Mock October Room Discovery
1st Trip: On 2/21/2002, Rod Horrocks led Nick Myers and Belinda Fox on a survey trip to the Room Draculum area in the Historic Section, where they discovered the Mock October Room area.
Trip Report: We went to survey a lead I had spotted while working with Dr. John Moore's biology students a few weeks ago. Because it looked good and it was heading into a blank area of the map, especially at that level (NE corner of Room Draculum), I decided to start a new survey designation, the "NS", which stood for the "no suck" survey. We had high hopes for the lead. After passing a couple of leads on the north wall, we surveyed onto a balcony where we found a strip of white flagging with pink poke-a-dots, draped across the lead. Not sure what it meant, we proceeded cautiously. At a small dome room, we had three choices. We chose the NE lead, a squeeze through some breakdown blocks, because it looked like it entered a room.
The area has some interesting dissolved paleofill, which consisted of some angular chert frags that had been fallen out of the paleofill and with the empty "sockets" smoothed out by dissolution. It produced an interesting effect. The lead did open into a 20-foot diameter room with 8-11 foot high ceilings. A strip of flagging was found draped across a breakdown block. It was labeled "Mock 10/22". Since this was the date, 10/22/89, that NOLS held their mock rescue, where Rachael Cox got lost, we decided to name the room "Mock October Room". We then realized the white and pink flagging were markers showing which leads had been searched for the victim (Rachel). We chose one of the ten leads exiting this room, one that went steeply up to the NNW.
The initial 20-foot climb up the dome was tricky. At the top, an upper level tube continued northward and then back down the other side. We named the tube, Over the Top. We also found dry desiccated flowstone and draperies in this tube. At NS16, we encountered a strange pile of breakdown in a smooth-walled tube? This tube then opened into a 10-foot high dome. Another tube continued to the north from here. After a couple of shots it started corkscrewing downward.
As we were running out of time, we decided to call it a night. The continuing 2-foot diameter tube is dropping steeply into a blank area of the map. After a couple of shots to flesh out the survey of the Mock October Room itself, we headed home with numerous leads to return to. We also found a moldy NPS pocket notebook at the top of the dome climb (NS12). Probably the most significant thing was that the dome went up 55 feet above the Mock October Room. This is higher by 15' than any other dome in the Historic Section, and the same elevation as the Natural Entrance!! We surveyed 262 feet for the trip.
2nd Trip: On 3/5/2002, Rod Horrocks led Nick Myers and Belinda Fox on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went back to Mock October Room to push side leads. The first went NW two stations before the continuation was blocked by a large boulder. The lead on the east side of the room immediately opened into a NW/SE trending passage. We surveyed NW. After passing a 7-foot deep pit with an apparent lead at the bottom, we dropped down to the NE into a parallel passage. We then surveyed NW from a small dome that led up into upper level cave.
The main NW tube ended after seven shots. We had hoped it would continue as we were headed for a blank area on the map. We then shot a single shot into the largest of four tubes at the top of the dome (NS41). It became too tight after 11 feet. Returning to NS37, we shot into a side parallel passage that dropped into a parallel rift that also dead ended. We then surveyed SE until it turned into a crawl, when we backtracked to a larger side lead. We ran out of time as we arrived at a junction between a dome and a continuing tube. For the evening, we checked two of our 13 leads off the Mock October Room. We also ended up adding another 8 leads, bringing our total to 19 now, with 611 feet of survey in the area.
3rd Trip: On 5/7/2002, Rod Horrocks led Jason Walz on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went back to the Mock October Room to push more of the side leads. We started at station NS29 and surveyed SE. After squeezing down a floor slot, we found a 35-foot diameter room we named the "Mock Rescue Room", because it is adjacent to the Mock October Room and because we found white and red pokadot flagging in the room marking off side leads that were checked during the 10/22/89 mock rescue conducted by NOLS, where Rachael Cox was lost for over 32 hours. After surveying a NE side lead, which connected back to the start of the NS survey and bypassed the tight squeeze into the Mock October Room, we surveyed around the perimeter of the Mock Rescue Room. We then shot into a south east trending passage. We quit when we ran out of time. We left two going leads off this passage and 8 leads off the Mock Rescue Room for a future trip. That brings the survey in the Mock October Room area up to nearly 900 feet.
