Sinks of Gandy 2006

This was our 4th annual vacation to the Sinks of Gandy. You can read about the 2005 trip here.
As before, Sam and Ben went along with me. Ben was not sure if he was going to able to make the trip this year. He had job interviews a few days before the trip, and was not sure where they were going to lead. Turns out, that they were not going to get in touch with him till later that week, which was about the time we were planning on returning.
I was worried that our favorite camping spot would not me vacant, and once we passed the main campground, where trailers park, I was very worried. There seemed to be more campers there than usual. Our spot is a ways past the main camping area, just off the road. To our amazement, the spot was vacant, we congratulated each other on another successful get together, cracked open some beers, and got to work setting up the camp site.
We setup camp very similar to last year, getting the tarp hung up overhead first. Next was gathering up what firewood was nearby and getting the fire started. It was a nice sunny warm day, and we really didn’t need the fire, but, what’s a camp without fire? Besides, we had hotdogs to cook later that night.
Ben and I setup our tents under the tarp. I was using a new smaller backpacking tent for the first time. Its a very cheap tent, so I wasn’t expecting much, we had another tarp laid under the tents, so it never leaked, so all in all it did fine for the price. But I would have rather had a much more roomy tent like my last one.

     This trip was alittle different from our last trip. We really didn’t have any plans for what we were going to do throughout the week. We only caved twice on this trip, to Sinks of Gandy, and Still House. We ended up spending more time at the nearby swimming hole than we did caving. I didn’t mind all that much, as my number one priority was kicking back and enjoying myself, but I would have liked to cave more than we did. Originally we thought we would go to Bowden cave for a day or so, but we decided it was best just to leave camp setup here, and stay in one place for the duration of our trip.
We went down to the swimming hole right after setting up camp. I am not much of a swimmer myself, and generally don’t even care to get in the water. But the area is very tranquil and relaxing, and even this land lover didn’t mind spending time there.

     Now remember kids, no eating or Drinking, 30 minutes before you get in the pool.

     The water was absolutely freezing. Ben didn’t seem to think so, and poked fun at me and Sam. I wasn’t in the water long before I came to the conclusion that it was plain stupid to be in the water this cold, and got the hell out. Ben was out of the water not long after me, and was quick to begin his favorite part of swimming, basking on a rock.

     Were only there a few minutes, when we saw some of the neat looking, and large, water spiders. We saw quite a few of these last year when we were here. We saw one out in the water, and the sun was casting an interesting shadow from the spiders surface contact on the water.

     I think it was the 3rd day before we went caving at Sinks of Gandy cave. Ben cooked us up a nice breakfast to get the started.

     This was at least our 8th time in this cave, so we know just about every nook and cranny by now. We have also photographed just about every square inch of the place also, so we actually didn’t take that many photos on this trip. I think Sam and I had a total of just over 1000 photos this year. That’s a very low number for us, last year we took over 4000 photos!
This is the first time I had my Slave Flash in the Sinks though, so we used it in a few of the more interesting locations in the cave. It does a much better job of casing even, true colored light. I plan on getting at least two more though, one just isn’t powerful enough to light up entire rooms or passages.

    We are quite proud of this shot though. It was a small enough area that the flash could get just about every area illuminated. The colors turned out very true also.

     There’s not much to write about as far as the nights go. We sat around playing poker most nights. By the time we got something to eat, and played poker for a couple hours, we were ready to crash out.
The next day, we kicked back all day at the swimming hole. But we weren’t doing a lot of swimming. I got into Rock Stacking. I had always wanted to try it, and this was the perfect place to try. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it, I started off making ones a couple feet high by the waters edge.

     It wasn’t long before Ben got interested enough to try it for himself. He also got the hang of it quickly, and we spent the next few hours creating stacks all over the place. Ban made a couple that had some really cool slanted sections.

     As with just about every thing we do, we decided to go BIG !
We setup my new Sony HC-90 miniDV Camcorder, and set it to do a time lapse of the evening. We spent the rest of the day making a giqnormous rock stack about 8 feet tall.

     Here is the Time Lapse Video of us creating the stack.     sinks_rock_stack.wmv
     The next day we went to Still House cave, which is just a couple turns down the road from Sinks. This is a much smaller cave, but it does have some rather large rooms in it. This is where a few more slave flashes would really work well.
We made it through the dreaded muddy crawl into the larger room. The crawl isn’t all that bad, and is very short compared to ones in other caves. Its just the fact that this is the spot that WILL get you all wet and muddy, and you know its coming.  

     We weren’t through the crawlway very long, when we started to hear…. singing. Closer to chanting actually. It was funny and creepy at the same time. We went about our business, taking a few photos of this room. We were moving along to the next room, when the chanting stopped, and the drumming began. They were all clapping and slapping about, this actually sounded pretty cool.
When we got the to upper section of this room, they drumming chanters descended down into the room from the other side. Ben talked the guy that was guiding 8 or so girls through the cave. He said they were all from PA. We were a bit surprised they all went through the crawlway into this section of the cave.
Since we were already in a good location and taking photos, Sam offered to take a group photo of them. We left them our emails so that we could send them the photos later.

     Here are a few other shots we took in Still House. Again, the slave flash did a great job, but its range was still limited. You can see where 2 or 3 more of these would work out very well. Most of these shots were a combination of flash, and long exposure.

     Another successful day of caving. Time to head back to the swimming hole and wash off.

     After washing up at the swimming hole, Sam took it upon himself to start re-engineering the entire stream bank. He started out by making an outcropping from the shore, out in to the water. This was to be his bar.

     Well, it wasnt long, before Ben declared it his diving board. There was a small dispute over property ownership, and the regulations against diving off the bar.

     Next, Sam began work on the walkway over to the basking rock. I seem to recall him pleading for our help a couple times, but I could have been mistaken. I moved a rock or three. Ben moved at least one.

     Sam ended up making a hell of a walkway / dam. He had moved a massive amount of rocks. His plan was to make the water pool up behind the basking rock, letting the water warm from the sun better. That warmer water would then in turn channel out into the larger swimming hole. At least that was the plan, and the next day, the water in that section was a few degrees warmer.

     I didn’t have much new gear with me this time to report on. Much of the gear we used were items we had last year. I had purchased a small 1000 watt generator since last trip, and bright it along to charge the batteries, and laptop if needed. But we never ended up using it. I had enough rechargeable batteries for the entire trip, seeing how we didn’t cave as much this year.
One knew item I got to try out was the Gerber Axe. This is also sold under the Fiskar name.

    I got the axe off Ebay for about $40 shipped, and it has proven to be worth every penny. This axe is TOUGH. I have a way of breaking the handles to just about any axe, shovel, pick axe, etc. But even I didn’t break this one. The handle is made of some sort of polymer plastic, and is very resistance to breaking or shattering. There were plenty of times that we missed our mark, and bashed the end of the handle into the wood. It barely made a mark. The handle is very light weight also, so all the weight is in the head of the axe. This make it very nimble and easy to swing. It didn’t seem to wear you out as fast as a wooden handled axe. I do not know what steel is used for this axe, but it held up very well. There were only a couple small chips in the edge after the trip, which is good considering how it was used. I am sure they will sharpen out just fine. The Gerber/Fiskar Axe is definitely worth buying.
     These are just a few other photos I would like to share with you. This is why we love staying in the mountains. You are surrounded by nature and all its beauty.