Participants: Stephanie Coffey, Tim Stoops, Tim Miller, Judy Woosley, Ed Motley, Adam Sampson
For the trip we all met down at the parking area for the Mushroom Entrance at about 10am EST. The trip started with a very basic plan. Let's close the loop from the pit to the waterfall so we can check the loop closure error, and let's see where leads go even if most people would say they are too small and don't go. The basic rule of thumb was: "If your helmet can fit, don't tell me it doesn't go."
On our way down to the cave we stepped over to the orientation rocks on the surface and collected our normal data we use to compare compass data. Then we hopped over to the entrance and were in caving by about 11am EST. We got down to station 9 and some of the group went ahead while Miller and Sampson climbed down into the floor canyon and pushed the lead. After a very short (and tight) push it became a dig in a short tight canyon. We marked it as a dig in the survey and moved back out and on.
Next, just before the belly crawl, we turned right into the room with the canyon lead. The lower part of the lead dead ends in cobbles piled up. But Sampson climbed up to the top of the canyon and got a couple shots from up there. He was able to get about 20 feet surveyed to where the passage split. It was very challenging passage and had approximately 9 inches of clearance laying on your side wedge into the top of a canyon. But it GOES!
Next Miller and Sampson caught up with the rest of the group and they had decided that there was a large rock blocking the easy(ish) climbdown to the bottom of the pit. Since it was actively discouraging people from taking the safer path through the cave Stoops, Motley, Coffey, and Woosley set up webbing to act as a 2-1 system and the moved the rather substantial rock out of the path. Now it is easy and safe to get to the bottom of the pit. And, on top of that, Stoops donate some webbing and the group used it to secure the middle of the ladder to a rock down low and stabilized the ladder to the point that it is easy and comfortable to climb now. Much safer on both counts! While this was happening Woosley helped Sampson with a small dig lead on the north side of the pit. It went...but it wasn't nice at all. Canyon passage lying on your side with 10 inches of clearance and S-turns. It wasn't an objective for the day so they backed out and went to get the next group task.
At this point Coffey started sketching the bottom of the pit for survey while a number of people helped with setting and taking of points. While this was going Motley pointed out that one of the side leads was so full of rock that even his helmet wouldn't fit through....and Stoops pointed out that the rocks could be moved pretty easy. Between Stoops and Woosley they moved approximately a cubic yard of rocks out of this lead. And into a muddy belly crawl it went. Stoops and Miller pushed forward to see if it was worth anything and came back reporting the top of a pit that might even be one of the waterfalls in the waterfall room. Sampson got excited and went to see for himself. At the "pit" there was some really nice cave bacon near the top on the way down. He went to the bottom below where they were and found that it was a dome room with 2 high leads and a lower lead. The high lead we came in was crawling, but the other high lead was walking! And a very short crawl into the lower crawling lead and it split again into 2 walking leads and a hands and knee crawling lead. The walking leads were vados canyon leads about 3.5 feet wide, 7 feet tall, had 3-4 inches of water flowing quickly down the bottom, and had walls covered in scallops approximately 1-2cm long. The point was proven, completely worth making this the next survey trip! He returned to the group and took back over DistoX shots for the survey.
The survey went from the bottom of the pit to the top of the first waterfall in the waterfall rooms. At this point we didn't have gear to rappel 30 feet, so half our group went around the long way to help us get a shot from the top to the bottom. Then the other half went foward to bring the DistoX to the bottom so we could tie into an established point. Following this we headed back to the pit. Half went the normal way, and the other half used the high lead in 3 arrows to crawl up into the helictite crawl and to the pit from there. Then we did another small loop that connected from one end of the pit room to the other end.
Total survey for the day - 288 feet. Digs - 2. Going leads after digs - 3. Walking lead - check. Distance from the entrance - less than 15 minutes.
Moral of the story? It goes until it don't not go, and then it goes.