Saturday, November 17, 2007

[trip] Cheat Ridgewalking Yields New Small Caves

Finding ourselves bored with this month's Tucker County survey canceled, Brian Masney, John Harman and I decided to do some ridge walking and surveying in the Cheat Canyon. While we never managed to survey the cave we'd intended to, we did find a few new small caves, and... play a bit of football?!

When we drove down the North rim of the Cheat Canyon, we found the Beaverhole Road had been posted "No Trespassing" by a hunting club. Not wanting to anger the hunters, we drove all the way down to river level, where the land is owned by the state. We started hiking and found a football washed up on the bank of the river - this football was carried into every cave that we visited today, thus settling the discussion of whether caving is or is not a sport.

Before long, we discovered a small cave - which we named Quarterback Cave - with a low entrance approximately 3 feet wide but narrowing considerably away from the floor. Crawling in for 15 feet takes one to a small room of about 5 feet in diameter where sunlight is visible through a fissure in the wall. A narrow spur passage with a channel in its floor branches off to the right and ends in another small room. The cave is home to many spiders and crickets. Quarterback Cave is approximately 35 feet long.

Brian Masney inside the entrance of the newly-discovered Quarterback Cave.

Quarterback John Harman poses inside the entrance of Quarterback Cave.

Less than 100 feet away, we discovered another smaller cave - which we named Football FRO - behind a fallen slab of rock which nearly hides a 2 foot by 2 foot sloping entrance. The entrance "room" is about 3 feet by 4 feet high, and a single narrow passage with water dripping from the ceiling heads back for a body-length. Brian hammered away a tight corner so that I could squeeze my way on another 5 feet to find a dead end. Football FRO is approximately 15 feet long.

Brian Masney inside the entrance of the newly-discovered Football FRO.

We headed on and checked out Overhang Crawl, another very small cave. While the cave itself isn't very impressive, there is a very drastic blind valley located behind it, which we dug on for a bit in the hopes of breaking into massive passage laying beyond. Having no luck there, we continued on.

Our final destination was Spring Falls Cave, a spring resurgence which moves a large amount of air and produces a very impressive quantity of water, which falls spectacularly down over a limestone cliff as a waterfall. Our intention was to survey the cave, however we quickly found ourselves belly-crawling in icy cold water and decided that we'd need wetsuits to survey in this chilly cave.

Brian Masney and John Harman pose outside the entrance of Spring Falls Cave.

All photos by David A. Riggs.

No comments: