Sunday, March 11, 2007

Cheat Canyon Dye Retrieval Pt. 2

Today John Tudek, Tom Lilly, and Dave Riggs hiked into the Cheat Canyon to pull dye traps and examine some interesting karst features along the way. We met at 10:30am in Morgantown, then drove out to the NYDC-area landowner's house. We immediately set out for what would be a beautiful day - "warm" temperatures in the high 40's, and not a single cloud in the sky all day. The sun had nearly melted all the snow in the canyon by midday.

We hiked down from his farm, then headed upstream all the way to the Downstream Dig, stopping only briefly for a few photos on the way. The cave itself was still iced shut, so we quickly retrieved and replaced the dye trap in the spring and moved on.

Tom and John examine Hanging Falls, upstream from the Downstream Dig.

The next stop was the twin springs at river level. When we finally arrived, the springs themselves were completely underwater and not visible from the shore. Unfortunately, the Cheat was much higher during the last two weeks - at least three feet higher than normal level, as evidenced by debris lodged in trees and shrubbery close to the shore. Among the debris were our two dye traps - one left up on the shoreline, one was tangled and hanging up in the trees! We retrieved and replaced the traps, this time tying rocks to the string to serve as anchors. Hopefully they were in the water when (if) the dye passed through the springs.

Dye trap suspended about three feet in the air after a flood event.

We also spent some time enlarging the sucking hole located about 30 feet above these springs. We made short work of several hundred pounds of fractured limestone, exposing a larger hole which still howls air into it. This hole may have some serious promise. We hope to return soon when the ground is less frozen and digging is easier.

The enlarged sucking hole with glove for scale.

We then made the long hike back out of the canyon, arriving at the rim of the gorge at 4:30pm. Now that all the dye traps have been collected, we're all waiting impatiently for the results - hopefully we'll prove a hydrological connection between New Years Day Cave and Druid Cave!

See also: more photos by Dave Riggs

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