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September 5th, 2009

Saturday September 5, 2009 Page County Cave Survey Trip Report

Nathan Farrar

Well, after waiting for 20ish minutes at the Zirkle’s entrance, I realized that Scott
Wahlquist and Bill Murray were probably waiting for me at the usual meeting spot – the
Luray park and ride, so I headed over there to find them, and sure enough, they were
wondering where I was. We had all been up early and we had met at that spot the past
four or so times, so I can’t blame them, and the cave didn’t have that much left to survey,
so time wasn’t very pressing anywho. We didn’t chat long in the park and ride before
heading (back) over to Zirkles.

We quickly got dressed and headed on in (the demon baby was still freaky, but
Bill pointed out that it was probably once some girl’s favorite at one point in time). We
started the “D” survey right off A18 where the “big room” had a small alcove off to the
side with a very low ceiling (1 foot) crawl space off of it. Scott had looked into this crawl
space before and saw that it went a little ways. Indeed it did go a little ways past the
room – there was a dug trench out of the crawl space into a little ramp up to a small to
medium room with a nice large breakdown slab as the centerpiece (the tip of which made
a very convenient station).

Finishing off that section, we headed to finish up the tail end of the big room.
What I had thought to be the wall of this room ended up being a long running mound
with a good portion of room on the other side. In fact, the mound was very interesting as
it ran probably 40ish feet at 3 feet tall and had a large solutionally enlarged fracture
directly above running right with it. In a little side room off of this part of the big room, I
found (among the MANY MANY claw marks) a set of large claw marks – bear size.
Immediately back into the survey of the big room, we found what appears to be a bear
wallow. Believe you me, jokes of bears killing us in the near future soon followed. We
later found another nearby.

At the high side of the lengthy mound was a very low ceiling continuing of the
big room. Scott and I crawled back in there as far as we could, but there was no way on
for a human, but the air sure was passing through. If there was a point in the cave to
modify, that would have been it, but it would be a project – definitely the best air at a dig
in the cave yet.

By this point, I was getting tired of getting frustrated (yeah, tired of being
frustrated) at the difficulty of sketching this cave (my first sketching project). But all we
had left was one little lead that Scott figured wouldn’t go far from when he checked it out

He was wrong: fortunately for the length of the cave; unfortunately for a
frustrated sketcher.

So we did a little shot off of A22 to get down into ANOTHER LOW CEILING
LARGE AREA ROOM. As Scott put it repeatedly: “DAMN A22!”. Although, the
ceiling of this room was the best yet – it completely covered in soda straws. We decided
to start surveying around the perimeter of the room. Scott, while searching for the next
station location, found a “very shiny” pile of relatively new scat. Believe it or not, the
multitude of berries in the scat (not sure what type of animal this came from) were in no
way digested. The pile looked like a wet shiny pile of berries… but smelled horrible.
Maybe a bear’s??? After a few shots in, and joking about how we would surely
find “another low ceiling large area room” off of this one…. Scott did. So I decided I was
done for the day, and I had to get over to Phil Lucas’ for a barbecue anyways. It was a
good day of survey, and the ever illusive Zirkle’s cave continues to not have an end.
With all of these large rooms with perimeter surveys, I have no idea how I’m going to
come up with a total cave length…

As of now, the cave statistics are as follows:

Total survey length = 1409.7ft

Depth from entrance = 60.9 feet (at our last station, D24)

Average shot length = 17.3