As the great adventurer, Bilbo Baggins, once said, “the key to exploration is to get lost before Elevensies, and find your way by second dinner”.  Or something like that; but he’s also the one who said it’s okay to put your good non-stick ware in the dishwasher, so what does he really know?  You know what a fancy magic ring of power doesn’t do? Make that baked on tomato sauce come off your pan any easier…  So, ha!

Anyways…

A long, long time ago there was a little girl who was very indecisive.  Her name was Lilea.  Every Summer she was forced to spend a week with her Daddy, who is very mean, and this Summer he was determined to make her go caving.  Initially, the little girl was very excited to go caving, but as the Week of Despair got closer (like, the day before), she asked her Mom to inform her Dad that she no longer wanted to go caving; she wanted to go to the beach for a week instead.  Her Daddy, who again is very mean, said, “too bad, people already took off work for this trip, and if we don’t go there won’t be enough people for anyone else to go.” What was uttered next made her Daddy reconsider his rule that he’d rather his daughter “use bad language and be a good person, than be a bad person and use good language”.

Irregardless (it’s a work of fiction, made-up words are allowed), that’s how, mere hours later, our intrepid little adventurer, Lilea, found herself in the town of Blacksburg, at a Mediterranean restaurant, with people she’d not yet met but once before at the Spring of VAR (Alexa and Ava).  After asserting her dominance over her new companions, by having her stuffed animal stuffed defecate into every water glass, a traditional sea-side meal of cheese burger and chicken tenders was shared by the two girls.  The adults meanwhile were reduced to eating scraps of grilled fish over a bed of rice and a Greek salad.  After consuming their wretched fare, the adults were then commanded to transport their overlords across the street to Kroger for S’more’s ingredients and additional supplies before driving the remaining way to the Bat Ranch.

After introductions, the adults set up camp while the children ran about the front field running from small bugs intent on falling in love under the pale light of quick moving headlamps.  After camp was set the party was given a quick tour of the Bat Ranch; including a healthy collection of both Play-Dough and exotic animals before settling down for the night.  Of particular ‘coolness’ was that the fireflies gravitated towards the tops of the trees that line the edge of the field—so even though the sky was somewhat cloudy and not many stars were visible, there was a halo of twinkling lights around the tents.  After nostrils and throats were cleared of all offending six legged passengers the children were tucked in, and after making a plan for the morrow the adults soon followed.

After a breakfast of oatmeal, cereal, and sadness (because Lilea had to eat oatmeal, like I said, her Daddy is mean) the crew packed up and got ready to hit Tawney’s Cave.  After signing in, leaving something of value (i.e. a small, feral kitten) to ensure good behavior while in the cave; Alexa, Ava, Eric, and Lilea headed across the street and up a small hill to the gated entrance of the cave.  It should be noted that by design the locks are particularly difficult to access for people with hands.  It should also be noted, that this fact will not register, despite repeated explanations, to children under 10 who will constantly spew ridicule at how long it’s taking an adult to do something as simple as turning a key in a lock. After far too much of a struggle, the gate was opened; the adventurers passed through, and locked themselves into the darkness.

The entrance opens up into a large formation room; with flowstone, draperies, columns, and other various formations present across most of the floor and walls.  The floor tiers down towards a stream, which cuts across the room on a diagonal, and the steps back up on the other side.  We initially headed down towards the stream, helping the girls down across some of the larger, slippery steps along the way.  Once we got down there we couldn’t find a way to ford the stream without getting wet, so we went back up and headed towards the left where we found a side passage that led to a few rooms.  In one, there is a bulge coming out from the wall that is covered with mud sculptures created by travellers in the ‘before times’.

The girls made a cat (Lilea) and a snake (Ava) and left them on the altar in order to procure us safe passage from the heavens.  After a short crawl to explore a small mud room, we headed back into the formation room and proceeded to walk along the left side in search of a way to cross without getting wet.  We found a sloped area of hard packed mud that could have potentially been used, but as it ended in a short cliff, which had a small ledge before becoming another cliff that led directly into the stream we decided against taking the kids that route.  I didn’t particularly want to go that route either, because my foots couldn’t find good purchase when I was testing it out and I am not sure I would have made it across safely myself.

