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November 6th, 2010

Saturday, November 6, 2010 Page County Cave Survey Trip Report

Nathan Farrar

               Record attendance! Lauren Peng and I picked up Conor Jennings, Peter Michel, and Gracie Segars (all students!) up from their homes/dorms and headed to Crozet to meet the others. No one was in the lot when we arrived, so we headed into the grocery store to buy some lunches (lunchables!) and get batteries for the four grotto lights being used. As we checked out, Callie Bouchard and Ed Smith pulled up. Scott Wahlquist arrived shortly, completing the group for the day’s survey –  8 of us in total!

               I had folders prepared for two teams: Team A, including Scott, Callie, Peter, and Gracie were to head to Foltz Cave to look for Foltz 2, survey it if they found it, including overland tie-in to Foltz 1, and to dig in Foltz 1; Team B, including Nathan, Ed, Lauren, and Conor, were to give Little a map of Littles Cave, tour her cave, and to survey Turtle Bone Cave (previously called “Stinky Cave”). If either team finished their tasks, they had the option of headed to the Cooley property to tour Cooley’s Cave, and to dig in the “Too Dark” dig. We split from Crozet.

Team A report separate (Written up by Scott).

Team B got to Little’s in record time (as the interstate speed limit had increased to 70 mph!). I showed the rest of the team the cave entrance, and they suited up to go in to see the cave. While they were in the cave, I drove up to Little’s house and gave her the map. She was very excited! She hadn’t actually been into the largest part of the cave – the room in the back.. I promised I’d email her a pdf of the map and that we’d take her to see the back of her cave on one of the upcoming surveys. I headed back down the hill, and met the others as they came out of the cave (accidentally dropping a stick right on Lauren’s head as she crawled out).

We went back to my car, got survey gear, and headed across the street to Turtle Bone Cave. Ed and I worked together to teach Conor the finer points of cave survey, as it was his first trip. This was only Lauren’s second trip, but she remembered everything from the first trip and provided excellent numbers. The cave only consisted of one room, not longer than 20 feet in diameter, but  a “cave” non-the-less! The surveyed length came to a grand total of 18ft, but we got four shots in to give Conor and Lauren practice. Ed took notes and will drawing up the map. I took pictures!

After completing the cave survey, we hopped into the car (didn’t even have to change clothes, as we weren’t that dirty), and headed to the Cooley property. The landowners (one’s with the sailboats we walk by) were having a barbecue, so I introduced myself and our survey. They were very welcoming. I gave the team a tour of Cooley’s Cave, and then showed them Treesaw, Two Shot, and JD4 caves. While looking in these smaller caves, we heard Scott’s voice coming our way.

They filled us in on their adventures at the Foltz property. Peter and Gracie (whom we were now calling John and Gloria) headed into Cooley’s to take a wild tour without a guide! Safe to say, we were all shocked when they made it out of the cave safe and sound 10 minutes later J Scott wanted to check out the sinkhole dig that had been identified when the team did the overland survey of the caves last winter (I wasn’t in attendance). Obviously, someone had dug in this sinkhole previously. Eventually, the entire group came over, and we watched Scott dig. He actually found a void, but couldn’t get into it due to large breakdown blocks that would need to be moved. Both Peter and I worked in the dig after Scott tired (it was a one-man dig) but couldn’t find another way into the void, even with hammering. We determined that it’d be best to come back later with more persuasive ways of opening caves.

We then migrated over to the “Too Dark” dig. Ed and Scott both took turns in the hole, and we all helped pull up and dump buckets. The mud fill that they were digging out was much harder than during the previous dig there. It didn’t take long, as the temperature dropped in the early evening, to convince us to pack up early and head to dinner. Scott and Ed both agreed that the “Too Dark” dig doesn’t look very promising and should probably be abandoned.

We ate at Uncle Bucks, per usual. Scott even got carded for his beer! We headed back to Crozet, both cars taking I81. ON 64E, Callie hit a deer carcass and ended up tossing it up at my car, breaking the protective shield under my engine, which dragged the rest of the drive home, but we only noticed the sound right outside of Crozet. Callie had some duct tape in her pack, which I used to patch up the ole’ Forester (in the cold while everyone else sat inside the car). The duct tape did the job!

               Thanks to everyone that came out for the survey! We surveyed 18 feet of passage (woo!), finished off three caves (Foltz 1 and 2, and Turtle Bone), taught one person to survey, introduced three people to project caving, and gave a landowner her cave map. Great Success!

               And remember to put next month’s survey, December 4th, on your calendar!