4th Trip: On 7/18/2002, Rod Horrocks led Ben Tobin and Ari Juhala on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went to the Mock October Room area to continue pushing leads. The first one was at station NS4. We were stopped after a couple of shots by an exposed pit into Room Draculum. We then went to the Mock Rescue Room to start pushing leads along the SW wall. We started at NS80 at what I thought was a two shot deadend side passage. However, the complex spongework maze had a surprise for us. We wound through a crawl and dropped into a small virgin room. After shooting up to the start of the crawl, we dropped down a small pit into another spongework maze area. We left four leads and a deep slot blocked by breakdown in that area for a future trip. We also left two leads in the overlying room and several leads along the SW wall of the Mock Rescue Room. The survey was mostly all virgin, with 167 feet in new cave. However, it was some of the smallest cave I've surveyed in Wind Cave, with an average shot length a piddly 7.8'.
5th Trip: On 1/10/2003, Rod Horrocks led Barry Oost and Ryan Brown on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: I wanted to see if I could connect a pit lead at NS86B to a couple of domes we could see in the ceiling of Room Draculum, but we couldn't climb to from the lower room. The pit turned out to be virgin and we were successful in connecting to both domes. We didn't climb down and survey into the first, although it was doable. The second was overhung and unclimable. We found an upper level dome with bat scratches that turned into a tube with soft mud cracked floors. There was also an old pool level that ringed the walls of the tube. The strange thing was that the overflow into the pit seemed to be at a lower level than the pool level on the wall?
We left one squeeze at NS86L that looked very tight for a short distance but opened into a crawl. We then dropped under a ceiling ledge on the edge of the Mock Rescue Room. After squeezing under some frost work, we found a small room with untracked mud floors. A small tube continued to the SE, but it looked pretty miserable. We've now surveyed 1,305 feet in the Mock October Room area. We continue finding small virgin crawls and spongework mazes. There are a lot of leads left in the area.
6th Trip: On 1/25/2003, Rod Horrocks led Jay Kennedy on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went to the Mock October area to continue pushing and surveying leads. We started with a lead in the Mock Rescue Room. We found several deep and unclimable pits into a larger room below, which turned out to be the Cataract Room. After five shots, Jay felt the flu coming on and we abandoned the trip.
7th Trip: On 7/16/2003, Rod Horrocks led Chris Amidon and Meredith Dreyer on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went to the Mock Rescue Room to continue pushing leads that I had started surveying on 1/25/2003. Starting at NS64E, we surveyed down a popcorn encrusted crawl. It doubled back over itself and continued to the SE. We surveyed past two side passages at a junction and into a room. None of the cave was virgin, as we saw a single set of tracks and scuff marks in the crawl. We named the flat chert ceilinged room "The Chocolate Shop", due to the chocolate brown color and Meredith's favorite bar at Perdue University, "Harrys Chocolate Shop". We left a crawl continuing SE and surveyed into a pit on the west side of the room. It dropped into the start of the Overland Trail. We connected to station UQ77A. This survey now brings the total survey in the Mock October Room area to 1,576 feet. We started the day by checking one lead, and added six more to the lead list for this area.
8th Trip: On 2/14/2004, Rod Horrocks led Jay Kennedy on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went to the Mock October Room area to wrap up various leads. We started with NS68. Surveying straight ahead soon became too tight. We then turned our attention to the dome above NS58. It was too small for Jay, so we moved on to NS53. It was also too tight for Jay, so we went to a pit lead at NS32. After 3 shots it also became too tight. I scouted ahead to the next junction to see if it goes. It does and I'll be back. We then checked four leads off of the Mock October Room. They were all too tight, so we went to NS64A to survey a crawl. After a couple of stations the crawl got too tight. However, it looks like it is just going to reconnect near NS87. Moving on to NS87, we surveyed that four-foot high crawl for a couple of stations. When the passage hooked a right and got small, Jay decided he had enough of tight passages for the day, so we abandoned the survey at that point.
