Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Espero Volver de Cueva Perdida!

Sunday's journey was another fantastic one that involved driving a bunch, parking where you know some people, walking for an hour into jungle on "trails" and then looking for a small set of boulders with a little opening as the clue that there is something spectacular underground! You have to go with someone who knows the spot or you will never even stumble upon it. As we found with this one, even going with someone who has gone before there are new treasures to be discovered inside ... especially when you are in the Lost Cave (Cueva Perdida). Why is it called the "Lost Cave?" Well, you can easily get lost trying to find it so in a way it is "lost" out there in the jungle. Once inside, the name of the cave makes a lot of sense when you start taking side holes, or scooting into the water on your belly and coming up somewhere totally different that leads to other tunnels or holes or rooms or.... So here we are at the entrance of the cave (yes, it is those clustered boulders behind us) having some water after hiking for an hour or so. Our little group was Iraida, Bro (the leader), Ron, Jeff, myself and Edward? (sorry I forget)

The entrance of this cave did not give any clues as to what was inside. The opening was small, and white and not really decorated. Definitely we were crouching or crawling (depends on your flexibility and size). Here's a photo of Ron maneuvering into the cave.

After the tight passage it opened up and we could see the river below. We could go up river or down river and we went to the left up river. We went down into the little gorge and looked back to try to remember where the exit was. Things always look different on the way back!

The journey started out with terrain sort of like Cueva Zumbo - kind of caramel colored and sculpted. The water was very cold!

We walked around in the cold water following the river for a while.

There was a lot of flow stone (what I call ice cream sundae formations). It was very beautiful and still gave no clue as to what the rest of the cave would be like.

Many areas had large stalactites and stalagmites and flow stone. Everything was dripping and interesting looking. We got to an area Bro had been before and he asked if we wanted to crawl on our bellies into the water to look at a collapsed area. I immediately said yes which got others to agree. Jeff didn't want to get wet this early in the trip and didn't like the little space. Bro went first and couldn't really see the way in. There was a very little hole so after he came back out I went in and slithered up into that hole and peeked around and found a larger way for the others to enter. This area was a bunch of boulders that were collapsed. I started immediately exploring while the others were coming in and was absolutely amazed to find a startlingly bright, white, fully decorated area leading to another room!!!! This area was super bright white with straws everywhere and extremely fragile formations. I am small and flexible and careful so I entered the area to see where it went. Pictures cannot come close to showing the whiteness and delicateness and expansiveness of this area. I had my pack off and had to go on my belly to avoid breaking off straws.

I am calling it the Icicle Radish Room because of the color and the formations and the gnarly, twisty radish looking teeth growing from the ceiling. We all took a very careful look before going back out. There is some extensive surveying going on in this cave and SEPRI isn't doing it. I would sure love to join in on the surveying. After we were out we continued back up river and Bro found another white room that he had been in. After going farther in there were even more side tunnels and holes that he hadn't explored and we had big discoveries of more beautiful, white, breathtakingly fragile areas.

We turned around when a couple people slipped. When you start getting tired it is easy to make mistakes that will lead to real trouble. On the way back every side hole we could peek into turned out to lead somewhere and have more side passages that did not necessarily connect to places we had seen. Now we understood why this was the "Lost Cave" - you could easily follow your excitement and never come out!

I really wish I could take a better camera here - there are spectacular formations and everything is drippy...some of the sorbetos (straws) were 2 feet or longer. There were so many detours you could make but they were small and you had to leave the pack behind and definitely could not and should not drag or push anything down these areas.

Every tunnel offered a new room or another white area that was highly decorated. Unfortunately there were some broken formations on the ground. I think there must be some compromise between mapping and documenting an area that is this delicate - do you just expect a certain amount of breakage and believe it is worth it to document information about it? Limiting access is a great plan but not everyone knows their limitations or abilities and sometimes sheer excitement takes over before the brain kicks in.

We were in this cave for 6 hours or so - it was almost 8 hours from and back to the cars.

So we had to leave the white rooms and leave exploring other side shoots for another time. We went back to the darker river bed and started heading downstream.

Besides the flow stone this cave had a lot of the "fudge formations" that Los Chorros had - the dark, chocolaty, soft looking stalactites.

The passage looked completely different going back. You start to notice things you didn't see on the way in and start thinking that maybe you could be going a different way? Fortunately the river is the river and it leads us out. We just have to look for the one familiar formation so we can climb up and head out the confined area to the sunlight. Once we were out we went down to another "entrance" to wash ourselves off in a small waterfall and in the river bed. I have never had so much fun or been so dirty ever! This other "entrance" was really constricted and since I had done so much climbing around I left that, too, for another day.


Geoff and Michelle said...

Hey guys, your pics lately are AMAZING!!!
I love your flowers and the caving looks like something we'll definately need to check out soon.
Geoff and I are having a ball in Puerto Rico, exploring, meeting people and living life on this beautiful island.
Thanks for sharing!

Cassie said...

That looks so cool! The only cave we've gone was in the Camuy Cavern...which was neat, but a very short expedition. 6 hours is a long time to go caving!

Are you sure the cave's name isn't "Cueva Perdida" instead of Perdido? Usually the adjective and noun match the gendered form. Also you would say "espero volver a.." instead of "de" unless you are saying "I hope to return from (de)..." instead of "I hope to return to (a).."

Sorry for the Spanish lesson...let me know if you don't want to hear it... :-)

Manuel said...

The survey on this cave was made by FIEKP.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Manuel - Are you still surveying it? This is my favorite cave so far because there are so many secret rooms and little tunnels to carefully maneuver through. If you ever want help....I can slither! katrina