Members Stephanie Coffey, Tim Miller, Adam Sampson, John Sies (leader), Tim Stoops
Purpose of this trip was to survey a new lead in the area of the Pit near the Mushroom Entrance that had been found a month previous.
There had been a significant rainfall over the two days prior to this trip. The day previous Coffey, Sampson, and Sies had all witnessed water levels near the top of the culvert pipe at the Mushroom Entrance. Water had obviously been higher earlier in the day as there was considerable debris and mud atop the steel plate that acts as a gate for the entrance. Because of this Sies camped out near the entrance the night before the trip to keep an eye on water levels. The next morning at dawn the water had completely drained away from the entrance area and no rain was forecast.
When the other members of the group started to arrive John and Adam were nearly geared and ready. The two of them went ahead to the entrance. Adam stayed topside for a bit as he needed to calibrate his new Disto-X. John cautiously went into the cave to see what water conditions were going to be for the survey that day. It was about 9:30 am eastern.
Upon getting to the bottom of the culvert pipe Joh realized that water flow was about triple what he would normally see. Moving forward to the first the crawl he saw that water had NOT entered the belly crawl but had instead diverted to the passage to the right of the entrance to the belly crawl. John could hear water flowing to his right and below him all the way to the pit. While crossing the pit, John paused to look below and realized that some of the mud in the pit was completely dry and that no water had entered during the flood of the previous two days.
John sat for several minutes in the vicinity of the pit waiting for Adam or someone else in the group to catch up. Hearing no one, he decided to proceed as far as the water falls as long as water did not block his path. Three Arrows room was dry. The beginning of Lead II was dry with the exception of a tiny amount of water that had seeped from the ceiling and moved across the passage. The waterfalls were all active but were NOT at maximum, which came as a big surprise. However, there was a large amount of foam that filled the entire width of the passage at the largest of the waterfalls. John looked around and headed back to the pit where the others were just starting to gather.
For the survey, Tim Stoops sketched on a tablet, Stephanie tok measurements with the Disto-X and John took point. John backed into a tight little passage and the rest of the group followed. The small passage made it difficult to pick points, and to download data from the Disto-X to the tablet so that Tim could draw.
John reached a spot where his feet were dangling in space. It took him a couple of minutes to find a small, solid perch so that he could stand and turn around. Below him appeared to be a pit some 40' deep. It was really only a steep slope some 40' deep. However, John had only brought 30' of webbing. Stephanie rigged the 30' and with the anchor she used we lost almost half of the length. More webbing came from someone else's pack and was added.
Tim Stoops was the first down and advised that everyone should be very careful if they were coming down. He had added an etrier and dug a few footholds to make it easier to get down. He also reported that there were two ways to go, up or down. Before anyone else could make it down he reported that we had just found Lead II. Tim Miller took over instruments on the survey from the top of the pit into Lead II. At this point survey was wrapped. Total survey was approximately 160'.
John went back through Three Arrows to get to the top of the climb to take the webbing down. Adam beat him there by climbing back up the slippery mud slope. Once the webbing was down Adam wanted to explore the lower level lead. John followed him and Tim Stoops caught up soon thereafter. Upon seeing the low stream passage that this passage connected to, John said it was part of the passages behind the waterfalls and that if we went right we would end up in a dead end room where the water sinks into a gravel floor. We went left and John looked for a passage on our left. Finding one, he took it and the three of us popped up in the largest of the waterfalls. We will need to do more survey in these passages.
Before leaving, Tim Stoops pointed out more high passage he wants to survey in the near future and suggested how we might get there.
We were all back on the surface by 2:30 pm eastern.