Cave camping

Chigger

Les Hiddins
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A large weather front bringing rain and snow was on the way and thought this would be a good opportunity to find a good cave and practice a bit of fire lighting. Parked the car my rucksack was packed ready to go and as it was sprinkling with rain put on a large rain cape.

Slowly made my way up the steepish track by the time I arrived at the cave rain had stopped and the sun had broken through the clouds. My campsite is in a high altitude area where there can be sudden changes from clear day to rain or even snow at times.

Cave RESIZED.JPG

Dumped the pack and started gathering plenty of firewood as knew more bad weather was soon to come. Found plenty of dry leaves and twigs under rock ledges, everything else was soaked or damp.

A fallen tree provided good dry wood once the wet bark was stripped of and tried out the saw on my SAK which did surprisingly well for such a small blade.

Branches cut with SAK.JPG

Was not long before dark heavy clouds rolled in, strong winds with rain and even sago snow splattering down from time to time. More than chilly but was well clad with woollen beanie, heavy jacket and woollen socks along with long johns.

Winter had well and truely arrived.

Made a fireplace out of stones, set up the fire and started the fire lighting with flint and steel, rather picked up a piece of granite stone, a few strikes on the steel, a good spark on the tinder and after the usual huffing and puffing had a cheerful fire burning.

The piece of stone can seen resting on the steel.

Granite Flint RESIZED.JPG

One thing I like about steel and tinderbox is the ability to use different types of minerals as a flint which quite often can be found in and around the campsite.

Much of the wood gathered was well and truely wet so kept a supply drying by the fire for the long night to come.

Drying wood in cave RESIZED.JPG

The interior of the cave, enough room for one probably two people and reasonably well sheltered.

Interior of cave.JPG

No more photos as with evening as the full force of weather front came in again, lashings of rain , very strong winds moaning overhead. Made a billy of tea, cooked dinner and well not much in the way of entertainments there so crawled into the sleeping bad and let the tempest rage.

Next day arose early in the freezing cold and restarted the fire. My homemade blow tube came in handy for bringing the coals back to life. A billy of tea and a simple breakfast, packed up and made my way back to the car.

Overall all went well and for me was a good fire lighting practice in poor weather.
 

Thrud

Richard Proenneke
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Sounds like a very useful trip. I don’t know anything about cave camping and where the fire should be, I guess it all depends on size etc.
There’s something deeply satisfying about being warm and comfortable in bed whilst it’s blowing a gale around you!
Thanks for posting
 

Chigger

Les Hiddins
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It certainly depends on the size of the cave where the fire is put. This cave was rather small, one or two persons so the fire was on the outer but still under the roof and protected from the rain.
So as to leave room for sleeping etc.

Would like to find a bigger cave and try putting the fire deeper in the cave. Think there would be more warmth from the fire.

For sure its mighty comforting being sheltered and dry when a storm is raging outside. Than being huddled in a wet tent or fly sheet.
 

Thrud

Richard Proenneke
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My fear would be carbon monoxide poisoning, I guess that the slope of the cave and how wide the mouth was as well as size would determine the safety side of things.
 

koalaboi

Mors Kochanski
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I use a cave that we camp in, in a nearby national park. It's pretty remote and is a very big shelter with a sandy bottom.

One trip saw us get to the cave just as a howling SW change blew through the area. It was winter and the change brought snow to the ranges to about 900m asl.

We had already collected wood and there was a pile left in the cave by us/others from last time there.

At the front of the cave was a fireplace with a large rock behind the fire. We got it going and the back rock reflected the heat back into the cave and with the back of the cave reflecting heat back onto us we had 360 degree warmth. The steady rain fell just beyond the rim of the shelter and despite the cold outside, we ended up in shorts and T shirts.

The flat sandy bottom made a great place to roll out our swags for a comfortable night's sleep.

Amongst the fellers who go regularly to the area, it's called the rain cave!

KB
 

Chigger

Les Hiddins
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Caves certainly are snug places in wild weather, much more comfortable than a flapping, dripping tent.
 

Walker

John McDouall Stuart
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Looks like you scored a good shelter from the rain, sure beats a tent when the weather turns.

Yes, camping in an overhang/camping cave is always good – sure lightens the load if you can plan a trip where there’s no need to use a tent. It’s almost like sleeping under the stars. Wildlife spotting is also pretty good, if a bit close when the marsupials decide to rattle through gear late at night.

We’ve camped in many over the years – Morton, Kanangra and parts of the Blue Mountains with their extensive sandstone/conglomerate escarpments. The best ones are remote, have sandy flat floors, high enough not to scalp people, a few ledges to place candles, not in a direct wind/rain direction, and have close access to water or a constant drip somewhere to collect it.

Many cave/overhangs with sandy floors have Antlion pits – fun to bait them with small twigs and watch them react and dispose of it.

I recall a memorable Easter multi day trip when we camped a night in a particular huge overhang. We sat around the fire after dinner, no wind, just a vertical spiral of smoke. Then, just where the light fades several metres up, we watched microbats fluttering around catching insects attracted by the light. It’s moments like those that can’t be sufficiently described to others.
 

Chigger

Les Hiddins
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Candles do well in caves, I always take a Northern Lights collapsible candle lantern. N. Lights are now branded UCO and these and replacement candles are hard to get in Australia.

Think I will have to import a batch to keep me going. The only Australian supplier no longer has UCO lanterns and candles which is unfortunate.

In my last cave camp was surprised how much light was reflected about from the lantern giving quite good illumination. No photos as a storm was raging about and was more preoccupied keeping the fire going.
 

Chigger

Les Hiddins
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Well thanks for the info on MGDU shop did not even think to look. Will drop him a line there may be some candles available for mine or even get another one.

Always take the candle lantern on my overnight full pack walks.
 
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