10/15/2011 – Annual Landowners Trip

Trip Report:                click here for slideshow

Landowner Trip 10/15/2011

Permit No.  1110-1A and 1110-1B

Submitted by Rick Hines

In Cave Help Surface Help Guest
DJ Hall    Leader Mike Smoker Jacqualin Hill (Hunter’s mother)
Cyle Riggs   Leader Bill Pfantz Hunter Hill (8)
Rick Hines Danny Cottrell (Shaw’s Father)
Brandy Riggs Shawn Cottrell (10)
Chandra Ruff
Keith Mader
Andrew Manson
Juliane Shaw

During the year Jenny Fry collects names of friends and neighbors that express an interest in seeing Carroll Cave.  This year just prior to the trip we were expecting 11 guests on Saturday and six guests on Sunday.  A few days prior to the trip we were down to nine guests on Saturday and zero on Sunday.  When I arrived on Saturday morning I learned that we were only expecting six guests.

A little before noon, as planned, the guests arrived at the silo.  We had Jacqualin Hill and Hunter Hill (a mother and her 8 year old son); Danny Cottrell and Shawn Cottrell (a father and his 10 year old son); and Bryan Sabers and Logan Sabers (a father and his 13 year old son).   After looking into the basement area at the shaft, Logan decided he did not want to go down so he and his father canceled leaving us with four guests.

Brandy was the first down the shaft at 12:40 PM and Rick was the last in at 1:30.  The four guests used cable ascenders and climbed down as a group.  They had no problems with the gear.  Even the kids operated the ascenders like pros.  The only mishap occurred when DJ “phoned” up to ask me to bring down a bag of water and food he had forgotten.  I was already in the shaft when Bill Pfantz handed me a bag that I clipped to my harness.  As I dropped it at my side the straps on the bag tore loose and the bag fell as I shouted R O C K.  Fortunately Brandy had just warned our guests of the danger of standing in the fall zone.

Near the base of the ladder the crew soon spotted three ringneck snakes.  We placed the snakes in a plastic bucket for safe keeping until we could carry them out to daylight.

From the ladder we moved up the Carroll Passage beyond the Giant formation, through the mud, and beyond before turning back.  As we passed the Giant formation on the return trip I was in the rear and noticed two muddy hand prints on the white stalagmite on the path that Eddie Simmons and others from OHG had recently restored to white.  Based on the height of the mud marks I suspect our 8 and 10 year olds.  (Now we have a restoration project for the KCAG grotto trip 10/22/11.)  We took the short cut to Thunder Falls where we paused for photos before heading back to the ladder.  We followed Thunder River to the stilling well near the base of the ladder and at that point the guests decided to head out.  We climbed up the bank to the ladder.  Rick loaded the ringnecks snakes into his camera case and then poked heads back in numerous times before carefully closing the lid.  Rick climbed out first so he could help the guests off the ladder.  Rick was out at 4:25 PM and the guest climbed out next as a tight group making the climb and off the ladder in eight minutes!   After most of the group was out we hauled packs and gear up on rope.  Cyle was the last one out at 5:30 PM.  The three ringnecks were released and it was almost as difficult to get them out of the case, into daylight, as it was to get them in.

Our guests were very pleased with the trip and thanked us all for allowing them to see Carroll Cave.  They offered to make a donation to pay for batteries etc. but I declined their offer.  Sunday when I talked to Jenny Fry she said the guests were raving about their experience on FaceBook.

DJ and I discussed what we could do differently next year to reduce the fallout (number of guests, not his food bag).  A similar decline in guests has occurred in prior years although not quite to this extent.    Next year the plan is to have Jenny and Greg Fry refer potential guests to us, (DJ Hall has volunteered to coordinate the signup).  We will try to collect names, ages, and a signed release well in advance of the trip and provide the guests written information on the trip.  Hopefully a little more formal signup procedure will help the guests understand the serious nature of our commitment to them and their safety and their commitment to us as well.

We left most of the gear at the silo for our Sunday trip and headed to town to try a new Mexican restaurant in Camdenton.  It was fine but I still like Senor Pepper’s senor burrito at a senorita price.

ubmitted by Rick Hines

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