We decided to go back to the lower tiers on the right side and ford the stream.  This was not a particularly appealing option for me because I have pancake feet. They’re short and wide and that makes finding boots that fit rather difficult; so while everyone else was in Wellies I was in my hiking boots.  Nevertheless, he persisted.  Alexa went in first, and carried Ava across before pushing her up a steep mud slope on the other side.  I hopped in next, caught Lilea as she jumped on me before I was ready, crossed over and pushed her butt up the mud before attempting the climb myself.  It is also worth nothing, that mud that already slick, becomes slicker when the weight of your foot squeezes all of the water out of your boots.

After passing through several wide passages, with the stream off to our side, we ended up in the Moon Room.  It’s worth noting, that up to this point I had a lot of difficulty with the map because the information wasn’t matching up to what we were encountering.  Alexa, who was using the map more as a pocket warmer, did much better in determining where we were.  The Moon Room is a dome shaped room, most of which is a mud flat with an occasional pool, and ringed by the stream.  We stopped here for a snack.  I ate princess fruit snacks, granola bars, and a Clif bar.  Lilea convinced Alexa and Ava that she was a poor, abused little creature and managed to score some rice crispy treats and a pepperoni roll in addition to the ‘inadequate gruel’ I attempted to feed her.

Our short break over, we proceeded to scale the large breakdown area behind us.  Ava Pope mentioned that to get through the breakdown we would need to go up and over it, before proceeding down the other side.  According to our map, which was at least 50 years old, if we went up and over in the middle we would encounter a “T” junction, and we could take it to the left towards fossil pools and the “Emerald Room”, and if we went to the right we would walk the stream passage towards the sink hole at the ‘end’ of the cave. We were unable to find the left hand route (a newer copy of the map shows that we needed to find a secondhand left turn that was misplaced on our map), so we continued on to the right through the ‘canyon’ at the back of the breakdown pile until we came to a tunnel with a mud and pool filled floor.

(Exhibit A. Old Map)

(Exhibit B. Slightly Less Old Map)

Ava and Lilea walked in on the right hand side, through the mud, but because of the low ceiling I walked straight through the water. This is right after I previously fussed at kiddo for stomping through water because the cloudy water makes it harder for animals that might be living in it to breathe.  I don’t know if that’s technically true; I mostly said it because I want her to take her footing seriously when she’s caving and not get hurt goofing off.  However, while I was destroying Kevin Spacey Land (he’s apparently not the star of “Water World” per IMDB), I saw three small salamander larvae swimming in a shallow pool, and we saw an adult (orange with black spots) off to the side in a different pool under a low overhang.

Thanks to a recent presentation by another Grotto member, Kim, we knew that all salamanders have a Cloaca, which when threatened, they can use like an “Angry Bird’s” type cannon to ward off predators or knock down towers of pigs (I’ve never actually played “Angry Birds”, but it sounds about right?).  Unfortunately, despite a lot of name calling, in multiple languages, and numerous attempts at verbal agitation we were not able to get any response from any of the salamanders.  It’s 2018, and salamanders apparently no longer care if their father was a hamster, or their mother smelt of elderberry.  In a way, I get that.  We passed on into a room that sloped down to the right, full of slippery, sticky mud. At the bottom was a deep pool where the stream went under the rocks, and moving forward was tall, wide, stream passage.

The stream passage was pretty easily traversed.  Alexa and I walked through the water, and supported the kids as they walked on the muddy side slopes, occasionally carrying them as necessary.  The first branch to the right that we took, near a well pipe that extends down through the ceiling to the floor, was a dead end and not the lead to the sinkhole like we expected.  We backtracked and took the next right, near the saltpeter mounds, and walked to the end to what appeared to be a dead-end with the exception a tight crawl.  The crawl itself was through small shards of breakdown, and was labeled the “Crawl of Despair” about three feet in, and the name continued as I went in about 20 or so feet, struggled to turn around in the small end room, and crawled back out.  This delicate flower was bruised, but unbowed.

While I was making the long, arduous trip back from my decent into the Abyss of Hopelessness, Alexa found the actual passage located about 15 feet to our right.  We went in towards the sinkhole, which I should mention, had been smelling gradually riper as we moved further in and away from the stream passage.  We moved over a patch of breakdown that was covered with something of a very bright white nature, and looking over, we saw a pair of ribs.  It turns out, we were traversing over the moldy, rotten, remnants of a cow that had fallen in the sinkhole and had to be put down inside the cave.  Turns out, moldy dead cow adheres to your clothes rather well, and also makes small children feel rather nauseous.  With that in mind, we moved forward into the sinkhole, and some fresher air, with all due haste.

