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Cave diving in Marianna, FL Nov 2005

November 17, 2005

I posted this cave trip report on another forum, but thought you might enjoy getting a glimpse into a trip that I was on just before Thanksgiving 2005.

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On Thursday Nov 17th (my late-father’s birthday), four of us rode down to Marianna, FL to dive in a couple of different caves. We had Brandon (who started the drive down from Detroit) that picked up the remainder of us (Scott L, Dan G, and me) along the way for our long trek down. Poor Brando had the longest drive from MI, down through OH, KY, TN, AL, & finally FL, piling over 2000 miles on his van after all was said and done.

We arrived in Marianna, FL about 3:30am CST after what seemed like forever. What makes the trip go allot faster is that we played DVD movies all the way down. After settling into the motel, we crashed hard, then got up bright and early in the morning (okay…it just seemed bright and early), to head over to Cave Adventurers and meet with Ed, the proprietor of the establishment. Ed is one heck of a nice guy, and a pleasure to do business with. His work ethic is second to none, and I was impressed with the amount of work he did for us to get gear down and back up the hill from the dock.

We rented a pontoon boat for Friday, and tooled over to Hole-in-the-Wall cave system. This was Scott’s and my first time in this system, so I was pumped to check it out. The first dive would be a warm up dive, before any subsequent scooter attempts, so we swam in to check things out. Using our stage and backgas, our “warm-up” dive ended up lasting almost 2hrs. We’ll… I can say I was plenty warm after that dive!! It was a very nice system…. white walls, stained reddish throughout gave it an almost “Navaho” feel. Once past the restriction at around 20ft that you had to squeeze and wiggle yourself through, it opened up quite nicely. We dropped our O2 inside, and started off on our stage cylinder. Reaching 1/2 plus 200, we dropped the stage, and continued on using 1/3 of our backgas. After a couple of jumps, we turned the dive somewhere around 2300ft linear feet from the entrance, and started our easy swim back. Quite a remarkable system, and very serene!! After an uneventful deco, we surfaced four happy campers… errr… cavers that just marinated in the afterglow.
Max depth around 100ft, run time 116 minutes, memories: priceless!!!

Our follow-on dives here and the next day at Jackson Blue were equally remarkable, although I must say that coming out of Jackson Blue cave gives you an incredible “window” that is every bit as impressive as I’ve seen in JB photos on the web or in books. Simply breath taking!!!

To dive at Jackson Blue, you have to sign in at the Sheriff’s office, and pay a $25 entrance fee. If you’re going to be the first couple of folks in, then they’ll give you a key to the gate. If not, hopefully the gate will be unlocked at the Mill Pond park (not sure it’s real name).

It was an incredible experience, and I’m glad I finally added some of the caves around Marianna to my list of cave dives!

If you ever get a chance to go here… I’d say, forget it, it’s not worth it…. just stay away and save yourself the trip…. ….and leave this awesome system to the rest of the folks that venture to these caves that are located off the beaten path from the typical Northern Florida cave region. To those who shared the system with us, we say thanks!!!

So, after two days of diving, we packed up the van and trailer, and headed back north on Sunday.

If you ever get there… enjoy!! I know we sure did!! WOW!!

Bob

Couple of photos inside these caves:
http://www.zendiving.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/449/cat/500/ppuser/132

http://www.zendiving.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/448/cat/500/ppuser/132

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