Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cueva Corriendo y Otros

We haven't been caving since June for a few reasons:  our best caving buddy (Tom) had some surgery, it is the wet season and caves are full of water, no one else seems to want to respond to emails and go. We were excited when Tom was up to visiting a few smaller, easier caves. We first went to a previous show cave (Camuy) that was dismantled ( which means people have stolen all of the useful metal and materials out of it). You could drive to its mouth and see the other side. There was a skeleton dog in it (a starving dog) and I didn't want to look around much. When we finished that one we drove a small ways over near Cueva Cerdo Infierno (Hog Hell) - a cave we have fond memories of! We parked and walked in a dry river bed full of trash. Some neighbors told us the water goes up fast and you could see the "ghost trees" which are trees covered in white trash bags the water has sent screaming down the river bed. The mission was to map this small cave and send me up a "Katrina Hole" to see where it entered the main part of the Infierno system. A Katrina Hole used to be a hole no one else can fit in and now has become anything every one else doesn't want to go in. I am usually up for it since squeezing and low spots are my specialty! I am the station finder, Jeff the data taker and Tom the recorder. Monica was also along. I trotted ahead and climbed up this little 7 foot wall (second photo) and up into the muddy stand-up in part. I figured out the first and second stations and waited for them to shoot the measurements. As I was waiting I could hear what sounded like someone hitting a pipe far away. I mentioned it but the guys were oblivious or couldn't hear it from where they were. It was a strange sound.

After the second shot I went through a really muddy spot to a low area with water and dams in it. This was a tricky spot to figure out the correct station - line of site was hard because of elevation changes and obstacles. I didn't want to get wet yet so I made my way around and figured it out. Then I ended up looking at a big pool of water. The next station would require going into this low air space water filled spot and it has been raining every afternoon. The "Katrina Hole" was somewhere ahead and water from the main cave would be dripping out of it. Then Tom says he doesn't remember these pools. He doesn't remember water being here. I make a decision to skip this until another time. We have had some exciting times in the "Hell System" and I wanted to save it for a drier time.

We start heading out and I see some "fossils" that turn out to be parts of a plastic cup embedded in the cave walls. I am pretty close to that 7 foot wall and can see the entrance. Then we start to feel a weird vibration and start hearing a strange rumbling and I hear a loud yell - "RUN!" I get out and all of a sudden Jeff and Tom are right next to me (last I saw of Jeff was when I grabbed the rope when he handed it down from the wall). Tom hadn't even made it to the wall yet but here he was. He was so fast I think he left his hip behind!

So what happened? More importantly what DIDN'T happen was we didn't get in the way of a wall of roaring water coming out of the cave. Tom heard the rumbling and felt the vibrations and, having been in a situation that felt like this before, thought the cave was filling with water and that we had to run like deer in front of headlights to get out fast. Luckily it was only THUNDER, but you don't know what it is when you are in there.I am still very glad I did not go further into the cave since all the remnants of garbage in the walls and ceiling are proof that a real scenario could be water gushing out the entrance. We KNOW there is a lot of water in the system - Hog Hell, Ponor 3 and Ponor 2 have waterfalls and swimming parts and very large passage that go on for hours. I don't want to be in a cave and have water not be there one moment and be gushing out holes in the ceiling and walls the next.  No thanks. So we make it out and then walk back trying to stay out of the stream bed which the neighbors have said rises very quickly.

We are on to the next cave. We stop by a guys house who on a different adventure gave us a ride back to our cars when we came out of a cave not near where we went in. This new cave was behind his house and we would enter it around the other side of the magote. Again, the warning of water gushing out cave entrances. We walk for a while and pass by this pipe and bucket with screen on it - someone's water supply. I wonder how they can throw garbage in the river and then think their water will be clean. Where do they think it goes? This cave was also a show cave that has been left to rot. There were rotten/scary stairs in it but the cave itself really would have been a great show cave if there had been some vision and maintenance.

The cave was pretty large with some nice formations and some little interesting spots. It would have been a good show cave for the more physically able. We climbed around and there was a nice bat population. Then we arrived at the other side of the magote, could look out at the guys land and could, with some rope, exit there if we felt like climbing. Instead we went back through since it always looks different from another direction and exited to the sound of dove hunters blasting off shotguns. We made it to the cars as it started to rain and got home at a reasonable hour. All in all a good day and very nice to see Tom out and about, even though his super-powers are knocked down a notch for now. We can keep up!

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