Vancouver Island Cave Trip 10/10/2009
Tsulton Rising Cave
It is not easy to get into but the mighty Ford Ranger was up to the challenge. The road into it would have been impossible to navigate if it were not for the help of local cave enthusiast Peter Curtis who spend the weekend prior to our first trip in August clearing the roads and marking the trails so we could find our way in.
The old logging road has been inactive for many years and is quite overgrown. My poor truck has not looked the same since this was my second trip into this cave system. I guess the main thing is I bought the truck for this purpose so I guess I should expect a few dings and scratches.
This is the objective. It is believed the Tsulton River connects to Treasure Cave but the connection offers some big challenges. First the tunnel drops to 42m (140ft) before it likely rises to hopefully emerge in the Treasure Cave. This means a cave diver has to incur a decompression ceiling in each direction and will have to make staged deco stops before he even reaches the first end and then depending on the access at the other end may or may not have to return back the same way incurring yet another decompression obligation. It is for this reason we have chosen to use rebreathers for this exploration. Even though the rebreather may be bulkier than a sidemount system it seems to be the best choice logistically.
Of course no sane rebreather diver would enter a cave without adequate bailout gas.
|Aaron entered the tiny opening waiting for me to follow right behind. The entrance is too small for two divers to enter together so the plan was for Aaron to drop past the first restriction to 10ft and wait for me to get in. There is a 90 degree bend immediately upon entry so he waited there. As I was moving my bailout cylinder the HP hose blew. Unfortunately I had no way to signal him and so I just proceeded back to the truck to get a spare reg I had there. By the time I got the reg changed Aaron had been waiting patiently for 15 minutes for me to go in. He finally surfaced and I was just about ready to enter by then so he had about 20 minutes in the cave before I was even ready to dive. One of the biggest challenges of these caves is the cold water and 20 minutes of doing nothing in this water is no picnic|
Although there are several major restrictions in this system the tunnel has been fairly open so far. We are concerned that there will be a point that we can go no further with the rebreathers at which time we will have to get more creative but so far so good.
By a remarkable coincidence when I got home from this trip I had an email from Pat Shaw who had provided this map. He had heard we were continuing the exploration of this system and wanted to hear about our progress.
Cruising around in Northern Vancouver Island holds all kinds of interesting sights
First Look at Devil's Spring
|Near Devil's Bath there is an
opening into the Benson River known as Devil's Spring. This cave system is probably fed from
Devil's Bath. Pictured here is a view of Devils Bath from the cliff above.
When we were cave training in Mexico Matt told us you find the siphon side
of the cenote by looking for where the leaves and twigs collect. Well
these twigs are huge logs and if you look closely you can see the log jam
goes all the way to the bottom. Aaron and I dived here 2 years ago and
found the siphon side to be inaccessible due to all the logs but we
believe this is the source of Devil's Spring.
|The water leaving the Devil's
Bath probably exits here. The water can be seen boiling out of this tiny
hole into the Benson River. The tunnel opens up below the entry but the
breakdown area at the mouth of the cave makes the water look like a
washing machine. Aaron was able to pull himself into the Devil's Spring
opening and went to a depth of 160ft. The flow slows down considerably
below 30ft and the tunnel has been surveyed to a depth of 260ft and it
keeps on going...
|Here you can see the water flowing rapidly out of the cave yet further out the rest of the river flows lazily along. The gravel bar seen in the middle of the river separates the cave flow from the river flow.|