Beginners question

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Beginners question

Postby cobaltdan » Jun 19, 2012 3:35 pm

I live in upstate New York and my property sits above a portion of an old limestone mine. I was initially scared when going into the mine but now I find it quite serene and peaceful exploring it. Its strange how much I like being in there, often times turning off my flash light to breath in the misty air and listen to the dripping sounds. The mine's interior is quite expansive with mostly large open chambers and large columns.

I have through repetition mentally mapped out a path I am comfortable walking in for an hour (my flashlight lasts for 1 hour on high, 7 on low) and I take two charged batteries, and a small back up). I am interested in further exploring but given the complexity of the mine and how everything looks the same.....I fully realize exploring mines alone without training is not the wisest thing to do.

I would appreciate any advice on learning cave/mine navigation techniques.

First thoughts (sorry if this shows my ignorance):

-string: not practical. distances too far.
-chalk: not practical as walls are wet and I don't want to graffiti the mine.
-compass/inclinometer: log direction, slope and steps. I'm concerned that this will not be accurate enough given that this mine is not all tunnels but connected gridded spaces with columns?
-blinking bread crumbs: I am an engineer and had the thought to make a few thousand little led blinkies. I could make them for ~25cents. They could be the size of a dime, blink for a week and be water proof... Is this a silly idea?

Thanks,

Daniel
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Re: Beginners question

Postby Chads93GT » Jun 19, 2012 4:36 pm

seriously, just pay attention, thats what I do. Most route finding in complex caves is done by building cairs, ie, small rock piles at intersections, etc. Hell, draw arrows in the dirt. just explore around the entrance, learn the mine, learn it like the back of your hand and you wont get lost. You will learn it fast, even if it is a grid patern with giant columns everywhere. Paying attention goes a LONG way towards not getting lost. use rock piles. you can kick them over once you learn the cave. and dont go alone.
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Re: Beginners question

Postby wyandottecaver » Jun 19, 2012 4:37 pm

Daniel,

Glad you have found the same excitement and wonder with the underground environment that many of us have.

You are correct in that exploring alone is a very bad idea. The most important thing you need to do is find someone who you can share your adventures with. Underground environments have many hazards and mines especially are not really the kind thing you should learn about by internet. I will add that 3 independent light sources (extra batteries dont count) are considered standard for safety. Even more so if your alone.

Mines can be quite hazardous

The other reason to involve others is that the BEST way to navigate an underground space is by mapping it. With a compass, tape, and some basic instructions you and a friend or two can make an excellent map, which can not only help you but can also benefit others. Your LED light idea is also not a bad idea for initial trips, but reliabilty in wet environments can be an issue

You might also think about something like painted popscicle sticks with arrows to show direction. You can carry a lot of them and they are very reliable.
I'm not scared of the dark, it's the things IN the dark that make me nervous. :)
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Re: Beginners question

Postby LukeM » Jun 19, 2012 5:41 pm

Hi there and welcome. I don't really have anything to add, but I sent you a PM since we're in the same neck of woods.
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Re: Beginners question

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 19, 2012 6:10 pm

cobaltdan wrote:(my flashlight lasts for 1 hour on high, 7 on low) and I take two charged batteries, and a small back up).


Hi there. You can get a light with much better runtime for very little money. Maybe the spaces are so large that you want a lot of lumens? Less than $100 will get you plently of light for 5 or 6 hours. If you can make do with a modest amount of light intensity, a cheap Energizer headlamp or similar can also last 5 or 6 hours. I recently surveyed for 9 hours with a $15 AAA lamp. You can still carry a brighter, lower runtime light to light up big areas when you need to. Having access to more light will make you more comfortable while taking the time to learn your way around.
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Re: Beginners question

Postby cobaltdan » Jun 20, 2012 5:41 am

The flash light I use is a 1700 lumen led unit with a diffuser. It beautifully lights up the large pillar rooms giving you a far better sense of where you are vs a smaller flashlight. The rooms go on endlessly in many directions.

