Highland County Survey Report, January 2002

-Text by Rick Lambert, photos and captions by Devin Kouts

We had another successful survey weekend in Highland County for January. The temperatures instead of being in the single digits, teens and twenties like last month, were in the 20's to 50's.

Rick Lambert, our host and coordinator of the Highland County survey is often found hard at work recording survey data for forwarding to the VSS.

Larry Baer and I started the weekend early. Both of us are going back to work after a three month break and decided to celebrate with a little ridgewalking and digging on Friday. We headed to the section of the Bullpasture Mountain we have been working, and ridge walked the area we had covered the previous month. We lacked a long bar the other times and carried one and a shovel to probe the many sinkholes we found. Our goal was not to cave, but to locate and dig open everything we found, for the crew showing up the next day. The rules were to only focus on those holes that the bar went in the full six feet in three or fewer thrusts.

One of the first things we saw that day was this intriguing hole opened the day before by Rick and Larry Baer. It's a narrow crevice that I would estimate to be 60 to 80 feet deep. Rocks rattle down into it for durations of 6 to 10 sends. Unfortunately it sounds no more than a foot wide all the way to the bottom.
I was the first to score when I stepped in a small depression that was about the size and depth of a bathroom sink. In three thrusts all that could be seen of the bar was the top. I called to Larry and he brought the shovel and we exposed a narrow crevice that rocks could be heard bouncing for six to ten seconds. We knew we would not be able to open it enough this weekend for anyone to get in so we named it, recorded its location for the VSS and moved on.

Next we came upon Larry Baer's latest lead, ultimately named Zipper Cave. This is how it started out.
Larry found the next one on one thrust. It was a narrow crevice with a stump over it. It was too tight also, but looked like it might be entered with a little work. Again we named it, recorded its location and moved on. Our final score for the day was a hole that was already opened. It was one of the several locations plotted on the VSS master map for Bullpasture Mountainside Cave. We were attempting to accurately locate the cave by surveying the cave and comparing the description in the VSS's files with our survey and map. So, with one more hole to our credit we stashed the bar and shovel and headed for Monterey and dinner.

Breakfast is early and well attended. The crowd normally dines at one of the fine eateries in town.
Saturday morning I rousted everyone out of bed at 0600 and we headed to breakfast at 0700. Afterwards we divided into two teams. Josh Rubinstein, Scott Wahlquist and Bill Murray headed into Five Springs Cave to continue the survey. Larry Baer, Allan Cibert, Kim Johnson, Devin Kouts, Carol Peterson and I headed back to the Bullpasture Mountain.

Very nearby to Zipper Cave is this lead previously noted by Kim (pictured). It was dubbed Xena Cave. We pushed a rock out of the way that had been blocking the passage on and surveyed the cave to completion.
Once in the project area, Larry and I led everyone to the crevice that rocks bounced for six to ten seconds. Every one ooed and ahed and by the time we were through dropping rocks the cave had lost one foot in depth. We moved on to the next area where two caves awaited opening and survey.

We split up and worked on both at the same time with people moving back and forth as needed. Xena Cave was partially mapped but one passageway was blocked by a rock. Our plan was to move the rock and complete the survey. So, Allan, Kim and I beat on the rock until it was small enough for Devin to push out of the way. Carol was to begin her debut as a sketcher as Kim, Devin and I surveyed the monster lead. Actually, only I could force my way through as the others preformed their tasks outside the cave. Xena Cave taped out at 47.6 feet long and 4.1 feet deep.

Meanwhile Allan and Larry get busy opening up Zipper Cave.
Meanwhile back at the other site, Zipper was becoming a cave. Larry, Devin and Allan enlarged the narrow slot so all could enter. Carol recorded and sketched as Larry and Allan did the survey. Zipper Cave finally taped out at 37.3 feet long and 10.7 feet in depth.

Larry Baer emerges from the tight entrance of Coralloid Cave.
From there, we wandered past several fantastic karst features that will probably produce caves. All we need are some good diggers and a half day of labor! Eventually we ended up at the entrance suspected to be Bullpasture Mountainside Cave. We rigged a cable ladder and the survey began. Kim and Allan scooped, Larry and Devin read instruments, Carol sketched and I relaxed and took pictures. The cave turned out not to be Bullpasture Mountainside Cave. So, we named it for an unusual popcorn formation that was encountered, a Coralloid. The cave also had abundant large fossil corals. Coralloid Cave taped out at 130.5 feet and 51.9 feet deep.

On the trek back to the cars Rick Lambert and Devin Kouts (the authors) stand impressed by the success of the day and the beauty of the area.
It was getting late as we exited so Devin led us back to the vehicles cross country with his GPS.

As we passed the Five Springs Cave entrance Josh, Scott and Bill were undressing. Josh related how they climbed up into the upper maze where the cave first becomes walking passageway. The mud was "soul sucking mud". They discovered two pits which will require rigging. This brings the total to four pits which need to be surveyed. They pushed the cave to 3745 feet in length. The trip ended early due to dampness and cold.

