1/7-9/2011 – Survey in upper Thunder

Permit #:  1101-1
Trip Leader name:  Jeffrey Crews

Trip date:  1-7-2011
Project manager:  Bob Lerch
Trip purpose:  Survey leads in Upper Thunder
Areas of Cave visited:  Upstream Thunder
Trip participants:  Jeffrey Crews, Laura Sisken, Ian King, Lyle Hutchens, Kele Thrailkill
Entry Time:  12:00 1-7-2011
Exit Time:  14:00 1-9-2011
The trip report:  After dropping the shaft we made our way upstream to the Round Room arriving 2:30.  We spent about an hour setting up camp using the large tarp staged at the round room and 2 smaller tarps we had packed in.

After getting camp set up and downloading gear into our small day packs, we headed to our objectives.  Our first objective was to go to the UR2 side passage.  This is a pretty good lead as it has water flowing to Thunder River and there is a high lead not far away that it could be draining.  We paused near station U140 were I pointed out the high lead to the group.  I mentioned that I would like to bring in a small tree stand ladder, if needed, to reach the lead, and went on to explain the current thinking on how drains and highleads often onnect up as you move away from the main trunk.  While I was waxing poetically, Lyle managed to climb up into the lead.  Reports that it goes and is very pretty.  Well we dropped what we were going to do and started up into the Crawl.  Man the climb was tough with clay and rotten rock making up the hand and foot holds.  We mapped 207 feet of low crawl over chert breakdown with numerous speleothems.  It was quite the cheese grater.  Lyle men
tioned if his daughter was there she would call it Bling Bling, so we called it Blin Bling Crawl.

We made it back to camp around 9:30 PM.  Not a bad day for driving to the cave, getting up river, setting up camp, and mapping a back up objective.

Saturday morning I let the camp wake at their own pace.  Without visual cues, or looking at a clock, time seams to vanish.  Only the increasing back pain tells one they’ve slept too long.  I thought the younger caves could learn a bit about themselves and camping if I let them work at their own pace.  In the end we were out of camp and in our less than clean gear at 10:30 AM.  We made our way to the Phantom Side Passage complex.  A previous trip to this part of the cave had been halted by a small decorated dome room.  We took and extra tarp and covered the sensitive flow stone and were able to survey past.

I was less than motivated this second day after being somewhat beat up physically and mentally after mapping in the complicated passage the previous day. So after 10 stations I was feeling a bit cold in the drafty passage and when we hit our lunch break time of 4:30 I was ready to have a hot drink.  Back in the main trunk with fired up a stove and have hot meals and hot drinks.  Most of the crew was sustained enough to make another stab at the survey.  I was not.  I handed off the book to Ian to try his hand at sketching a low crawl we had surveyed past.  Ian, Lyle, and Laura went back to the lead while Kele and I went back to camp.  We got back to camp around 6:00 PM.  Ian and company returned a couple hours later with a meager 3 shots in the book.  Ian had also froze out.  While not a steller day, we managed 148 feet of small passage.

Sunday we packed up camp. We packed out an empty fuel can we found in the round room and made our exit.  I stayed in the back of the group, letting the newer cavers route find on the way out.  We were up the shaft and freezing in the fields by 2:00 PM.

Spike

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