Sunday, September 02, 2007

[trip] Windy Slope Dig

Sunday morning of OTR, at what seemed like the crack of dawn, I groggily heard Brian Masney and Doug McCarty pack up and head North for the Cheat Canyon. Aaron Bird and Bob Kirk were apparently already on their way to finish digging and start surveying in our newest Cheat Canyon cave; I closed my eyes and went back to sleep. Eventually I managed to drag myself out of bed, pack up camp, and drive 1.5 hours to Masontown. As expected, when I arrived everyone was already down in the canyon, leaving me no choice but to pack up all my caving gear into a backpack and start hiking all the way down into the Canyon - ugh. Luckily, as I started my hike, a speeding pickup truck came flying down the road, beer cans clanking and music cranked - they shouted "hop in, buddy!" and hauled me all the way down, 45 minutes by 4WD truck, saving me what would have been an even longer hike.

I finally arrived at the Windy Slope Cave entrance, much to the surprise of the large group of cavers milling around outside. Bob and Aaron were inside digging on the squeeze in the Fichtner Entrance, while Doug, Brian, Sandy, Greg Springer, and Terry "Monk" McClanathan waited outside. Much time passed, and Aaron, Doug, and I killed some time by digging on a hole upriver and directly across the river from Spring Falls Cave (which didn't yield anything major to us). Meanwhile Greg and Brian were inside digging, Greg being frustrated enough to trudge through the icy cold Water Entrance by himself.

Dedicated team of diggers and surveyers, who traveled from as far as Ohio, Baltimore, or Michigan for a taste of sweet Cheat Canyon caving. L-R: Doug McCarty, Aaron Bird, Bob Kirk, Sandy ?, Greg Springer, Dave Riggs, Terry McClanathan and Brian Masney. Photo by Bob Kirk.

After several hours, enough progress was made on the dig so that everyone could fit through the squeeze. I started in and was informed that surveying had been nixed for the trip. I took Terry and Sandy for a tour of the cave, then Terry and I went out the Water Entrance to give him the "full taste" of a Cheat Canyon cave. We hiked down the hill and waded into the bath-water-warm Cheat River in full cave gear, washing everything off and staining the entire river brown. With zero feet surveyed, we hiked up to the vehicles and drove out of the canyon - despite lots of traffic on the Druid Road - for a Mexican dinner.

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