Who likes to go caving (or spelunking for you purists)?

NuclearNed

Raconteur
May 18, 2001
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I tried this thread yesterday, but under a misleading title and it bombed.

Anyone here like like the dark cool comfort that is only found in a cave? Perhaps you enjoy dangling from a rope, with only the dark licking at your heels? How about those of you who like to wade chest deep in muddy water, hoping beyond all hope that your next step lands on something solid, and not an open, water-filled, bottomless pit?

Surely some you Anandtechers let go of the keyboard occassionally?

Leave your best caving story here!
 

cavingjan

Golden Member
Nov 15, 1999
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but cave crickets don't chirp. the only sound you hear is that of barking cave spiders.
 

Pretender

Banned
Mar 14, 2000
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I think he's referring to caves as a metaphor for the female anatomy. I'd like to go caving but I can't find any caves nearby where the admission is free, and I'm too lazy to pay for cave-climbing equipment.
 

ISAslot

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Jan 22, 2001
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I went in a cave 20ft underwater a few times. It was the entrance to a spring. There are two openings, I just swam in one, looked into the cave, and then swam out the other. Only used fins, mask/snorkel, so I couldn't stay down for very long. Fun stuff though.
I'm not going in a cave with a tank, I couldn't stand squeezing through restrictions, and I'd be panicky even before I started out.
 

cavingjan

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Nov 15, 1999
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I've been caving for a little over 10 years. As far west as Arizona. In unlikely places like Oklahoma. And all along the east coast. Including Ellisons.
 

Alienwho

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Apr 22, 2001
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I went caving with a bunch of friends last year and we were climbing down these giant stair like cliffs. Each one about 8 feet high, then about 4 feet of flat, then another 8 foot drop. And one of my friends was climbing down and he weigh's like 270 and he fell on me :(
 

Midnight Rambler

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Oct 9, 1999
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As a youth, my Scoutmaster was among a group of guys who discovered the Sloan's Valley Cave Complex near Burnside, KY. After many years they finally figured it to be just another part of the Mammoth complex, but Sloan's is huge in it's own. Has 8 different entrace points (my favorite was Garbage Pit - entrance was literally in the midst of an old scrap yard) alone. Some other neat features are a "bottomless" pool known as Dread Pool, the "Great Room" which would hold several 747's, a corkscrew passage known as The Post Office.

Every year in Scouts we would take weekend or weeklong expeditions to Sloans, and spend the whole time underground. Usually we went in the winter, and while it might seem too cold for spelunking, in fact the cave was a constant 60 degrees and 100 humidity. You'd wade through water and get out, only to feel warmer

Old caving trick : Boil a can of sweetened, condensed milk in water. It turns in to a super-energy snack that tastes like butterscotch pudding. Really works.

BTW, there are crickets. They are albino and have no eyes. Aka "blink cave crickets". Fish the same way too. Only thing you need to look out for is pack rats. Bats are usually not a problem, they stay as far away as they can get, if you can even find them.
 

blueghost75

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Dec 12, 2000
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here is a story that my dad put up on our website about a caving trip that we took, if it interests you:

6-17-01



Hall of the White Giant tour at Carlsbad Caverns on 6-16-01



Scout Troop 101 went to Chimayo, New Mexico this year for summer camp. Neither David Clayton nor I went to summer camp this year. They left on June 9th via tour bus. I had arranged back in January for a tour at Carlsbad Caverns called Hall of the White Giant. This tour is difficult to get into since they only accept 8 reservations per week. I was able to secure all 8 slots by calling in at opening time on the day they began accepting reservations. Even though David and I did not go to summer camp, we opted for the Hall of the White Giant tour.



We left on Friday, June 15th to drive up to Carlsbad. We were also giving a ride to the relief bus driver, whose name was Rodney. He was from Brooklyn but had been in Texas for 12 years. The drive up was long and uneventful and we arrived at about 5:00 pm. We had brought our bikes with us and after checking into the hotel, we drove the 20 miles to Carlsbad Caverns and up to the visitor center. The drive from Whites City up to the visitor center is 7 miles through a winding canyon. When we got to the top, where it was 95 degrees, I rode my bike down while David Clayton drove down. There was a scenic loop along a 9 mile dirt road which he followed. My ride was virtually all down hill and only took about 20 minutes. I had to wait a long time for DC as he could not go very fast on the scenic loop. When he got to the bottom, we drove back up and it was David?s turn to ride down. I had planned to take the scenic loop but it was late in the day and they had closed it. After the rides, we headed back to Carlsbad and had pizza for dinner.



