Participants: Adam Sampson, Ken Bailey, Harrison Hyden, Tim Stoops, Stephanie Coffey, Annette Posani, Tim Miller
We entered the cave around 11:30 and were on the mudslide leading into the three arrows room when Tim Miller had intestinal distress. He decided that based on a 12 hour trip plan that he needed to turn around. Harrison and Adam exited the cave with him and ensured that he had a ride coming to get him. We also increased our call-out time to midnight while we were top-side. Then Harrison and Adam returned to the group who was resting in the waterfall rooms just outside the 3 arrows.
The remaining group proceeded down lead 3 (mud crawling), turned into the M? survey (clean stone walking), and then turned again into the lead heading to the Compass room (possibly H2 survey?). After turning right at the first junction we soon got out of the clean stone walking passage and into mud slopes and we stopped for a long lunch on a nice mud bank. Where we stopped for lunch was not marked on the map but appeared to be a side passage that was barely mud-plugged and a very promising dig. Shortly after lunch we started to get into some nice fossils and formations. Then we continued out of those until we found a junction which might have been the last junction that we saw on the map. There were not any survey marks and the compass showed it was "possible" but not a dead fit. We decided to continue on looking for a survey marker.
The passage was walking passage except that there were mud slopes on one wall that made it so you had to bend over with your feet in the creek and your hands on the slope. This passage was very easy going and we continued because we didn't think there was any chance that hundreds of feet of semi-walking passage would have been left un-surveyed.
After a short while we arrived at a very nice room that had 4 leads at 90 degree angles...a dead ringer for something you would call a compass room. Two of the leads ended in under 50 feet, but one continued and oddly enough was the shape of a compass rose. We decided to check this lead for a survey marker before we had to turn around (we were at over 7 hours out of our 12 hour trip at this point). This lead was blowing a lot of cold air.
A quick investigation passed two leads and then found a beautiful room full of formations with a survey marker on the ceiling on a third walking lead. The survey marker was "11". There was no room for a letter between the circle pointer and the number. It was just survey marker "11". We were out of time to determine whether there was a place to start surveying, and had no time to survey even if we did determine where to start. This last room was one of the most beautiful rooms in Big Bat and sported multiple large sets of cave bacon, stalactites, windblown stalactites, and one area I referred to as the catholic shrine. There was also another lead out of this room that had a belly-crawl that was mud/sand filled and would require a very minimal amount of digging to get through to the hands and knees crawling...and this crawl was blowing slightly.
We turned around and began the trek back to the exit. Three of our group changed in the cave while the rest returned to the cars. By the time I was able to get out of my wet clothes and walk up the hill to get cell phone reception, our call-out was at 11:37pm. Just in time.
Lessons for next trip: The compass room in Big Bat cave is a long trip. In order to survey we would have needed to have a better account of the last survey marker (or time to do some deduction), at least 10 hours travel time round trip, plush survey and rest time. We think that any future trip will plan 10 hours travel, plus 3 hours sleep, plus 4 hours for work. Guess we will have to plan an 18-24 hour trip to better understand this lead.