Saturday, March 24, 2007

[trip] Cook Pot

On Saturday, March 24, I headed down to southern Pocahontas County to help John Chenger on a bat project. We were to find and descend Cook Pot, recording temperature and humidity data while looking for evidence of past bat roosting in the cave.

Doug Medville's description of the cave entrance didn't help us much - it took over an hour to find the cave, which was just a few hundred feet from the road. The entrance to Cook Pot is located where a small spring-fed blind valley meets the main stream. The spring's water flows down over a small limestone waterfall, and the cave's entrance is located in the outcropping. The narrow, sloping entrance crevice opens to a narrow pit about 30 foot deep, with a smaller 10 foot pit offset from a ledge. Continuing through an opening at floor level, a 20 foot pit is reached. A 150 foot rope may be used to drop this entrance series by using a bolt which is placed at the top of this lower pit. The remains of old wooden ladders are still located in these entrance pits, presumably from the early 1970's.

From the next room, a low stream crawl for about 100 feet leads to the top of a waterfall going into a 45 foot pit. Here one chimneys out over narrow canyon passage at ceiling level for about 30 feet to a platform where rigging allows a free drop into the middle of the beautiful pit. The slot at the top of this drop can be a bit tight.

Dave Riggs ascends Cook Pot's big pit.

From the bottom of the big pit, we headed downstream following a wildly meandering cave stream until it dropped out from under us at the 15 foot Fork Falls. Continuing forward for a few tens of feet, the passage intersects another cave stream flowing down from another waterfall, Spoon Falls. We followed this stream downstream as 40 foot tall canyon passage intersected with many domepits and interrupted with several huge breakdown blocks.

Dave Riggs posing in front of Spoon Falls.

After returning to the big pit, we went upstream for a few hundred feet, where the passage consists of very tall, dry, gothic arched hallways. We then headed back to the surface, and were surprised to find that we'd spent 5.5 hours in cave. Cook Pot has over a mile of surveyed passage, and we only saw a small amount of it - despite being off the beaten path, it was a very enjoyable vertical cave.

See also: more of John Chenger's Cook Pot photos.

All photos copyright John Chenger.

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