below: Cross-section map of the original Cave Next Door dig, ending about 1000 feet south of the current Mistress dig.
below: Cave Next Door Mistress Dig most current (as of 2010) cut-away vertical map diagram
Welcome to David’s Blog about The Cave Next Door.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Opening the lid
The jin-pole is no longer in operation because the hole got too deep. Buckets are lowered and raised now with a mechanical winch.
Thought you all would enjoy these old videos
Over two months later and the Mistress dig is stabilized. In fact, it never showed any signs of being unstable as the wall was being built down to dig level, but then the main plug boulder had always been securely cross-braced. As it turned out, the large boulder was sitting on another immoveable. This was apparent once it was possible to dig all loose dirt from around the boulders so I could cement them all together. It also turned out as I built the East wall down that there were three other half ton boulders buried beneath the talc from the north and wedged under the intrusive hanging wall on the south, making a total of six major boulders. These are all now concreted together with steel around them. When the wall-and-steps complex reached the dig level there were twelve steps descending a distance of 17 feet.
What do I remember about those weeks of digging? Every day after work, any day of the week. Working ’til dark, sitting around a little campfire to dry gloves and warm hands before driving down the mountain for a late dinner. Remove the collapsed clays back to rocks and boulders, often with airspace underneath where the collapsed material didn’t make it. Wash rocks, many coming back down from the surface. Measure for stee and wire it together. Lower buckets of mixed concrete and build wall and steps. Lower the scaffolding platform and begin again. As I lowered the scaffolding I washed the walls, exposing all the intricacies of the marble’s crystal structure and boxworks of chert and micro-intrusives (I believe).
I remember one night when Charlie and I were walking down our forest path on our way back to the truck, when we passed two giant Pacific Salamanders going the opposite direction! I almost stepped on one, then a few feet farther on the other one, not seeing them with my weak LEDs, but Charlie’s light showed them well, walking up the trail through the night, keeping a promise.
Day by day, the sun slowly moved behind the south ridge for the winter; the first snows came, probably to stay ’til spring. We kept concreting down until all exposed boulderage was cemented together down to the dig level. Interesting notes here: I mentioned above the air spaces under the rock piles. When the mud and clays from the collapsed sink are removed from the boulder pile there was always airspace, no airflow, underneath. This is due of course to the fact that the sinkhole formed from the inside out and the boulders were lying there in the void when the talc above them collapsed, covering but not totally penetrating the rock pile.
When I prepped for the last and lowest step, there was at least three feet of air space down between the boulders it was built on. Mud still filled the area to the south that led down. Along the South ceiling-wall a foot of airspace (slight airflow) led on down where the dig will eventually go. Very promising. I have started laying the stone floor around the top of the shaft, but it will take more dirt from the dig to finish it and my rock pile is now covered with snow. We keep the gate locked at the 30-foot level.
I have decided that from now on I will try to build the wall down before I dig. Darve out a channel in the mud, fill it with concrete, then dig down. I don’t know how this will wor with the dig wet. All my concrete work has been in a dry hole, whereas most of the actual digging was with the hole wet and the shoring was cedar beams. At this point I am very comfortable with the dig remaining stable throughout the wet season, although there is still concrete work that could be done even before more digging occurs, and I am anxious to finish up with the materials that have already been packed in.
Another item of note: At last my own and Steve Knutsen’s persistence with the NPS and the Forest Service has resulted in these wonderful, helpful giants taking notice of the project (my “passion”, to quote another individual familar with the dig), and I am earnestly and anxiously hoping that they are taking us seriously and even will help us and work with us in any capacity they can. Some kind of memorandum of understanding with our administrative friends might go far in helping us achieve our goal of discovering this cave in real time with an internet connection. I will soon have the opportunity to meet with Roy Bergstrom of the Wild Rivers Ranger District and find out after over 10 years of talking with them where I and the Cave Next Door dig stand.
A Saturday morning. Hot languid August is sobering up after summer’s careless dissolution and pure laziness (boy, was she ever stingy with tomatoes this year!), and I am realizing that it’s the middle of September!
Oh my gosh! I think that was a shiver running down my spine…Off with the green dress of Summer and on with the yellow and brown cloak! Personally, I hope she goofs off a little more. She came late to the party and ought to be the last to leave. I say phooey on sober Autumn and let’s all celebrate and encourage a fickle pretentious Summer (easy to say if you’ve got a large pile of firewood). And there is nothing like a tinder-dry, leaf-crackly hunting season to hone the skills of the hunter who can always use more patience. Be patient, Summer.
I am digging and building wall as fast as I can. Most of the dirt was removed this winter, but it still takes 30 buckets of dirt out to prep for the next wall section. This work will be impossible once the rainy season comes as the water soaks the talc.
In the past 12 days we have extended the concrete wall we are building down another two feet, making six feet in all, plus another step on the North wall. We have also built a two-foot high secvtion of wall on the West side. This wall completes the concrete work done last winter under a hanging rock and brings that earlier wall down to where it sits on immoveables and is joined to two steps cemented to the same.
Last night I worked until dark, prepping these steps for cement work this afternoon when Charlie is available. I surely am thankful for Charlie. He has been the best helper I’ve had. He has been my sole surface support and second man on the dig for the last year.
Last year at this time we had not even begun installing the upper half of the culvert. I was still building its rock foundation at the 30 foot level. Now we are just two feet from the top with backfilling. Electrical conduit with 110V, 12V, and 2 camera lines are installed with lights. We have the capability of recording everything digitally onto a laptop. Now we are ust a dozen or so digs short of having everything shored up down to almost 80 feet deep. One thousand buckets out this year. That’s 200 climbs up the shaft for me and almost three miles of lifting buckets for Charlie.
We got a real treat last Sunday when a young fellow James from the Cascade Grotto (he was down helping Hester Mallone with some cave restoration she is doing fo the Park Service) gave us a helping hand. Boy, was it ever nice to have young blood escorting buckets up and down the shaft while these two old boys do our work. I ust built wall, didn’t have to climb for buckets. Those buckets go up nicely, but not down without help.
A construction note: The East wall, five feet down from the present cedar shoring–that is, five feet below the ledge–is cemented to and around a quite large boulder that was behind the muds. There was air space behind it against the South wall and the mud looked to be what was washed in there during the Veteran’s Day slump, three years back. This boulder seemed not to have moved during the slumping but had muds flow past it. Seems though, like I said, the same thing about some other rocks ten feet below that I have yet to deal finally with! You know, maybe the big jam-up at the pinch point…