Highland County Cave Survey

Rick Lambert
NSS 12496
May 24-27, 2002

Larry Baer, Rick Royer and I started the weekend early on Friday. We met at the Game Commission gate and headed to Attractive Nuisance Pit and Chipmunk Hotel Cave. Attractive Nuisance turned out to be just that. Rick Royer, the smallest person on our team, that day, could not find the small hole Larry and I had seen two months earlier. So, we ended up with another dead bottomed pit.

Chipmunk Hotel turned out a little better. It dropped 20 feet to a rubble mound and went in two directions, both parallel with the mountain instead of up or down dip like all the other caves. To the northeast the passage went 26 feet to a terminus. To the southwest the passage went 14 feet where it pinched to less than a foot and continued as far as we could see, over 15 feet.

We next tried to find Hardhat Pit. The coordinates led us to a very good looking dig site. We did not have any digging tools with us so we made a note of the site and moved on. Rick Royer wanted to check out a lead that was on the old Singing Tree map, but was not found by our survey teams that re-surveyed the cave. We quickly found it and surveyed maybe sixty additional feet of survey. We left the cave with two very tight leads remaining with virgin cave beyond them. Again we needed a hammer and digging tools to get in but did not have them.

We decided to call it a day and met Rick Wagner and R. J. Wagner as we were walking back to our vehicles. On Saturday we split up into three teams. Barry Horner, Penelope Pooler and R. J. Wagner were to try once again to find Bullpasture Mountainside Cave and survey it. Billy Pickett, Rick Wagner, and Scott Wahlquist were to find Audreys Cave and Franks Hole and survey them. Larry Baer, Jessica Pickett and I were to locate and survey Wild Ginger and Whistle Pig caves.

The Bullpasture Mountainside crew failed to find it again using a GPS. They did however get to ridgewalk more of the mountain. The Audreys Cave and Franks Hole crew also met with failure. The coordinates for Franks Hole led them to Busycon Cave, which is in Bath County and on another landowner's property. The landowner was camping on the property at the time and was understanding. They found Audrey's Cave silted shut and were unable to dig it open with a stick.

The Wild Ginger crew found it and surveyed 90 feet of cave. We also found Whistle Pig, but it was sumped. There must be an aqua-occlude at approximately 2200 feet on that side of the mountain. April Showers Pit is at approximately that elevation and the crew last month found seven feet of water in the cave. From Whistle Pig we decided to cross over to the next hollow and walk down it. Most of the reported caves on the east face of the mountain are in the hollows. Just under the southern crest of the ridge we found two open caves and several good looking dig sites. We surveyed Ant Hotel Cave and Fallen Trees Cave. Neither of these was virgin nor were they reported. We arrived back at my home and found the other teams had already showered and dressed for dinner.

On Sunday we decided to dig and again look for Bullpasture Mountainside Cave. Barry Horner, Miku Mehta and Billy Pickett headed down the mountain looking for BMC. Morgan Gardner, Chris Lambert and R. J. Wagner were to enlarge the Iron Girl Cave entrance and get it ready to survey. Larry Baer, Jessica Pickett, Rick Wagner and I headed to the Air Blower and worked on it. Ed Kehs, Josh Rubinstein and Ed Smith headed to the upper sections of Five Springs Cave while Tom Malabad, Pam Tegelman and Scott Wahlquist headed to the Back of Five Springs Cave.

The Iron Girl crew got into their cave first. Iron Girl taped out at 23 feet and ended in breakdown. On the surface there is another crevice up dip of the breakdown. We believe this will lead to more cave on the far side of the breakdown. Iron Girl may have a sister.

The Bullpasture Mountainside Cave crew finally found it. They had missed it by about 60 feet the day before. The survey was started but not completed. Barry said the cave is highly decorated and needs to be photographed.

The Air Blower crew took the cave down 8 to 10 feet through three pockets in rotten rock. We still are not in, but will be one day.

Josh and Scott will send out a report on the Five Springs Cave surveys later. The cave is over 4000 feet and still surprising everyone!

On Sunday we decided to go to a different area, Mill Gap. Barry, Scott and Josh surveyed Williams Pit as R. J., Jessica and Billy looked for Back Creek Rock Shelter. They did not find the rock shelter but eliminated one more farm that it could be located on.

Larry and I headed up Lantz Mountain looking for Huffman Cave. This was our third time up the mountain and our third failure at finding it. On the way down we meet the farmer who rents the property and he told us where to look. He also asked us if we had a few minutes to look at two caves on his property. Larry and I reluctantly went with him, NOT! He took us to The Dead Hole, a steep sided sink with two head walls that is sometimes open and sometimes closed. He told us that two feet down a cave goes under one of the headwalls. Why is it called The Dead Hole? You guessed it! The sink is used to dispose of the carcasses of dead animals. The second cave is a crevice that just opened up and is swallowing his stream. It also blows air. He gave us permission to open and survey the caves.

We met the other teams and headed to the Lantz Mountain Sinking Stream. There we uncovered the pit and micro-blasted (.223) part of a fin that is keeping us out of the cave. The .223 round did a great job, but now we need a generator and a bigger drill to get farther down the shaft. The landowner wants waivers and we will work this out and plan this for about August when the stream is dryer.

We headed back to my house and everyone headed home. We had surveyed seven caves in four days. This puts us at 32 surveyed caves since the VSS meeting in October. This leaves 18 caves to go to meet my goal of 50 caves surveyed for the year. Next month we have a lot of people who are going to be gone, so we need people to fill their shoes. We will do more of the same on June 22nd and 23rd. Also, the family weekend will be the fourth full weekend in July. Put us on your calendar and come on out and help.

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