Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sad Old Car

I'm out scouting for a P&P route. Now that I know what it can do, I need places to do it. To limit frustration a little reconnaissance goes a long ways. I'm trying to pass an industrial park without trespassing to get to a lake. On my way I see some scrap cars and after a few minutes I see this sad old car. Why is it, old cars have a face and the new ones are just ugly busted crap. Look at it. The old car is a looking at us.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pack-n-Peddle (P&P)

Over the last 2 weeks I've made a series of short but educational treks over land and water with my boat. The first was a full on bike-paddle-bike-paddle-bike but I only traveled about 2 miles and I could swim the 40 feet to mainland if something disastrous happened. That went well and I learned how to load/unload and pack all the gear. Next was just the boat to test out handling and test the dry suit.

Now that I have a working set of Packraft skills I was ready for a full scale adventure. My plan was to connect the 2 dots I placed on the map for Packing It In and Packrafting. They lay about 7 miles apart via water and 11.2 miles by road. Between them would be all new to me. My wife fears that there be dragons.

I load the backpack and find a new way to 'roll' the boat (below) and grab the cross bike and head out from home about 10am. It's cold, maybe teens. Again, I embrace the drysuit with new under garment (below in blue). It works very well and it's going to become my primary insulation for this activity.

The weight of a bike upsets the balance unless countered by other gear or passenger. On the water it may flip so I take great care to lard the stern before launching. Once in you can't tell so long as you can see over it.


The next few hours the wind blows then goes dead calm while the suns rays spotlight nature before the thick clouds enforce their will.

I'm holding the camera under my chin so excuse the low angle it gives a feel of the nearly 3 hours I spend paddling. Wildlife, 70 foot cliffs, Sandbars, Log jams, and the odd piece of trash on shore to wonder at makes the time move quickly.

 I see at least 6 adult bald eagles and 3 juvenile, one barge and a few hunters.

 It's a group of turkeys called a "Rafter". Seriously? Like some farmer went into the barn and said, 'My God, the Rafters are full of turkeys!' Somehow, everyone in Mayberry liked it.

I hang up the boat for the day in my gear room. It's very handy but then you also have to clean it more then a plastic boat that lives in the garage.

 My gear room is filled to the rafters and I don't mean turkeys.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Caving: Sumping To Do

In today's episode
  • We all go swimming in the dark.
  • Josh turns into gas.
  • And some men get naked in the woods.

Sumps are low flooded areas of a cave that can't be passed without breath hold swims or scuba gear. Think of them like P-traps under your sink. The ground water is at the same level as the cave and with minor changes to the ground water (drought or flood) the cave is ether filled or dry. We enter one cave that has been flooded for the majority of 20 years but because of the current low water we get half flooded.

It's cold out, maybe 20 but wind makes it more like 10. In order to explore the cave we must wear heavy wetsuits. Most use a 7mm (1/4 inch) but I have a Farmer John that is bibs and a jacket, each 7mm, so I have 14mm on the torso and 7 on the rest. Ground water in MN is 40-50 degrees and we may be in it for 2 hours. Getting into a wetsuit is hard enough with all the unsightly tugging and pulling but in the cold it's awful. When we exit we need to reverse the tugging and pulling in the cold and now wet bodies. To say things go blue and, um, shrink, in these conditions is only tolerable to the stinging cold and the removal of everything wet in a race to get warm and dry.  

I look like a WWI message carrier.

To enter the cave we need to pass a narrow lip of rock to a sloping muddy ramp. Beyond that was the pool that began our swim and wading that went some 800 feet to a deep sump that would require technical rope work to descend into.

The water deepens to a swim for short sections but most of the time we walk like you would in a shallow pool, you know, on your toes with your knees real high so you float more and can stumble over unseen rocks without falling forward.

The video below has music overlay to remove language, poor sound, and distracting conversations. In exchange for copyright free sound, it places an Ad. I'm sorry about that, please X the popup when you see it.

Photo quality is poor because the lens gets wet and I have nothing to dry it with. I try but it's hopeless.

I pass under a very low section that require me to hold my head sideways so I can breath but it's only 5 feet before I emerge into a round domed room with a high exit that connects to the main passage.

Josh is having such a great time he changes into a gaseous spectra.

We exit from the cave where it's about 50 degrees to the 20's.

This is were the cold grabs on and the wet skin stings before the cold gets to your core and makes you shiver. If you're swift you can strip down and jump into something dry before you get beyond the stinging. You have about 30 seconds once you peel off the wetsuit so lay out your dry clothes with great care. And try not to fall on your ass while putting your pants on.

We hike out to get lunch at the best place in town, the bowling alley, and on that sorry note, good night.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Mario Brothers

Just like the popular game from the 80's. Running around in drains is still fun, call us the plumbers. Fortunately, Bob-Bombs are not real and these drains are not full of nasty things but they have plenty of hazard to watch out for and mostly never go if it can rain. Beyond that I don't recommend anyone do this, it's probably very stupid that I do it.

I can't share much detail for fairly obvious reasons and there isn't much of a story. It was just 4 guys riding bikes in pipes. They are huge and interesting in there own creepy way.  We ride about 5 miles of them.

 Drains come in many shapes and materials. Stone, brick,  and concrete are formed into many shapes that appear to be based on age. Very old brick are arched, stone are square and concrete everything else.

 The art work is very cool. The amount of time and talent it takes to paint these must take years to develop and only a hand full of people ever see them.

 Some very old brick. This is the end of the line. The drain beyond is too small.

 More very old stone and barrel vault ceilings.
 Grade changes create water falls as well as drain pipes that ruptured due to ground water.

Below: Ground water brings with it minerals that form rim stone and other features you normally only see in caves but the process of forming limestone is the same and these drains are here for 50 years or more.

Don't try this yourself. Your results may very. Close cover before striking. For external use only! Do not use near open fire. Not suitable for children. Not for human consumption. Warning: May contain nuts. Not dishwasher safe. 99.9% inert ingredient. No purchase necessary.