1st Trip: On 3/15/2001, Rod Horrocks led a Utah crew, Dave, Ryan, and Jordan Shurtz to the New Beginnings Room area in the Historic Section where they discovered the Terra Cotta Trail passage.
Trip Report: I took an old Utah caving friend and his sons to the New Beginnings Room area to push leads. We started by shooting up into a dome. After shooting up into a paleofill crawl, we surveyed into a rift passage, which reminded me of the rift passages in Lechuguilla Cave in New Mexico. Crawling along the top of the rift, we could see 30-40 feet down the steeply sloping passage to Lenas Arbor area along the Natural Entrance Tour Route.
Continuing down the virgin crawl, we wound through some breakdown blocks. When we got to a corkscrewing squeeze that I couldn't fit through, I left the others and climbed back down to Lenas Arbor in an attempt to find another way into the continuing passage past the squeeze. Climbing up to the base of the rift, I went right into the C36 survey. When I heard voices, we found a squeeze and pit at C36M that allowed me to rejoin the group in a virgin room they had just surveyed into. Everything was in the upper middle level. We named the rift "Arcane Rift", since only a few people (us four) know how to get into the obscure rift.
After surveying a small room in the middle level, that was located directly underneath the upper room, we continued on to the north. We left six leads in the rift to survey later. After squeezing through a nine inch window located near the ceiling at station L'5Z, we found ourselves in a large passage with a 20-foot pit. We were able to traverse a ledge on the right side and continue to the NW. The passage headed north, 50 feet above the paved Natural Entrance Tour Route.
We surveyed under a dome that opened into an upper level and to a junction covered with popcorn. Taking the left-hand tube, we found a dry pool of yellow subaqueous pool spar (we took a picture). After a bellycrawl, we rejoined the right-hand tube and surveyed under another dome that opened into the upper, parallel tube.
We decided to name the passage "Terra-Cotta Trail" because of the brownish orange calcified sediment floors that reminded us of Terra-Cotta tiles. Continuing straight ahead, we passed some flowstone deposits (got a picture of that too) and then we found a pocket of purplish brown, dark dogtooth spar with small, clear spiraling crystals off the tips. Continuing to NE, the passage finally ended after 320 feet. We found a very tight hole through the chert roof near the end that led to an upper virgin level that goes all over. All together, we left plenty of leads in this area and surveyed a total of 626 feet.