Sunday, the day you wake up questioning if you really made the best choices the day before. What would your parents think of your decisions? Are you too old for these shenanigans?
These are common thoughts during caving weekend. You go into the weekend stoked about getting in multiple days, but then after you make a hard push on Saturday, you consider scaling back your ambitions. Disney+ just came out, maybe we should go home and try that instead.
But no. We’ve got caves to ‘splore.
This weekend, the trip the day before wasn’t actually too bad, but I’ll leave the details and color for that trip to someone else. Helpfully, we also made a fairly leisurely start to the day, not getting to the vicinity of the cave until after 11am.
The cave of the day was Stones #2. In past years the Tri-trogs surveyed the nearby Stones #1 and Cassell caves, but ended up saving this one for later. During the survey of those caves, Dave and I located the entrance to this cave and did some quick exploring to get an idea for what to expect. One thing we learned from that trip was that our access path was less than ideal. We basically climbed down and up a cliff to get there. Was there a better way?
At a later date, Ken had made a trip to checkout the possibility of non-cliff access, and thought he’d found something very convenient just across the river. When we drove there this time, “what, No Tresspassing”?! So we drove around to find another way. What did the top of the cliff look like? Oh, a brand new fence, thats nice, and annoying. We also didn’t have permission to park where we had been parking previously. Talking to strangers is hard. We did, however, find a way.
There was a nice parking pull out where we could walk along the river to our destination. Before suiting up, we made the short trek through the woods to determine the feasibility of access, and determined this new path would work out great even if we did step over a deer carcass to get there.
So, back to the car, then back to the cave. Cross the river. Don’t slip and fall. Oh, the water went over the top of your boots, too bad. It was cool that day, but not too bad. The sun was shining with almost no clouds in the sky. Once we got inside out of the breeze, the cave was rather pleasant. A little animal scat, but compared to Big Sink it was unremarkable.
As for the survey, it was rippin’ speedy. I was setting stations, Ken was on book, Taylor and Rodney were on instruments. After a bit of struggles with the first shot, we were off to the races. On a couple occasions I got ahead of the team with my station setting, and was able to do a little solo surveying, leaving my red LED at the opposite station, getting foresights and backsights of course, and recording the numbers in my book separately to hand off to Ken.
The cave itself has two entrances, very close to each other that lead into the main room. There is a side passage that seems to parallel the cliff/river, but eventually got too tight for my hips. Through a steep uphill crawl too tight for hands and knees, there is an upper room about 15 feet high. Weirdly enough, in that room there were roots embedded in the climb to the top part of that room, and there was also a slug on the ceiling, something I’ve never witnessed in cave before. The cave also had four bats scattered on the ceiling throughout the cave. Neat, better than Hancock.
The best part of the whole trip was that although I was rushing the pace a bit so I could get back in time for my ultimate Frisbee games, we got the whole thing surveyed. Yeah, all of it! The whole thing. 334 feet in the book! Woo-hoo. It felt super good. We left the cave feeling accomplished and made a quick change back at the car.
On the way home, the real world started to creep back in. Things like grad school, unemployment, and ultimate were the topics of the drive. The highs and lows of the weekend started to fade into the background as we made sure Ken didn’t fall asleep to the freeway lullaby. It was great to get outside, but we couldn’t stay there forever. It was nice to get away for a moment though, however brief it felt. We should go caving more often.