29 May 2010

Divided caving

This week’s PCG trip went down memory lane! To my surprise Neil planned to join it. And the weather forecast was excellent, so we went by his car. We took ample time, so I got a complementary sightseeing tour in his convertible. Not bad at all!

When we came close to the meeting point we found the road blocked by Dartmoor rescuers as far as the eye could see. They had picked this lovely evening for a training. Good for them! We as well found our debutant caver, and all three we strolled up the nearest Tor for a nice view. When we came back Lionel and Finbar had appeared. Now we were still waiting for Richard and Rupert, and whoever they brought with them Rupert was crucial, as he had brought helmets and lights for those without. But it got later and later and he didn’t answer his phone. We decided to change into our gear, but that was not all; getting into my shoes I already saw the three least patient men disappear over the horizon. What? Low levels of group spirit tonight! They didn’t know the way, and I thought I did, so I decided to follow them carrying my phone. In case Rup showed up we could find each other!

And of course Rupert did show up, with his mates and his stuff. Neil, Darren (the new guy) and me waited for them, and with the 6 of us we proceeded towards the mine adit. We had Ali, who knew the way exactly. But we didn’t see the other guys back, and observation of the cobwebs at the entrance, they were not in there…

Ali tried to drain the adit a bit by being unforgiving to some weeds, while Rupert got Darren into his gear. And in we went, observed by Ali’s new camera. Neil immediately went to look for interesting traces of ore, while two others disappeared into the deeper recesses for some burrowing, and Darren decided that standing in cold water up to his thighs in a dark, murky tunnel was not as comfortable as expected, and that enjoying the pink evening sky sitting in the soft grass was preferable. He was chaperoned back by Rupert, who afterwards pushed on to a collapse, where he found me. They went to have a look at what the diggers were doing, which meant belly-crawling through a low tunnel (apparently it had accumulated a lot of sediment in the past months), and wading through water that was deep and cold enough to bring unexpected musical talents out in Rupert.

I was afraid Neil had gotten impatient by all the faffing and doodling earlier the evening, so I decided to head back to check up on him. He was fine, but we went back anyway, and met up with Darren, who was getting cold by now. By then Dave and Dave, who would come later and only hang around above ground, and the three fearless explorers had also been spotted, but I was wet to the collarbone and needed to keep moving to not get cold, so I did not wait to socialise. So as divided as we had arrived we went back, but in the end we all found our way to a nearby pub, where we exchanged experiences; the scouting party turned out to have restricted itself to wandering around among the surface relics of the mine, and everybody had had a splendid trip. And together making plans for imminent SRT training over a pint (this referring to the making of plans, not to the training itself) made this trip end not only pleasantly but also usefully.

Lower three pics by Neil

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