Friday, September 10, 2010

The Best Day Ever - a New Cave in Florida...a Cave With No Name

Going to a new cave is always great and going to a cave we've been too often lets us see entirely different things so we like that too. This cave is one Tom and I had gone exploring in but it was kind of frustrating because it just didn't go very far. We went back with ropes after exhausting every tiny hole in the collapse that we could on the last trip. This time Brett and Jeff joined us. The first thing was to drop into the pit. Not a big drop but deep and dark enough. Here Tom is showing off! He is Mr. Mission Impossible. (also known as survivor man)
We explored and came across a small tunnel that led to this stalactite jail. I fit through with no problem, Brett followed. Jeff realizes he is trapped and can't fit in...he and Tom were out! After we found another drop that required a hand line and ascender Tom managed to fit in so he could go down and explore. Unfortunately it was all silted closed and didn't go anywhere. This cave is full of a lot of spots that SHOULD go somewhere but need digging maybe.

We exited the prison and romped around some more looking for anywhere that might go somewhere. A lot of this cave was difficult overs and unders in collapse. Lots of dead ends. Tom is following a possibility here.
I guess this is the preferred position because here's Brett kind of taking the same route through! Funny!

I think Tom and Jeff were maybe getting a little bored. Brett and I were having fun trying to squeeze into little possibilities. Then Tom finds what he calls a "Katrina hole" and Brett decides to take a look. The climb is slippery and steep and at the top is a little hole that looks like there is a little shelf and a tunnel. When you are up there you can really hear what sounds like a waterfall. The call of the unknown speaks to you and you have just got to get in there. Brett struggles for a while. I need a hand rope to do the climb and then I have a go at it. Once I get up there I really believe this needs to be explored. Brett can't bend the way I can so the elastowoman goes in! Here I am sitting at the entrance before twisting, contorting and dropping feet first to a little shelf. This shelf is the only place to stand and get into position to belly crawl into the slot and my legs are really not quite long enough (there is a little slide off to nowhere drop). I work hard to figure it out since I cannot see down there, can't look with a light since there isn't enough room to turn...I have to remember what I think it was like when I looked in from outside - too much of a pain to try to get back out to have another look.

Well here it is...a very exciting tunnel I know no else has ever gone in before. No prints and definitely too small for everyone. I can hear water or a huge number of bats - not sure which - but in my mind I just want to get to the end of the tunnel, look out over a huge drop and see either a great big bat chamber or a roaring waterfall. These thoughts are what made me overcome the mental challenge of going into the little sideways slot. I had to take the helmet off because it wouldn't fit and had to push with my toes and use the one hand I had in front to move along. The other hand I kept in the back since I could not move my arms once I was in there. Somehow it seemed sensible to have an arm in each direction. I got in about a body length and then decided to back out just to make sure I could. Sometimes going one way doesn't mean you can reverse things and get out. In this case I could do it so I went another body length in. Here I am hopeful I will see a big drop and be in an upper tunnel looking down at something glorious. I take a "big head" self portrait. In this spot I could actually move my hand from behind and put it a little up the wall. I had the camera in the leading hand so if I couldn't physically look out I could shoot with the camera.

Now I am a few body lengths in and it is getting really tight. I know no one can get anywhere near my feet to pull me out if I get stuck and I am looking at a curve to the right that I can't tell if it ends or continues. Jeff tells me over and over not to "Nutty Putty" so I think about it and just can't risk getting stuck. There obviously is no way to turn around at all. This is a back out using the toes and one hand thing that is kind of tiring and creepy. Going in is exciting since it is pure discovery, but getting out is just a difficult disappointment. It takes some mental energy and physical energy. You can't see how far you have to go and can't really tell when you are there until the feet stop at the wall I came in at. Then I can do the contortion to get back out the small hole I came in on.

I just couldn't in my mind try to stuff myself into that right-hand curve. Couldn't do it. I could hear a lot of sound but don't remember if I felt air or not (I think not or I would have done it). I opted to toe my way out. So after contorting my way out and using the rope to get down the slope we were off to other parts. Here I convinced Brett to follow me through the tight guano spot to get a better look down into a drop. You couldn't see much from on top of the collapse so we crawled in for a better vantage point. The little white sticks are Maria Tree seeds sprouting. Bats love these seeds and carry them deep into caves. We have one in front of our house and can watch bats every night! There was one nice room that had a white ceiling and a bunch of neat formations that were kind of offset. A lot of the white formations looked cumulus clouds.

I think this section of wall looks like it has a stone caver slumped over - you've got the legs, butt, and left arm kind of slumped over a stone. Even if it isn't a stone caver the crookedness of the legs is interesting.

Another section of this cave has water and that is where we went next. We needed to clean all the heavy mud off everything anyway. Tom and I had gone this route already but it had some nice formations and we wanted Jeff and Brett to see it. When things came to an end for the day there was a tiny hole Tom or Jeff saw on the way out. Don't tell me there is a small hole and expect me to leave! In I went and there was a little room in there. At the end there was pooled water which may be a sump - couldn't tell. There was water entering the room from a couple different spots. Brett and I followed one of them. This was belly-crawl territory but there was a spot a couple body lengths in to hunch over and turn around. In this photo Brett is entering the hole. My camera ran out of battery or I'd have some more shots of this water-filled, claustrophobic spot but this gives you the idea! This was exciting because it was another toe-crawl small space but had the added element of water! I guarantee no one other than the two of us would go in there....

So that was what we did on Labor Day. The most exciting exploration ever even though everything was a dead end. I just look at it as practice and exploration that one of these times will lead to a secret spot...a giant room...a roaring waterfall...a virgin cave! Ah, some day soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Are you sure that wasnt a real person slumped over the stone? Looks real to me.... lol