1/5/2013 – Biology student trip

Trip Leader name:  Bill Gee

Trip date:  5 January 2013
Trip purpose:  Biology student trip
Areas of Cave visited:  Convention Hall
Trip participants:  See trip report
Entry Time:  11:00am
Exit Time:  6:30pm
The trip report:  Participants – Bill Gee (trip leader)
Jay Kennedy
Andy Isbell (Trip leader)
Krista Bartel
Jarrett Ellis
David Ashley (Instructor)

=== Students
Mark Mills (Instructor)
Matt Dear
Cooper Jacobs
Heather Loe
Derin McQuiston
John Powell
Ben Schumacher
Lacie Thomson
Bethany Thornton
Willie Walker
Colton Zirkle

This trip was organized for students enrolled in the “Cave Ecology” course taught by Dr. David Ashley at Missouri Western State University.  The class was taught as an inter-semester session during the normal break between fall and spring semesters.  In about 2 weeks of all day, every day learning and field activities, the students gain a couple of credit hours.

The class spent five or six days doing work in caves, including Berome Moore and Ozark Underground Labs.  One of their days was scheduled for Carroll Cave.  Part of the preparation included a half-day of vertical work at a facility in St. Joseph.

We originally planned to meet at the silo at 10:00am.  Dr. Ashley called me to say they were running late.  One student had a problem and had to drop out.  The result is they were about 30 minutes late.  All of the caver helpers were there, dressed and ready to go when Dr. Ashley and the students arrived.

Due to the number of people, we considered rigging two ropes so two people could rappel at once.  In the end we rigged only one rope.  We were afraid  two ropes would get tangled in each other.  There was also some concern that inexperienced rappelers would not be able to control their descent well enough to keep from colliding.  As a result it took nearly two hours to get everyone down.

The first people down the hole were Jay Kennedy and Andy Isbell.  They helped get everyone off the rope.  I worked the top of the shaft to get everyone on the rope safely.  Two of the students had to convince themselves to take that first step over to the ladder.  Otherwise there were no problems with the descent.

Before starting into the cave, we divided into two teams.  Andy and Jay led the first team with Dr. Ashley providing instruction.  I led the second team with help from Krista and Jarrett.  Dr. Mills provided the instruction.

The first team went down first.  As soon as they were down, they went to examine bait sticks and do the tourist thing at Thunder Falls.  From there they made a bee-line to UL2.  They examined bait sticks at the entrance to UL2, then did a VERY thorough fish and salamander count from the UL2 entrance to Convention Hall.  When we caught up with them, Andy reported they had counted 90 fish and quite a few salamanders.

Meantime, the second team completed entry.  We did the tourist stop at Thunder Falls, then proceeded upstream Thunder at a slower pace.  We did an isopod count in the riffle just below the ladder.  There are two tile stations in upper Thunder River, and we examined both.  We also did another isopod count at the riffle next to Goska’s Fish Pool.  Several bats were found roosting on walls.  Data about temperature both of the bat and the surrounding rock was recorded.

The river level was about as low as I have ever seen it.  Thunder Falls was flowing, but not nearly as impressive as it is at normal water levels.  The flow coming off the first showerhead formation was landing 10 to 12 inches out of the stream.  At normal flow it lands right on the water’s edge.

On the return from Thunder Falls to the ladder, Bethany Thornton lost the sole of one of her boots.  Krista used a bungee cord to make an emergency repair.  Unfortunately the repair did not work well, and the sole of her other boot started to come off.  We were only a few hundred feet upstream from the ladder when we decided this was not going to be Bethany’s day for a long cave trip.  Krista volunteered to stay with her.  They both went back to the ladder where they waited for our return.  Their time was not wasted – they examined the area around the ladder in detail.  They found several bat carcasses along with some dead rodents (probably mice) and dead snakes.

When the second team arrived at UL2, we went up the slope to see the formations, then entered UL2.  The stream was muddy from the passage of team one, but we still saw a dozen or more fish.  Unfortunately we did not see any salamanders.  That was too bad since Dr. Mills is a herpitologist.  We caught up with team one just a few hundred feet short of Convention Hall.  Both teams entered Convention Hall together.

In Convention Hall we all had a sandwich break.  The bait sticks were examined.  I led some of the students up to the overlook area where they were suitably impressed.  We left Convention Hall in two groups about 10 minutes apart.

Everyone arrived at the ladder at more or less the same time.  After gearing up, we started the climb.  Andy and Jarrett went up first to help get everyone off the ladder while Jay and I checked seat harnesses and safety grabs.

We put people onto the ladder as fast as we could.  As soon as one person was high enough, the next got on.  I went second to last and Jay was last.  The climbinb was slow due to the number of people ahead of us, but the overall time to get everyone out was quite good.  We started climbing about 5:45 and everyone was out by 6:15.

Dr. Ashley and his students brought three tubs of water with them.  One was bleach and the other two were clear.  As they changed, the cave gear went into clear water for a rinse, then into the bleach to decontaminate, then into the second clear water for another rinse.  They decontaminated before they left.

Jay and I left right at 7:00pm after derigging and locking the cave.  Dr. Ashley and the students were well along with their decontamination.  They left about 30 minutes later.

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