Five Springs Cave Gate Installation

5 September 2001

In order to secure my reputation as a booty scooper I thought it vitally important that I appear on scene to help install the new gate for Five Springs Cave. Surely this last moment participation would be just enough to get me an invite to some of the early survey trips. Just in case that wasn't enough I sweetened my bribe by covering 10% of the costs for gating materials. And on top of that, I was counting on Rick to be the gentleman he always is. After accepting my token offerings of support and finance, how could he say no? Hey I might take advantage of a person's good nature, but at least I let them know when I'm doing it.

[Deleted - Ed.] passes through a beautiful Highland County hollow that is lined with mature timber on both flanks. A spring fed stream runs down the hollow and most of the water appears to resurge from Five Springs Cave. The cave, formerly known to cavers as [Deleted - Ed.], has been revealed from below a massive amount of scree and hillside debris in recent months of digging.

Left to right, Rick Royer, Phil Lucas, Rick Lambert and Larry Baer use black and tackle to haul the new gate up the hill and into the Five Springs Cave entrance (foreground). copyright 2001- D. S. Kouts

It was Thursday morning of OTR 2001 when I arrived at Five Springs Cave to find Rick Lambert, Larry Baer, Phil Lucas and Rick Royer in the throws of hauling a 10-foot long section of drainage culvert across the creek and up the hillside to the cave. I burst slowly from my vehicle in anticipation of the physical effort I would soon find myself engaged. Thinking quickly I reached for my camcorder and began filming events as they unrolled. My gamble paid off, Rick asked me to take pictures with his camera too, I was to be the projects photographer. Rick even invited me to a feed hosted by the cave owner in January next year. The theme of the dinner would be photographs of the excavation and cave and tall tails all around. What a deal.

Phil Lucas adjusts the gate after it has been lowered into the Five Springs Cave entrance shaft. copyright 2001- D. S. Kouts

As I filmed, Rick, Larry, Phil and Rick used a block and tackle rig to haul the gate up the hill. In four short increments they had the gate 100 feet up

the slope and ready to drop in to the entrance pit excavation. A minor modification was made to a rock that blocked placement of the plate but after that everything dropped nicely into position.

After placement the lid of the gate was flush with the ground, a great setting because it helped hide the gate and cave from probing eyes that might drive by on the road below. The lid used a similar dual master lock mechanism similar to the one in place on Con Cave in Germany Valley. The difference here was a larger diameter gate with a screw cap that could be closed to protect the entrance rock from freeze-thaw in the winter.

Once the culvert was in place it was time to make it permanent. We hauled and mixed what seemed to be 50 bags of concrete mix, each weighing 80 pounds over the next several hours. Each of those bags had to be carried up to the cave over a slick and muddy trail. Rick Royer took a spectacular slip at one point and narrowly missed disaster.

Larry Baer adjusts the top of the gate, setting it flush with the surface. copyright 2001 - D. S. Kouts

Once on site we set up a team, Rick Royer, Larry Baer and I mixed concrete (yes I finally had to do some labor) and handed buckets up to Phil and Rick L. who were in charge of rocking in the gate. Slowly, over the course of the afternoon, the gate was secured in place in its 10 foot deep shaft with a combination of stone and cement. This was a solidly placed gate.

Rick Lambert begins the process of placing rock and cement around the gate to secure it in place. copyright 2001 - D. S. Kouts

I was forced to depart by 4 p.m. that afternoon so that I could get to OTR and make preparations for the next days tourist trips to Taylor Run. As a result I didn't witness the finish to the days gating activities. But a report from Rick L. later confirmed that the installation had been completed and a data logger I had left with him was placed somewhere inside the cave.

I'm sure I'll see the logger on one of my future survey trips to the cave.

Devin Kouts

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