With Jon, Nick, Brockers, and Mike
The boulders bite back!
I was upfront digging under the pissing tree, well actually, somewhere close to Trick or Treat, at the current end of the NE passage in the deep Soft South. Jon was next in line filling bags and shifting away the rocks as I loosened the sediments in the small space beyond the stalagmites and shoving it back to him. Nick was transporting the spoil back to the pot to be hauled up to Brockers on the ledge, Mike was stacking bags and rocks in the entrance.
Digging was tentative, it’s not easy going upwards amongst loose cobbles and boulders within a matrix of fine sediments. Poke a bit, stuff clatters every now and then, gingerly easing out and trying to avoid the larger rocks. Progress was slow and steady; gaps were beginning to appear. Jammed a small bar in amongst a couple of boulders, attached a rope and gave it a good tug – a boulder came crashing down and blocked the small opening into the space. I reached forward to move it and that was my mistake as another large boulder came crashing squashing my finger between the boulders, instinctively I ripped my hand away – it was painful and there was blood! I felt rather queasy, broke into a sweat, and needed to sit down. Luckily there was a bottle of water and Jon had some tissue to fashion a dressing. It was past midday and while the team shifted the spoil out of the cave, I was able to gather my thoughts before making my way out of the cave. About 50 bags hauled out and emptied, plenty of rocks were moved, some to the surface, some as backfill in the narrow trench, and others put to one side for later. Refreshments were taken at our favourite hostelry. My finger was still throbbing.
Eventually back home it was time to clean the wound and dress it properly – it wasn’t a pretty sight, deep gashes (c.20-25mm long) to both sides of my finger and bruising, probably will lose the nail as well. Needed a second dressing to stem the bleeding later. Never mind these things happen! And, the space beyond the stalagmites is getting bigger.
It is a thought that digging up into Trick or Treat may well prove to be a distraction, the cave passage is better developed lower down, and this might be the direction we should follow to the southeast of An Unexpected Development.