2006 Jeremiah’s First Vertical

This trip was a chance to show Jeremiah and Lee a little taste of Tony Grove caving. Having relatives in the Logan area, and spending most of my undergrad years at Utah State, we had spent some time in the area over the years. And until I started spending time with the cavers in 2005, we had no idea how much we were missing out on.

On the way up the hill we wandered a bit and found some sinkholes and other features of note. Our main goal this trip was Thundershower Cave. It was a simple enough entrance that I felt comfortable we could get Jeremiah in and out of it, even if we had to just haul him out. He had been practicing with me on a tree and my grandparent’s hay barn, so we were pretty sure he would get out under his own power. (Consistent readers may recall this was the cave I made my first ascent in as well.)

We reached the cave, and dropped into the icy cold below. None of these high alpine caves are particularly warm to begin with, but there is something about starting out on a giant snow pile that doesn’t help you feel any warmer. Lee opted to take some time topside to read a book, or maybe nap?  Jeremiah and I dropped down the main route to the bottom of the cave, taking a little time for some pictures along the way. Once we returned to the surface Jeremiah made his way out under his own power, to my relief. (He was a skinny little kid, but hauling dead weight is never fun.)

This still remains one of favorite little caves. A beautiful hike across alpine meadows and hillsides to reach the entrance. One of the most picturesque entrances for silhouette pictures I have come across. A series of neat formations in an icy cold cave. But still small enough you can zip in and out in a few hours, and enjoy the warmth as you come back out to the surface again.

After the cave we held true to a Baxter tradition of refusing to waste any daylight. We hit a few more of the sinks I knew about in the area, and basically took the long way back to the car. Beautiful day for a hike, and I had someone else willing to share carrying the rope, so why not?

You will also notice a few pictures of Providence Cave mixed in. I took Austin to see Providence the next morning. We just cruised the cave, didn’t stop for many pictures.

2006 Steep Canyon Ridgewalking

I had a free weekend, and took a chance to get out of town. With no particular plans until just a few days before, and holiday on the way, it was too short of notice for most people to get out and have fun. So I had a half formulated plan of going and looking for caves in an area I hadn’t seen before.

I knew that Tony Grove had a lot of caves, and not many people had specifically looked around some of the more remote areas north. So I decided to head up and try and sneak into one of the canyons to the north and try some initial recon.

I took my camping gear, let a couple people know where my general target was, and headed out. I took my Pontiac up roads that it wasn’t designed for, but nothing crazy until I hit a stream crossing.  I got out and looked it over, and decided the worst I would do is get stuck halfway if I lost traction. There had been several campers along the roads below that could save me if necessary, so I went for it. Other than my adrenaline being a little higher than necessary, after the initial splash as I hit the water it was fairly uneventful. The looks on the faces of the 4-wheeler crowd I encountered further up the canyon was priceless. I probably took the bragging rights out of their “tough day of riding” by getting to the top of the road in the main canyon. (I chose not to try the logging road headed up the ridgeline.) 

That first day I was early enough to get a quick hike in, and get a lay of the land. I quickly determined the limestone bedrock didn’t actually start until partway up the canyon wall. So some of my time was spent simply getting to limestone, and taking pictures of flowers, mushrooms, slime mold, and other fun things. On top of a pinnacle of rock I found a random item. Someone had made a face, likely in a pottery class, and left it on top of the world. I took a picture and left it there, to confuse some future archaelogist no doubt. I bombed back to the car in the twilight to set up camp. I encountered a porcupine along the way, and only harrased him for two or three shots with the camera. The mosquitos were horrible, so I decided I would have to use the tent to survive. I had brought along an old army cot, and wanted to use it instead of only a thin pad on the ground. With some finessing everything fit, but not even an inch to spare because of how high the cot stood. I had won out, and had a bedroom for one that was fit for a king!

The next morning I had a full day hike planned. I had spotted a couple potential holes, and had to get up close to check them out. There were still snowbanks melting in the deep shadows, and some of the small streams were still in runoff mode. One of my leads was directly under/in a small waterfall coming off the wall, after climbing a couple hundred feet of snowfield.  It didn’t seem to go further than what I could see, but I made a mental note to come back on a day where someone else was along and later in the year to see what it looked like then.

I ran around on the ridge tops again, finding the limestone wasn’t as thick as it was near Tony Grove. I checked one full ridgeline covered in potential karst features off my list, but had to leave others for another trip. I decided I could get back to a real meal at my grandparent’s if I headed out before dark. So I dropped back to the car, and took another pass at the stream crossing on my way down. Smooth sailing from there…