Next trip I'm going to bring a small laser range finder and see if that is helpful in ranging the length of halls and rooms... The throw of the flash light is limited by the mist of the air....might have same problem with range finder?
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Re: Beginners question

Postby cobaltdan » Jun 20, 2012 5:44 am

Image
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Re: Beginners question

Postby trogman » Jun 20, 2012 9:29 am

I noticed that you did not mention anything about wearing a helmet. In a cave a helmet is highly advisable; in a mine it is imperative! Mines are much more unstable than caves, and a helmet or hardhat will protect you from rocks falling from the ceiling. It will also protect you from bumping your head on the ceiling.

The photo looks pretty neat! When you said "columns," I imagined wooden columns installed by the miners. I see now what you meant. It looks a lot like a cave in many respects.

As others have suggested, making a simple map will go a long way toward helping you find your way around. Most cave surveyors use some sort of marker to mark small dots and numbers for survey stations. This will help you navigate as well. One cave I went in a lot had numbered survey stations, and I knew I was heading in or out based on whether the numbers were going up or down.

Have fun, and be safe!
Trogman :helmet:
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Re: Beginners question

Postby NZcaver » Jun 20, 2012 2:29 pm

trogman wrote:I noticed that you did not mention anything about wearing a helmet. In a cave a helmet is highly advisable; in a mine it is imperative! Mines are much more unstable than caves, and a helmet or hardhat will protect you from rocks falling from the ceiling. It will also protect you from bumping your head on the ceiling.

This is good advice in general (always wear a helmet!), but from personal experience the mines in this area are not quite the unstable crumbling death traps that many cavers automatically assume all abandoned mines to be. Just FYI and all. :waving:
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Re: Beginners question

Postby scrambler » Jun 20, 2012 2:57 pm

Just a thought, but have you tried to find a pre-existing map of the mine? Mine companies typically map out their areas so they know what's going on. Maybe the library or historical society (depending on age of mine) would have something like this already made...?

Also, we saw a group of novice cavers go into a cave with a pocketful of party balloons and blinking LED lights. They activated the light, tossed it into a balloon and blew the balloon up as a marker for their trip. The idea sounded pretty good since you could see that for a long way off and they were easy to carry in. Just remember to pick up the trash when you're done.

Enjoy your exploration(s)!!
:bat sticker:
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Re: Beginners question

Postby Chads93GT » Jun 20, 2012 7:15 pm

man, that mine looks awesome.
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Re: Beginners question

Postby NZcaver » Jun 20, 2012 9:16 pm

cobaltdan wrote:Image

That looks very similar to the Widow Jane mine on the Snyder Estate in Rosendale. It was the site of a northeastern regional caving event back in 2002, with a screening inside the mine of the old black and white King Kong movie.

See http://www.centuryhouse.org/wj_java.html
and http://www.abandonedmines.net/widowjane.htm
and photos of other mines in the area - http://www.abandonedmines.org/rosendale ... _mines.htm

I have my own photos somewhere, but they're not online so I'm shamelessly plugging other people's links. I looked, and I don't have a map of the Widow Jane. I'm not sure if one exists.

In nearby Kingston NY, you'll find the large abandoned Hasbrouck mine which is fun to explore. Been there a few times, and a map of this one does exist. The last time I went in was for a WNS bat survey for the NY DEC back in 2008. This photo by Connecticut caver Chris Beauchamp was taken in Hasbrouck, and won best of show in the 2010 NSS print salon:

Image
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Re: Beginners question

Postby vtunderground » Jun 22, 2012 9:23 pm

The National Mine Map Repository may have a map of that mine:

http://mmr.osmre.gov/MultiPub.aspx

I've gotten quite a few maps from them.
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Re: Beginners question

Postby alexpaspa » Dec 9, 2016 5:22 pm

Hey, Im also new to the Cave exploring game. I am looking for something to film a scene of an independent movie and am looking for a big open cavern to film in this winter. Does anyone have any suggestions of caves open this winter?
Something like the picture I attached? Any help is greatly appreciated!
Image
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Re: Beginners question

Postby CaverScott » Dec 12, 2016 1:43 pm

alexpaspa wrote:Hey, Im also new to the Cave exploring game. I am looking for something to film a scene of an independent movie and am looking for a big open cavern to film in this winter. Does anyone have any suggestions of caves open this winter?
Something like the picture I attached? Any help is greatly appreciated!
Image

What you have pictured appears to be an old quarry to me. Depending on where you live, you may have quite a few options.
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