For more information on the beginning of the trip please refer to John Sies trip report. This trip report will take off from where we made a decision that we would not get waist deep in water just before getting to our planned survey goal in the mountain room (see initial trip report by John Sies). We were concerned that slow moving survey would allow the participants to get too cold because we did not have wetsuits on (only poly gear and emergency blankets). So instead we turned back towards dry cave to continue our trip.
Our backup goal was to continue the survey that had been carried out by two other groups to try to validate the use of the DistoX cave survey device for mapping in the cave, and to gather data and experience along the way. To this end we picked up the DistoX survey in the junction box (see map). Our 3 man survey team consisted of Adam Sampson, Tim Miller, and Pat Mudd. The remaining 3 people in the original group continued in another direction with the goal of familiarizing the participants with more of the cave.
We tied into the junction box at the old 66 marker (also marked seventy seven [data in survey notes]) and continued into the crawl heading toward Room One (roughly south). We did not make any attempts to fully explore the belly crawl in the other direction (roughly north).
Survey was performed with a DistoX and a phone with the TopoDroid application. Prior to entering the cave we had used surface calibration points to validate our DistoX to the Suunto compass and clino for both front shots and back shots [serial numbers and data in survey notes].
The first passage was a belly crawl averaging about 14 inches in height and with a floor that was a thin layer of sand on rock. The rock quickly disappeared and we were into a room with a full sandy floor and large track in the middle. The "walls" of this passage were mostly mud banks that got near the ceiling to the point you couldn't see behind them, and sometimes all the way to the ceiling. To prevent future confusion, I marked these "walls" as a "presumed" wall and drew in slope lines to show that the mud was sloping upwards. Hopefully this is made clearer with the cross section views.
Continuing in the crawl the ceiling had been solid, but soon began flaking off. Shortly after this we started to notice gypsum crystals in the ceiling. This was where things started to get really exciting because no one on the group had ever heard that this passage was full of interesting formations.
After a few hundred feet we entered a substantial dome room with a large breakdown pile underneath. It was a nice comfort from the low crawls and we took a break here to stretch out. We even made me stop sketching and remember to drink water and eat some food. While resting we took time to scope out the lay of the land. We decided to take the obvious path over the breakdown and leave the passages along the side of the breakdown for a later group.
The best part of this trip for me was finding a large number of gypsum formations in the north end of this room. There were gypsum needles [need verification from a geologist because I'm not qualified to identify these] approximately 2 inches long, some gypsum needle flowers [need verification on type of formation], and some more traditional smooth(ish) gypsum flowers. There were formations on both sides of this breakdown pile, but most of the interesting ones were on the west side.
As we mapped the breakdown pile we counted 4 bats in the passage. They were on high ceilings so we weren't able to positively identify them, but best guess is tri-colored bats. There was also a noticable amount of guano under a shelf in the southwestern portion of the breakdown dome, but no bats present. Another point of interest is that there is a dump pile left from previous cavers in this area of the cave including carbide and other old cave gear.
Shortly after this we passed through the keyhole. It seemed a bit tight to all three of us, and Miller had to re-position himself once in order to find an orientation that allowed him to squeeze through, but we later realized that it could be considered very difficult for a number of cavers. This got us into our final stretch in the 14" belly crawl that would take us the rest of the way to Room One.
This last passage is mostly just belly crawl on sand, but it should be noted that there is a spot where a ceiling rock is falling and there is a slight ceiling step [marked on sketch]. Where the rock was hanging down there was a void in the ceiling that I do not expect to go anywhere, but I was NOT able to get close enough to view it without an hour or more of digging.
Just as we were finishing our survey another group from CIG, that was being led by Tim Stoops, met up with us in Room One. We all exited the cave together through the Natural Entrance. As we first entered the phreatic tube out of Room 1 there was a bit of standing water in the tunnel. But by the time we were crawling we were in dry passage again. Then as we came up on the "Y" into the final crawl out where there is normally a pool of water, the pool was missing. Then into the creek crawl we went and I was able to make the creek crawl without getting my feet all the way in even at the crossing spot. And as we came out of the entrance there was no water in the open air creek bed.
After getting out of the cave we met up with the Cables and the other half of our survey group and chatted for around half an hour. They didn't know it was Tim, but they had a picture of Tim Stoops in their living room from an old caver Christmas card. And they like their Big Bat paraphernalia, so lets make an effort to get them a nice map printed when we can. We got back in the car around 9ish, but I wasn't paying close attention to the time at this point and don't have the exact time.