Tuesday, January 28, 2014

This Weekend's Caves - Cuevas Abono and Collazo

This dry season has been exciting because we are surprised almost every weekend by caves that aren't known, well-known or documented. Not only that but some of them are really pretty nice and go further than anticipated! Cueva Abono in Moca/Isabela was no exception. Tom and Michael came by the house and we headed up 112, hung a left shortly and headed to a house we scoped out on a previous outing. The gate to the house was open and Tom just drove right up the long driveway and chatted with the owner who pointed to the sink and said the owner probably wouldn't mind if we went into it. It was RIGHT THERE. A low spot in her driveway. We walked for all of 3 minutes to climb down into it. There was an opening on the left and one on the right and we went right. It did not look extensive until I used a good light and a little crawling to get around a squeeze and holy shit it was huge!!! I told the others they better come in and I just kept going! I got to a pit and found a way precariously down it (unnerving to be face-to-the-rock with feet dangling over an outcropping over a pit). I lowered myself down and then took off again. The cave just swallowed us whole as it opened up into huge passage sticky with mud and full of an untouched carpet of guano! It was quite decorated and had a lot of wonderful rock "sculptures" of rocks sitting like bridges or on pedestals. To the right of one such rock "table" I entered a small "bacon" tunnel with really nice bacon and a small bat hanging on it. We continued on and on maneuvering around creepy high up muddy slippery ledges (FUN stuff) and sinking in guano mud on the floor. We explored most leads except a high up need-a-rope-but-can't-see-how-to-anchor-it level. The cave ended at a collapse where we could see roots and some debris but not a way out. We need to map it to find an alternate entrance (the collapse from the surface or who knows, maybe a drop into the upper level?). We headed out and then took a quick peak into the other entrance and holy crap, it immediately dropped into a pit and was huge as well! No photos of this second part since the humidity crapped up the camera, but there were HUGE columns and a stream. We followed the stream and then I did some crawling into some dead-end mud rooms. Followed the water to some nice flowstone and even more tunnels. We followed everything as far as we could and turned back. We went a route that we thought would meet up with the main branch we came in on and indeed it did. This cave was much more involved than anticipated and really really nice! We were in the cave around 2 1/2 hours.


After that we stood in the entrance for a bit waiting for the tractor beam to pull us up and deposit us at our next stop. We shortly arrived at a cave, Cueva Collazo, that feeds into the waterfall off 111. We parked at a house after asking the neighbors if they knew where it was. We went down some stairs and into the river bed following it upstream. We came to a low muddy entrance and headed in! We were amazingly muddy from the first cave and I was a little chilled to start but into the disgustingly dirty water we went. Immediately the ceiling got low and the water got chest high. After that it got lower and lower and lower and opened up into some stand up spots. We investigated all the watery areas until they ended. This meant slurpping a little water here and there and being totally submerged! Our kind of stuff! (personally I prefer the one-way no-turn-around mud tunnels to the helmet-off-nose above water ones). Michael was a sport since he hadn't been in a cave before. He REALLY lucked out with these - they were amazing (especially the first although the second was the crazy stuff that is most memorable). All in all it was a fabulous day that was unbelievably close to home. OMG

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