Sunday, April 8, 2012

Long Day Caving

Friday was another long caving adventure.  We (Katrina and I) set off with Tom, Julie, Tim, and Shirley.  The dry season really isn't so dry this year so we couldn't do a wet cave.  Wet caves are very exciting and tougher.  Even though these were dry caves it was a tough day.  Our goal was to map an unnamed cave and see some other caves in the area. We started with the usual drive past starving animals and garbage.  Once on the "trail" we were in the jungle.  The main trail was very overgrown to say the least and then we planned on going off trail for a while.  It wasn't that long of a hike and we were all joking that we needed to rest.
We got to the unnamed cave in good spirits and got started with the mapping.  Katrina and Julie found the survey stations and marked them while Tim and I took measurements and Tom recorded them.  It was slow going for the first few stations but we figured it out and got to the "end" in no time.

Katrina and Julie went into a small tunnel with survey gear and relayed the numbers back to us since we couldn't fit..  You can see Julie's feet sticking out.  It was a very small and very decorated passage.

We exited the cave and had lunch.  We had discussions about this secret room and our ambition got the better of us.  Through a 3 inch slot we could see another entrance to the cave on the other side of the secret room.  We wanted to find it. Easier said than done.  It was only 100 meters away.  100 meters on very steep heavily vegetated terrain is not easy and in our case not possible.  We were literately crawling through the jungle on our hands and knees.  Just to go 10 feet was an ordeal.  I went as far as I could given how steep and dense it was.  The entrance was probably only 100 feet away but we could not see it or get to it.  Searching for this elusive entrance took an hour and lots of energy.We gave up and headed for Cueva Dugon with thunder in the distance.  We were getting tired but made it to one "possible" exit for Dugon.  We put a rope in place.  None of us however was willing to go down this rope without vertical gear which we didn't have with us.  A tough 15 minute bushwhack over the ridge and we were at an entrance to Dugon. 
We then walked through a canyon to the other entrance of Dugon.  Lots and lots of bats, some flying into us.  Lots of dead ones on the floor rotting. Very very stinky, raining guano, over the boot deep guano.  Extremely hot. Get the picture?  Not a very fun environment. It's worse than my description.Then it was time to leave.  Everyone but Katrina and I climbed the rope we placed earlier to get out.  Katrina and I went out the way we came.  We were exhausted at this point and I couldn't find the way out!  I looked and looked.  Finally I had to go back to where the rope was and ask how to find the exit.  With some instructions from Tom we found our way out and started hiking back to them.  It was almost dark at this point and Katrina was having trouble.  We had to rest a lot just to go the short distance to the others. She didn't eat or drink enough and her heart was racing.  After a little rest and some shared food and drink we started our way out of the jungle in the dark.  The jungle comes alive at night!!!  So many sounds.  Its really cool but we still had an hour to go and we were all very tired and Katrina needed a few extra breaks. A LOT of breaks. Her energy reserves were depleted. We made it out ok.  We cleaned up and drove to the nearest place that served food, the Mofongo Gua Gua.  An old food van in a parking lot on the side of the road.  It wasn't very clean but it was a lot cleaner than I was after walking around in rotting bat stew. We mapped the cave and saw several other caves.  The only way to find that secret entrance would be to rappel down from the top of the hill through all the vegetation - something I don't think is really practical just to see one room (one room I assume).

No comments: