Caving Narrative 2008 - July 13
Photo by Chris Amidon.
Chris Amidon, Kali Leitheiser, Tom Jarvela
Duration of Trip:
New Cave Surveyed:
With an enticed survey team of small-bodied individuals aquired, we set out to push leads on the other side of "Brunnhilde's Delight", a small nasty body length squeeze at UH10-UH11. This squeeze leaves one bloodied and bruised, but the good potential for new cave on the other side makes it well worth the trip. Before jumping into a full report of the UH area, one thing must be made clear. Wagner's Brunnhilde, a robust and endowed Valkyrie, would never, ever fit through "Brunnhilde's Delight" How the previous survey crew decided upon this name I can only imagine. Perhaps it is because Brunnhilde ferried the dead from the battlelfield's of Earth to the hall of the Gods, Valhalla (see Norse mythology), and to fit through this squeeze you must practically expire. Or perhaps it is because Brunnhilde betrayed Wotan, the ruler of the Gods and her father, and was sentenced to a magic sleep surrounded by fire. After her crawlway, my body certainly feels as if its afire and sleep is strongly desired.
Wounds aside, the trip was a resounding success. All survey team members fit through the squeeze with relative ease, and after orienting ourselves on the UH route, survey began immediately. The first lead we chose popped into a large room which we named "Hollow Earth" (UH15C) after the odd cult of the same name which believes a race of humanoids live on the inside of our planet, and if you pay $25,000 to book passageway on a decommissioned Russian nuclear ice breaker, you too can sail to the North Pole, through a watery entrance into our planet's interior, and into Hollow Earth. We found our own "Hollow Earth" and no longer need to save our pennies for the Russian nuclear ice breaker experience.
We spent the rest of the evening surveying off of Hollow Earth. We mopped up three leads, one of which was virgin, and all had incredible displays of gypsum formations, mainly flowers. At UH15E, we named the room "The Leper Colony", because the thick crusts of gypsum on the walls were flaking away like skin on a leper. I had never seen anything like it inside Wind Cave. We tried to take pictures of some of these incredible formations, and if any of them turn out, I'll pass them along to the cave management staff. At UH15H we found a strange "fossilized" dog tooth spar geode in the calcified sediment of the floor. Fossilized corlas and worm burrows were also common through this area.
The 1974 team used carbide to mark their stations, and although common for that time, this particular survey team had a maniacal fondness for carbide arrows. Clearly excited by their discovery, they burned arrows into the ceiling everywhere. At UH15K, a dead-end crawlway with no possible route choice, someone burned a black arrow on white gypsum. Why? This doesn't make any sense. How can you get lost in a passageway that doesn't go anywhere? Further confusing things, around UH12, the carbide arrows do not point down the passageway to Brunnhilden's Delight and out of the cave. The arrows point down an unsurveyed passageway that appears to be another nasty crawlway. Is this some nasty joke? Or did the 1974 team find a bypass to Brunnhilde's Delight? Only another exploration trip can answer this question.
We left two going leads off of this UH15 survey, one at UH15P, and one at UH15Q. Knowing "Brunnhilde's Delight" awaited our return, we decided against pushing these crawlways late into the evening. The virgin crawlway at UH15Q I believe has good potential. UH15P has been entered by the 1974 team.
After some significant wound recovery time, Kali, Tom, and I enthusiastically desire to return to this area, even if it means pushing through Brunnhilde's Delight again and again and again. For those who can endure the pain, more cave awaits.
Report by: Chris Amidon
Did You Know?
Winds caused by changes in barometric pressure are what give Wind Cave its name. These winds have been measured at the cave's walk-in entrance at over 70 mph. The winds at the natural entrance of the cave attracted the attention of Native Americans and early settlers.