Thursday, June 01, 2006

[trip] Caving in Tennessee

We had a large turnout at TAG this past weekend: Rich Finley, Jill Pile, Jason Thomas, Melissa Parker, Dave Riggs, Judi Wasilewski, Bob Griffith, Mary Davis (both showed up on Monday), Ryan Ellers, Garth Dixon and myself (Brian Masney).

We camped in Fall Creek Falls State Park in Central Tennessee on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

On Saturday, we went into Rumbling Falls Cave. We split into two teams: Jason, Brian, Dave and Judi comprised the first team that went in to get everything rigged. Later in the day, the derigging team (Rich, Garth and Ryan) came into the cave. Rumbling Falls has a 70' entrance drop. You continue upstream through walking passage. There are two 20' up climbs along the way. You continue upstream and the passage eventually becomes a hands and knees crawl and then it becomes a belly crawl in the stream. At this point, I thought: "Why did we come here? We have this kind of stuff back home in Morgantown!" It eventually opens up a little bit and it requires several climbs, crawls, chimneys, cussing, etc. to continue through the passage. You eventually cross a drainage divide. At this point, the passage slowly starts to get a little bigger. You walk a short distance and you come to the Rumble Room. It is 5 acres in size and there is a 201' rappel to the top of the breakdown. This is the biggest known underground room in TN and it is big enough to fit the Lousiana Superdome in there.

Judi at the top of the Rumble Room.

The 5 acre Rumble Room in Rumbling Falls Cave. Thanks to Jason Thomas and Dave Riggs for helping light up the room with their Sten Lights while I did a time exposure with my camera.

On Sunday, everyone went to Conley Hole. The cave is about 9/10 of a mile from the parking area. The first half mile is easy walking through a field. The rest of the hike requires bush whacking through the woods to find the cave. There isn't a trail to the cave. Luckily I had good GPS coordinates to the pit or else we wouldn't have found it. The entrance to the pit is 20' in diameter and it really opens up about 50' from the top. The pit is about 186' deep.

Judi at the entrance to Conley Hole. Photo by Dave Riggs.

The entrance to Conley Hole from the bottom. Notice the rappeller on rope.

Ryan and Dave standing under some formations in Conley Hole.

On Monday, everyone went to Mystery Falls Cave. This pit is 286' deep and it is the deepest known pit in Tennessee. The cave is gated and it requires a permit to visit the cave. There is about 100'+ of horizontal passage that leads you to the top of the 286' pit. The pit is highly decorated and it really bells as you get closer to the bottom.

Dave at the top of the 286' drop in Mystery Falls Cave.

Mary at the bottom of the 286' drop in Mystery Falls Cave.

All in all, the entire trip went really well. We had too many people in the pits though. This made some of the trips really long. Next time, we need to split up into smaller groups.

I uploaded photos from the trip to my Flickr account. Special thanks to everyone who helped out with the photos. See also Dave's photos from Conley Hole.

Photos by Brian Masney unless otherwise noted.

1 comment:

Tyler Van Patten said...

how do we contact you to be a personal guide to take us through Rumble Falls cave in Tenn?


Tyler and Kevin