9th Trip: On 3/17/2004, Rod Horrocks led Jay Kennedy and Alexis Brooks on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went to the lead that stopped Jay on our last trip to the Mock October Room. We were able to move some loose paleofill rubble in a parallel tube to get Jay through. We then picked up the survey at NS32O and continued it to U, where it got tight and awkward. We passed 4 leads along the way, so we retreated to the fourth, an 8-foot pit, and surveyed down into a small Upper Level room. There was lots of paleofill and chert, and some slickensides. We surveyed a parallel passage that quickly ended. We noticed two digs that we left. The one heading west looks real good. We also left a tight, upward sloping tube heading west and a pit underneath a breakdown block that looks like it might go too. We decided to name the upper tube the "Stop-N-Go Tube", because it kept on looking like it was going to end, but then it kept going on again and again. We finally stopped surveying it when it got too nasty, but, it didn't stop. This trip puts the Mock October Room survey over 2,000 feet, with most of it crawling and squeezing!
9th Trip: On 4/7/2004, Rod Horrocks led Alexis Brooks and Vickie Seigel on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went to the lead we bypassed on our last trip, at NS32F in the Stop-N-Go Tube. We surveyed into a virgin area, mapping 86 feet of passage. The most significant find was a thick deposit of manganese. One area, about 1' x 1.5' was completely covered in 1/2" thick manganese. It was jet black. I've never seen a deposit of manganese in Wind Cave even remotely approached this deposit in significance. We decided to name the area "The Manganese Stop". This of course references the incredible manganese and the fact that not only did the passage stop shortly thereafter, but this was a good place to stop by to see manganese. Backtracking to NS3, we surveyed the rest of the Draculum Balcony. We found a dome that I think might connect to the small pit at NS86J. We also found a tube that dropped into a room, but it was blocked by a pendant. The room must be next to the Mock October Room. We left one lead in the Manganese Stop that was tight (NS145). This survey brings the total survey of the Mock October Room to 2,295 feet with about 15 or so leads left. Unfortunately, they are all tight. We taught Vickie how to do instruments tonight, so we did foresights and backsights on most of the shots. Although this slowed us down, I feel good about the quality of the survey (which is better than quantity any day).
10th Trip: On 1/13/2007, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went back to the Stop and Go Tube in the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section to complete the leads in that area. I purposefully went with only two people, because the nine leads I had were all bellycrawl leads and the Mock October Room is 90% crawls. We started at NS32O and shot into a pit, which just reconnected to NS141. I noticed that there was a mineralized and brecciated fault in the ceiling of that passage with altered bedrock up to six feet on each side of the fault. The bedrock had been turned all different pastel colors. It was quite colorful. I'm going to have to show this alteration to Art and Peg Palmer.
After some photos, we shot up into a dead-end dome. Both leads only produced one to two shots each. The third lead turned out to be a deadend alcove. The only lead we had left at that point in the Stop and Go Tube was a very unobvious hole behind a rock at NS139 that I had noticed on an earlier trip a year and a half ago. To my surprise, it dropped down a narrow slot and into an extensive maze area, with passages going in every direction. We immediately found evidence that the mazey area had first been explored in the 1890's and then had a survey through part of it in the 1950's. That survey is no longer used, as there was nothing on my lineplot in the area. The surveyors had marked their stations with a bolt in the rock with a hanger and a metal survey marker and a red square.
