Monday, August 07, 2006

Diamonds & Locusts

Buford. A dive site this dazzling should have a more exciting name. Diamond Spring is what I would have called it. Or perhaps, "the Reward", in honor of the prize that awaits an arduous path. We were lucky that the sunlight was just in the right spot and as we descended, the rays of sunlight were bouncing off the bottom and reflecting back at slightly different angles. As we changed even the slightest in position, it seemed the sunlight was glittering back up at us, like a perfectly cut diamond. As we got deeper and looked back up at the cavern opening, you could see the impressive sun beams bore down to the 80' bottom creating a display Paul Heinerth compares to "a religious experience."

The cavern below holds scalloped walls, a pretty ceiling, and a rubber chicken at the end of the line! We found a little spot in the east wall that could probably be penetrated, but we saw it late in the dive and didn't have the gas to investigate further. This is absolutely a dive that everyone needs to do at least once.

We had heard about the tribulations that one encounters on the way to Buford, but hearing about and experiencing are such different things. All the books say you need to go with someone who has been there before, if you ever plan on finding it. That's very true. Even the detailed directions we were given wouldnt have gotten us close. You have to *know* where it is. Much of the way there is what divers consider "normal." You have to park your car a ways back and there's a long walk that you can take a cart to. But the normalness ends about 200' from the swamp. The quicksand-like mud was ankle deep in most spots. And I won't get into the joy of hiking thru mud in 101 degrees wearing a 5mm wetsuit. Next time, I'll go with a 3mm and freeze. Of course, the horseflies can easily gnaw through your flesh in a 3mm, so there IS a trade-off.

The following trip account describes the "wildlife" quite well:

We saw no gators snakes or snakes but the horse flies were of biblical plague proportions. If you can still find an old barrel of DDT someplace, bring it with you and it may keep the younger flies off of you. You're on your own for the bigger older flies. We spotted them flying in tight formation making every attempt to break through our 5mil deet soaked defenses. On the way home pick up some hydrocortisone to spackle on any remaining exposed flesh you may have had.