We walked around the sinkhole a little bit, found another salamander, and then returned to the cave via the other side of the sinkhole. The route back to the stream passage was relatively easy, with a few areas where the kids needed help down a ledge or embankment.  After that, the return trip was mostly a matter of retracing our steps back the way we came.  We again, made a short snack stop in the Moon Room, but it was a short one as the girls were anxious to get above ground again and into the sunlight.  We didn’t really spend any time taking pictures during the actual trip; so Alexa and I took a few pictures near the entrance of the girls.  Again, it took a while to unlock the gate and Lilea and Ava were extra judgmental and impatient because they both had to use the restroom.  I made my best calming stream noises to try to placate them, but to no avail.

(Photo credit: Alexa Simmons, also, apparently, not Tawney’s Cave.  Oops.)

All in all, a good trip underground.  When we went back to the Bat Ranch we discovered a map that was about 25 years newer, and much more accurate and detailed.  Unfortunately, we only discovered that after I’d given our spare, unused, old map to a different group the following day.  And they were never seen again… (we can only assume?)  Big thanks to Ava and Mike for letting us crash at the Bat Ranch, and for tolerating two small terrors and two adults that might not have been as prepared for everything as they should have been.

 

**Certain events ‘may’ be slightly exaggerated, falsified, or patently untrue.  The editor quit after the second paragraph, so professional polish may be lacking in the final product.

Dawson Duguid, Dave Duguid, and Carlin Kartchner were willing to help me get back to the Rail Valley Cave survey again in Smyth County, Virginia. It had been three years since Emily and Joel surveyed with me there and left five leads (three promising and two not-so-much). The difficulty had been that I needed a high clearance vehicle and a rain-free, snowmelt-free forecast in order to access the inside of the cave, but the wait was worth it.

Saturday morning we found that the property gate was locked, so we drove to the owner’s home in search of a key. We found no owner. Via GPS Carlin devised an alternate plan that involved crossing the Middle Fork of the Holston River, so we went in search of a good parking spot. Along the way, Carlin began hopping up and down in his seat when he saw resurgences pouring from the downstream side of the river’s oxbow. We had to pull over while he forded the river and checked out seven resurgences and the nearby rocks, but the wait was worth it.

Lacking a good parking area and unsure of how wet we wanted to get in the river before cave entry, we chose to go back to the original gate. It was still locked. So we hiked in. Odds are the trees that had grown up in various places would’ve prevented Dawson’s truck from getting us back there anyway. Long hike in the summer heat but worth the wait.

We found the entrance easily enough and went straight toward the leads in the back of the cave. The upper lead crossed over some small rimstone pools where we observed many segmented grains of rice crawling underwater. We’d appreciate any help with identification. That passage kept going up, eventually into a sideways crawl around formations. Then it ended.

The lower lead took us quickly down to a terminal sump. While I sketched the sump area, I sent the remainder of the team back to Emily’s lead near the Hanging Buddha. Three years earlier Emily had relayed that the passage looked to continue as a belly crawl at the floor level but needed to be dug open; same notation on the original cave sketches from Wil Orndorff.

When I arrived at the lead, my team had disappeared from sight. I could hear whooping and hollering behind the wall. They found an easy bypass to Emily’s lead and had climbed into the Liquor Cabinet, a thirty-foot high room marked by flowstone pagodas climbing to the ceiling. Two horizontal leads lead out of the Liquor Cabinet, and a thirty-foot pit had intrigued Dave and Carlin. We looked across the pit to what might be a significantly larger room in this cave that previously held no rooms at all. We surveyed the Liquor Cabinet and then decided that we were all too wet and cold to continue much further. Dave and Dawson made a voice connection via Emily’s belly crawl to the Liquor Cabinet, but no visual connection. 371 feet of survey.

Sunday morning found Carlin outside again identifying the plants in Tanya’s neighborhood. We opted to take Tanya that day out to Staley’s Cave for a survey trip. We netted 211 survey feet mostly in a straight line, a dead calf, a hornet’s nest, white caterpillars crawling on Carlin, and one angry mother bird.

Dawson took some great photos (see below), but I couldn’t figure out how to get them all turned right side up in WordPress.

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

Photo by Dawson S. Duguid

 

Just a few pictures from the May 12 Girl Scout trip. They did an impressive job of removing graffiti and picking up trash and were rewarded with some fun, muddy caving and eye-catching formations. Pictures taken in the “outer” mine area might show people without helmets or gloves.

