The holiday season has a way of leaching folks away form a worthy cause, even when the holiday is still weeks away. We had a smaller than normal turn-out this weekend with just six people going in cave, one group to Across The Gulch cave and another into Taylor Run #2 cave. But even given the limited man-power we still met with outstanding results, a testament to the quality of the caves in this area.
Karen Willmes and Dave West returned to downstream Across The Gulch and continued work on a breezy dig they have there. Karen had this to report -
"It didn't take us long to finish the dig, but it went around the corner and immediately died. Dave then checked out the cobble crawl, which seems to head in a paleo upstream direction. It continues, but he stopped at the point where exertion of energy exceeded forward progress.
Since October has been so dry, I took the opportunity to check out the end of the stream passage. I could see it open up about six feet ahead, so I put on a plastic bag and plunged in. Unfortunately, I didn't fit.
I had to take Dave's shovel and dig out the gravel. Needless to say, I got very wet, and it was still almost too tight. I got through to where I could sit up and turn around, but the tube splits into two levels, neither one big enough to follow. Since it was only a body length further, we didn't bother to survey it.
I think you can declare Across the Gulch finished."
Barry Horner, Penelope Pooler, Rick Royer and I returned to survey more great booty in Taylor Run #2. The in cave trip was uneventful as usual, 300 feet to Bobcat dome, forty five foot rappel to the bottom and then 200 feet further to the main stream trunk. We turned upstream, climbed up into the "new" section where all the recent booty is being mapped and headed for the lead we had left at the end of our October trip.
We tied in and followed that lead for about 150 feet. It was typical TR2 passage, about 30 feet tall and averaging six feet wide. This edge of the limestone has been long exposed to the elements so there are some very large and nice formations. We frequently find bone deposits and pristine areas that require flagging. Visitors to this cave are requested to respect the flagged areas and the unique items they protect. The ancient deer tracks, for example, would be obliterated by just one careless caver boot.
On the way back to the main trunk we started checking the high leads that we had passed earlier. Rick Royer found a spot where we could chimney up about 25 feet above the floor and found a dazzling higher-level passage. Dubbed the "Three Amigos" for the triple stalagmite formation, this passage extended upstream, parallel to the main trunk for a couple hundred feet. There were lots of ups and downs and ledge traverses to the point where the passage ended in breakdown.
We probably racked up another 500 feet this weekend. Unfortunately this was to be the last trip for this season. See you next year.