Some Wakulla stuff and a Jackson Blue 12-6-9 Dive Report
I managed to peel away from a birthday party/welcome home party(army buddy on leave) Friday night, I was asleep before midnight, which I think is pretty good. Saturday morning came around early, and damned cold. Packing the night before really came in handy, as my hands would have been numb handling steel tanks in those temperatures. I headed out at 5AM, the sun met up with me sometime after I crossed over Pensacola Bay. It was hard to say exactly when since it was so overcast. Sun snuck out a few times along the way, but I caught back up with the clouds by the time I found my way into Wakulla around 10-10:30AM. Spotted a bald eagle on the way, turned my car around, but couldn't find it again to take a picture.
Wakulla County, work day
I met up with BGillespie, Veronica, and cwick at a private residence adjascent to some National Park land with divable sinks. Over the past few years, several trees had fallen into the access trails and vegatation had started to encroach into the paths as well. We had originally planned to work on some of the existing steps onsite, but with the heavy rains earlier in the weeks, the waterlevels were just too high to mess with any of the entries. cwick brought an assortment of tools, including a couple machatees, shears, and a big ole chainsaw. Spicer met up with us shortly after we started to clear up the trails. FWIW, the trails are clear of shrubbery, plantlife, and especially the trees that had started choking out the walkways from our entry to P, G, and C sinks.
After a few hours, we had finished up, pretty worn out and bloodied(LOL). To thank the landowners that allow us access to some of the sinks, we delivered some holiday hams courtesy of the WCDC! After that bit of shinanigans, we headed out to another tract of National Park and attempted to look for a spring, but ran out of time. During the walk back, a ranger drove by and checked in on us. He got a good laugh when we told him where we were heading, apparently we had started pretty damned far out of the way.
We hit up the church for the Wakulla County Dive Club meeting afterwards. The club had a cajun themed potluck, so we set about trying to get some of the food started. The meeting went great, Mike Poucher gave an outstanding presentation about the importance of mapping caves. He's also copying the club a metric buttload of pdf maps from the area. I can't wait to go through that mess of stuff! The food went over very well. If the WCDC is good for anything, its good for downing some grub.
I crashed on theawesomefish's couch, she broke out the laptop and I showed her some of the photos I took of the area sinkholes, and elsewhere. Apparently my spelling isn't always up to par, I found myself laughed at quite a bit. Morning came around and between being sore from swinging a machattee all day, it being damned cold outside, and just being lazy; I didn't end up leaving until nearly an hour after I should have... Luckily, I caught Dive_Aholic before he left the house, so he wasn't stuck waiting on me at the shop. Being 10 minutes from the area diving, TRULY, is a luxury - LOL. Besides, we had a single dive planned for the day, and it gave the sun a little time to warm the air up.
Dive_Aholic wanted to survey a bit of existing passage, in Jackson Blue, that isn't on the most current map available. Infact, there is a lot of line in JB that isn't found on the current map. I borrowed a stage setup and we setup our gear leisurely. There were a few other teams in the water, but it was by no means busy. Steam consistantly burned off the pond all morning, it was still quite chilly, but atleast the sun was out on Sunday. The stage was setup in the fashion that Edd Sorenson sets up stages for sidemount diving. I've been told by several that they preffer this method as the tank rides much cleaner - and I can't help but agree. I liked it alot.
We zipped into the cavern and dropped into the main part of the cavern dropping our deco bottles at the start of the goldline. I typically drop my bottle in the upper cavern, today I found out that my wing didn't have quite enough lift for a set of steel LP95s and a pair of AL80s(yes, my deco bottle is an AL80). I sort of bounced my way to the goldline - LOL. Ah well. We planned to drop the stages at around 900'p, I started unhooking coming off the 2nd breakdown anticipating a little time to get the new _style_(to me) rigging off. It was painfree and I ended up carrying the bottle in my hands for a bit, never hit thirds on it. We took the right side of the first "T" and took a right at the second "T". We then took another jump, that I had never been on before, but it had been pointed out to me on previous dives with Ben M. Dive_A layed the jumps, then broke out a buttload of survey station tags and a slate and started jotting down information. I felt kinda bad for just basically getting a free ride and not doing much of anything, I made sure to get as much light on his slate as possible at every stop, figured I'd do something. We ended up making a circuit back to the goldline and followed the flow back to pull the original jump, then make the exit(taking the opposite side of the 1st-2nd "T" goldline circuit this time). We picked the stages up, but stayed on backgas on the exit. The flow was down from the last time I was there, but it still gently pulled us towards the entrance. I still aided the exit with some kicks as I watched the deco start to climb. We goofed around in the cavern just a bit, Dive_A showed me some really interesting looking rocks, then back out to the upper cavern to finish off the deco(had about 9 minutes by this point - not too bad). The deco was uneventfull, but I was chilled and wished I had suffered my hoodvest, ugh. Still, I was dreading getting into dry air... the water was warmer. After a notable amount of procrastinating, I set out for dry clothes. Had a max depth of 96' for a dive lasting 96 minutes; water temp 68F(usual) and visibility around 60'(some particulate in the water, maybe from traffic, maybe runnoff from recent rains?). Great dive, packed up leisurely and headed back over to Cave Adventurers to pay off my tab. Brian H was there and we talked a bit about diving the following weekend. After a bit of hanging around the shop, I waved goodbye to everyone and headed out with food on my mind. Zaxby's fit the bill and I enjoyed the fried chicken and crinkled fries, extra zax sauce, and the trifecta of goodness that is a medium drink with strawberry fanta, sprite, and hawaiin punch!
The drive home was uneventfull, I saw the sunset on the interstate directly in front of me. I was sore, dirty, and ready for bed. Signs of a great weekend? I think so.