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Wishing Well, April 2nd 2011

Wishing Well

Charlottesville Grotto (CG) Survey

April 2, 2011

Nathan Farrar

                Scott Wahlquist, Ed Smith, Callie Bouchard, and I met in Crozet at 7:30am and carpooled to the Landrum’s property. Phil Lucas was there (and probably had been for half an hour, since we were running late) to see us off. We planned to head to the end of the left-hand fork of the NW Passage, where Brad Cooper, Jon Lillestolen, and I had left a going canyon on our last trip. This was to be Ed and Callie’s first trip into the cave. We got into the cave around 10am.

                Callie was getting fatigued as we made our way up the NW Passage, but this was her most serious trip in a couple years. With a few rest stops for her, we made it to the lead and snacked there. It was muddier than I remembered (funny how we remember horrible passages in a warmer light once we’re out of them), but it had the dimensions I remembered – a yard wide and dozen feet tall.

                We surveyed about 460ft in the muddy canyon, following a little stream and often having to climb over or through (very muddy) obstacles. I sketched the plan view, Ed sketched the cross sections, Scott set stations and did backsights, and Callie read foresights. I also plotted our stations on a printout I had made of the upper NW passage at a 60ft to the inch scale to see how close we were getting to the right-hand fork. After shooting to our 26th station, a steep shot down a tricky climb, we decided to wrap because we knew it’d be a long trek out. According to my plot, we were running parallel to the right-hand fork and around a 100 ft away from it. But we left the passage going, and with no reason for it to be ending soon – same amount of mud, and same dimensions!

                Callie was pretty worn out making her way out of the cave, so I donned the extra pack and we took our time getting out, but made it safe and sound! We exited the cave around 9:30 to a chilly night with a cloudless sky… and light snow falling (that’s right – no clouds, but snow). We changed, they dropped me off at Phil’s, and they headed on back to Crozet. Charlotte Lucas had fixed some tasty leftovers for me (thank you!), and it wasn’t too long before I crashed for the night.

                Next trip up the NW Passage, it may be more sensible just to spend the time digging out the end of the right-hand fork and survey from there and tie in with this survey – it’s just getting to be quite a loop around following the open path we have now. This going canyon is very promising – there’s air, the stream is picking up water…..we may very well run into the Emory flow before long, and hopefully we can follow it right back up Jack Mountain to the motherload!

Note by Phil Lucas:  I'm attaching another Google map showing the Northwest Passage and where the last two surveys were accomplished.  The right hand passage has an unmarked lead at the end -  a future dig that Nathan mentioned.  Notice that both left and right forks have passed beneath the surface stream course. 

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