Sunday 20 March 2016

Apocalypse – 8 November 2015

Apocalypse. In biblical terms it might shiver fear down your spine, but the word’s origins can be found in ancient Greek and means to uncover or reveal. The arduous cliff like shaft serving as the gateway to its secrets marked the beginning of a journey not soon to be forgotten.
The cave system’s ability to deliver on an innumerable amount of caving techniques is vast. The first impression, which did not last for too long, was that this cave would be an easy walk through. The size of the first corridor was spacious and a casual chattering eased the mood after negotiating our way down the 50m shaft. A right turn led us deeper into inviting darkness, eager to reveal as its name suggests. We were in the old world part of Apocalypse.
Stromatolite fossils are abundant here. These circular structures are fossilised single celled organisms which lived in shallow seas approximately 2,5 billion years ago. They are the reason for life in all its splendour because of their ability to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. It was such a privilege to be surrounded by so much history and quite astonishing to be in a place which was totally different to what we see today. Deep in a cave the residue of a shallow sea remains.
We were looking for a crawl through which served as the link between the old world and the new world. Our map of the cave disappeared with Steven and Irene and we had the pleasure of exploring this vast cave system on our own accord. John victoriously found the narrow opening and we were well on our way to dive into the depths of Apocalypse’s soul. Corridors with narrow slits and exceptionally small passages were abundant. Herman definitely won the award for conquering the most amazing squeeze of the day when he passed a French Connection like passage and nearly left his pants behind.
The new world had many surprises. We found little nooks decorated in flowstone, numerous crystals reminding me of corals and mud... Lots of mud. The walls had a soft, velvety texture and relatively soon became the epicentre of Michelle’s absolute fascination. We also learned at this point that everything was probably just about halfway. We kind of accepted that this was John’s standard answer to all questions regarding distance and depth. Needless to say, the corridors echoed our laughter to unknown places at random.
A seriously angled mud slide awaited our ascent and John went first with Michelle following. The aftermath of their climbing looked like Wolverine clawed his way up there. It turned out that the gecko-like skill acquired at a previous caving experience was about the only fitting way to get up there. A wrong turn by me took us to a small corridor ending in a crystal clear puddle of water. Mesmerizing crystals were growing abundantly in this small space and shimmered like diamonds on the walls. John was just around the corner, but we had to retrace our steps in an attempt to save this little jewel for many years to come.
We finally made it back to our bags which were left behind due to size and we started to make our way to the entrance. Everybody was in good spirit and a lot of joking and playing kept our bruised and tired bodies going. You could literally see a cloud of steam surrounding everyone as we worked our way out. We finally made it back to a big corridor similar to the starting point. A cool breeze brushed past my face and I knew we were not far from the opening.
Apocalypse is an amazing cave and most definitely surprised me in every way. The scenery changed constantly and, at times, felt like a best of compilation from other caves. When we surfaced, the setting sun was partially covered by a smear of clouds and angel like rays shone down through the gaps in the cloud. Michelle and Herman both found it most comfortable to lie down, smiling and tjirping happily. Dusk turned to night and we eventually found ourselves on our way home.
Karin Human       

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