Mossdale Session 76 & Other Favourites (part one)
'Behold! The error thy way's nigh'
A three month hiatus. The longest since the project began. With little justification in raising the question; how did that happen!? Though to begin with it wasn't through lack of trying.
EGR Valve failed on van a few weeks after Session 75, en-route to Session 76. With a few further false starts. I was back working and trying to buckle down and save. It was also that time of year again, where you accept once a month with work, is doing well.
Things were going okay to begin with and I quickly built a stash of cash with the intention of another full time Mossdale push early spring.
Sometime around there Dowbergill was done on impulse. Those days would never be as good if planned. Bumped into a party from York mid-way, and parted company feeling like I'd interfered more than I should. The group were scattered at differing levels, and I was concerned about those having not done the streamway squeeze under the elevated water levels that day. I hung about until all looked okay but felt like a right cock afterwards.
With money in my pocket I dabbled elsewhere deeming it mandatory to get by. Christmas/New Year (18/19) were a blur I remember little of. With a considerable fortune spent!
I was nursing a severed attachment I hadn't predicted. The loss of a much valued house mate and ex. Who I'd spent the past year convincing I was wrong for. I'd instigated it, but cared enough to see early on it wasn't right. They deserving far better than the little I could offer.
Having only dated those of a similar age or older, someone vastly younger than myself was a new experience. I was surprised how quickly my conscience got to me.
Seeing somebody a handful post college when pushing forty can make you feel pretty old, which at the time I did, especially when they're attractive and colloquially first in romance.
Regardless of perspective, or stance, I'd like to think it was educational for them.
I can't help look back at that period with bemusement, and wonder just what I was thinking adding all those extras. The shared house was ace and the entanglement fulfilling, but the conscience thing haunted me. The other factor added was where the damage was done. With an ever increasing tupperware filled with end-of-world-treats.
I can't argue it was a stand alone period. Pivotal almost. With a lot going on come Winter (17/18). Probably too much. I was fit, healthy, with a perceived head well above water.
I'd moved late spring (17) and vowed to simplify my life and try not get seriously involved. Yet I did the opposite and complicated things more than I probably ever had.
I'm shaking my head now. As I've done before sat here. I can't say I haven't lived though.
Taking heed the advice proffered during those periods. That it won't last forever, an end will come, is never taken. They're an accepted consequence. Just not at the time one would most prefer. The energy required is granted until the point it isn't any longer.
'Age comes with little warning eventual'
I was approaching the late 20s (sessions) at the the end of 2017. Having decided to pursue what became Leftfield Deep. I'd not cottoned on to the false nature of the floor at that point, and shelved the plan to go directly ahead. A number of limestone beasts stood in the way of that route. Plus that fine looking seam appeared to require considerable capping to pass. Not something I was willing to resort too, nor would, if I thought there was an alternative.
It's an argument that could never be won or lost, and no one appears to be right or wrong on the subject. There is a line, and some are well over it. In some cases it's no longer cave exploration but mining for the sake of it. More the means than the end.
I resorted to capping after quickly realising the limitations and expense of plugs/feathers, but never felt I came close to crossing the line I speak of above.
Although my mind appeared on the project throughout 2018, it wasn't. It barely got 50% of the effort I could have given. I realise that now, but not then. I was enjoying my overall far too much, with insidious factors slowly taking hold.
'Rock bottom is purely a point of view'
'It's very geography finite yet infinite'
It was a fun year, but I was fool to think it didn't hold consequences. Especially the longevity which I could maintain that type of lifestyle.
That big party once a year can not be blamed, but it's where it began. I was fairly restrained at the 1st, came back from the 2nd a very different person, with the third swinging the final blow to come.
December (2018) contrasted heavily with the previous one, and wore similar clothes to the season. The house felt empty and I missed my house mate. It was far from the 'Spaced' it once was. With the place to myself the Bose was wound up full, with Techno and tupperware sustenance.
You can't predict attachment till severed, but at the time I was happy for her. I warned against staying close but swore we would. Maintaining the friendship was important but such transitions are difficult and I knew only too well what it would spell.
Pleas to continue the relationship over Christmas caused ever greatening anxiety. When you know you've convinced somebody it won't work, you know their return will hold less faith - till something better comes along etc... I still felt responsible and too attached to say no, but could predict the pain of that empty house filled with occasion periods of past light.
I apparently broke down over the xmas period to one friend, prophesying it my downfall. I don't remember this but my behaviour at the time suggests I was an emotional wreck.
I've no doubts it could have worked, though I had a seriously low opinion of myself regarding relationships by then, and knew the damage association with me would bring.
No matter how much you want something with somebody, when you care about them, especially their future, while blatantly aware of your own, which wasn't much in my case except the Sessions, it's hard to overcome your conscience and try.
