Trip: On 3/13/12, Rod Horrocks led Adam Johnson, & Aaron Mullins to the NM survey in the Historic Section where they discovered an area they named Dreamscape.
Trip Report: Before the trip, I was actually a little nervous because I had dreamed two nights previously that I was in Wind Cave crawling across a huge boulder as it shifted and rolled under me. I avoided being hurt in the dream by splaying my arms and legs out and riding the boulder as it rolled. Since that had never happened to me while caving, I forgot about the dream. Right before the trip, I decided that I was going to mop up the leads along the start of the NM survey, leads that I've passed dozens of times before and which bothered me every time I passed them. Starting at NM3, we shot into a couple of bellycrawls that ended after a single shot. We then shot up into the top of the NM fissure and down a crawl to the SE that connected to CV170, one of my surveys from 2005. Now that I've been reminded about that area, I'll have to go back and finish that area on another trip. We then shot in the opposite direction in the upper passage to the NW, where we connected to NM5B. Dropping back down to the NM survey we shot into a couple of crawls opposite of NM4. Deciding that we had mopped that area up sufficiently (with 123 feet of survey), we continued on to NM7, where we found an unsurveyed crawl heading SW. After lunch, we found that that area had sticky clay covered floors and is one of the muddiest places I've seen in Wind Cave. Although the mud was terrible, the soft crawl was nice. It immediately branched into a NW-SE trending passage. We shot a single shot to the SE, before it made a 90-degree turn into a six-inch high bellycrawl. We abandoned that lead and backtracked to the junction and shot a connection shot to station WO7. We then turned our attention to the overlying passage. It ended after a couple of shots. Continuing down the WO survey, we stopped at WO9 and shot into a ceiling channel to the NE that connected up to NM10D. Dropping back down to the ceiling channel, we shot to the NE again, this time down a wide bellycrawl that looped around and connected to the start of the WO survey, at WO2.
Moving on to our main target lead for the day at WO10, we shot into a belly crawl that intersected a wide, low passage running NW-SE. Apparently, only a single person had previously entered this unsurveyed passage. We were excited about our prospects. We started by shooting to the NW, which connected to the Colonade Room at station NA17. We then went back to the junction to survey to the SE. As I crawled across a four-foot diameter breakdown block, it shifted and started to slide into a shallow pit. The front edge of the block caught my shirt and pulled me with it. I couldn't do a thing but splay my arms and legs like I did in my dream a couple of nights before and ride it out. Luckily, I was able to keep on top of the boulder and not get pinned between it and the walls of the pit. Luckily, my shirt stretched a lot and luckily for me the block stopped when it hit the bottom of a small pit and didn't continue to roll over, or I would have been in a heap of trouble! I immediately unhooked my shirt and rolled off the boulder and said to Aaron, who watched it happen, "I just dreamed about this two days ago." He admitted that he thought I was dead as I was going to get pinned or crushed by the boulder. It certainly got my adrenalin going! I've never had a dream that then happened in real life, so it was a strange experience. Backtracking to the junction, we shot to the SE, but it became too tight after a couple of shots. We were very disappointed that the passage ended.
About 60 feet from that site, Aaron was standing on a breakdown block that rolled and dumped him onto the floor, scrapping some skin off of his shin. Luckily, he also was not pinned or crushed by the large block. The fact that this happened twice on the same trip, the fact that I had dreamed about it a couple of days before it happened, and this had never happened to me before during hundreds of trips into Wind Cave, was a little unnerving. I decided to name the area Dreamscape due to this incident, which was named after a science fiction horror movie with the same name. After shooting up into a couple of dead-end domes, we called it a night. I realized that there are definitely many leads in the area to return to on a future trip.
We surveyed a total of 424 feet for the day and left several leads for a future trip.
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Did You Know?
Fire is an important factor in protecting the prairie. Historically, fires burned across the prairie every 4 to 7 years. Fires burn the small trees that would otherwise march across the prairie and turn the grasslands to forest.