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September 4th, 2010

September 4, 2010 Page County Cave Survey Trip Report

Nathan Farrar

I met Scott Wahlquist and Brad Ricks at the Shenandoah Grill at 9am. We caught up for a few
minutes then caravanned to the Foltz Cave property, where Jeff Jahn was chatting with the landowner.
He was glad to see us, and was happy to let us park in his driveway and cross his property. The day could
not be more perfect – clear blue sky, slight breeze, and the perfect temperature. We dressed by the cars
and checked to make sure we had all the required survey gear. I forgot shoes other than flipflops, but it
turns out that Scott and I have the same size feet (you know what they say), so he let me borrow a pair
of boots. Jeff brought along an extra bucket with digging gear in case we decided to dig in the cave. And
off we went!

We had no problems finding the cave, but did knock a couple rocks down on each other on the
climb up to the entrance. We decided that Jeff would keep book, Scott would do foresight, Brad would
do backsights, and I would set stations. First, we surveyed the intersection just inside the cave to the
other entrance. Upon climbing up the rope to the upper passage that leads out to the 2nd entrance, I
completely ripped my jean bottoms down the seam. It made the loud ripping sound just like in the
shows!! Everyone got a good kick out of that start to the day. I ran ahead setting stations, planning to
get outside to climb around on the cliff face looking for Foltz 2, but just as I started climbing around
outside, I heard a shout – Janet Tinkham and Nooch (last name?) had arrived at the main Foltz 1

Janet and Nooch wanted to dig so I told them to come on into the cave. I showed them the dig
that we had originally planned to dig on, but I’m pretty sure we found the other side of it, and there is
no point in digging. There was air coming through it though. I explained that they would have to climb
up the rope to get to the other dig location, so Janet helped Nooch make the climb, and then
abandoned her to the higher level of the cave! Said Nooch, “You always do this to me, Janet!!”. While
Janet poked around the lower area, Scott, Brad, and Jeff returned and also made the climb up. Brad
explained to Nooch how we survey caves, but she wasn’t very interested in trying it out… probably
because of how tight the next passage was!

As everyone took their turns climbing up the rope, Scott noticed a snake in the wall on the far
side of the entrance room. I headed on into the serpentine passage to the right of the climb-up, setting
stations. After 7 or so shots, the passage got so narrow that I had to really squeeze myself in just so that
Brad could get up to his station to take the next shot. Past Brad’s last station, I shot two more, both with
estimated lengths (there was no way we’d get a tape in there without my body in the way).

We headed back out of the serpentine passage, Nooch decided she’d head out of the cave to
find Janet who was poking around on the surface. They said they might dig on a sinkhole for a while, but
Nooch had to feed some baby animals back at her job. The rest of us ate lunch, and then headed to the
back of the cave to survey the tight canyon I had found, only accessible by a climb up to the widest part
of the canyon. As I climbed up, more “rrrrrrrrippppp”s were heard… safe to say my whole butt was
hanging out. I climbed up and attempted to rig some webbing for the others. I was satisfied with the

knob I had tied around, but it wasn’t the safest, I must admit. When Scott climbed up, he tied off to a
better knob, further away, for backup. We surveyed a good 100 feet of passage back there. On the way
back out of the canyon, Scott climbed over the climb-up we did and continued in the enlarged canyon
and called back that it was surveyable!

I went on in setting stations. There were some parts that were quite tight! It turned out that this
upper widened canyon connects back into known passage by the Spiral Staircase. After setting all the
stations, and pointing the harder-to-find ones out to Brad, I climbed down by the Spiral Staircase and
headed back to get our packs and de-rig the webbing. I got the packs and webbing and brought them
back for the other guys while they finished up the survey, and I started digging in the mud just below
where we connected back in – animals had obviously been through where I was digging, and there was
some air.

After Jeff, Brad, and Scott finished the upper survey, Brad headed back out to near the entrance
to get a shovel from his pack for me to use, and Jeff and Scott climbed to the other side of the Spiral
Staircase, at the bottom of the pit, to survey a couple shots down there (where I think the original dig
connects back in). They could find the tie-in station (because the single white pebble that was the
station was gone ), so I climbed over and showed them roughly where it was. While there, I climbed into
a way-to-tight passage. After shoving myself so far in, and ripping my pants so much, and no feeling any
air, I got myself back out. We took a shot down the passage and left it for DEAD.

It was getting late, so we decided not to dig anymore, but to do a short overland survey
between the two entrances and head to dinner. I went to the 2nd entrance, and the others went to the
first. Scott did foresights and made the stations (like the triangle next to the hole you can stick your
finger in) and I pointed out the stations for him to sight. Believe it or not, it’s kind of steep on the cliff
face; so much so that I almost had a bad slip. Brad headed on home while we wrapped up the overland

We wrapped everything up and headed back to our cars – still perfect weather! I sure didn’t
sweat walking to or from the cave (quite different than our last HOT trip to the Foltz). We changed back
(I gave Scott his boots back), and caravanned into Stanley to find some food. I decided to pull into the
Hawksbill Diner – somewhere we’ve never been, but it didn’t have an empty parking lot, by any means.
The place was packed, and the food was good (try their Watergate Salad!). And for once, I had cash in
my pocket, so I could pay at a place that doesn’t accept credit cards – God was smiling down on me!
However, it was unfortunate that Jeff didn’t own the motorcycle outside, because a couple of very nice
old women wanted to take a spin :) The food was great, so we’ll probably end up heading back there…
but let’s be real, it’s hard to beat Uncle Buck’s meat (and beer).

All in all, a great day – record number of survey stations set – almost 60!! We won’t have a
survey in October because of VAR/MAR, but we will in November, possibly headed back to Foltz to look
for #2 and dig in #1. Thanks to Jeff, Brad, Scott, Janet, and Nooch for coming out! And thank you Scott
for those boots!