• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Caving Narrative 1989 - July 17

Participants:
Darren Ressler, Stacy Smyth, Brad Stephenson, Michelle Youngquist

Duration of Trip:
10 hours

New Cave Surveyed:
237 feet

It had been quite a while since our last survey trip and we were anxious to get into the cave. I remembered some passageway out near the Elephant Trunk that Jim Nepstad and I had located on an earlier trip. Jim had checked out the most promising lead and I had not paid much attention to exactly where he had gone. So, after our arrival at the Elephant Trunk on this trip, it took quite some time to relocate the right passageway. In looking around however, we all found other unsurveyed leads. After locating the correct lead we had a leisurely lunch in the Elephant Trunk. This passage is a huge lower level "bore hole" and is quite impressive. During lunch we played around with Brad's head. His shadow on the wall of the cave gave the impression that there were large holes in his head. He vigorously denied this.

After lunch and finally agreeing that Brad had only small holes in his head, we began our survey. The entire passage was a 25-30 foot tall fissure. On the floor were deep piles of loose sediment. At one point the sediment was swirled into designs where the water had flowed over it. All this sediment-this "stuff"-prompted us to name this the Elephant Stuff (ES) survey. The "river" of patterned sediment was named the Elephant Stream. To avoid leaving our tracks in the sediment we chimneyed (walked along the ridges of the walls) through much of the passage. Throughout the passage, on the wall shelves and false floors, were incredible gypsum star burst formation. These gypsum crystals, in flat star burst patterns were up to 5 inches across.

We continued on down the passage-a very straight shot. The compass readings never varied more than 15 degrees. After 2 short hours of surveying, we rejoined mapped passageway right at the main entrance to the Elephant Trunk. This was a relatively short trip but the ease with which we found unmapped areas of the cave demonstrated well the potential for cave explorers of the future.

Report by: Darren Ressler

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