We had guests to impress. Chloe had been to caves in France, Sardinia , Austria, Spain, Slovenia. One form of cave food she would bring was slices of a fluffy fruity sweet bread which apparently fitted perfectly inside her oversuit chest pocket. This was telling that she had been missing out on some fine UK cave passages. She was fully aware of that. She demanded water, mud, and trips from the black book which she had studied thoroughly. We assured she would find those, especially given the rain earlier in the week, which came to an abrupt halt on Saturday. So all sun-deprived humans had emerged from their lairs. Bullpot Farm was overfilled with cars; swarms of teenagers and families occupied the lay-bys, sheep overtook the roads. Thankfully the queue at Lanc was short, and we beat a large group of cavers to the entrance. Rhys rigged the pitch with efficiency, then off we marched through a soggy moor to Top Sink.
Perhaps it is because one can do very long trips in Easegill, moving at a constant fast pace, and I never take on any navigation responsibility to train my eyes to differentiating between big piles of boulders, my memory of most Easegill trips inevitably blurs away immediately. As we moved through the dry part of our route, occasional sense of familiarity in some smaller chambers reminded me I had done a trip from Top to Link in the past. That still did not leave a strong enough impression for me to conjure up any image of the cave between Walrus and Easter Grotto when I looked at the Easegill survey in the hut later that night.
From nowhere I arrived at Oxbow Corner. I had not forgotten the ornamented streamway passage. This we strolled along leisurely. In the Main Drain the cave engaged its visitors in a different manner. The water was so fast, gravity did no held it down at a sharp S bend. It washed neatly onto the far-side wall, then crashed back into turbulence as it exited the corner. Rhys was impressed and wanted a photo. This gave me plenty of time for giddy splashing about. If only I had a rubber float. We encountered three pools near chest-deep level for me, which Tanguy just dived in. I tried to straddle whenever the floor sloped down into rumbling white foam, and the one time I attempted to walk down the current pushed my feet a few inches forward. The passage to the sump had put on a display of foam formations. The soft smooth fluff lined the edges under rock and criss-crossed the ceiling. One even dangled down in a rounded cone shape. Rhys scooped up a handful of foam, rushed up to Tanguy, then shoved it onto his back. His action was reckless and without tactics. His target was a canny and cunning man; his revenge should be feared. Silently Tanguy waited for his chance to strike back, then in one calm wide section of the passage, as he politely let an unsuspecting Rhys walk past him, swung round in one canny move, precisely delivering the foam blow to Rhys' chest.
The exit of the streamway was lined by a curtain of a thousand pearl dancing in the helmet lights of the route-finders. Emerging from the boulders, the squeak under my wellies reminded me the reason my impression of some part of Easegill was insipid mud. My hope for a quick egress was dashed then raised when I saw there was only one person ahead of our group at the bottom of Lanc. Rhys was having a conversation with him in a small rift when I arrived at the scene, so I jumped in to join him. A most repulsive smell immediately hit me. I scrambled out in horror, and realised every breathe of air in Lanc was intoxicated. I also noticed rucksacks dangling by rope in the air. Our group huddled where the smell was least offensive, and formed an audience as the group ahead of us shouted slurred instructions at each other. Eventually those rucksack disappeared, and I was wishing for their last person to follow suit soon, as everyone in our group was starting to get quite cold. I watched him jumped about trying to get on the rope, then decided to ditch the gigantic bag on his back and had it hauled up as well. After he was gone, for one aeon I stared at the motionless bag, as if I were anticipating a corpse to spring to life. We all yelled 'pull!' when the bag finally lifted its head. It slowly rose into the air, hovered indecisively, then in a most anticlimactic manner dropped a meter back down. The bag floated up and down a few more times and we were all fed up with this sheer nonsense. Fiona later calculated this show of incompetence delayed us a whole three-quarters of an hour. It could have been longer if we did not send our fastest agent to rescue the situation. Tanguy thought, what if he race the hauling, and lift the bag out of the pitch? "Yeh, yeh, yeh, do it!" Rhys must have said. It almost looked as if the bag would move up again as Tanguy started prussiking. But it was no match for Tanguy. He attached it to himself, and off he went. I heard him told the group they could take the bag, and was much relieved. We were heading out of latrine Lanc soon.