A small group of pampered souls enjoyed the fantastic weather we had this weekend. The weather was so good in fact it contributed to much laying about in the sun and daliance on the surface.
The weekend began when Barry Horner and I arrived early and searched for the elusive Blackberry Cave. It's listed in the Randolph County bulletin but repeated searches in the vicinity of the topo map plot have had no success in locating the entrance. In similar fashion, we had to abandon our search at dusk with no sign of the entrance. It may be necessary to get Mr. Medville back into the field to relocate this one.
Bob Zimmerman, Rick Royer, Penelope Pooler and I began our day at the Beneath Breakdown dig. We had been assured that just a few more rocks and the cave would go big. Well the entrance to the cave is much changed from its disposition of just three months ago, so our hopes for a break through were high. But after two hours of pushing, pulling and levering rocks out of low, muddy stream passage we abandoned the effort for warmer, dryer activities. The cave itself obviously goes. One can see into a passage approximately 15 feet wide, but it is so choked with rock and mud that only a few inches of airspace remain. A path of traverse must be excavated from the floor until we reach a point where humanly passable passage is encountered.
While Bob and Penelope lunched and dried out, Rick, Dan Ladd (who arrived late) and I trotted over to Taylor Run #1 and surveyed this short yet admirable cave. Located not 25 feet from the entrance of Taylor Run #2 I had never given the hole a second thought, not even to look into it. I was surprised by just how spacious the cave is. Only about 60 feet in length it has ceiling heigts that approach 20 feet. In places the walls are nicely carved by erosion and white calcite veins stand out from the dark Greenbrier limestone background.
After the survey Rick, Dan and I re-engaged Bob and Penelope and we all headed over to Twisted Fissure. None of the four had ever been in the cave, and I hadn't been there since June of 1997. Our plan was to conduct the first tourist through-trip from one entrance to the other.
We started at the new CJ1 entrance, recently dug open by the Mud Ducks. After doing the slightly intimidating traverse across Jet Lag pit we continued downstream along the Western Stream Trunk. I tried to offer a dialogue on some of the exploration and mapping events that occured in particular areas of the cave and discussed how the cave was laid out around us. We moved steadily downstream past where the original Twisted Fissure entrance passage comes in and on to Bat Junction where the Western Stream Trunk joins the Worth Armentrout Expressway.
The tour turned upstream at Bat Junction and then left into the Supermarket Maze. After passing through some of the many interconnecting passages of the maze we located a dome in the Expressway and climbed up into the Razor Domepits passage. This area is typified by fluted limestone walls with traverses across pits and along ledges. It's an intimidating part of the cave but one of my favorites.
On the way out we travelled up the passage for which Twisted Fissure was named and out the original entrance. Covering those yards of passage reminded me of just how grueling the repeated survey trips into the cave had become over time. But now, with the passage of time and moving at a tourist's pace, the passage is just a neat feature of the cave. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves while underground and thanked me for showing them the cave when we reached the surface. I have to admit, after all the project caving I've done in recent years, it was a real pleasure to tour the cave and just enjoy being there with no particular purpose in mind.
The day passed pleasantly on and we rounded it out with the usual great companionship around the cookstove later that evening. The evening was cool and reminded us that in just a few months winter would return, and we would be out of time for another season. So it's best to make progress while we can.
Devin Kouts, July 9, 2001