Hans came up with idea: let's have something more than caving, so an adventurous walk in Herbeumont was planned on one day, then the night at Bram's parents' second house, and caving on the other day. The debate about which cave to explore was open. All of us had some suggestions, and when the consensus was made (Trou Ozer), a problem arose: the cave we chose was apparently quite tricky for our limited experience. So much for that idea. Many a new idea were put forward, perhaps even too many, but finally it was decided: Abîme de Beaumont. Renaud checked the rigging requirements so that all equipment could be collected: a lot of ropes, carabiners etc. One of the rope was so long (50m?) that boys had to try twice before successfully packing it in the kitsack!
Renaud couldn't make it for the walk on Friday and even Arun was still uncertain due to project work, but we decided to meet on Friday, May the 13th at 11am at Bram’s place. Arun turned up, which was good news. We packed the car with our things, consisting largely of alcohol drinks, and headed off. We arrived at Herbeumont before 2pm, quickly packed our packs and were ready to leave. Hans prepared the route using his survey map (1cm=250m), and also gave a lesson about small spider-like animals that live in the forest, named ticks, and which have a love affair with skin, especially with the most tucked away parts of the body. After attaching themselves they suck the blood from their hosts and can transmit harmful disease. Now we could really began our adventures walk!
First some climbing in a really brisk tempo, then some parts of going down to cross the viaduct where we saw the local river Semois. A good spot for a bungee, but we didn't have any elastic and the viaduct was fenced off. Bram tried to crawl beneath the fence. Arun tried to climb it from above. We stopped few times to take some pictures at viewpoints. To make it more adventurous Hans guided us steeply downhill to and through an old railway tunnel of about 1100m in length.
The next adventure was crossing the Semois. We saw many tadpoles and dragonflies at the river and took pictures before crossing the river in case we lost our cameras on the way. We took off our shoes and rolled up our trousers, dipping our feet into the water. Surprisingly it wasn’t so cold. The current of the water was readily detectable. Many stones/boulders covered with some seaweeds were making more fun to cross the stream. We all made it safe to the other side.
We stuck to the embankment which was tricky clambering in some sections and then turned to climb straight up the hill at a certain point. It was steep and a pretty demanding climb. I was about to die at the top, even my cheeks were pulsating from the heart in my throat but of course for Hans and Bram’s fitness condition that was nothing. After almost no recuperation they wanted to do some jogging. Why not, yep, we tried! Arriving at the last viewpoint, Hans explained geocaching to us, and after a few moments Bram found a geocache container filled with things like toys and trinkets as well as a small notebook where we logged our discovery.
Back at the car we set off for Nadrin, Bram's second residence. The place was amazing: 2 floors, one ceiling, almost no walls at all, a lot of beautiful home made decoration. Bram started a fire in the fireplace, we opened champagne brought by Arun, and started preparing our typically Belgian supper: mashed potatoes, sausages and apple mousse. Arun, as a vegetarian, got some a falafel.
Our next adventure: tick inspection. We even checked each other with the help of some spare eyes, small mirror. The victims: Bram, Ewa and Hans. With the help of some tweezers and the fireplace to eradicate the bastards we got rid of most of them. The remainder were killed by the heat of sauna which we took afterwards. That’s the way life should look likeJ. It was Arun's first sauna. Bram and Hans had tried it few times, but probably not so often as me, so it was my turn to show my macho nature there. We took our time in sauna, then drank some few beers sitting at the table enjoying funny, sometimes weird conversation. After 2am we went to bed.
After a short night and a wholesome breakfast, we cleaned up the house left to meet Renaud at the ‘Bim bam boom’ cave. We met at the car park and by 11am we were ready to enter the cave. Renaud had visited this cave some time earlier so he knew where to find the entrance. Bram did the rigging, followed by Hans, then Arun, me and caring Renaud. First thing to be achieved: a narrow 3 m pit, to be fully secured. Using the rope to descend, I learned a new technique: that you can descend using your rem/break since it was tight enough to do opposée. Then some squeezing parts reminding letter ‘S’ including actual entrance to the cave where we need to use UBS key. Another narrow pit of few meters to descend. Next move, the dippiest pit of 35m made with some deviation and fractions to pass. I got thorough explanation how to do it in case I still haven’t learn it;). The sound of taut rope going through the musceton was brining a lot of scenario. After that no more tightness.
We found ourselves in a big room with some great in size and quality rocks and calcite formations. And then came the moment to put on a brave face, moment to climb slipper rocks 8m above without a rope, in order to rig the rope. We had a one freelancer, crazy Hans as a volunteer. He climbed ‘the horse’ with some shaking-tiring moments, then he had some rope-work to do including using a lasso to make a natural hook, making a knot to connect not enough of rope to descend. Placing the rope at this moment was rather difficult. It took appropriate amount of time.
When all of us climbed over the horse back we found each other in the second big room, we moved to the third one, some low rocks to climb and crawling. I was the last one, Bram was in front of me, I was glad all ropes part had finished, now the easy part, stepping on the rock, pulling my body up and one bad movement and my knee was screwed. I was screw too. I was screaming a little bit from the extreme pain I felt in my knee. I couldn’t move it or bend it, it felt like something inside my leg turned into the wrong position. Boys came to rescue me, but they could understand what happened and why I cannot move to make enough space for them to reach me. After a while I felt that my knee came back to the right position. They came to me asking very seriously what happened, if I am ok, or should they call emergency. They asked me to be honest with them. They also told me that if I am able to do it we’re turning back trying to leave the cave. I was really angry, I didn’t want to go back. I wanted to finished the cave. I didn’t want to disappointed them. But I realized quickly that it s was out of the question. Tears flowed around my face.
We started going back, first Renaud responsible to take care of me, than me, Arun, and Bram with Hans who were supposed to tidy up all the caving issues. I felt their glances on my knee. The way back was tiring, I was really afraid to use my left knee. During the last narrow part of the cave I was pulled by Renaud. Arun as one of the biggest boys in our caving team met some difficulties to pass narrow passages, but kind Bram let him to use his shoulder-face as a step.
After 5pm boys came out . They looked quite exhausted and sweaty :D. We changed our clothes very fast and we discussed the possibility to go for the beer/ dinner as was planned before. Renaud knew some nice place in the neighborhood were you can try hardly accessible beers so we went for that. The place was really nice. Each of us ordered a beer and the dish. Clumsy Ewa lost part of her cutlery brought by the waiter at the beginning, there were some gossips that it’s not my best day today and then great Arun was trying to support me so he did the same, throw his cutlery on the floor. Beers and meals were delicious. We had plenty of funny conversations, many moment to laugh, oh I really enjoyed this part of our adventurous day! But as old anonymous quote says: “Everything good ends fast”. At this moment we said goodbye to Renaud and 4 of us left to Leuven enjoying nice sunset with some pink and purple tones. I reached my room about 10pm thanks to Arun who brough me and my busted knee back.
Many thanks for care, Boys<3, I am sure I will get better very soon, so let’s start planning our next cave, right? Alles klar, Herr Kommissar?