The next morning, I bought some supplies at Walmart and gassed up the car. We were to meet Rodney at 10:00 and head for the caverns. Rodney was a few minutes late as he was confused by the time change from Central to Mountain time. We arrived at the caverns at 11:00AM, which was when we were supposed to meet the tour bus with the scouts from Chimayo. We went inside and bought the tickets for the scouts who were going on the Hall of the White Giant tour. The rest of the scouts were to go on the regular cavern tour. While I waited for the scouts to show up, David and Rodney took the walking tour through the natural entrance.



I tried repeatedly to get a hold of the group in the tour bus but was unable to. There is not much cell phone service in central New Mexico. Finally, I received a call from someone in Austin, relaying the message that the bus was about 30 miles north of Carlsbad. It turns out that the tour bus was 1 hour late getting to Camp Frank Rand to pick up the scouts. To make a long story short, the bus pulled up in front of the caverns at 1:00. We were supposed to have met the ranger at 12:45. The ranger was very understanding, however. His name was Greg **** and he was from New Zealand. The other ranger was Mike **** from Carlsbad. They led us into a room off the visitor center and went over the plans for our tour while we got our gear ready (hard hat with lantern, knee pads, gloves). He gave us some basic rules: no food in the cave, stay with the group, don?t go outside the orange tape markers, striped markers mean danger or caution, etc.


We made a final bathroom stop before heading into the cave. The tour would be 4 hours long and there were no bathrooms (or lights) where we were going.



As we passed through the visitor center on the way to the natural entrance we attracted some stares from visitors. There were ten of us including the rangers wearing our headlamps and knee pads. We hiked down into the cave through the natural entrance. As anyone who has been there knows, it is an awesome cave. But we still didn?t know how much fun we were in for.



About one third of the way down, our guides stopped at one of the hair pin turns in the trail. He made a final adjustment on his headgear and told us to follow him. He climbed over the railing and about 5 feet up the side of the cave and then into a hole that was about 2-1/2 feet across. (Note: All dimensions are estimated)



We followed, one at a time. This section of the cave was narrow and continued for about 30 feet. Then we began an upward climb in a spiral shape, called ?the corkscrew,? for another 30 feet or so. At the top, there was a larger space that we could sit (but not stand) in and we took a short rest. Greg reported problems with his headlamp and asked Mike if he?d brought the spare. Mike responded that he had not. At that point, we offered one of our lights to Greg but he was able to get his working again. We proceeded horizontally through a series of narrow tunnels, some which we could crawl through on hands and knees and others of which were only large enough to slither through. After about 100 yards, we came to the end of a tunnel where a ladder disappeared through a hole above. The ladder was about 30 feet long and must have been carried into the cave in smaller sections and then assembled. We climbed the ladder one at a time and came out into another small rest area.



We proceeded horizontally again, still through narrow passages, for another 75 yards or so. Here we came to a place called ?Matlock?s Pinch,? named after a ranger who passed through this place OK but got stuck on the return trip. Greg described the opening as being the size of a toilet seat.



After Matlock?s Pinch, we came to a very slippery section that turned upward at a steep angle. There was a knotted rope to assist in traversing the 25 feet or so. We climbed another 30 feet or so at the same angle and then came into a section with a little more room where we were able to stand and walk. We climbed a flowstone which was also very slippery and then began a long hike through a more open area. At one point, we paused and Greg pointed out some footprints which had been made in 1965. Since there is no wind or rain inside the cave, the footprints would be there forever unless someone came along and destroyed them. We continued hiking until we reached an opening into a very large room, the Hall of the White Giant. The ceiling was over 100 feet high and it was over 100 feet from where we stood to the other side. To the left and right, the room tapered downward to depths that our lights could not reach. In the middle of the room was the White Giant. It is 50 feet or so high and very white in color. Mike used a knotted rope to climb up to the base of the White Giant and then we took turns, two at a time, climbing to see it up close. After everyone had been up, we sat in a circle and turned out our headlamps. Mike talked for about 15 minutes about the cave?s history and other interesting things while we sat in the dark and listened. After awhile, we got very quiet and listened to cave sounds. We could hear water dripping far off in the distance.



They had a watertight tube containing a register of everyone who has been to the Hall of the White Giant. We all signed it and then headed back along the same path we used coming in. We moved a little faster coming back as we knew the way. When we got back to the trail, we wiped our feet on the mat before climbing back over the railing. We then proceeded to hike the rest of the way down to the elevators at the bottom of Carlsbad Caverns. We met the rest of the scouts from our group at the dining area but we only stayed briefly as we were allowed to take the staff elevator back up to the top. At the top, we turned in our gear and thanked the guides who had done an excellent job. They were skilled at spelunking and very knowledgeable about the cave.



