Caving Narrative 1987 - January 1
Duration of Trip:
New Cave Surveyed:
In the first off-trail trip of 1987 we again proceeded to the rope drop and rappelled our way down into the part of the cave we'd been in two days earlier. Making our way to the muddy crawl under the false floor, we began surveying. Soon we began finding evidence (including much organic debris and fresh mold) of very recent flooding; possibly, we speculated, within the last year or two! This is particularly significant because this area maybe where mush of the runoff from the parking lot is going. (Previous dye-tracing attempts had not shed much light on the path of this runoff.) W mapped to a point where the fissure we'd been following branched and got very tight. Determined to continue, Jim climbed up through a hole into a parallel crack, which obviously continued but got so narrow that he was unable to get through. On the return trip he got wedged in tightly and, with a lack of footholds, slipped down and got temporarily stuck. He eventually found that the only way to get out was to climb through first, and pull his pants through afterward!
From here we proceeded to survey down under another false floor. This also got very tight, so we popped up through a hole in this floor and continued down the obviously well-traveled fissure. At the top of a short climb, Jim noticed a pieced of a broken helectite (a branching, bush-like cave formation), and in a crawl off the end of the fissure we found more pieces of others. We were in a specimen-collecting area of perhaps 90 years ago! In Alvin McDonald's diary he mentions collecting "giant cave coral"; could it be he meant these helectite bushes?
On the return trip to climb back up the rope, we at last discovered the passage we had originally been searching for two days ago, and in Elephant Hall, Jim and Warren found a few other likely-looking crawlways, a signature of J.D. McDonald, and the skeleton of some small rodent. A very, very interesting day of exploring to start off the New Year!!
Report by: Karen Rosga
Did You Know?
White Penstemon is the most widespread penstemon or beardtongue in the Great Plains. The insides of the blossoms are bearded and often spotted with purple. More...