Date: April Fools Day, 2017
Trip: Picnic Passage via Flower Pot, Dynamite Series, Carlswark, Stoney Middleton.
Party of one: Tommy Moore
The fortnight leading up to this trip involved the completion of my third year dissertation, and as such my sleep pattern was a little out of whack with reality.
After failing to get some rest all night, I hopped in the car at about 6am to drive to Stoney.
The aim was to test a handpump out at the dig face to drain an awkward pool of water.
So down the blue tube I slithered, leaving a flask and bottle of water at the bottom along with any surplus kit.
I made the decision to keep my helmet on for this trip, I'd had it off previously as it gets quite tight in places, but I thought I'd try and fight the faff. Picnic Passage is a flat out crawl for some 80m, with a couple of avens, a couple of small (2-3m) chambers, a smattering of cross-rifts, and a few ducks and puddles.
I got to the end through the 3 or so ducks with little difficulty and all was going well. I set the pump up with the reinforced tube in the pool and ran the layflat back down the passage, it was shorter than I'd have liked and as such I'd simply be creating another duck behind me so I knew to keep an eye on that lest I block myself in!
The pumped worked nicely but muggins here hadn't put a filter on the suction end so it got gummed up. I took it apart, cleared it out and improvised a filter with a spare buff and jubilee clip. It was around this point that I started to feel a bit off.
It's not hard to imagine that this passage recieves very little airflow, so maybe it was a lack of quality air, or maybe it was cumulative sleep deprevation from my efforts in the uni library. Either way I was quite dizzy, very weak, and starting to feel a little confused and slow.
I'd felt this a little on the previous trip so decided to ditch the kit and start to make my way out. I really struggled to push up the slope out of one of the ducks on my back, my legs had no oomph at all... The last obstacle was a long (10m) puddle, some 3-4 inches deep. On the way in I had simply turned my head to one side and breathed through my nose. This time however I was gasping a bit more, and tried to breathe through my mouth. The orifice in question was underwater at the time so I took on a little water. I tried to lift my head up but my light and helmet were clipping the ceiling so this was fruitless.
Feeling weak, short of air, and a little dizzy I probably panicked; I had a sense of how far in to the puddle I'd come, and how far was left of the low section of passage. So I closed my eyes, squirmed, and drank my way out of it. A bit grim, and not something I'd like to repeat.
Much to my chagrin, I couldn't stop to appreciate my success when I got to the end as I wanted to get to some fresher air, so I ploughed on. At this point I was feeling pretty happy and carefree, given that the hard caving was done and I wouldn't be found face down in a muddy puddle on April Fool's day.
I took my time on the way out, even had a little nap, and generally just enjoyed the caving, it had been a while since I'd done a solo trip so it was nice to take it all in. Through Porth Crawl (my profile pic on here), through Dynamite and back to Flower Pot. The flask by the entrance contained some syrup-like coffee with some immensely restorative properties. That was very pleasant to drink whilst listening to the birds tweeting away above me on the surface. I then went to one of the cafes in Eyam and ordered a tenners worth of cakes and a hot chocolate with all the trimmings (any excuse!).
In conclusion, the pump worked, hooray! But I don't think The dig is worth it, it was much more awkward at the face than I remembered from the surveying trip. I'll be leaving it a few weeks and then go down and tidy up the tools and hose.
I've attached some bodged together survey images from the previous trip, overlaid on other data to provide context (i.e. PP's relationship to EDHC). I haven't had chance to figure out how to join the data in Survex, but I passed it on to REavis who may have done it properly, I'll follow up when he's back.