Medic, Tom Tom, Mark R
My second visit to Eldon presented me with a great deal of downwards progress and the unpleasant crawl into the main chamber looked a lot less unpleasant. The rate with which our joint venture is making headway is truly impressive.
Tom and I arrived before Mark and after changing into my caving shorts we headed unladen over to the hole. Tom took some dynamic action shots of my harrowing descent, and at the bottom I befriended two sad-looking fledgling jackdaws who had obviously found themselves at the bottom of the shaft and exhausted themselves in an attempt to escape.
We left them to it for the time being and I scrambled down to the dig face and set about filling buckets. The walls consisted of thick mud and the odd pebble so the work was slow, but Tom hauled valiantly for about 40 minutes or so until Mark turned up. With the three of us we managed another hour or so until I called the boss down for his opinion on my ring. We capped a large boulder, and after hauling the pieces out decided it was time for a rest. We broke for tea and discussed whether or not to rescue the jackdaws, or to euthanise one, or both of them.
We came to the conclusion that if they were injured then none of us could be bothered taking them to the RSPCA, and that the kindest thing to do would be to mercifully smash their brains out with a sledgehammer. If only one was injured then the other would no doubt die of grief, and so we agreed to only euthanise the healthy one, and leave the injured one to die of natural causes…
Anyway after that we returned to the dig, and Tom and Mark set about installing a new ring, enclosing the dig in order protect it from the back slope. It will certainly limit digging space, but there’s still plenty of room to manoeuvre, and focus our efforts on the drafty areas. Boards in and hammered into position, at about 2200 we decided it was time to move on to international rescue.
Our friends hadn’t moved and looked as though they were feeling very sorry for themselves. We prepped a tackle sack and encouraged them to hop in. We were met with some resistance but they eventually complied. My reasoning being that if it is possible to put an animal in a bag, then it probably did need some form of assistance. Tom headed up first with his broken toe, and Mark and I waited quietly with my two new friends losing their shit and pecking my back through the sack. A little while later all five of us were stood at the top of the cave, and wandered down back towards the cars, stopping at a wooded area to release our captives. For my first procedure as a qualified physician I performed a gooch-otomy on myself with a barbed wire fence. Mark kindly released the tattered remains of my undercarriage from the rusty wire and I set about freeing the jackdaws. By this point they had largely gotten their shit together and after untangling them from the draw-cord they hopped off into the woods. I don’t hold out much hope that they will live long and happy lives, but at least we prevented Eldon from gaining another couple of rotten corpses, and we may have provided an easy meal for the foxes of Peak Forest, but who knows, maybe they’ll survive.
Good deed for the day successfully complete, and another step in the right direction for the dig, we said our goodbyes and parted ways.
Onwards and downwards,