On Sunday I again woke every one up at 0600 and was told by Carol, Kim and Devin that if I wanted to live I had better get out until 0630. We again left for breakfast at 0700.

Saturday evening found the crew wrapping their mouths around pizza, burgers and cold beer in their favorite local hangout.
We began the morning by camouflaging the entrance area around the Five Springs Cave gate. Then we divided up into three groups. One group, Larry and Scott hiked to the mountain looking for a cave referred to as Bobcat Hole by the owner's sons. Carol and Josh were to continue the overland survey above Five Springs Cave to locate the dike and possible other entrances on the surface. Devin and I accompanied John Vance, a local grouse hunter, on the Bullpasture Mountain. John wanted to show us more caves he knew of from his many years of hunting on the mountain.

The next day, Rick and I returned to the same area of woods with a grouse hunter who wanted to show us some leads. The first thing he takes us to is a fine going lead, subsequently dubbed Grouse Cave.
John immediately took us to a cave we named Grouse Cave. From there we walked over the east side of the mountain looking for Bullpasture Mountainside Cave, which we did not find, again. This 10' diameter shaft has eluded us for three months. We did however locate several other entrances. John enjoyed the two days he ridgewalked with us and has asked if he can participate in future weekends. He says he doesn't know if he will like caving, but he sure likes hunting for them!

Josh and Carol did about 1000' of overland survey and afterwards reported they did not locate the dike on the surface. They did report that sandstone is on the surface directly over parts of the cave and that the back of the cave is well over 150' below the surface.

Larry and Scott came back and reported they did not find Bobcat Hole. It's there. We will just have to try again.

Rick Lambert perches atop a headwall with a small lead at its base.
We have finished 15 of the 25 caves I wanted to survey this year. I have been encouraged to up the goal and have decided to raise the number to 50. The family weekend has been set for Memorial Day weekend, May 25-27. This is an opportunity for you to bring your non-caving spouses and children to the area. We are planning a tourist trip into a local cave and other activities. The next survey weekend will be February 23-24. Come on out and help us.

Rick Lambert
NSS 12496


Other Photos From The January 2002 Survey Weekend

Rick Lambert, our host and coordinator of the Highland County survey is often found hard at work recording survey data for forwarding to the VSS. Friday evening in Ricks kitchen gets festive as folks arrive from points abroad, ready for some ridgewalking and caving.
Breakfast is early and well attended. The crowd normally dines at one of the fine eateries in town. Occasionally we get a chance to digest our breakfast as we wait for certain members of the team to get their act together.
Once at the rally point the group takes a moment to organize their thoughts before heading out into the bush. One of the first things we saw that day was this intriguing hole opened the day before by Rick and Larry Baer. It's a narrow crevice that I would estimate to be 60 to 80 feet deep. Rocks rattle down into it for durations of 6 to 10 sends. Unfortunately it sounds no more than a foot wide all the way to the bottom.
Next Rick led us over to this small cave, Singing Tree. It was passed over for survey that day as our objective lay further on. Next we came upon Larry Baer's latest lead, ultimately named Zipper Cave. This is how it started out.
Very nearby to Zipper Cave is this lead previously noted by Kim (pictured). It was dubbed Xena Cave. We pushed a rock out of the way that had been blocking the passage on and surveyed the cave to completion. Meanwhile Allan and Larry get busy opening up Zipper Cave.
Nearly there, Larry steps in to test for fit. Success, Allan pears back up the entrance as he and Larry survey Zipper Cave.
Rick seems to be enjoying himself, and it's not even lunch time yet. Later after poking around at a lead dubbed Iron Girl, the crowd enjoys lunch in the unusually warm temperature.
After lunch we walked over and checked out this interesting little cave. It slopes steeply down into a small room but ends shortly after that. Otherwise it's an impressive entrance. This cave was dubbed Bull Pasture Mountainside #2. We finally arrived at our objective, Coralloid Cave, an obscure little hole that I'm surprised anyone spotted in the heavy undergrowth of a clearcut area. Rick relaxes after our nearly two mile hike from the cars.
One by one we all dropped into the cave and used a cable ladder to assist us to the floor. We surveyed the cave out, less than 150 feet, but worth the walk given the mild conditions of the day. Kim emerges from the entrance on her egress. Larry Baer is next to emerge from the tight entrance.
Carol Peterson is next out. And Rick Lambert comes out last, striking the perfect hero pose for the camera.
On the trek back to the cars Rick Lambert and Devin Kouts (the author) stand impressed by the success of the day and the beauty of the area. That evening found the crew wrapping their mouths around pizza, burgers and cold beer in their favorite local hangout.
The next day, Rick and I returned to the same area of woods with a grouse hunter who wanted to show us some leads. The first thing he takes us to is a fine going lead, subsequently dubbed Grouse Cave. Moving on in search of a reported pit in the area, Rick spots this little crevice that goes down 10 feet or more into limestone.
On the hike back to the vehicles a nice sinkhole and headwall has a small diggable hole at its base. Rick Lambert perches atop the headwall with the small lead pictured at left.

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