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INTO... continued


I crawled out of my tent before dawn. The Orioles were up before me, perching from tree to tree, singing their sweet whisting melodies, while tiny Finches gingerly "tweeted" as backup vocals. I made coffee amidst the din and soon the morning sunlight had draped its golden blanket across the coconut trees standing tall and serene along the hillsides. A wonderful day for caving, I thought, as I stretched and yawned to welcome the new day. Breakfast was spam and egg over rice. Having had our fill of breakfast, Basil, Vie, and I set out for the upward trek towards the cave entrance loaded with gear and supplies. This time Daniel had cousins with him to assist us in portaging our supply load. The plan was to rig a Tyrolean safety line towards a precarious ledge that would serve as a jump off point. But the safety line had to turn at a 90-degree angle. To anchor that turn, I angled a piton in a small crack and pounded it with my hammer. To my surprise the piton bounced and flew off my hand into the gaping darkness of the pit, straight down into the shadows below. Basil and I stared at each other then counted a long three seconds or so before we heard a muffled clang as it hit the bottom.

"There's no way I can set pitons here! This mother is made out of solid marble and I don't want to waste my energy to even attempt to drill here." I exclaimed in mock exasperation. "Let's just use that tree trunk for an anchor," replied Basil pointing to a moderate sized tree growing along the eastern flanks of the mouth. We rigged a wire cable around a protruding marble boulder, and around the tree secured by a locking karabiner. I then attached my rope to the karabiner and Basil rigged up another backup rope on the unlikely event the tree would give way. I secured my "cows", set my "piranha" descender, and moved backwards towards the edge. I still couldn't see the bottom. My knees wobbled from both fear and excitement! I threw the coiled rope over the ledge and proceeded to rappel a few meters down. I stopped before an overhang and peered down. I still couldn't see bottom. I let go off my feet on the overhang and swooshed down, "Wheeeeeee…!" The walls were then too far to touch and the cavernous sides appeared to be turquoise in color.

I stopped and hollered "Hey, there's blue marble over here!" I continued to slowly rappel down to about 100 feet when another wall appeared just below my feet. I eased my way towards a small ledge along the wall and sat down. I wasn't sure that my rope had hit bottom so I wasn't confident to continue down.
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