Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cueva Viento - One Convoluted Cave

This was a very fun and dirty trip. This trip was to look around. It was our first time here. It is easy enough to find from the trail (once you know where the trail is) after getting the key from Pipo, chatting a little, and gearing up. Once inside the opening you walk along in ankle deep clayey-mud for 20 or so minutes. There are a half dozen hand lines in place to help with climbing up slippery mud slopes. Jeff is holding one here.
There were muddy small passages and rocky slots and enormous rooms in this. This cave had a little of everything.

I thought Perdida was confusing but compared to this one? Doesn't compare. Perdida at least had a river that the side shoots came off of, this cave has enormous rooms and tiny tunnels and the most amazing thing is that they are at all different levels. There are rooms above rooms that lead to rooms below rooms and tunnels that connect them or go somewhere else.

There were Guavas and bats.

There were so many tunnels to explore that it was tough to just walk on by most of them. It would be very easy to get lost since there was no river to follow up or down. Everything led somewhere and came out somewhere you didn't think it would. After the first 20 or so minutes we got to the place we needed to rappel. Tom rigged the rope and dropped it into the darkness.

Tom went first, then I went and then Jeff. The drop was maybe 40 feet or so.

So now we were down below the entrance passage and in a large room. The room sloped down on all sides. There were bats and mounds of soft mud/dirt/guano.

We went down one of the slopes to go on a "loop" route that Tom knew. We tied our rappelling stuff to the rope and left it there to be retrieved from the top when we took a different route back. There was another hand line almost like a "caution" barrier since there was a little bit of a slippery drop to nowhere on the other side of it.

After we held on and slid downward a bit we went back up a little and then we came across this area of little dams. At one point in the adventure we did hear and see running water but didn't go down into it (another time since we could fit).

We ended up in a passage that had huge, deep bell holes and in my mind I pictured huge mutant bats that must have created them. We usually see bell holes but these were gigantic and deep and looked more like they were created by machines that drilled them into the rock.

There were a couple collapsed holes on the ground and I crawled under and stuck my head into one for scale. I couldn't fit my shoulders in, but my head fit just fine! That is one huge bell hole!

There were formations a lot like what we saw in Balcones but there were a lot of others that reminded us of other caves. It was really a diverse cave that consisted of many individual large caves within it - one had a ceiling about 60 feet up. It is really strange to be underground and to drop down down down, crawl around for a few hours and find rooms bigger than our house down there.

We used another hand line to climb up another slippery slope.

More tunnels, crouches, bending and contorting.

This cave has it all.

When you are underground it is hard to tell what direction you are going. A compass would be a necessity for a cave like this where there is no real main passage and no river to provide direction. It would be something else to try to figure out how to use it in a useful way though. Underwater we have sun and a depth gauge to find the way up but down here you have neither. Underwater there is usually a pretty clear direction in - the reefs run parallel to shore mainly and a compass will lead you in if there is no obvious slope to the sand. Underwater there are clues but underground if there are clues we don't know them yet. In this one maybe you could follow bats out at night or know where the entrance is if you are close enough to feel the wind. Other than that it is almost like a bunch of individual caves connected in unexpected ways. I like this formation...reminds me of Dr. Seuss stuff or the carnival stilt walkers.

After exploring only a few rooms and tunnels for only a few hours we finished up the loop and headed round to where we had rappelled down. we were now 20 minutes or so from the opening and we could hear the rain as we got closer.

It was pouring outside and thundering. We headed down the trail and took a detour to Volcan so we could see where it was and then peeked over the ridge to the general area of Balcones. Since it was really slippery and really raining we went back to the known trail to head back to the cars. This cave was really interesting because of all the different levels. At some points we were up on top of mounds of soil looking up 60 feet and also down into other rooms we hadn't been to. Traveling around between them was not obvious which makes the discovery part of caving fun. And of course there was mud...lots and lots of mud that made me a very dirty girl indeed.

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