2011 Opening up plugs in a cave

We have some serious interest in trips to one of the largest caves in the state later this year. So I decided it would be good to make sure we can get through the log jam at the entrance, and other known obstacles. Lee and Jeremiah agreed to accompany me on a recon trip. We got off to a slow start, which wasn’t helped by endless roadwork on the way.  We found ourselves a camping spot in the twilight. Conveniently the nearly full moon didn’t come up over the ridge until after we had everything set up. We enjoyed a quick meal, and watched for meteors from the Perseid shower. After a couple big  fireballs we called it a night and tried to ignore the full moon. Woke up in a prettier than average campsite for somewhere we found in the dark.

We discovered that the road to drive closer to the cave had been closed and gate locked, probably for roadwork. So we had the opportunity to add a couple miles of hiking onto our trip as well.  That was irritating to discover, but better to discover on a recon trip than a full on expedition level trip.

We found the cave in short order, and introduced Lee into some of the highlights of the entrance area.

The real goal of this recon trip was to ensure we could get through the logjam high up in the cave, and to the passages that lead deeper into the cave. We found that someone had been working on the logjam with a saw, and keeping in mind that everything is relative, we made our way through fairly easily.

We played around in the cave for a while. We discovered that one of the main passages was blocked, and had to find ourselves a bypass. Luckily we were able to find an alternate route to continue on, that didn’t even require us to crawl down the 3′ high passage with 6 inches of water. Unfortunately it required more crawling than I had originally planned for. And in the process we ran into a couple locals that had come today to clear out a lower blocked passage for their own later trips. We helped move a few logs around, and zipped to the end of the “easy” part of the cave to make sure we could get that far on a later trip.

A good time was had by all, and we can now come back later in the fall. Preferably after we figure out the road access better, because a longer day in the cave is not going to be compatible with having to hike a couple miles out afterward…especially if my boots are wet. :-)