With Nick. Other commitments such as surfing and fishing have resulted in a somewhat depleted team today, but progress is still possible with the two of us.
A bit of a contrast in the weather for the walk up the hillside, yesterday was a glorious spring day while today – more typical of holiday weather – it’s grey and overcast with strong winds and rain as ‘Storm Katie’ approaches. Much better to spend the morning sheltered underground!
Up at the digging end it is slower going at the moment mostly due to the more compact granular sediment. Although the upper few centimetres are looser sandy silt below a thin layer of degrading calcite the lower bulk of the sediment comprises a matrix of compact, slightly calcified silt within abundant gravel, cobbles and occasional boulders. The excavation method employed was to loosen the sediment with a small bar, working on both sides of the passage to maintain both direction and width, then moving back slightly to shovel the loosened spoil into bags. The filled bags were then passed back to Nick who loaded them into a couple of drag trays and moved the spoil back to the entrance, which is now getting much further away. A few small formations that needed moving were carefully relocated to a new home as part of the ‘stal’ resettlement program. After the removal of a large boulder we were able to gain the “open space” previously noted, unfortunately this was not quite as “open” as we had anticipated but it does seem to continue. The way ahead, as usual, is still blocked by more sediment, at least we appear to be getting beyond the formations and the prospects still look interesting.
As ever the final task of the session was to haul the bags out of the cave and empty them, the large boulder that Nick had rolled back to the entrance was left until next week when hopefully there will be more of us.