Mind Boggler Discovery
NPS Photo by Rod Horrocks
1st Trip: On 9/21/1999, Rod Horrocks led Larry Spangler to the Omnibus Hall area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We took line plots and survey data to Omnibus Hall to find the JK survey. However, we were unable to find it. After extensive searching, we did find the SPH survey in Upper Level cave off the north side of Omnibus Hall. We quickly found an unsurveyed passage off of SPH14 and started a survey, beginning at SPH20. We surveyed 236 feet and left four low-ceilinged leads and the main passage still continuing. I'll return in the near future.
Trip Report: I returned to a lead in Omnibus Hall I had found on my last trip on 9/21/99 with Utah caver, Larry Spangler. The right fork connected with Jim Nepstad's WX survey within 40 feet. Surveying into the virgin left-hand crawl, we surveyed along a sixty-foot long bellycrawl that broke out into upper-level cave that had been partially explored (from another route) by either Herb or Jan Conn or John Scheltens on a single trip. I hypothesized that they had probably come from the AA survey in the Club Room Section. However, that person had only checked the initial 220 feet of passage, leaving the rest unscooped and virgin.
While surveying up a debris slope, we found an interesting boxwork type of feature that appears to be composed of some red, fibrous, spiky material. In hindsight, I suspect that they are stylolites, a bedrock pressure feature that dates back before the limestone was lithified. We mapped a total of 900 feet in the area, most of it (530 feet) in virgin cave. This included the 200-foot long, mostly walking passage, we named the Mind Boggler. This passage was partially floored with mud cracks and calcified mud cracks. Since the Wind Cave survey arrived at the 86-mile mark as we surveyed up into a 22-foot high dome, we named that dome, 86 Mile Dome. We then surveyed into a beautiful gypsum passage above the Flower Shop that we named the Triple Crisp Passage, after three silver-dollar sized loose gypsum snowflakes on the floor in the middle of that passage. We left two tight leads off that passage. We then returned to the end of the Mind Boggler passage and continued our survey in walking passage that ended after 125 feet above Upper Rome. We found a total of three rooms and left numerous good leads for a return trip. Our average shot for the day was 15.1 feet in length.
3rd Trip: On 12/11/1999, Rod Horrocks led a 7-hour trip with Marc Ohms and Rene Rogers back to the Mind Boggler area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went back to the Mind Boggler area to survey the side passages, all of which were virgin. Starting with the last lead at the end of the Mind Boggler passage, we worked our way back towards the Omnibus Hall connection pit, surveying 600 feet of cave. We found some spectacular spitzkarren, slickenside boxwork, speckled manganese dendrites that look like pepper, and styolites. There were lots of gypsum in patches, some calcified mud cracks and lots of domes in the Upper Level. The domes all quickly ended. This trip brought the total Mind Boggler discovery to 1,736 feet of survey, with a handful of un-pushed tight leads left. Our average shot for the day was 13.3 feet in length.
4th Trip: On 3/25/2000, Rod Horrocks led Richard Downey and Dave and Debbie Herron back to the Mind Boggler area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We attempted to define the southern wall of Omnibus Hall on this trip, starting at the Conn's survey station, JF7. We connected through a bellycrawl to AI9 in the Spillway. We then took the survey across the southern portion of Omnibus and tied into SPH137 in a dome that led up into the Mind Boggler passage. We left two low-ceilinged, downward-sloping leads off the south end of Omnibus.
We then went up into Mind Boggler passage to survey a dome lead. We surveyed 34' up into a small room with a tight bellycrawl with slight air movement in it that was heading northward. We then surveyed a bellycrawl above the entrance dome (SPH54) that reconnected into Omnibus Hall. Giving up on the Mind Boggler area, we headed to the Newspaper Room area and started the JH survey. We surveyed a large walking passage at JD 20F that connected to JDB4. As it turns out, JH1-5 were a resurvey of JDB4-6. However, there were no stations in existence until JDB4. We surveyed a few side passages in the area, connecting to JD20N in a side passage out of the Newspaper Room. We quit the survey when one caver became fatigued. This survey brought the total survey in the Mind Boggler area to 2,297 feet.
Click here to return to Caving Narratives.
Did You Know?
Alvin McDonald was the first systematic explorer of Wind Cave. He explored the cave from 1890 until his death in 1893. More...