The following is a true story, only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Davy Jones' Locker

This is not the entrance but it's similar and nearby
 Davy Jones' Locker was a term used by sailors of yesteryear as a euphemism for death at sea and the watery grave that awaited them below. It also happens to be the name given to the sump at the end of the cave I explored over the Thanksgiving weekend. With a name like that I had to check it out!
This isn't it either, but that blue water that goes forever looks really cool

The entrance is somewhere close to here 
Four of us joined in the fun on a cold miserable day, missing was the guy who set the whole thing up, Mr Guzman. On board was Mr Seaton, Mr Fino and my right-hand man Super Stee. It may have been a cold, windy, day on the outside but it could have been July or August once we made it inside, since the temps remain the same no matter the season. To make things a little more interesting this was also a wet cave, with very few dry sections.
Mr Fino, just inside the entrance

Mr Seaton right at the point when the water starts to make you squeal 
This was a unique trip to be part of, the cave has not been explored since 89' or 90' when the area was in a drought, much like today. I believe less than ten people have been back to the terminal sump known as Davy Jones' Locker. There is only 800 feet of known passage most of which is underwater on all but the driest years. Although the water level made the trip doable without dive gear, we still had wet suits and were in water no less than knee deep a majority of the time. There were also areas where the murky depths were much further than our toes could feel, and we were swimming.
Thats' my foot and the "Locker" lies just 15 feet below

Break time!
When we got to the back of the cave, I was first to chimney up a wide slot that rose from the water so I could peer down into the sump on the other side. On the wall to my left were two bolts used to lower the cavers and dive equipment. Below that I could see the remains of the divers' life line tied to a horn just above the water line. From my angle, it looked like the water might be low enough to make further progress, but we did not have ropes, or harnesses, and the old bolts were shoddy and rusted anyway. Chimmneying down would be easy with a nice crash landing into the deep water.Getting out unassisted by a rope would be a very different story since the bottom was belled out much wider than a person could span.Needless to say, I didn't attempt to go further.
One of the few, above water-line areas

Dry land, ......relatively
After everyone checked out the sump we had a little break, lounging about in the frigid water before we headed back. We also took time to check any other side passages that might have promising leads, we found none. Future trips will have to be soon, before the water has a chance to come back up in the spring. The first group of explorers thought there might be a vertical passage leading from the other side of the sump access. Currently, the plan is to go back and see if this is true.
Low head-room!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Underfoot

It's been too long since we've gone underfoot, almost a year in fact. To kick off the long four-day Thanksgiving weekend, myself and four other troglodytes ventured into the underworld of Mahogany Town, USA on Wednesday night.

I want this painted on my garage.
That night we visited two separate systems, each one miles from the other. None of the other guys had been on a sewer tour except Super Stee, and even he had not been in this particular furrow. I did a solo, recon trip, approximately a year ago and it was a little unnerving, but I knew I must go back.  Once inside, apprehension gave way to giddy fits of laughter as we rode through a wonderland in axle-deep, flowing water.  Initially the walls were of antiquated masonry oozing with colors from black to white and bright orange, and any combination there of. This gave way to modern concrete often decorated by vividly hued street art.   
Kissy-Face

This would look pretty sweet on the garage as well
The ride was awesome, the art work even better, we were having a blast when we reached the terminus at a solid concrete wall. At this point it was still early and we decided ride the other drain upon exiting this one.
The end 

This is what it looks like to travel through a space-time portal on a fat-bike
Vandy was out after number one, so it would just be the four of us rolling the second underground ditch.  Our soaking feet and pants were of no bother in the unusually warm November evening as we charged on into the night.
This water is clean.......... in think 

A grand entrance in Hades
Number two has a much more difficult entry and if your not careful you might be going for a swim. This one is also much longer. We rode about three miles before we started to feel the night catching up with us and the scenery became somewhat boring and repetitive.
cave formations

Another trip will be in order to find the end and put the mystery to rest. This second tube didn't have quite as much art-work as the first but had several notable pieces.  The amount and frequency of cave-like formations in number two made up for the lack of "art". I was amazed to see relatively large hanging stalactites,  brightly colored flow-stone, and large rim-stone dams. 

Maybe, if you can make the long arduous journey through time zones, mountain passes,wolf packs, ocean crossings, buffalo stampedes, bustling cities, and space alien attacks, you may find yourself in Mahogany Town USA to do this ride yourself.        Good Luck !
This memorial is so life-like and detailed, it's erie 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Ride

I did state we would be riding alternative trails before the ride. The beginning was the only part  where that would be true. Some of the group were pressed for time so we skipped two other sections I had in mind.
 I've traditionally done a long ride on the river bottoms every Thanksgiving with friends since I started riding seriously almost twenty years ago. This Thanksgiving was no different than my first rides back in the mid ninety's, except now I knew or recognized at least half of the hundred or so riders our group encountered.
Three years ago Otey (in red and white) crashed on the log right behind him and knocked himself out, on his birthday  and first real MTB ride. 

 We had a small group of five, on board were The Mayor, Otey, The Legend, Steve, and myself. It was an unusually warm day with lots of sun, reaching about 60 F by the time the ride was over. I was really happy not to be freezing my ass off out there, these rides always start early and some have been really cold. 

