Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Couple More Caves - Cueva Muerta y Cueva Vientos in San German

Tom Miller was contacted by a Mycologist (Angel Nieves-Rivera) who wanted to bring a professor friend (sorry I forget who) to a cave he had been in a long time ago to look for pottery shards and other evidence of human activity. Angel believed the cave was in the San German area and we got invited along. After consulting maps and talking further about it (after a late start- hee hee) it seemed that neither Tom nor Angel knew where it was. This was going to be exploration! The first place we tried was somewhere Jeff and I had not been - Cueva Muerta. We found the spot, parked, and Tom knew the way up the slope. It was a short, steep hike which is a good thing since it wasn't there. Tom headed back down to ask people in the neighborhood who set him straight and we were soon on the right path. The walk was short with another steep climb up to the rock face. From below you could barely see the opening. The opening was straight up and we basically did a little rock climbing/hanging to get up there. It was a little too much for Angel and friend who ended up staying on the bottom as we did a quick exploration of the cave. Angel did know that this was not the cave he remembered. We climbed straight up, crawled/hung on a little ledge to get into the thing and it was small but kind of neat. Here's looking out from inside.

Inside we did see three boas. A mound of guano lead to a small opening of a small bat room. I could fit inside but didn't want to disturb the bats for no good reason. This kind of bat is different than the kind we usually see. It was very small. We also saw coral fossils which would have been nice for Angel and his friend to have seen.

After exploring Muerta we hopped into the cars and went to the Vientos system which we hoped might be the one Angel was searching for. We had gone into this large system before through an opening that required vertical gear. This time we entered from the other side of the ridge in an entrance you could walk in to. We knew about this entrance from the featured the Edgar Alan Poe "pit of doom." (I don't know if Poe ever wrote about a pit of doom but if he did this would be it.) On our last trip I did not circumvent this pit since we didn't have a hand line and my arms were not long enough (I didn't think) to risk the slippery edge around it. (It frightened me.) First we had to tromp through neck high weeds that were full of burrs and other sticky seeds. We all looked hairy before we got there.
The plan was to leave the bone/pottery hunters near the entrance to search for their goods while we dropped into the unknown pit to survey it. We dropped 100 feet of rope and needed most of it. The rope was very stiff and I had a heck of a time trying to feed it through my rack. I was bouncing and trying everything and eventually dropped down if you can call it that. Jeff used his figure 8 and also commented on the stiff rope. Tom never has any problems (or if he does you never know about them). Anyway, we all ended up in the pit of doom.

We were greeted by a Boa. The pit was just that...a pit. There weren't any other passages in or out of it, no river, no formations, nothing. Just a deep dirt pit. Kind of disappointing. We did a quick survey and headed back up the rope.

This system is very interesting because of all the different colors of rock and the different angles.We always see the Guava (should be an accent on the last a) which we have heard it called a Guaba as well. It is a tailless scorpion but doesn't have any toxins. They are still kind of robot-like and can be kind of big.

We continued on and did a little more exploration in a lower area. On our way down a passage we saw these neat round pits in the rock that looked kind of like something had been broken off maybe. My thoughts were tube worms or bones maybe. Tom had no idea either.

We rummaged around another pit and then went to a lower area and Jeff shouted out that he had a "Katrina hole." That always perks me up. I took off the helmet and slid my feet down to a little toe-wide ledge. I was perched above a 40 foot or more deep pit that I couldn't get down without a rope. I was able to sneak a foot across the pit to a formation and go up a little side shoot. It was steep and I got to this little obstruction. It was small, but I could see it kept going so I wriggled into it (not sure how) with some concern about how I would get out. It didn't go more than a couple body lengths but at least we know this ends and next time can add it to the survey (if I go into it again). Since it was getting dark and we wanted to get through the jungle while we had some light we had to leave the deep pit for another time. We headed back looking at the interesting rock angles and layers. Tom thinks these are fossils. I wish I knew more about geology and anthropology so I could know what I was looking at.

The guys at the entrance took some photos of interesting things and seemed to have a decent time. We of course had a great time (caving is the best!). It was nice to see a new cave and to explore more of the large Vientos system that is in our backyard. Vientos is a large system with many levels. We hear that it is possible to go in from one entrance and rappel 160 feet down or something. We haven't done a rappel that far and I don't want to do it on a couple stiff ropes! (I would like to do it though.) As always we are looking forward to the next cave.

1 comment:

Cassie said...

That is a freaky looking scorpion! Yikes!