Today was mostly cloudy and grey but it didn’t matter because we spent the important part underground.
We did the 2 hour Riverbend Explorer Tour at Horne Lake Provincial Park.
This place is unlike any other cave tour we have done. They have made absolutely no changes to the caves themselves other than adding gates to stop vandalism. There are 4 main caves. Two you can explore yourself and they will rent you a helmet and lamp. You must take a tour to enter the other two. None of them are easy. You will be climbing up large, wet and slippery boulders and rock faces in all of them.
It was a slow day at the park. Our tour only had one other couple, who were a bit older than us. We all didn’t know what to expect. We were fine with how hard it was (not very) but the other couple were a bit overwhelmed by all the climbing.
First you have to cross a very swingy suspension bridge.
Then about 1 km up some rather steep zig zags to get to the cave entrance. Our guide, Ben, called lots of stops to talk a bit about the geology of the area.
Our first view of the cave entrance.
I guess they did one improvement. Without the stairs it would be tough for anyone but an experienced caver to get in.
The other lady started having second thoughts on seeing this but she persevered.
Down and around to the entrance.
Before we went in Ben had to asked each of us if we really wanted to go. Even though we had signed a waiver, this was to prevent them from being sued and the person saying that they had felt no choice but to continue. You were allowed to back out at any time or just stop and wait for the rest to come back.
Ben had to go down first and unlock the gate.
Then, one by one, down the stairs we go.
There are no lights in the cave. All you have is your headlamp.
We really took our time. At each stop, we would all sit down and Ben would point out the interesting details.
A vein of ore that I can’t remember the name of.
Down we go.
We had to be careful not to touch any of the non rock formations so that our body oil wouldn’t stain them and stop them from growing. They did have one sacrificial one that you were allowed to touch.
There was not a whole lot of amazing formations compared to other caves that we have been to but what there was, was good. It was more about the experience of being in the dark and scrambling over the rocks.
Lots of clunking of heads on the walls and roof.
Here we had to climb up some steps to get a look at Buddha.
Lit by my headlamp. There is a pool of water below him for a nice reflection.
Lit by the camera flash.
Years ago they had a flimsier gate on the entrance and someone broke in. The result was some spray paint and this broken cascade.
Nobody has broken in since the new gate was installed.
A new stalactite forming.
We all turned our lights out and sat in the blackness for a minute or two. No picture, obviously.
This is where we turned around. To go much farther you have to crawl and then there is a pool they have to pump down, which you can then swim through. Nope.
Another tour was coming so we waited in a large room so that we could easily pass by. You can see their lights coming down the cave, over Jennie’s head.
Back we up go.
Lots of dirty butts from all the sitting and sliding we had to do.
We took a slightly different route back to the gate. Up through this small hole.
We are both having fun.
I am amazed at how well the pictures turned out. In person we couldn’t see nearly what the camera can see, especially with the flash.
This is about what it was really like looking down the stairs.
A satisfied customer.
And the hike back down.
When we all thought about it and looked at the map, it was ridiculous at how short a distance into the cave we went but we still had a great time.
I circled our turnaround point.
The tour was not cheap at $40 pp but it was a different and memorable experience. If we lived in the area I would definitely come back and do some of the self guided exploration.
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