Party: Quagger, Matt, John and I
Photos: Me

After exploring Kiku Pot I had some packing to do for caving up North Island. The plan was to survey a new cave that John’s son had named Dark Vader. We were then hoping to explore Pellucidar or one of the other caves around the well-known Glory ‘Ole.
I was woken at about 4:30am… and groggily rose, packed up my sleeping bag and got my Scurion battery that was now fully charged. I tried providing some company, but ultimately dropped in and out of sleep. We refuled in Sayward, and seeing we were early did a quick look around town; pausing briefly at the giant steam donkey just past the wire cable restaurant. I was still pretty tired and wasn’t as excited as I might otherwise have been.
I awoke again as we pulled of the Hwy towards Bonanza Lake where Matt had spent the night. The first part of the road used the railway bridge and was in pretty good repair. Helped by some paper plates with “Matt” written on them we found the camp site and milled about for a bit getting ready. I got to meet the Monsterbishi (a raised Delaca van). Matt was with his partner ?? and son Karston (named after the karst landscape in which solution caves are located) who would be spending the day around the lake. We had a radio link between them and checked in once we drove down the road to the steep hike up the hillside. It took a while to reach the cave entrance, a resurgence with water still trickling out. On the way we upset some goshawks which are a small agile bird that is on the threatened list.

At the entrance we organised the survey team. John would scout ahead, Matt would be on point, I’d man the Disto and Quagger would sketch. We were getting better at surveying and moved quickly through the moderately small cave passage, occasionally having to avoid some deep pools. Matt spotted a cool bug in one of the pools, but I am yet to see a photo.

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Passing some cool moon milk formations and strange donkey tail like formations, we soon reached the waterfall. This was where the group had reached last time on a trip earlier in the season. It was thought that the water-flow would have decreased, but apparently it was comparable to the last trip. I stemmed/chimneyed up to get a better look at the passage that was pinching off. I could probably climb high and drop back down, but it looked like it was getting even smaller further into the cave.
It was a little bit of a bummer, but on the upside, there were some really cool helictite formations at the top of the waterfall.

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Down-climbing, I followed the others back out of the cave, photo pfaffing as I went. On the way back I noticed a cool grouping of formation that looked like some crazy face. Maybe something like one of the aliens in the Star Wars bar scene?

 

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The plan was to then camp up by Treasure, hopefully stopping for a look at the old marble mine on the way. After lunch, we continued down the road around the lake but couldn’t see the mine from the road.
Continuing down the logging roads I tried helping navigate using the Backroads Mapbook. Unfortunately we ran into problems with overgrown roads and after following SR200? for some time decided to turn around and head down the Hwy past Telegraph Cove.
Taking ?? we crossed the train line and headed up towards Glory ‘Ole. I was using Google Earth to work out where we were going. Quagger also had GPS with the location of a campsite by a spring that they used to use (“Arch Camp”). Unfortunately these roads were also overgrown and it was decided we would bail on those caves and head to Dreamtime instead.

This worked out pretty well and after locating the entrance, we headed down one of the dead-end roads to set up camp. I was testing out my MSR E-wing, a tarp-style shelter that uses my hiking poles as the supports. Just after we set up camp it started raining. Matt+?? had the foresight to set up a shelter off the back of their van, so we huddled beneath it for some time.
I soon retired for the night, and everyone followed suit. The bugs were pretty annoying, but I still managed to stay up for a while trying to locate and overlay caves. I seem to be living and breathing caves of late!

 

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