Sunday, September 24, 2006

[trip] Tucker County Survey

Brian Masney, Mary Schmidt and I went into our current Tucker County cave this weekend (2006-09-16) with the original intention of resuming the survey from where we left off last time - about 2.5 - 3 hours back into the cave. We were in cave around 10:30am, and the water level was the lowest I have ever seen it in the cave (which is also what I said last time).

We made it to the end of the main survey in 3 hours, 45 minutes, including two side-excursions to push tributary leads. Frustrated with the time and effort required to get back here, we decided to abort the survey trip and push forward to either find better passage or another entrance. The upper, main passage continues forward for a ways, and goes from walking passage to stooping passage to crawling on breakdown flakes. It primarily zig-zags following regular joint sets. At some point we dropped down the the middle level, but were kept up off the stream level the entire time. Travel became slow and painful through the breakdown flakes. We passed several right-hand side passages, though none looked very promising. Airflow was very weak and we were not having fun.

We eventually came to another right-hand side lead, this one very curiously keyhole shaped, while the "main passage" continued as a nasty breakdown crawl. Both appeared to be virgin passage - we chose the keyhole. This passage went for 30' or so, then got wider and more rectangular with one or two small, meandering, phreatic tubes in its side. We found a window in the floor, for the first time in several hundred feet revealing water to us again. Excitedly, I rushed on to find a way down, scurried down a nice chute, and shouted back up "we've got cave!" This interesting passage has almost vertical walls, about 3' wide, and almost completely parallel, making it look like an aqueduct (at least, it would have had the cave not been so dry - it was more of a mudduct). The passage had faint airflow. Mary took the lead and scooped about 150' - 200' of walking passage which kept getting larger and eventually taking on a meandering shape. Deciding that we needed something to coax us back into this cave again, we turned around in nice walking passage. We had travelled at least 500 (unpleasant) feet from the current survey.

We were out of the cave at 7:45pm, stopped by Kevin's house to check in, and then had pizza at CJ's.

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