The rhythm I'd preserved at the project throughout was lost come January(2018). The agenda was still very prominent, but something else offered it support.
A messy start to the year ensued. Much of it I can't remember now.
Had I not being so pigheaded, in thinking I was strong enough to deal with it, stopped and focused on myself, I may well have avoided the total breakdown to come.
I was still very health conscious, eating well, knowingly aware the caving would be screwed if I continued.
Helping out a friend while her mother was very ill offered rehabilitation, and the end of the reignited post Christmas affair. The agenda of which had been on the friend in questions mind all along.
Some of the best friends I've had were ex's. In this case I allowed my previous two to destroy one another. Mates it may be, but when there's still an emotional attachment, jealousy for instance, your wading in to dark waters allowing one to deal with the other. Emotionally I was stretched thin, couldn't deal with it, and just needed a break, but passed it over to someone who only wanted to destroy it.
I'm far from the only relationship fuck up, but tended to always take responsibility, when on many occasions it wasn't my own doing. I'm still admittedly a fuck up in that area.
Been obsessive about a given thing has always swayed my attention from what I was taught to do. I've fought for both simultaneously throughout. Neither appear real with a view to the other.
Although last year there were times down Mossdale when I completely disconnected from what I would usually be missing.
I recall two occasions during exit when I almost turned round and went back in, wondering where I was going. I blended in to that place as if a piece of furniture.
But that's because I'm deluded and think I'm a rock.
Considering all I've written, especially the candour, it does surprise me the conclusions people draw. Having a blog with decent traffic tends to give you a bigger gob than those who choose to presume. But you don't have to believe me. You could believe the rumours that I wear a Super Simon costume under my wetsuit and believe I'm immortal.
'A vast difference in perspective far from qualifies an opinion to begin with, even when you add a brain'
A few weeks back I told a mate (Gina) I was attempting to roll an Ouroborous roll-up, then work out how the fuck to smoke it. She laughed but it summed up perfectly my paradoxical bloody underworld. Not to mention my chosen Mossdale site and present cranially funkagenic locale.
Mossdale Session 76
16th February 2019
'I can't find a pulse! But can with possession'
Took Friday off work (15th) with the aim to visit that day. A slight detour mean't Saturday instead, and a surprising 10am arrival at Yarnbury.
The Howgill Massif were out in force and like clock work arriving on cue.
A windy day so avoided the exposure of Kelber and caught up with the Howgill lads along the boundary wall.
Underground for 12:15pm with an inventory of surveying gear, tupperware, i-phone 4 (photography) and spare wetsocks.
No real hint my long absence was notable. Quite the contrary. Though I was far from sober, having breached the tupperware numerous times overland.
Flowed through the entrance series with remarkable grace. Hardwired it is. Only took a few hundred times. More than worthy in itself of the cause. Had similar learned responses traversing Dowbergill Passage (D/S) over much of it's length those past years.
Signs of passage noticed at Blackpool Sands. Water very cold with frozen feet till Easy P. My spares for the trip in were old, shredded and pointless.
Main duck still the same. No urgency to dredge.
The lowest of the high water markers at the Serpent was checked. Negative. I did wonder whether they were working, but why wouldn't they?
I dismissed the results anyway. Too long a layoff to be of any use. They're only there to offer piece of mind in the event of unexpected flooding, entrapment.
Fresh deposits noted between the two initial acute bends of Ouroborous. What was usually a sludge squirm was now a partially dredged sand/shingle crawl. Signs of passage were also noted along this sections. Definitely not mine from three months back.
Even during the latter parts of the journey in I was still deliberating over what to do that session.
Arrived at the A-Frame, just beyond the original frontier edge, and decided to survey the 'Boiler Room' (aka Early Starter). A site I'd only visited a few times prior, maybe only the once, I can't remember.
The surveying throughout has flitted between haste and the need for thoroughness. The latter overall holding little importance, yet something I still regret not upholding from word go. A fixed standard etc..
This side of the project, the data collection/surveying, could only be described as frigid, annoying and oppressive. The compass side of the job was very frustrating, especially alone. With a strong belief something was throwing the readings off. Aside from the scaffold which was, I think it was just my ineptness and lack of satisfaction through the task.
When the inevitable breakdown came less than a few months later, I came to resent this wasted time immensely. Fortunately this was redeemed with an unexpected need to find salvation via a focus I thought was long lost. It was one of a number of steps taken at the time which possibly contributed to me saving my own life.
