Participants: Shaun Larson, Darren Ressler, Karen Rosga
Duration of Trip: 6 hours
New Cave Surveyed: 512 feet
Upon looking at a map of Wind Cave one of the things that is most apparent is the complexity of the maze of passages. Over and under, side by side, around and around and back again – there are not many places that distinguish themselves by being largely devoid of cave. So it was that the Egg Hatchery area caught my attention. One long, lone passageway somehow just does not look quite right on the map. With the intention of confusing the map in this area, Shaun and I took a short side trip the day before to check for leads.
After dropping into the Nudist Colony, we located the passage which leads off toward the Egg Hatchery. Notes taken during the original survey of this area indicated that this tall fissure had never been checked for leads going up. As there was no known cave above this area, we were hopeful that we could find a way to climb up into middle of upper cave levels. Luck would have it however that the first pit going down was where we found our best lead – a large walking passage heading off for hundreds of feet. We returned on December 6 with Karen to survey this lead and to see where it took us.
The first part of this passage took us through a narrow fissure 10 to 15 feet high with false floors and large amounts of popcorn on the floors and walls. Some of the popcorn was covered with very active flowstone. Because of the abundance of large popcorn in this narrow passage we named this The Knobby Gates. One survey station became Vundercorn Corner and another small room was dubbed P-U-Wazoo because every place that looked like a good place to sit was covered with more knobby popcorn. An area further on with very bristly popcorn became Karen’s Porcupette Passion in honor of December’s “Animal of the Month,” the ever popular pricklepig, Erethizon dorsatum. Throughout the survey we found actively dripping water and beautiful, delicate red boxwork on the walls and ceiling.
Herb Conn, a previous cave explorer, had been in some of this passage years before and had indicated on his map a small pool of water in a side lead. While we did not have time to locate the pool on this trip, it is only one of the things that remain to be done in this area. We never did get around to checking the top of the Egg Hatchery passage for higher leads. We were successful, however, in making the map of Wind Cave just a bit more confused.
Report by: Darren Ressler