PNPS photo by Ken Geu
Trip: On 12/3/2011, Rod Horrocks led Oscar Calhoun & Ken Geu to the Fairy Palace in the Historic Section where they documented helictites.
Trip Report: We started by picking up the survey of the pancake style room below the NFP survey, which we named Gastro Flats because we found dozens of gastropods in the bedrock, which were differentially dissolved out of the bedrock, and laying on the floor of this room. Some of the gastropods were quite large (from 1 3/4" to 2" in diameter). This area has the most and largest gastropods I know of anywhere in Wind Cave.
Starting at NFP2B, we tied into NM4T and tried to tie into NM5F, however we couldn't find where the station actually was. We then jumped ahead to the lower Fairy Palace area and surveyed that previously unsurveyed area. It was a little tricky getting across the flowstone, but we managed. We found several helictites in the ceiling of this area, which we photo-documented. I had heard rumors that there were helictites near Fairy Palace, but we had no pictures of them to prove it. We changed that. We then climbed up to the NPA survey and started surveying Fairy Palace. Although, it had a line running through it, the western and southern portions of the room had never been surveyed. We found two more pockets of great helictites in this area, which we also photographed.
We then picked up the survey of leads off of Fairy Palace, starting at NCP1. Shooting into a sloping slot next to the white columns, this quickly reconnected to Jason Walz's WO survey. We left NCP17 hanging, since we found the WO40 station marker lying on the floor and no station marked in the cave. We then surveyed a dome above WO38.
This area is fairly complex and has similarities with a boneyard area. Abandoning this area, we went back to the four leads from our last trip (on 12/1/11) and picked up the survey off of NFP32. Two of the leads connected together and quickly deadened. The third reconnected to the NFP survey near NFP9, which we'll be resurveying next week. We decided to call the trip at this point. We surveyed 432 feet for the day and left leads for a future trip.
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Did You Know?
Lewis and Clark, while on their journey up the Missouri River in 1804, noted that this "wild dog of the prairie...appears here in infinite numbers." More...