Hadn't expected to be entering new stuff on that day, or more, stuff previously missed. While taking readings at the top of the shaft, with one foot in the Boiler Room, I noticed a squeeze leading to passage beyond, in a North Easterly direction. The Boiler Room was quickly surveyed and the squeeze entered and easily passed. This lead over mud to an enlarged area and a more constricted tube from there. I surveyed as I went. The passage was of the garden variety, formed between breakdown blocks, no doubt along one of the cross joints. The way on lead to a squeeze over a pointed boulder and what appeared to be terminal beyond. The righthand segment of the dead end was out of view and may go round an acute bend. The squeeze was attempted several times, both head and feet first, but my hips failed to allow passage.
I was eager to return to work at the 'Notch' so left this for another day. I doubted it lead anywhere, with most of this stuff, so far, ending in mud and breakdown. The lack of any draught also spoke volumes.
'I've learnt a lot from this overall discovery'
'Thoroughness is synonymous only with doubt'
It took a good few days to get this visit written up in my journal, so much of the little stuff is lost.
I remember having wine gums in the 'Blue Room' (aka Depot Chamber) from an unopened packet, and rummaging through the cache for something. Adele's tackle bag was claimed, deciding I may as well make use. It having resided beyond 'Rightism' since our 2nd visit to the 'White Hotel' last June, almost a year ago as I write. The buckle snagging affair in Dowbergill whilst passing the streamway squeeze, under Brew Chamber and sporting conditions, came to mind as I considered the bags life. As you do momentarily, without ever really thinking about it. That one stands out as definitely having happened at the time.
I'd felt on top of the world back then that summer of 2018. But had said to Adele, it would be the best she would ever see me again.
I don't think I was really dwelling on my state today, but knew something wasn't right. I think I was being held up purely by my perceived independence, the routine of work and abundance of cash. Mostly though, and being honest, it was probably the Blow.
Lucile was still there, but all I felt was the loss of something I knew would never return, with her having moved out two months prior.
I could tell something in me didn't give a shit with the stupid risks I was taking. Especially whilst working the second half that session.
The Blowpipe (aka 2nd pitch) was inspected, en-route to Featherstone Chamber, for any changes due to flooding, but nothing appeared out of place. This section will definitely suffer over time and become a hazard. Any visitors should be on there guard beyond the existing frontier, but especially when descending the 'Blowpipe'. I've no doubts this new addition to Mossdale is probably the most dangerous section of the cave, aside from the flood prone bits under wet conditions only.
Prior to the opening of this new section, flood waters would have backed up at the existing limit and percolated through the heavily choked recesses. A sizeable body of water, becoming very destructive beyond Rightism, as the way-on plummets, can now pass freely all the way to the lower chambers. Something will eventually give here, so treat everything as suspect.
'Hard Corawl' rests on a false floor within a rift that intersects the 'Blowpipe'. Floods will eventually undermine this, possibly destabilising the fragile hanging bridge at the head of the pitch which extends back within this rift.
After months considering the possibility of a route onwards at the 'Notch' I wasted no time getting stuck in again. A fissure was uncovered with several very awkward boulders blocking the way. By then though I was certain the fissure linked with the left side of 'Last Resort'. A route downwards was still a possibility between the 'Notch' and the false floor leading along 'Healey Avenue'. I then attacked the floor from the 'HealeyAv' side, fully aware of the questionable hanging ceiling directly above me. The pinch bar was dropped well out of reach and appeared irretrievable. Boulders were then tossed aside with bare hands, with little care in the world, until I could reach down to grab it. With no way on found I gave up and headed for the 'Last Resort' having left a headtorch shining down the earlier found fissure. Case closed! The fissure did link with it. I'm not dismissing the possibility of something missed still existing in the vicinity I worked this session. The draught experienced here in the past suggests it's far from written off, but may well have been emanating from the aforementioned chamber.
All roads at that point lead via the 'Last Resort' with the only open question being whether the 'East Branch' (aka NE Branch), only visited once, provided any answers. The latter would wait till next session. Finishing the survey of Alley Cat and stripping out the scaffold there, for use down here, was also considered for next time.
My journal entry for 76 ends there, with the only memory of having taken some pictures during the exit.
Trip duration: 5 hours ish
Surveys of working site to be added
A video made during our first visit to the 'White Hotel' Mossdale Session 52 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0YuZ9lCpvM&feature=youtu.be
|Notch during excavation. Fissure leading to Last Resort blocked from view by boulders.|
|Featherstone Chamber looking towards the connection with the chamber at base of the Blowpipe.|
|Looking downstream Easy Passage|
Next installment: Mossdale Session 77 & Other Favourites (Part two) - https://simonbeck.blogspot.com/2019/06/mossdale-session-77-other-favourites.html
© Simon Beck, 2019. The copyright for this article and photographs, remains with the author. It should not be reproduced without permission.