Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wet Cave with Unusual Water Features

Remember how I said the cave was wetter than usual (for the Lehman Caves Lint and Restoration camp in mid-February, 2017)? It made for some fun photo opportunities! Check out these bubbles.

We're not exactly sure why the water is dripping off the end of a bubble instead of off the end of the formation itself. Perhaps a thin layer of calcite is providing a little extra structure. Or maybe the degassing of the CO2 makes the bubbles form and the conglomeration of bubbles makes one main bubble that's stronger. When we spotted this bubble the second day, it had changed from a single bubble to this:

Not only are there bubbles, there are also spouters (yes, that's the very technical term-ha!), when the water spouts out the side of a speleothem.

These spouters were crazy. And some would change the angle of spouting depending on water pressure (I think). We'd see it spraying out to the side and the next hour it would be almost straight down.

The pools in the cave were filling.

Slowly the rimstone dams will grow. It wasn't that long ago that some of this floor was covered with sand and dirt. It's been restored due to numerous lint and restoration camps.

And I'll leave you with just a few more photos of the hydrological oddities in Lehman Caves during mid-February, 2017:

I love all the mysteries that caves still contain!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

February 2017 Lint and Restoration Camp

We attended a lint and restoration camp in January, and then a second one in February at Lehman Cave. After dusting off lint for awhile, it as time to start on the restoration--or removing old dirt and sand trail to find the natural cave bottom. It's a very satisfying task for all ages. And the kids were happy to be able to talk as they worked.

Below you can see some of the natural floor being uncovered. The dirt might have been brought in to help protect some of the delicate parts of the cave. Then they walked on it. We figure just uncovering it and then not walking on it at all might be a better solution.

There was also some restoration in a place called the Dog house. The natural cave floor, which was the bottom of a pool, was found.

As a reward, participants got to visit the huge Talus Room, which is longer than a football field. It's off the trail route and rarely entered.

Another reward was seeing a very wet cave. Recent snowmelt made the water come through the epikarst (layer above the cave) quickly, and as a result we were seeing unusual things like bubbles at the end of soda straws that were dripping water.

It's so fun seeing the kids enjoy lint and restoration camp. They're the next generation that will carry this forward.

Some treasures were found during the restoration, namely pennies in the Lake Room. About a dozen were found, including a couple wheat pennies. Probably people threw them into the pool. We haven't seen a pool in that room for years, it's been too dry.

The girls really liked washing rocks. It's a bit of a tedious process, but it works well to get old asphalt and dirt residue off the cave rocks. Then they're put back into the pools and look amazing.

Another fun part of lint and restoration camp is the potluck. There's always plenty of tasty food. This year we even saw individual creme brulees!

The girls carrying the rock-washing water out of the cave. They were full of smiles the entire time.

Here's a small pool in the Cypress Swamp before being cleaned.

And here it is after being cleaned:
It's exciting to see how much difference we can see in just a couple days. We're going to keep working in this area in future years to see how much we can improve it.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cave Surveying and Sketching Workshop

 Earlier in February, Carol Vesely, a renowned world-wide caver, came to Lehman Caves and gave a cave surveying and sketching workshop. The workshop was open to those attending the Lint and Restoration Camp (more coming on that soon). We started in the theater and learned/reviewed how to use compasses and inclimometers, tape measures, distos, and DistoX2s.

We had a little surveying course to practice.

We had a mix of caving experiences, from never surveying before to lots of experience surveying and some sketching.

It was fun checking to see how measurements compared with each other.

The next afternoon, we went into the cave and did some surveying and sketching. It definitely changes when you're in the cave!

You can see by the smiles that everyone had a good time. We learned a lot in a short amount of time, and I highly recommend one of Carol's workshops if you ever have the opportunity!

Friday, February 17, 2017

2017 Ely Birkebeiner

 The Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts sponsored the Ely Birkebeiner cross country ski race again this year up on Ward Mountain. They moved it to January, which turned out to work great because we had awesome snow (and then a huge warming trend in much of February).

The kids and I were all planning to race, but then I wasn't feeling so great that morning and really wanted to watch the kids race, which I wouldn't get to do if I raced, so we only registered them. But I put on my skis for a little warmup.

Then we watched the adults take off.

The colorful flags made for a very nice start! The wind was really blowing at the start and it was cold.

The adult skiers were doing about 6 miles in a loop.

They quickly stretched out into a line.

 Then it was time for the kids to go up on the hill to their start.

Desert Girl and Desert Boy were so excited to compete. They had been practicing and really wanted to get a medal.

I went ahead to break trail, as the new snow had covered the old trail. Desert Boy eventually came along. He wasn't the first.

These two sisters were battling for the lead. Their mom said they are super competitive.

After awhile I saw Desert Girl. Remember that cold wind at the start? Well, we didn't feel it in the trees, and she quickly overheated. I started taking layers from her. Then her ski binding broke in a way that we couldn't fix. So she had to just shuffle along with one leg and ski with the other. She was not happy.

This little guy was doing really well. The kids' ski race is pretty short, but there are so few kids doing it that they are spaced out a lot.

At the kids' turnaround I saw my friend Meg on the adult course.

 Then I went back to encouraging Desert Girl with her broken binding.

She got passed, which didn't make her too happy.

But she kept going, and I kept telling her that was the important part.

And we finally made it to the finish line! Desert Boy came in fourth, but when he learned that the three kids that passed him were all siblings and their mom used to teach skiing, he felt a little better. I think he was pretty happy with the way he skied.

There were some group photos and a photo of the medalists. Meg came in second for women!
It was a fun morning, with perfect ski conditions. It's so nice to have the opportunity to participate in an event like this. Thank you, Ely Outdoor Enthusiasts!
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