Cave Etiquette

17 Jan 2009 12:17 #260 by intrepid
Cave Etiquette was created by intrepid
Thought I'd start a thread to generate some discussion around how to look after caves and to keep them in a condition you'd like to find them in.

It's a reality that many caves in the Berg have felt the impact of use by hikers. My pet hate is to find obvious signs of people going to the toilet right in front of the cave or near the water supply.

I regularly clean up cigarette butts, tea bags, little bits of paper and candle wax. In some caves on very popular trails I've on numerous occasions cleared out bottles, cans and lots of other junk too (Sentinel Cave is a prime example).

Use of caves by smugglers typically shows itself through fires, pilchard cans, plastic bread packets, bits of the plastic sacks that the dagga is carried in, and graffiti.

The shelter and comfort of a Berg cave is a joy that should not be tainted by ignorant and selfish abuse. My rule is not to leave the cave as I found it. It is to leave it better than I found it. I may not have messed it up, but I sure can clean it up. If I leave it because it wasn't me, what good will that bring in the long run?

Please share your thoughts, experiences and ideas here!

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Philip, Christeen Grant

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18 Jan 2009 22:33 #262 by domsmooth
Replied by domsmooth on topic Cave Etiquette
I completely agree. Getting to a cave when you have had a long slog to get there, and to find it left with obvious "hiker" rubbish just gets to me. I don't feel like I can actually relax until it is cleaner, although all I want to do is put my pack down, take off my boots and put my feet up a little. :(

I think if more hikers took on Intrepid's philsophy of cleaning up to make it better than when you arrived, the Berg would be a cleaner place. I guess we also need to bear in mind that a lot of the time we try to get to the Berg to relax, get away to the solitude of the open-air and rugged-ness. The Berg is also a World Heritage site for its nature component, so lets make an effort to keep it like that. We don't need baboons and other wild animals being killed by our plastic and rubbish!

Lets all help maintain the values for which the Berg was proclaimed a World Heritage Site
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20 Jan 2009 07:47 #264 by Magan
Replied by Magan on topic Cave Etiquette
Yup, totally agree.
But how do you educate people who you have no control over to leave the place as pristine as it was for future generations to enjoy ? I guess it comes down to each person's values.

A cave sure beats a tent anyday !!!

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20 Jan 2009 09:03 #268 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Cave Etiquette
South Africans generally need to become more environmentally aware. It can be a daunting task, but if more and more people start playing a small role it becomes easier.

The power of influence can be subtle but strong. By cleaning up a cave or picking up a piece of paper along the trail, it speaks loudly to those with you. They may start doing the same and the influence spreads. I've seen this happen, so there is definitely something in it.

Awareness can also be spread through simply talking about it in threads such as this, so keep the comments coming!

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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20 Jan 2009 21:20 #269 by domsmooth
Replied by domsmooth on topic Cave Etiquette
Although historically not very successful, the education component could come from the authority for conserving the Berg (EKZNW) in terms of publications for cave etiquette etc. As I said earlier, it has historically not been successful because it was done as a headmaster would discipline kids, but could never be policed. A new tack is possibly required to educate rather than dominate. Possibly handing out black bags when hikers register to remind them to pick up after themselves and put them into lucky draws for bringing rubbish back down with them etc...

Certainly it can be done like this, but we need to try and throw the net out wider if we can also!

Lets all help maintain the values for which the Berg was proclaimed a World Heritage Site

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23 Jan 2009 09:08 #270 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Cave Etiquette
The use of candles in caves has been largely banned in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park areas. There are some simple practices which would probably have prevented the banning had they been used. Instead of melting the candle directly onto the rock, they can be placed on a lid (from a bottle or plastic container of sorts). Also, keeping them away from the rock prevents the black marking. Simple yet effective; so if you still insist on taking candles into the Berg, then at least do this. Tea light candles are also better in this respect.

In the good old days before LED lamps, when battery life was an issue, candles played more of a role. These days it would really just be for the effect they create.

But don't assume that leaving your candles behind for the next hiker after you is appreciated - it isn't! They go straight into my rubbish bag when I come across them.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Philip

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23 Jan 2009 13:28 #271 by fatshark
Replied by fatshark on topic Cave Etiquette
Unlike Magan, I'm a tenter, and that's primarily because of the condition most caves seem to be in. It's soul-destroying at the end of a long day's slog, often through rain, to arrive at a cave and see telltale strips of wet toilet paper and other litter scattered around the vicinity and in the cave. Nope, its tents all the way now!

Great spirit here guys, always a good thing to pick up scraps of litter en route, and for those who clean up caves especially where they have been used as latrines, I salute you.

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24 Jan 2009 12:10 #272 by domsmooth
Replied by domsmooth on topic Cave Etiquette
@ Fatshark> As much as you have a valid point, I am a caver through and through! I would rather clean a cave up when I get there, than have to pitch a tent and be all "verkramp"... I like a little head room, although a tent is useful at times also.

Bottom line though is that the caves are part of the Berg experience and the heritage aspect. I think we all need to do our bit to change the mindset of all users!

Lets all help maintain the values for which the Berg was proclaimed a World Heritage Site

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18 Mar 2009 12:02 - 18 Mar 2009 12:05 #361 by intrepid
Replied by intrepid on topic Cave Etiquette
Some examples from Schoongezicht Cave of what should be avoided. This is not cool!

Candle wax build-up

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Blackening due to candles

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Graffiti

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Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 18 Mar 2009 12:05 by intrepid.

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18 Mar 2009 14:19 #362 by Magan
Replied by Magan on topic Cave Etiquette
U being too polite. I'd say it is downright stupid !! Too many selfish, thoughtless actions like these are gonna leave us avoiding caves altogether :angry:

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