After the painfully frigid dampness of Dutton’s, Dave Duguid, Ken Walsh, Jason Lachniet, and I strolled along the sunlit field over to Radon Cave. It didn’t take long to find out that Ken wouldn’t fit through the entrance crawl. We traded him a shovel for a cable ladder and left him behind.

When we reached the junction where the old traverse was, we were shortly joined by the grunting and hissing of a groundhog. He retreated down a side passage, but his stench lingered while Dave ascended 25 feet and rigged the cable ladder. After yet more belly crawling, we reached the pinch and the reason we’d brought along the hammer. Without Ken, extra tools were unnecessary, and we slid out into the Big Room effortlessly.

At first, it just looks like a big room, and I was so grateful to be standing up that I soaked it in. Then Dave told me to climb the small breakdown pile, and from there, it’s clearly a Big Room. Jason set stations, bouncing from one wall to the other until we reached the far end of the room, occasionally noting the faded carbide station markers from a previous survey. We surveyed a total of 300 feet. The ceiling height maxed out at 75 feet. We eyeballed a ledge about 15 feet above the pinch and agreed that someone could free climb most of the way and reach it with a few bolts. The only remaining leads would be high ones that are only visible and accessible from up there.

In the big room, we saw one live bat, one isopod, and the decayed remains of one groundhog-sized critter.

While we were surveying Ken enlarged the entrance crawl, and getting out was a breeze. At least, it was less miserable than it would have been.

Emily Graham, Dave Duguid, and Jason Lachniet seemed intent on exploring Radon Cave, but Dutton Cave would waylay them first because I was driving this weekend. I had estimated that fifteen survey shots would be all that were required to fully characterize this Cave Ridge cave, based on a scouting trip once before.

We entered the upper level, easily surveyed that single room with three different pits, and then dropped a cable ladder to the lower level. Jason and Dave took a westward turn and surveyed speedily down a decorated passage that twisted its way back to some small rimstone dams. Then it got tough.

Emily stood in the coldest spot between the three pits above while Dave and Jason surveyed over, under, and around numerous fins and random tubes. The water level in the pool was at least four feet lower than during my previous trip to the cave, so there was even more to explore (where I didn’t quite fit). The Cowl and The Sombrero were the more interesting blackened formations decorating this area. However, the strangest thing we noticed was a stone platform beside the pool. Someone had used flat rocks to build a four-foot high platform long ago at the water’s edge more than forty feet below the entrance.

It was nice to total 434 feet of survey (32 survey stations) by the halfway point in our cave trip that day and finish the survey of another Smyth County, Virginia cave.

I had a blast on my first real caving adventure. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was just what I was looking to do. I have been in caves before, but this was the first time I had the freedom to go where I wanted and had the potential to go into uncharted territory. The small cave entrances were a bit of a surprise to me. I didn’t really mind, but I was glad to get past them. Once we got into the cave, I couldn’t wait to continue exploring. Our original goal was to take some climbing gear and a scaling pole somewhat far into the cave to get up onto a ledge. We had no idea what was beyond the ledge, but that is the nature of exploring new territory! It’s possible it would dead end right away, or it could have been a whole new cave to discover. We decided to use the pole at another location near the cave’s entrance to climb up a wall. The pole ended up failing when Mark climbed up it about 15 feet. We had to abandon our original plan so David, Brian, and myself just explored the more accessible parts of the cave. Many of the rock formations were absolutely beautiful. Since this cave has only been explored by only a handful of people, the rock formations were in great shape. We also got some amazing pictures that I did not expect to get due to lighting. I decided not to bring a camera so I could just focus on the experience. Brian luckily had a great low light camera and experience with using head lamps and flashlights to get some great shots. One of my favorite parts was going down into the drain at the bottom of a huge room. It wasn’t an extremely tight fit, but it was nothing like I’ve ever done before. Several vertical climbs surrounded by rock that appeared to dead end just a few feet ahead. This eventually lead to a hallway that brought you to a huge room with a big vertical drop known as the pit. This is where we had to turn back because we didn’t have gear. I would definitely consider returning to this cave to go beyond this point.

