Huw Durban, Taylor Durban, Morgan Specht, Huw Jones
We met at 9am at an almost deserted SWCC. There wasn’t a duty officer that weekend but one of the two SWCC members that were around sorted us out with a key.
We got changed and walked up to Top Entrance. It was a chilly morning and I was glad I’d brought hat and gloves. Morgan lead us to Gnome Passage, with a loop via the Big Chamber Near The Entrance. To start with I couldn’t see much as I could only get the two dimmest settings on my lamp plus a bit of flicker if I tried for a higher setting. When we got to Gnome, I decided I needed to do something about it and took the batteries out and then reinserted them. Sorted!
This was as far as Morgan had been in this area of the cave before. It was Taylor’s first time in OFD and Huw D said he hadn’t been in OFD2 for 25 years! We dropped down to the lovely Salubrious streamway and headed down stream. Morgan started taking photos as we went along. Unfortunately there was a problem with the memory card which resulted in there being no photos to show. We turned left after a while, to see The Trident and The Judge formations and carried on beyond, along the nicely decorated passage to the formations in Swamp Creek.
Returning to Salubrious, we turned right at the next junction. There was a passage up here, that I’d spotted on the survey, that I remembered had a really nice crystal pool. I’d only ever approached the passage from the other side before but the survey showed it was the first turning on the left so we couldn‘t miss it could we? After a little while we all felt that we’d gone too far. We should have turned around but of course we didn’t! We came to an s-bend with a funny little window in the middle and then an awkward rift. Beyond I arrived at an enlargement at a cross-roads. There was no cross-roads marked on the survey. The passage we were looking for was to the left so that’s the way I went, through a slightly muddy crawl, into a larger area with a booming echo. I called the others through but then discovered that the passage closed down at a grotto! We back tracked to the cross-roads and took the branch straight on, instead of left. This also closed down so we decided enough was enough and we should get back to somewhere that we knew where we were. Back at the cross roads again, I was certain that the remaining branch would take us back to Salubrious, upstream of the turning to The Trident and The Judge, which it did via an interesting little climb down. Later, on our way out, Morgan and I had to have another look. Morgan soon spotted the passage we were looking for – at the top of a 15’ overhanging climb!
Huw D really wanted Taylor to have a look at the Main Streamway so we decided to do that instead of heading over to the Midnight Passage area. First though, we headed for Selenite Tunnel. We briefly met another party returning from The Trident, before turning right into Selelnite and carefully crossing the chasm that is President’s Leap. Selenite really is a stunning bit of passage. Nicely scalloped walls of black limestone lined with pure white calcite, a flat mud floor and nice formations. Just a pity it doesn’t go on for longer. We waited for a short time at the other end, at Shatter Pillar, for Morgan to take a few photos and then followed an equally as nice passage down to Cross Rift. We turned left, admired more formations in the ceiling and made our way to Maypole Inlet via one wrong turning.
Here we got out the rope I’d brought and used it to line Taylor on the climb. We twisted our way down Maypole to the ladder and the climbs down to the stream. It had been very wet and we weren’t certain if we’d actually be going into the stream. It looked fine though, high but not dangerous so in we went. It was forecast to start raining in the early afternoon and it was now 12.30! We had a very quick look up and down the streamway before climbing back out. Huw said he’d definitely been there before (he had done a through trip in the past) but he had no recollection of Maypole at all.
Back up the ladder and the climbs and we had a quick bite to eat before the steep trek back to the entrance. Between Gnome and The Brickyard, Morgan pointed out a rock feature that is a useful landmark to choosing the correct route. He gave it a name that I don’t think any of use will forget in a hurry! He claims that someone else told him. You’ll have to ask Morgan.