Trip Report for GSS 602, Biscuits and Gravy Cave
On Saturday, March 7th 2020, while at the Florida Cave Crawl hosted by the Flint River Grotto, I had the privilege of accompanying 8 other cavers into GSS number 602, also known as Biscuits and Gravy Cave.
Upon arriving at the Cave Crawl campground, my companion, John Graham and I immediately sought out the sign-up sheets for the weekend’s trips, as they tend to fill up quickly. John, at a youthful age of 73, requested I pick a moderate cave for us to enjoy. John was a member of a now defunct Capital Area grotto and had not been underground in 20 or more years. After some discussion with some locals, we decided on Biscuits and Gravy, as the map showed it to be longer than the typical Florida dry cave, but not so lengthy that energy levels would be spent entirely on the one cave.
On Saturday morning, we rose to a brisk 36 degree Florida morning and joined up with a group of cavers who varied from long time cavers from Indiana to a few new cavers from Tallahassee, 2 of which had never been in a cave before. Our guide was Nathan Dunfee, a caver local to the area and familiar with the cave. As sometimes happens, the quest to get to the cave was just as much as an adventure as being in the cave! The caravan to the cave was set to leave at 10:00 AM (CST), but at 10:05 it was quite apparent that our time frame may have been in need of adjustment. The group of new comers were no where to be found. After some searching, they turned up, and we set out. However, some head lamps needed fresh batteries, and one of the vehicles needed refueling, so the request was made to stop at a gas station that would take both needs into account. The stop was a bit of a mess. Gas was easily obtained, but it seemed the price of batteries was a bit steep, and those who needed the batteries quickly began to work with the local gas attendant on a map to the closest Dollar General, or better yet, Dollar Tree, in order to find batteries that were cheaper than the $7 asking price at the current stop. Just a reminder, we were currently at a Gas Station name “Blondies” in the middle of “nowhere” near the junction of Florida, Alabama and Georgia. There was absolutely 0 enthusiasm on our guide’s face at this point! Luckily, intelligence prevailed and $7 was sacrificed to the attendant at “Blondies” gas station, and we were on our way once more. (I was able to snag a pair of Cow Tales to share, as John had never had one before).
After about an hour of driving, and countless tiny, trailer filled towns cruised through, we found our way down an ungated dirt road to a limestone quarry in the southwest corner of Georgia. The quarry had seen years of disuse but was currently mining small amounts of “medical grade” lime, so there were a few piles of white gravel and powder near our parking area, as well as some modern equipment scattered amongst the dilapidated piles of mining equipment. Among the piles or rubble were large amounts of shell fossils, which made for an interesting exploration of the parking area. After a quick look around, we geared up. I had recently purchased a new caving suit, a new helmet and a new pair of head lamps (AV 2 piece, Mammut El Cap and 2 Zebralights) and was excited to try them out. The new 2 piece caving suit immediately struck me as an improvement, as I always have trouble getting my shoulders into the one piece suit I have. The jacket portion of the suit was a breeze to get on, and the pants were similar to what I have previously used, except with the addition of a built in belt.
The quarry proper had not been worked in long enough that trees that were likely 20 years old or more were growing along the floor, and the view was much like the quarry at Santos in Central Florida. Large boulders that resembled fossilized coral lined the narrow path to the Cave’s two entrances. Nathan was kind enough to take us to the larger of the 2 entrances, which was still a pretty tight squeeze. The entrance rock was jagged and sharped, and 4 tight turns downward needed to be wiggled through to enter the first “room”. The choice of “Feet first or headfirst” was mentioned, and in true to myself fashion, I dove in head first. At the second narrow bend, approximately 10 feet into the cave, while head down at an about 70-degree angle, my Banana Pack (around my waist), seemed to get snagged on a jagged rock. There was very little room to turn, and as both hands were stretched out in front of me, I was momentarily trapped hanging upside down. I was eventually able to work an arm back through the hole I was passing through, and immediately worked my hand to a spot to unclasp the belt on the Banana Pack. I’d previously been in similar situations and was unconcerned. However, in previous cases, I’d had on my trusty one-piece cave suit, and no where in my mind did I have the thought that I now had 2 belts and 2 clasps around my waist. Once the clasp that my hand found was unclipped, I found that there was no change to the situation. I gave a little bounce by shifting my body weight, and I was mobile again. However, as fell forward, my pants, now with an unbuckled belt, snagged on another rock and pulled down to my knees. The crotch of the pants bound on another rock, locking me in place yet again. The caver behind me, on seeing that I had moved, stepped down, wisely feet first, and in a position where he could not see his feet, promptly came to rest on the bound up pants between my knees. I was once again stuck, but this time hanging upside down, my upper half dangling in the first room of the cave, pants around my knees and stuck on a rock with a caver holding them in place. Had I been in a tighter place, I may have died from the laughter. Eventually, through tears of laughter, I was able to communicate to the caver above that he’d need to lift his feet so I could free myself, and with some acrobatics, I was able to flip myself around. I flopped onto the soft sand pile at the bottom of the entrance, pants around my ankles, and was successfully inside Biscuits and Gravy Cave.
After clearing the entrance to the first room, and replacing my pants, I moved off through the room to explore as the rest of the group entered. The area of the cave we entered was obviously a stream passage, with a smooth floor that had rippled sand from the last rain. The area around the sand area on the floor was dried mud but would obviously make for a sticky mess when wet. The powdery lime of the ceiling trailed down to the mud, and the name of the cave became obvious. Fragments of a box turtle shell were along one wall, with a few scutes lying nearby. The ceiling was the typical white chalk limestone filled with small shells that I’ve seen in most Florida caves. 2 bats were noted in the first room, and a quick jaunt into a side room found a 3rd. I shimmied up a mud crawl to enter another large room. This room was the highlight of the trip. Through out the room were fossils that resembled Sea Urchins. Some were fossilized in a way to see their toothed mouths open, and others had numerous shed spines around them. Spiraled shells, shells with protrusions and tube-like creatures were imbedded all around. A large claw, similar to a crab’s, was found on a ledge.
After about an our and a half of exploring, the majority of the group moved off along a crawl way to see another area of the cave, but 3 of us decided to exit the cave. I made my way topside, and while John chose to head back to the cars, the other 2 of us decided to check out a small cave perched about 35 feet up along the quarry wall. The climb was slightly exposed, and the rock very fragile, so I alone ended up in this unnamed cave. I explored the twilight area and after about 200 feet of passage came to an obvious dig. The dig looked to proceed about 50 feet through the sand with a ceiling height of about 2 feet, so I made my way back to the sun light and the sketch down climb.
We met up with the other cavers soon thereafter, got changed into our day clothes, and made the trip back to the campground for the evening festivities. Flint River Grotto is filled with kind, knowledgeable cavers, and they put on a fantastic Crawl. I’d definitely suggest a trip to visit them, but with the foreknowledge that Florida Caves are different than most of the caves we may be used to.