The plan for today was to continue exploration and survey at Rock Springs in Kelly Park. It took quite an effort even to get to the dive site though. Andrew and Renee were on their way to Kelly Park in ReneeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Blazer when first the battery light came on, then the windscreen wipers died, and finally the instrument panel refused to give up any information. A diagnosis of a dead alternator was made, indicating a detour to Holler Chevrolet. It was lucky we decided to do this, because the car finally broke down just before we got there and had to be pushed the last few hundred yards to the dealer. A huge thank you to the staff at Holler Chevrolet in Winter Park for being so accommodating and efficient. And we welcome Kris Shannon to the Cambrian Foundation. Today he helped push a car and served as surface support under the supervision of Bob Giguere.
Equipped with an excellent replacement vehicle (thanks to Enterprise Car Rental, conveniently located at the dealership), we continued to Rock Springs. The dive team (Andrew & Renee) had decided to have another look at the end of the line on the left-hand passage where the main flow is coming from. For those readers who havenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read our previous updates about Rock Springs before, it is a high flow system that is very shallow (maximum depth about 20 feet) with dark walls heavily encrusted with sharp pieces of fossilized shell. Swimming the 700 feet of distance to the back of the main cave takes 30-40 minutes of sustained swimming effort. After the recent rain the flow coming through the cave was even more intense, making it very hard work to swim the 700 feet to the back of the main tunnel. At this point the cave divides into two smaller passages, one directly in line with the entrance passage (which runs north-south) and another which branches to the left at an angle of about 45 degrees and through which most of the water is coming. Because this passage is so much smaller, the current coming through it is much stronger than in the main passage, and it is quite impossible to swim against. To make forward progress, the divers had to pull themselves along using what handholds they could find, a little like climbing horizontally (in a blizzard of small rocks).
The last time we had been to this part of the cave (see Ã¢â‚¬Å“The Exploration ContinuesÃ¢â‚¬Â) we had discovered a small low room (about 2 feet high) with fossilized branches scattered around in the rocks on the floor. The water flow appeared to be coming down from the roof, which puzzled us because the water depth here is only about 10 feet, and there is no debris to suggest a stream submergence. Also, there are no features on the surface (such as a stream or depression) that correspond with this location underground. Our main problem on the earlier dive was that our bubbles were dislodging rock and sand particles from the roof and the water current was picking them up and blasting them into our faces. On this occasion, there was much less loose material and we found that we could see ahead, past a major restriction into clear passage beyond. This clearly holds potential for future exploration, but it will require a determined and experienced dive team to achieve it.