We began our long trip back to Austin almost immediately. There was a tremendous head wind from Carlsbad to Ft. Stockton. We used ¾ of a tank of gas going 120 miles. Once we got on IH 10, it got better. We arrived back in Dripping Springs at approximately 1:45 in the morning. The tour bus did not fare so well. They stopped for dinner in Ft. Stockton and were later delayed by a traffic accident. They arrived in Dripping Springs at 5:00 am.



In August we have a trip planned to the Caverns of Sonora.


hows that for spelunking? I have also been to Enchanted Rock, a few hours away from Austin, and they have some caves there. It is not officially marked or anything, and you really are not supposed to go in them, but I have gone through them several times.
 

cavingjan

Golden Member
Nov 15, 1999
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Even older caving trick: boil water and make jello and drink it as a warm high energy drink. Just don't try to use your carbide lamp - it'll take too long.

If anybody likes spy novels, get a copy of Where the Sun Don't Shine by Fred Wefer. Fred passed away two years ago but it is a really good book (written more for cavers rather than the general public although my copy her at work was gone for about 3 months while everybody else read it) that takes place in Butler cave which is where I got my start with expedition caving and surveying.

Also, The IMAX movie "Amazing Caves" isn't bad although it does not give a very good representation of caving in the US. Its still worth seeing, especially for the ouch that had to hurt kayak flip. I've been teaching cave rescue classes with Nancy for a few years and recently met Hazel.
 

SmokeyTheBear

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Jun 7, 2001
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I've been caving for about 9 years.
A couple of summers ago I worked at a Girl Scout camp and took the girls on several 'wild cave' trips to Carter Caves, KY. This past year I worked at Wyandotte Caves, IN giving walking and spelunking tours.
I love caving! It's the one thing short people can excel at!:D
I'm planning on taking some cave rescue classes this summer.
 

NuclearNed

Raconteur
May 18, 2001
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Finally... some responses!!!

As far as critters in the cave, I have seen a salamander in one as well. It wasn't an albino. We were far into the cave and a brown 8 inch salamander was at my feet. The only thing I could guess is that we were near the surface because plant roots were coming from the ceiling; he must have climbed down there from a small entrance.

Mammoth Cave rocks! The best trip I have ever had there was a couple of years ago. My wife and I took a weeklong vacation at the park campground. The first night there we had a record rainfall of 8+ inches in about 10 hours. We got no sleep as our tent turned into a boat. But it was all worth it - the next morning we took a 10am tour and the cave was incredible. There were waterfalls and drips everywhere. Our guide said that she had never seen it look that way, so I guess we were just really lucky.

Don't you just hate the b@st@rds who spray paint their names and leave their trash in caves? It really takes away from the experience.

Oh, yeah... One more story. I once found an earring in the back of a cave. I don't think it was valuable, but it engaged my imagination. It's probably a couple of hundred years old and priceless, but I think I threw it away. I also found a penny one time. Oddly enough, the penny had a hole in it that had crystals attached to the edges. Maybe there is enough acid still around back there to do this?
 

cavingjan

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Nov 15, 1999
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The water dripping from the ceiling is acidic. It comes from all of the vegetation and decaying matter in the ground above the cave. I'm sure Smokey can give you all the more info on that as she was a tour guide.

The worst I came across was a dead skunk that had been there for a few years. Still had some fur.

I think I still have some flashlights that I cleaned out of a 20 ft pit. I think the total for that afternoon was 23 flashlights, 13 batteries of various sizes, and 1 glove. And that was all within 6 months. That pit was a major pain to rig and work in. The rig point was 30 ft away around a corner and the floor was >3 ft deep sticky mud that will keep your boots and haev you walking in your bare feet before you know it. But it is my understanding, that the cave is currently closed by the owner. I'm surprised we only had 5 rescues in there in the last decade. Funny thing is, all of the patients landed within 5 ft of each other 200 ft from the entrance. They all fell down different holes or slopes. Worst case was a broken lower back. We have gotten that evacuation down to 3 hours but there is no chance of getting a full backboard to the patient without major demo work in the back of the cave.


Nuclear: Its even more fun when you have to go clean up said spraypaint with a water/vinegar mixture and carry out garbage bags full of trash. :(
 

Nick Stone

Golden Member
Oct 14, 1999
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Can anybody recommend a cave for amateurs near Huntsville, Al? What websites do you go to for this sort of stuff?
 

cavingjan

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Nov 15, 1999
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Huntsville is the headquarters for the NSS. See if you can rustle up some NS members to take you. There really aren't any webpages for this stuff other than pictures and gear. Best bet is to find a local club and cave with them. Caves can only handle some many visitors (even very conscientious visitors). They are VERY fragile. It takes 10,000+ years to develope these things so it'll be nice to leave some stuff for our kids.