The first tasting of Grotta Martina
After a long time, a weekend action was approaching, but there was still a lot of snow everywhere. Not that it is annoying, but old cavers just do not like thinking about appropriate parking and walking through the snow to get to the entrance. So we had to look at the southwestern part of Slovenia again. Usually a visit to the caves of Matarsko podolje are the most healing convalescence after a long photo-rest, but the snow bared its teeth there as well. But we did remember the caves that we have been salivating over for years and are only a stone’s throw away from the Slovenian-Italian border. I do not know why we have not visited them before – maybe due to laziness or lack of time. Who knows? Well, since the first two on the list were off due to certain reasons, the next was Grotta Martina.
The classic scenario of meeting in Draga and the short walk along the old railway route Kozina-Trst across the descent to the steep valley Glinščica ended in front of the not very impressive entrance to the cave. Because a small group (Zdenka, Boni, Matjaž, Daniela, Janez) glued themselves to the reliable photo-sherpa team (Bole, Mojč, Mojca, Mihi), we were quick to get jammed in the shaft in the entrance under the guidance of famous Triestan caver Pino Guidi. Of course, the blame fell on the door as well as the narrow shafts, which soon expand in the first small hall. After it, there are already the first natural wonders in the shape of meter-long spaghetti and slender stalagmites, and an important crossing of two shafts in the next part.
This time, we were interested in the shaft leading to the four lakes; we will save the labyrinth for next time. From here on, there is a continuation of more boring rockfall-meander types, coloured with a scant sinter coating and only here and there decorated with some limestone formations. It is the first lake that offers the caver a bit more visual comfort, as the view of the water and the small ladder is very charming. From here on, water is a constant companion all the way to the last lake.
The second contact with water is very interesting. The large lake, which was full of water during out visit, is worth visiting during times of drought. An improvised small bridge with wires makes the tedious way from one lake to another easier in both times, especially during times of high waters, as we would need a boat otherwise. The plan was to light up the lake with a bulb, but unfortunately, technology failed us. So the shot had a more documentary function.
The second attraction of the cave is surelly the sinter waterfall with cramps, which, at first glance, really disfigure the view of nature’s play. Despite the ascents and descents, the cave is equipped in a way that makes it possible to go through it without using roping technique. In this case, it is best to use cramps, sticks and rope rails, but here, of course, resourcefulness knows no bounds.
A longer water shaft awaited us, where we battled muddy walls and tried to catch our balance, the third lake, which we bypassed from the side and the finale with the entrance into the picturesque meander, which took us to the final hall with the fourth lake.
The mud dunes were practically unreachable to us, as we were separated from them with a short level equipped with a muddy rope. We could somehow make our way down, but it would surely be impossible to return. Fortunately, Janez pulled out a gear, equipped himself with flashes and lit up the last lake, which is also where the cave ends.