One of the things my boys most love to do in this area is exploring caves. Back when there was a lot of gold mining happening, a lot of tunnels were dug through hills. Many of these tunnels were dug for a place to wash away the dirt after it had been sifted through, as the men looked for gold. Exploring these tunnels can be rather dangerous, but that’s probably part of the appeal to the boys. Their daddy does always go with them, and as you’ll see in some of these photos from a recent expedition, they are using ladders and ropes and trying to stay safe.
They started out by driving Simon’s Suzuki as far as they could up a rough track. Once they got to where it would have gotten stuck, they walked the rest of the way to some tunnels they had spotted nearly a year ago and wanted to explore more. (By the way, we ladies stayed at home where it was safe and dry!)
They got a lot of practice with rock-climbing—something my fellows love to do!
Here, Simon is going from one cave to another, over a deep ravine. There was an old, squared-off log for a bridge; as you can see, he had a rope tied around himself and secured to a tree.
Here is Mr. Intellectual doing the same thing.
And here is Mr. Sweetie, rappelling down a cliff into a trench that the government financed in the early 1900s to bring water from a lake to wash gold out of the soil (that scheme didn’t work).
Here is the account Mr. Diligence wrote of this adventure in a letter to a relative: Yesterday we went cave exploring up in the hills. [A friend] took us up there the second time we came to visit them. We took the Suzuki because it was a 4-wheel drive and you need a 4-wheel drive to get up there. The first time, we had found a cave and had gone through it. At the other end of the cave was a deep ravine with a river flowing through it. It was about 50 meters deep. There was a square log laid across the ravine to act as a bridge and on the other side was another cave with a bunch of wood inside it. The bridge was covered in moss. Ever since then, we have been talking about getting back in there and how we would get across the ravine. Yesterday afternoon was a beautiful sunny day and we had time. We went back in there and got there by 3:30. Then we climbed a 4-meter high cliff, using the ladder to help. We pulled up the ladder and walked through the cave to one end of the bridge. Simon lowered the ladder down onto one end of the bridge. The bridge shook a little but didn’t give way. Then we tied a rope to the ladder so that if the bridge gave way it wouldn’t fall down. Then we tied the rope to a tree and back to Simon. Simon carefully climbed down the ladder and onto the bridge. It held so he took another step. A few more steps and he was in the mouth of the cave. Since the cave was covered with bushes over the front, he used his machete to chop them away. Within half an hour, we had got all of us across safely and we were exploring. [Mr. Sweetie] found an old pair of shoes with metal soles that looked like they used to have spikes coming out of them. The leather was rotten. We found another cave crossing that one and followed it. It just went out to the ravine again. There was a small shelf that looked like it might have been a walkway going along the ravine. It was two feet wide. I started walking on it and after 10 yards it narrowed down to 1 foot and then it was too narrow to walk on. I looked down across the ravine and saw a square post about 2 inches by 6 inches leaning against the other wall of the ravine. It appeared to have ropes and cables hanging off of it and maybe a tow rope as well. We wanted to go check it out so we went back across the ravine and we got back to the Suzuki. We left the ladder at the car and went down to the river. We waded upstream until we found the climbing apparatus or whatever it was. We climbed up and looked at it and we don’t know what it was. Then we climbed back down and headed home. Thankfully, none of us got hurt and we didn’t get stuck going out again.