After finding a five-foot long walking stick that someone had drug all the way in there, probably in the 1890's, we decided to name the area the WALKING STICK MAZE. We were curious at that point, because both of those groups certainly didn't come the same way we had, as the Stop and Go Tube area was all virgin when I found it a couple of years ago. We started surveying the maze by heading to the southeast. At NS153, we turned south and dropped into a room. That room, at NS159, was 16-feet in diameter and 15-feet high. However, it felt a lot roomier than the dimensions sound. We named the room the Tin Can Room, after an old tin can we found in one corner.
There were a couple of leads out of the southern end of the room and a couple out the eastern side that we left for a later trip. There were also a couple of unclimbable dome leads in the ceiling. After lunch, we surveyed into a passage that was heading up to the west. We passed a couple of side leads and shot up into a dome that had passages radiating off in every direction. We choose a bellycrawl that was heading north. This connected into another room that we had looked into earlier from NS152. Before surveying that room, we went back to NS153 and surveyed to the southeast into a smaller room.
A lead to the south reconnected to a fissure lead on the eastern side of our first room. We then jumped back to the second room that we had looked into earlier. This room also had passages radiating off in every direction. Surveying northwest, we suddenly connected to E16, a resurvey project that Marc Ohms had done last year from the Juice Room. We then knew which direction the party with the walking stick had come from. We then dropped back to the room and surveyed west and up into an upper middle level slopping passage that went north and south. We shot north to the entrance of a crawl and then south until we reconnected to the top of the dome at NS163.
We decided to call it a night at that point. We'll definitely be back soon, as we left numerous leads. At the beginning of this trip, I had thought that we might finish the Mock October Room survey on this trip (which then had 2,295 feet of survey and 9 leads). Instead, we added 380 feet of survey to the total and another 21 leads. This brings the Mock October Room survey up to 2,674 feet and still going. Yea!
11th Trip: On 2/10/2007, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu, Roger Harris, & Duff McCafferty on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went back to the Walking Stick Maze from last trip to push the side leads. Starting at NS171, we surveyed NW into a boneyard type of maze. This reconnected into E14. We decided to leave a tight pit lead in the top of the maze for a later trip. We then jumped over to NS164 and surveyed a side passage for a couple of shots, before it reconnected through a too tight hole to the room we started in. We then surveyed a crawl at NS177. This immediately connected to NS172. We then dropped back to NS175 and surveyed into a tight virgin bellycrawl. This dropped down to a low room over the top of the Tin Can Room. We could look through a window into that room. Although the drop was only 20-feet and free hanging, it looked very impressive from above, probably because of the sloping floor of the Tin Can Room.
We then dropped down a tight squeeze and reconnected with NS167, from last trip. We then backtracked to NS175 and dropped into a nearby pit. This went down into a small room with great mud curls that curled downwards, instead of up. We then shot into a crawl on the east side of NS175. This opened into a small maze that reconnected with NS169. There were also two small pits in this maze. We surveyed one of them, which connected to a fissure/dome we found on our last trip on the edge of the Tin Can Room (NS158). The other one probably reconnects to the other fissure/dome on the same side of the room. Roger then did a climb (about 5.0) up the SW wall of the Tin Can Room. This lead just reconnected to NS164F.
We then surveyed into a crawl at the floor of the same corner of the room. This wrapped around into a small room where we found some of the best fossils we've seen in the cave. Several juvenile colonial corals had completely dissolved out of the rock. They were very delicate and absolutely breathtaking. We got lots of pictures. Roger (the geologist) was ecstatic about his fossil find and is determined to find out which species they are. We then surveyed into a side passage off of NS161. Roger noticed a hole in the ceiling that reconnected to NS164F. While we were shooting the connection shot, he noticed a dome in the ceiling that we hadn't seen when we surveyed that passage earlier. We were surprised when this opened into a muddy, upper level area. We surveyed into a walking height, 40-foot long hall with a couple of crawls leading off of it. This hall has to be directly above the Tin Can Room.
