Woodrat Skeleton Discovery
Trip: On 4/8/2006, Rod Horrocks led Erik Kurth, Duff McCafferty, & Ken Geu to the NB survey in the Historic Section where they discovered a woodrat skeleton.
Trip Report: We went back to the No Don't Stop passage to continue checking my list of leads. We first determined that a 52-foot shot between CSE10 and NB27 was bogus and could not possibly exist. There was no passage between those two stations. We found this out by surveying a small dome complex off of NB27. There is a small crawl at NB25 that connects through a body tight tube to CSE10, but there is definitely no connection with NB27!
We then surveyed a dome above NB22, which went up into a small room. A tight virgin belly crawl continued out of the room and reconnected to NB25. We then jumped up to NB29 and shot into a short balcony over the main passage. We surveyed in the opposite direction into an upward-sloping crawl in Upper Level cave. It reconnected with the NB survey in three places. In a crawl off of NB31 we found what looked like a woodrat skeleton. I suspected it came from a nearby blowhole along the north edge of the cave and not from the Natural Entrance area, as that would have been too difficult of a route for a lost woodrat to traverse.
We had too large of a group to survey this small tube, so we'll have to return later and survey the lead with just two people. It continues past the bones into a blank area on the map. We then surveyed two domes, one on each side of the passage at NB33. We surveyed into a side passage that dropped into a low room. Backing out of that delicate area, we surveyed down into a small pit. It dropped into a low-ceilinged room that may continue. However, it would be tight. We left another crawl that headed SW that was too small for our large group. We'll have to return to that one later too.
We then jumped ahead to NB36 and surveyed up through a hole in the chert ceiling and into some upper level tubes. At the top of the tube we found some strange piles of what looked like pigeon poop on a couple of ledges. They were roundish and 1/4" to 1/3" in diameter. One thing that I'm sure about is that they were not woodrat, bat, or porcupine poop. The largest pile looked like a liquid dribbled down the pile, washing rivulets into it. The blobs were soft. I tried to make them into something mineralogical, but I couldn't imagine what?
The domes above the piles were smooth white walls and showed no signs of where the blobs came from? Strange! Looking back, I think that they may have been corrosion residue that was washed off by condensation water that dripped off of the ceiling. We called it a day at this point with 372 feet of survey.
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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.