Happy Thanksgiving....... FU
 I have a lot to be thankful for in my life, and while I was riding I was thinking about all the time I've spent down on the "Bottoms" over the years. I'm really thankful to have that trail so close to home and be able to spend time riding with awesome people, including my own family. The river bottoms are a real gem I've sometimes taken for granted, but not on this day! Thanks for the ride Guys.  
Sun, sun,sun.... love it!
  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Ride 2012

Yes, I know everyone has their own ride on Thanksgiving, and so do I. If you would like to join in I would be glad to have you. My plan is to ride Fat-Bikes on the river bottoms like everyone else, but hit some alternative areas not often seen by bike. This is not an adventure ride and if your feet get wet you did something wrong. The pace will be moderate and if your super slow your getting dropped. Expect the ride to be roughly 3 hours but allow for 4. Start time will be 7:45am, that means we leave at 7:45, please be early. Meeting place is the parking lot for the Bass Ponds in Bloomington.  Meet  here ->  44.847936, -93.235765   
See you on Thursday..... if not, then Happy Thanksgiving

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lincoln Cave

This was my shitty lunch/early dinner at the falls. Since I was out of cash I couldn't eat Famous Dave's at the expo
 On my bike ride home from the Midwest Mountaineering Expo, I decided to take a little detour and check out a drain that I had heard about. As I was throwing together an extra tube, pump, and multi-tool for the day's ride, I packed my head lamp and a short chunk of rope as well. A few weeks ago I recon-ed the drain and knew I would need a rope to safely (relatively) get inside.
I wouldn't have done this without the rope

The top notch on either side of the opening is where your feet are when you drop-in
The drain/cave is midway up a loose sandstone cliff. Water flows from it, forming a large, algae-green, drapery covering the remainder of the cliff face. From the point of entry, it's a good 25-30 foot drop to the water covered rocks below.  Initially I was quite nervous and hesitant to stem out over the water and commit to getting to the floor, eight feet below. Once I made the commitment it was easy, others have carved small holes in the sides making nice little steps.  
Run-of-the-mill sandstone drain, about six feet tall

The back
 I knew it would be a short walk but I wanted to see the back of the tunnel for myself. At the back end, the water has carved out a large area and eroded all the sandstone, leaving only a shell of the concrete that once defined the space. It was interesting to see the small rim-stone dams on the floor, and  flow-stone on the ceiling. There were also a couple of bats back here, hibernating. I made my way out, and easily exited the opening. Grabbing my bike and a snapping a few pics, I was on my way home. Mission accomplished !
This looks like something out of the movie "Alien". There is also a bat in the lower left, it's brown

View from the top, it doesn't look like much, but it would not be cool to fall down this. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Last Day of Summer

The foundation
 For some reason Mother Nature decided to give summer one more go on Saturday. Yesterday was around 70 deg F, and as I type on Sunday night, the temp outside is 26 and dropping, hmmm. It was nice to get out and enjoy it.
All finished, Big "D" relaxes inside on the couch,  I mean log
 In the morning it was raining, our caving trip fell through, and the only thing I had planned for the day was sleeping in. G-man was off at gymnastics, Lynn was at the gym, the boys and I needed something to do. I don't usually need too much motivation to do anything but Saturday I turned to the internet to see if any programs were going on at the local parks for a couple young boys and myself.
The best fort of the bunch
 A few clicks later I found something called Fabulous Forts at one of the Three Rivers Parks. It was in Victoria, 45 minutes from my house, staring at 10 am, which gave me only 20 minutes to get ready. No problem all we needed were the Nintendo DS' and a rain jacket. We didn't need food since our 5$ registration included  marshmallows roasted over a camp fire after the program. 
Super"Y" and Big "D" adding finishing touches to the remodel
 I know what your thinking, why would anyone pay five bucks and drive forty-five minutes to build a fort out of sticks you can find laying in any forest, one word, "motivation", or lack there of.
Some other kid's fort, the flag was a nice touch
 I was skeptical but had a ton of fun building a fort out of sticks with my boys. We even got a little classroom time before the construction phase so I guess it was educational too.
The entryway
 There were several other families there for the program, and when we were all done building, we had a sort-of, Parade-of-homes, where each builder would showcase their dream fort, and all the amenities inside and out. Super "Y" didn't want to build with Big "D" and I, so he went off to "remodel" an existing fort. We started from scratch and built one of the finest forts out of the bunch. 
Only two marshmallows each
 After the showcase it was on to the marshmallows, we were only allowed two each so there was no way we were getting our money's worth out of this program. I made it up to the boys with some hot chocolate at the gas station and some fine lunch items from under the heat lamps. Fabulous Forts was a lot of fun and has motivated me to head down to the river with my boys and build some forts for free, and bring a whole bag of marshmallows just for us.
Getting educated in the park's interpretive center
 Once I got home from the fort building I headed down to the basement to finish up my build on my geared Surly 1X1. I've had this since last year but have not ridden it since I was robbing parts off of it. I was happy I didn't have to steal any parts from any other bikes to get it rolling. I've had a bunch of shit laying around from various upgrades, the bike swap last February, and stuff I didn't even know I had. I threw on some old Mavic wheels with XT hubs, some corroded BB7s that work great, a brand new set of Conti 2.5"Petrols which are out of production, an old WTB Ti saddle, and a set of ISIS spline Bontrager "Race" cranks, as well as new cables all around.  It's a really fun bike to ride with the fat tires, I think it looks cool too. Did I mention it was 70 deg outside in Minnesota on November 10 and I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt riding my bike.  Hells yeah!
I'm ready for this lake to freeze so I can ride it  
 
I'm a sucker for orange bikes