On day two we went to Radon cave. I thought Snocone had some tight squeezes, but the entrance to this cave was about as tight as could be. It was about four feet wide, and the height was such that you had to crawl on your belly and couldn’t even take a deep breath at one point. What made this cave fun for me was that none of us had been very far into the cave so we didn’t know what to expect. I also got to learn a little bit about how to survey a cave. This cave clearly had been explored by “many” cavers over the years. I got to explore the cave a little bit by myself while the others were preparing to survey. I climbed down a wall and found a hole that we would eventually explore. The hole was about an eight foot drop so I had to wait for Dave to setup something for us to climb up and down. The anticipation to see where this would lead was very exciting. It didn’t go as far as I had hoped, but it was a good amount of space to survey in one day. I’m really lucky that Dave, Mark, and Carlin were willing to take a chance by bringing me on this trip without knowing my caving ability. Another caving trip is definitely in my future. This trip was just what I was looking for!

-Mike Hammock-

The key to a successful Hancock Cave Bat Count trip is that your team has really accomplished something. The number of cavers had a lot of turnovers since the October TriTrog meeting, but we finished with thirteen cavers choosing a caving trip to Hancock instead of a WVCC banquet the same day.

We began the day with Mike Broome preparing a delicious cocoa quinoa porridge to accompany sausage, eggs, peppers, and mushrooms at Tanya’s home. The sticky dark brown porridge warmed us all up before Pete noticed the frozen birdbath outside. We felt sorry for the people who chose to camp instead of getting started with us.

I was assigned to Emily Graham’s underground team, along with Natalie Wickencamp and Molly Schlichenmayer. I was told that my job was to be the ladder. When we split away from the other teams, Emily navigated effortlessly through the passages to get us out to the Grantham Room Overlook. I realized that we had a very competent team (sans me).

We pulled out the wire brushes to remove graffiti at the south end of the Anastamoses Maze, but we found that creating mud puddles and smearing the mud over the scratched-in names was far more effective. After clearing most of the walls in one junction, we took a break to see the nearby historic 1896 signatures. Then we rubbed more mud on the walls to hide more recent names and arrows that pointed deeper into the cave.

Emily revved up the group as she adeptly led us around the MC Escher Loop, and Natalie led me into the tightest crawl off of Harrington Hall. We found a live bat while heading to the Over-Under and then began more graffiti removal from the Over-Under all the way back to the Long Room. However, we left the 1896 signatures from HB Buchanan. I think that the Spring VAR 2018 visitors will really appreciate the graffiti-free look of the cave.

After sighting another bat, our group headed for the Funnel Tunnel. It wasn’t flooded but was damper than any time I had seen people pass through before (but there was no rain in the forecast that day). As I lay stuck in the Funnel Tunnel’s tight spot, I noticed that the sticky dark brown mud surrounding my lips reminded me of the morning’s porridge. Drowning in porridge would indeed be a slow death, so I exerted enough energy to free myself and join my companions.

We visited Earthworm Gym and Noogah Way in the spare time we had left to explore and then beat a hasty retreat toward the exit. Hasty except for the part where I again crammed my body through the viscous porridge.

When we stopped my vehicle at the North Carolina Welcome Center on the way home, Emily went to the back to look for something. We were excited to find that the rear hatch had managed to catch a corner of a Ziploc bag bouncing along the bumper. That Ziploc bag held my spare ignition key.

Emily and I weren’t sure that we’d have enough people to have a real cave photography trip; we needed models, people to hold flashes, and sherpas. However, we got lucky when Ava, Diana, and Pete agreed to join us for a Sunday caving trip. We drove up to the Bat Ranch Saturday evening so Ava could spend some quality time with a boa constrictor around her neck.

I pointed at the trail to the Hillside Entrance to Smokehole Cave, and Pete said “That’s not a trail.” We took a more circuitous route to the cave. Click on the photos below to see the full images.

Easy travel corkscrewing down to the stream passage, and then I started looking for places to take photographs. Emily was a good sport as she held the ceiling up while looking down at the stream below her. She seemed okay with her niece being the subject of the photos.

When we climbed up the breakdown pile, Emily scouted around while I set up a second photo. Diana couldn’t quite hide from the flash.

Pete agreed to pose near a rock whose bottom had eroded away, and then I flipped direction to try a backlit shot of Emily posing on a rock in the stream.

Diana’s lighting skills helped us backlight more stream shots, but the main stream split three ways not too much further in. I tried to photograph Diana and Pete walking down a mud passage that led to the Big Room.

The Big Room was really big. And muddy. And a good place for a lunch break.

Emily looked to be nine feet tall standing over a rimstone pool, while Ava skulked in the shadows. We then exited the cave uneventfully and drove home late Sunday evening.


