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:
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.
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.