This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Caving, bats, and fungus

I was out of town for several days recently, and I regret missing some photo opportunities around the court house. But when my babysitting career demands it, I have go. This time it was off to Bedford, Indiana.

I did not see as much of Bedford as I would have liked--watching a two-year old child limits what one can do. However, I did see a bit of the NCRC workshop at the Stalker Grade School. They had an impressive array of equipment out drying in the sun, with the heavy smell of bleach in the air.
The NCRC is the National Cave Rescue Commission. When people get lost or trapped in caves, it is good to have some people who have cave rescue training in the area. Most of the top people in the NCRC were in Bedford for this training session. For example, six of the seven instructors from the Western region were there. It is apparently quite an interesting group of people, with widely varying backgrounds. They have only one thing in common--a love for caving.

Lots of bleach was used, and some of the instructors had clothing ruined by the splashing. I thought all that equipment made for an interesting photo opportunity.
I do not know what most of the equipment is used for. I do know that if you do not have the right equipment, you probably should stay out of caves. You many wonder why they were bleaching equipment. It is because a fungus is killing bats, and there is fear that humans may be spreading the fungus by caving. The reaction to the outbreak is that most caves on government land in the Eastern U.S. have been closed.I also liked the picture of some of them on ropes in the school gym. They had to ascend a rope with a knot in it, and then repel down. There are several different systems of ascending a rope, but all of them use equipment that transfers the work from the arms to the legs. You might wonder why this is important in caving. It is important if you want to go in a cave like the one described here.
Many of the people attending this event were camping in tents. That is taking a love of the outdoors beyond where I have ever wanted to take it.

We do not have caves around Rensselaer even though we have lots of limestone because the glaciers destroyed any caves that were here. But there may be some avid cavers--any of you qualify?

Update: For more, see here, here, and here.

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