[photo staged by Emily Graham]

Just got back from Perkins cave today. My elbows and knees are a bit sore but having spent 14 hours underground yesterday I’m feeling pretty good. We got a lot accomplished. The trip consisted of three excellent teams who each surveyed over 1000’. In total we logged over 3200’ for the trip. Official numbers will come later after Jason gets the data in the computer.

Participating in the trip were:
Team #1: Jason Lachniet, Steve Ahn
Team #2: Amy Skowronski, Nick Socky
Team #3: Myself, Elliot Edling, Janet Manning

Rough timeline of my trip:
Friday:
4pm – Sent out a late note to Jason confirming I was joining his trip. Still needed a place to sleep. Also, I had nothing packed and was still at work.
~6pm – Got off the phone with Bill Grose who even though he wasn’t caving, offered me a bed in his house for the night!
10:40pm – After braving the grocery store, and then later I some very heavy rain near Mt. Airy, NC, I landed at Bill’s place.

Saturday:
7am – Woke up for the day. Before I could leave, Bill spoiled me by making sausage and eggs. Much better than the food I had planned. Yum!
8:30am+ – Met up with the team in Meadowview, VA before caravanning to the cave property.
10:40am – I was the last to enter the cave. I think the longer I’ve been doing this, the longer it takes me to get ready.
10:45am – Met everyone else who was already in the register room checking instruments on a survey course Jason had setup to make sure there were no issues with anyone’s equipment.
1:??pm – We arrived on the other side of the 800’ crawl. From here we Jason and Steve went their own way while I led the others to leads Steve and I generated earlier this year. My team started by resurveying a shot I took issue with at the end of our last trip while Amy and Nick went off into passage where the flagging hanging in the walking passage was moving in the breeze.
Our passage was not quite as expected.
Although it began looking great, we quickly seemed to reach the end of our lead. This didn’t make a lot of sense considering the old map seemed to show a very long passage in the direction we were headed. Around this time Elliot dropped his glove down a small hole and couldn’t get it back. This motivated him to downclimb a hole originally perceived as something we’d rather try to bypass. Turns out the drop was not only the way to the glove, but also the best way forward. The bottom of the drop immediately produced three leads. Since we had a DistoX with us I was motivated to do the awkward shots first. After four shots, we decided we didn’t want to push that lead further as we found ourselves chimneying in less than stellar passage. Back to our other leads. Having poked my head in both directions I suggested we take the worse looking lead, saving the nice lead for something we could look forward to later. We never got back to that lead.
Survey where went started off crawly, but eventually opened into nice straight canyon passage. Just before reaching the steam we encountered an area we’ve come to call the “Juice Bar”. At the time Elliot was on point and he started giggling to himself after discovering it. Janet thought he was being weird until she met up with him and discovered what the fun was all about. There is a layer of “rock” in this area that we saturated such that it would ooze out water when pressed. We all agreed it was pretty neat.
We left one lead near the Juice Bar going downstream then continued upstream for some distance. We reached a point where two streams converge and we continued the tradition of starting into the less appealing passage. We stopped where it looked like we would get wet. Elliot checked the lead and reported it opens back into walking passage after 15’. He got his hands and lower legs wet going in, and not wanting to get wet myself I opted for the other stream lead. It started great with a lot of water and a pretty 4’ waterfall below us, but eventually we ended up in passage frequently narrower than my shoulders, but it was at least tall enough to stand. As a sketcher, it was especially annoying because the floor the stream meandered along was typically about 10’ wide but only 1-2’ high.
Finally, things in front of me started sounding better when Elliot reported pretties, but unstable looking breakdown. I ran ahead to join him to see if things were as fragile as he claimed. I climbed though with no issue and suddenly realized I was in known passage. Jason, Amy, and Janet had surveyed down to this level on the last trip. I started yelling with excitement about the loop closure we just managed. To add to it, I knew Jason and Steve were expected to return right over our heads before leaving, and before I could catch up with the sketching, they had descended to our level to fill bottles before leaving.
11pm – Everyone meet at the planned location and time just before the 800’ crawl. We snacked and chatted a bit before heading for the exit.
11:11pm – Entered Crawl.
12:40am – Arrived back at the cars. Made pretty good time on the way out having exited through the stream passage
After everyone was situated, we totaled our numbers and excitedly reflected on how productive we all had managed to be. It’s quite rare for every team on a cave survey trip to be so productive.

Steve and Jason left for home that night while the rest of us camped on the property. We exited for home the next day before the morning haze had fully cleared off the mountain.

Perkins cave makes me happy.