trip Underground

Hurricane Earl was charging towards us and we decided to take a trip underground. Not to a hurricane shelter, but to an amazing amusement park for adults... the underworld...a cave. This cave is located in the Western part of the island near our home. With Tom as our guide we dropped into the pit after a short drive, chat with property owners, and an hour long bushwhacking through the jungle. First Tom went and I followed.

Jeff came last. This cave has a number of different levels in it and a lot of very deep pits. There were lots of holes to discover and interesting formations. The limestone here looks very different than the limestone in most other caves we travel in. This is the smallest hole I went into. I had to take off the helmet to fit and be careful not to damage this stalactite.
The rock was a myriad of colors that reminded me of sandstone. I thought this heart was interesting. Everywhere I looked there were statues and figures I could imagine.Here Tom is slumped over some rock looking into the abyss.

We could crawl, climb, drop, slide, chimney, squish...this cave has it all! Upper levels, lower levels, levels lower than the lower levels, tiny tunnels, big tunnels, dead ends. Can we fit in here? I think we did.

I call this one the luge. I went first to check it out and it came out at the bottom of an area we had seen from an upper area. From this place we were able to climb up and get to an interesting area we wouldn't otherwise have gone to.

The "Sleeping Trojan Horse" statue. So many places to try to climb to...do we go down or up?

We encountered a Puerto Rican Boa deep inside the cave. It must have dropped in from the entrance and made its' way in the maze in search of bat carcasses. There were a lot of nice formations and the striations in the rock went in crazy directions.

Why pull out a water bottle when you can have a trickle of guano infused limestone water? It's the new rage!
Jeff is resting after finding the end of the upper tunnel area.

Here Jeff climbs down from an area he and Tom climbed up freeform. I went back for a rope since I don't quite have the arm span and height they have...it turned out to be a handy thing for the way down which looked a lot more dangerous now that the thrill of discovery was over! We were going to leave but decided to check one last hole near the entrance that we felt a lot of air coming out of. Tom had not been in it before so after exploring we decided to map it. We were able to do a nice bit of mapping that hadn't previously been done. After that it was up and out the hole to darker skies and swirling winds.

With two GPS devices (and my low tech flagging tape) we found our way back to the cars after a much shorter and less steep jungle walk. There is a lot more to be explored in this cave and we hope to explore some more!

Jeff's Trip Last Month Last Part

The next day I played Kayak Polo with my old kayak polo group. It was fun and good to see them again. I wish I could get a group together in PR.
On the weekend I went diving. Rob and Jeff took out their boats and we dove Agate Pass and Waterman wall. Agate Pass was a 4.5 mile an hour drift dive. It’s a wild ride through the long pass. It’s 30’ deep and the visibility in the water was only 5 feet this day! Imagine jogging that fast and only seeing 5 feet in front of you!

Glassy water on the way out.

Lets go down here.

Policeman: "What are you guys doing out here?" We had a little incident with the police boat (again). We dove in teams. Rob and I watched as Anthony, Jeff, and Dave went first. We followed their bubbles during their drift. We had to pay attention or we would loose them. We protected them from all the other boats running through the channel. We expected the same courtesy. They manage to follow us most of the way until the end. Then they were searching for us way far away. When Rob and I surfaced we surfaced next to a pleasure boater and they came over to "help" us. A woman on the boat waves over a police boat. The policeman says: "What are you guys doing out here?" We tell him we are diving (I guess that wasn't obvious to him) and our boats are over there and over there. They said ok and left as soon as one of our boats got to us.

On the way to Waterman.
Rob looking for a good spot to anchor.
Rob cooking the meat while we wait for the current to go slack. The vis was a little better, around 8 feet on this dive. This a deep dive with lots of life. Rob and Dave went first and encountered a strong “waterfall” current sucking them deeper. They came up about 30 minutes latter then Jeff, Anthony, and I gave it a shot. We hit the “waterfall” at the edge of the wall but the current was less and we were able to swim against it. Lots of life on the wall but it was pitch black down at 80’. I had to see by my buddies dive light. The water was flat for the boat ride back to Seattle. We saw bald eagles and Sea Lions.

How do they get up there?

My last day and the weather was just like it is from October to July but this was August! This is the Edmonds ferry coming in. The underwater park is to the right of the ferry dock. Notice how low the tide was. Rob, Margaret, and I had a little walk to get to the water. Again the vis was bad and the first 30 minutes of the dive was boring but the last half of the dive we ran into a large pontoon with lots of life on it. It was placed right beside a large old fishing boat so there were lots of fish congregated around. Lingcod bigger than Katrina were sitting on the pontoon. It was a cool dive. Many of my friends showed up to have a goodbye lunch after the dive. We had a nice time.

I was great to see my family and friends again. I was gone for a month so I was missing Katrina and ready to go home. It was hard to say goodbye.

My sister and mom. My nephew

My mom and niece.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jeff's Trip Last Month Part 2

The next day I played Ultimate Frisbee for 3 hours. I couldn’t walk the next few days. I did hook up with some Kayak Polo players and was able to join them for a game. I wasn’t used to the 90 degree feather on the paddle so I was afraid I was going to fall in all the time. It was fast paced and a lot of fun. After a long day in the Toronto airport I finally got to Seattle. My mom arrived from Maine just 30 minutes before I arrived. My sister picked us up. I got to see my cute little niece and nephew in the morning. That day was spent visiting and washing clothes. Hopefully I was careful and didn’t bring any Bedbugs with me from the Hotel in Toronto. I swear I had few dozen bites by them that have now mostly gone away. Just after arriving in Toronto I read in the daily paper that they have an epidemic and one in four hotels has them! I went backpacking with my friends Rob and Jeff in the Alpine Lakes area. It was just one night but it was a lot of fun. At the end of the 9 mile hike there are nice clear and cold little lakes. I was hot so I dove in. I was only in for a few minutes but when I got out I was numb from the glacier fed cold water. Rob did some fly fishing and caught some tiny trout to supplement his dinner. Another friend, Dave DeJong couldn’t make it Saturday but he did hike in 5 miles (barefoot) to greet us and then hiked out (again barefoot for 3 miles of it). Don’t ask me why he was barefoot but it was good to see him.

The start of the hike. Rob and Jeff taking a quick rest.

Lots of big trees!

Almost at our destination I decide to cool off in a glacier fed alpine lake.

Just a short scramble up some big rocks.
Our camp site.

Rob doing some fishing.
Rob's big catch and yes he did have it for dinner.

My sister suggested that we take my mom to Leavenworth for the day. We had a nice time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Jeffs Trip Last Month Part 1

Last month I went to Toronto for work and Seattle for fun. A month is a long time to be away. I had my vacation planned and then the work thing needed to be squeezed in otherwise I wouldn’t have been away that long. While I was in Toronto I made use of my free time on the weekends. The first weekend I went to the CN Tower and the Science center.

The second weekend I hooked up with the Toronto Outdoor Club and I did a 13 mile relatively flat fast hike with them. I haven’t seen Blue Jays or Acorns in 20 years! They were fun to see again. This hike was to Hilton Falls. I mistakenly thought we were hiking to Niagara Falls. I soon realized we weren’t.

So, the next Saturday I went to Niagara Falls. I was impressed. That’s a lot of water. I spent the day there and took the Maid in the Mist boat ride and got really wet. I wish Katrina could have been there.