Random little post-convention trip. Grammer will be lacking
Finding the Faff in Lost Canyon
Trip attendees: James Hoffman (The Main Instigator), Taylor Clarke (The Master Rigger), Jay Slewfoot (Mr Tie Dye), Ian Flom (The Token Diver), Lydian Warren (The Recruit)
It was leg day, it’s always leg day. I had one day spare returning from the NSS convention so caving could happen. Maureen Handler set me up with the creme de la cream of the TAG caving scene, and by that I mean she posted on the Sewanee Grotto Facebook page and James Hoffman agreed to adopt me for the day. Only issue was that I did not have a car. I won’t bore you with the details, but I went from nearly getting my own tank to getting a lift to and from my doorstep. I got a lift with The Recruit but first we had to find her. My mum had to drop me off in a car park to meet the others and was worried as she had never met these cavers before but I woke up that morning and felt a distinct ‘I’m not going to be murdered’ feeling.
A hint for finding American cavers. Follow the stickers. After turning up to the car park I noticed a vehicle covered in those bloody bat stickers they all have. A brief introduction with The Recruit and The Master Rigger was had, and mum left me with a couple of complete strangers. Set off and much rubbish was spoken in the car. We stopped for food at a grocery store, and I had a feast of cold hotdogs and AW root beer which not regrettable at all.
Met up with the others and The Main Instigator threw a civilised alpine harness at me and not one of these American rope walker systems. This was relief to know I did not have to learn how to have 5 million points of attachment for ascension. Although I did swap the Stop for a Rack as I find that works better for me on 11mm American pit rope.
It was a hot walk to the cave along a forest track that was made for a sham housing development con and while not physically demanding took up a lot of sweat. I intended to drink water in the cave like at home but to my dismay they told me at the entrance that it’s a dry cave. I reverted to the old British ways and demanded the water tax off my colonial partners, who unlike their ancestors obliged me and paid their dues accordingly.
We spent a lot of time at the entrance pitch while The Master Rigger did his thing and fucked up royally. I expressed that no trip would be complete without faff, a term none of the colonials had heard before. Explaining the finer points of faff was enlightening to them and I think I have introduced a whole new way of wasting time which should slow these Americans down somewhat now.
The Token Diver went down next and equally faffed at the rebelay ledge. I did not quite understand what was slowing them down, but it was my turn next and I quickly found out. What had happened was that The Master Rigger had manged to get the rope in a bird’s nest knot about half the size of a Volkswagen Beetle. This had sat on a large ledge and he had got enough rope out of the other end of the knot to complete the pitch leaving this gargantuan knot sat on the ledge as part the rebelay loop. Not unsafe if you didn’t clip to it. Not best practice.
Bypassing the Gaudian Knot I descended the rest of the pitch and landed in Lost Canyon. Lost Canyon is what the name suggests., it’s a big thumping rift passage covered in large popcorn formation with loads of white dry dusty sediment all over the place (I think, geologists come at me) this makes the walls quite grippy and good for climbing if you don’t move too fast.
We made our way to the second pitch head and descended it using American indestructible rope technique. Fuck the rub, the rope’s thick. This was intentional as we were only descending this pitch (of 37m) and climbing out a different way. Had an explore of the bottom with The Token Diver before the other joined us. The Main Instigator showed us the finer points of the lower caver and then we proceeded on our way out. Free climbing the rift was fun as there was more friction than you knew what to do with and the section that was freeclimbed was one of these places where if you fell all you would need to do was starfish and you would be fine. This is exactly what The Recruit did as they had a bit of a tumble on one section, but no bruises were had this day, just pure caving adrenaline.
Way back out was uneventful and we were back on the surface quickly enough just in time for double day light for some of us. I was out first so got to enjoy the Georgia (we were in Georgia by the way) evening heat and all the fireflies going about the forest. The Gaudian Knot was hauled up the pitch and bagged up for ‘tomorrow’s problem’.
Drive back via Trenton for some Taco Bell. Eating by yourself in a Taco Bell parking lot is a sad sight; it’s much better with friends.
Good trip. Would hope to go back and cave again with this group. They had good craic.