We were surprised there were no other connections between them. We named the room the Brown Sky Room. We also noticed some mud hodoos, which we photographed. We then shot a connection between the hall and the point where Roger first found the dome lead. When we ran out of time, we had to leave two crawls heading SW, into a blank area of the map for our next trip. We're excited to return to these virgin leads next trip. We surveyed a total of 137 feet of virgin passage on this trip. The majority of the Walking Stick Maze had been explored in the 1890's and then again in 1959 (probably by the South Dakota School of Mines geology students). This brought my total survey in the Mock October Room area up to 3,170 feet (and it's still going!). This area will easily become my largest single surveyed area in Wind Cave.
12th Trip: On 3/24/2007, Rod Horrocks led Ken Geu, Roger Harris, & Duff McCafferty on a survey trip back to the Mock October Room area in the Historic Section.
Trip Report: We went back to the Walking Stick Maze to continue pushing one of the most complex small mazes I have seen in Wind Cave. We started at NS162 and shot up into a small room with beautiful white sodastraws, flowstone, and a nice four-inch high stalagmite. There were two small leads heading SE from the room into a blank spot on the map, but they were too tight. We then dropped back to NS162 and surveyed into a tight bellycrawl. This dropped into a small room with a couple of tight leads. The first dropped down a short pit and went one shot to the NE. The second was squirrely and tight and we skipped it.
Returning to NS162, we shot into a virgin bellycrawl that only went one shot. We then climbed up above NS161 into the Brown Sky Room and the lead we were most excited about. This area is the highest area in the Walking Sticky Maze. Starting at NS210, we shot to the SE towards a blank spot on the map. The floors of this area were covered with damp clay. Unfortunately, all of the passages in this area quickly ended in this same fill. A very unusual area. We then dropped down to NS213 and shot into a boxwork-lined crawl that quickly became too delicate. It was headed right towards something we had already surveyed anyway. We then started at NS207 and shot into a bellycrawl heading NW. This ended after two shots, completing the Brown Sky area.
Everyone was most disappointed that our good leads did not go. We then went over to the walking stick and shot up a passage that reconnected to the largest room in the maze, at NS170. Looking at the walking stick, I noticed that one end was saw cut and the other end was partially burnt. I'm pretty sure this artifact dates from the 1890's. We then went to a pit lead that we had left from the last trip (NS188). After some negotiating, this dropped down through a lead we had skipped from a couple of trips before, landing Roger right next to the pit that Ken and I had found the Walking Stick Maze from. We then hopped over to a lead heading north from NS152. Although, this only went three shots, there was some three-foot high floor to ceiling boxwork pillars that were quite spectacular.
The last lead I knew of in the Walking Stick Maze was a side crawl where NS186 intersected the E survey (at E14), so we headed over there. This only went a couple of shots before becoming too tight. Having finished the Walking Stick Maze (which brought the total Mock October Room survey up to 3,625 feet), we decided to go over and check out the nearby Whisky Bottle Room, which I had never been too.
I was surprised how very close the Whisky Bottle Room was to us and how large it was. After a little poking around, it was obvious that there were three leads on the south side of the room, so we got our survey gear back out. The first was a fissure/dome that opened into a passage that reconnected to a lead in the ceiling of the Whisky Bottle Room. We noticed the whisky bottle on a ledge right under this point. After tying into QC113, we shot the opposite direction into a small dome with lots of white sodastraws. We then dropped back out of the fissure and surveyed a cut around back into the Whisky Bottle Room. We decided to start heading out of the cave at this point, looking for leads as we went. Noticing that there was an unsurveyed lead at E12, we decided to survey into that. This just reconnected to the Whisky Bottle Room after a couple of shots. We tied into E16G and called it a night.
Click here to return to Caving Narratives.
Did You Know?
The Star Lilly (Leucocrinum montanum) has several common names including sand lily, sage lily, mountain lily, wild tuberose, and Star-of-Bethlehem. The word Leucocrinum comes from Greek meaning "white lily." More...