Trip Report for Carroll Cave Dye Tracing Project

Trip Report for Carroll Cave Dye Tracing Project

1st Round of Injections

by Ben Miller

Wednesday 10/1/08:

Arriving at the campsite we (Ben Miller, Jake Skees, & Josh Brewer) met Shawn Williams who had camped at the Schoolhouse Tuesday night. After a quick shifting of gears from driving and travelling we headed up to the Backdoor Entrance to Carroll Cave and proceeded to ge ready for our Upper Thunder trip to change charcoal packets. We dressed light for this trip as we were going to be moving fast and Upper Thunder is pretty pleasant passage for caving. We got Jake and Josh set up for the rappel into the cave which is a 125 foot-drop into T-Junction. All were in the cave by about 1:30 p.m. and headed up river to the UL2 side passage which has a major stream we are monitoring. Jake and Josh got to check out the really nice formations at the entrance to this enormous side. After changing the charcoal packet we bopped up the UL2 just a little bit to see the cave pearls in the first big room. Then we headed back up main Upper Thunder passage past the Round Room to the UL5 side passage stream, changed that packet and one more in Thunder River. After all the work was done we took a nice break in the Bone Room and then headed back out of the cave. We exited the cave without incident getting out about 6:00 p.m. a little longer than our previous 3 hours that we did the trip in a few weeks ago but we had more sightseeing this time.

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Our day was not over yet as we still had some packets to change before dark. We decided to change the packets that were close to roads at Mill Creek, Davis Hollow, the natural entrance, and several other locations. It was decided that doing Toronto Springs the next day in the light would make the most sense as Bob Lerch and I had learned the hard way how impossible it can be to navigate that area at night. Once the charcoal packets were all changed we headed into Camdenton for some Mexican food, beer, and a little grocery shopping.

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Thursday 10/2/08:

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After waking up we headed into Montreal for breakfast at the Eat Cafe and met Bob Lerch who had come down for the day. We discussed plans for the day deciding to go to Toronto Springs and to the other road sites we had not changed packets at yet. After changing the packets we would head into the cave again to the DL7 side passage to change a charcoal packet and just past the side passage we would inject our 4 pounds of fluorescein dye. This way we would avoid hitting our Horseshoe Falls station which is upstream in Thunder River with alot of dye. This would also give us a chance to collect the DL7 packet to get our background for that station before we handled any dye. With our trip and plans for the day outlined we enjoyed our breakfast and headed back to camp to gear up.
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Toronto Springs was a joy this day. The flood from Hurricane Ike’s wrath had caused all of the stinging nettle to lay flat against the ground where it would normally be chest to head height. We found most of the packets except in 3 spots where either large amounts of flood debris had been dropped on top of our site or the charcoal packet was ripped from the site. Toronto Springs is a major effort to monitor as the 17 spring outlets caused us to have a big monitoring network. The day was beautiful so it was a very pleasant experience compared to the normal trek.
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After finishing the surface monitoring points we suited up and began our trip down Lower Thunder to DL7, getting in cave about 4:30 p.m.. The trip was the normal grueling caving experience in Lower Thunder with the swims in the first part, then Black Rock Riffles, the Forevers, the Hellholes and then up and over the big meander just before DL7. We made great time and the trip was alot nicer without the normal big camp packs that we are used to carrying when we go to Lower Thunder. By the time we got to DL7 we were all spanked and ready for a big break and a hot meal. After eating Shawn offered to go and grab the DL7 packet while the rest of us prepared for the dye injection. We went to the first set of riffles just downstream of the entrance to DL7 and began to inject the fluorescein directly into Thunder River. The river turned a nice bright green color making some cool effects on the little rapids just downstream. After each injection all the little jars went right into the trash bags and then back into the dry bag to prevent any cross contamination later on. Once the injection was complete we started the long journey back out of the cave eventually reaching the Backdoor Entrance and being out of the cave about 1:30p.m. We crashed pretty hard that night after such a long day.

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Friday 10/3/08:

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Friday morning seemed to come much too fast for as tired as we all were. Shawn was nice and woke up and began cooking us breakfast. Everyone was way tired so Jake and I were the only folks to head up and meet the fire department guys at the Montreal fire station. Cody and Dennis met us there in order to assist us in introducing dye into 2 different arms of Traw Hollow off of BB Highway. The fire truck would allow us to create an artificial creek in which to introduce our dye. The guys had even decided to be so gracious as to refill the truck so that we could do both injections with 2,000 gallons at each location. We injected 5 pounds of sulphorhodamin B into the northern arm off of Hwy BB and 5 pounds of eosine into the southern arm of Traw Hollow at BB Hwy. The fire trucks had a tremendous amount of water that they were able to release at the incredible rate of 500 gallons per minute. I had to work fast and try to keep out of the way. Afterwards the guys even let me bleach off at their station to make sure I didn’t have any dye on my skin from the injections.
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With our work done we rejoiced and spent the rest of the afternoon hiking and enjoying the mega-karst and castle remains of Ha Ha Tonka State Park just a little bit away and then drove the loooooong 7 hour drive back to Bowling Green, Kentucky. A great trip and a fantastic start to what promises be a fascinating project for Carroll Cave.

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